Here is a telling statistic from the twelfth matchday of the Bundesliga. The only two sides who took the lead and won over the course of the weekend were Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich. The other seven teams which grabbed an advantage all failed to close out the game successfully.
Does it display therefore a never-say-die attitude in the seven sides which plucked up the courage to come from behind? Is it a demonstration of sloppiness by those who took the lead and a lack of mental strength? In all honesty, it is more of an affirmation of who the two best sides in Germany are at the moment even if Werder Bremen and Gladbach are level on points with Dortmund with Schalke a further point back.
Borussia could have been mistaken for Bayern Munich, such was the heartlessness they displayed in swotting aside Felix Magath’s Wolfsburg. There was one significant stain to Dortmund’s delight however. It emerged after the game that Neven Subotic, an ever present in Jurgen Klopp’s title winning side last season, had been ruled out for six weeks after a clash with Sotirios Kyrgiakos
Perhaps it’s worth considering a quote from Klopp’s managerial title rival for the second consecutive season, Jupp Heynckes. “Strikers win you matches, defenders win you championships.” According to this piece of wisdom, Borussia might struggle for a small period after the tremendous partnership forged between Hummels and Subotic last year.
It’s not like Heynckes doesn’t have problems of his own, despite Bayern edging out newly promoted Augsburg. Bastian Schweinsteiger is out until the New Year with a broken collarbone and David Alaba has not been over impressive so far as his replacement. Add to that the sending off of Ukrainian midfielder Anatoliy Tymoschuk in Sunday’s game and the Bayern boss has a little problem on his hands in the centre of the park.
However, the lack of consistency from the rest of the Bundesliga means it is difficult to see a title race with much else other than Klopp and Heynckes for second consecutive season. For example, Hannover and Schalke, two potential suitors of the Champions League places fought out a 2-2 draw in Lower Saxony, where Teemu Pukki deserves a mention for his first goals for the away side.
Identified in the November edition of World Soccer as one of the best youngsters in the Bundesliga, Nick Bidwell mentions how in the Finnish player’s first press conference, the new Schalke man asserted that he hadn’t come to sit on the bench, despite competing against the likes of Raul and Klass-Jan Huntelaar. Nevertheless, despite an impressive first league start, he couldn’t grab a hat trick meaning Dortmund remained second and Bayern’s closest challengers.
One of the two teams level with the Champions is Borussia Monchengladbach. They overcame Hertha Berlin 2-1 in the capital although it is reaching the point where it would be more appropriate to call them Team Marco Reus (above). The skunk haired wonder netted both the goals for Lucien Favre’s men and has been at the forefront of Gladbach’s challenge for a Champions League place.
Werder Bremen are the other side on a par with Jurgen Klopp’s side in terms of points. Like quite a few teams over the weekend, they came from behind to record a 3-2 victory at home to inconsistent Cologne. They too sit level on points with Dortmund after Claudio Pizarro netted a hat trick against the Stale Solbakken’s nine men (thanks to a sending off and an injury – both unfortunate).
Whilst the possibility remains with a large portion of the season to go that Schalke, Gladbach and Werder, Borussia’s goal difference is perhaps a telling factor in terms of the gap between them and the chasing pack. Although the trio showed their character to secure points at the weekend by recovering from goals down, none appear to have the balance correct between attack and defence. Bremen and Schalke have impressive attacks whilst Gladbach are better at the back.
Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund who meet in two weeks time appear to have a good mixture of the two as reflected in their respective goal differences. Should Jupp Heynckes succeed in the encounter at the Allianz Arena, then the advantage will firmly be with the Bavarians. A victory for Jurgen Klopp’s side would change the whole dynamic of the Bundesliga title race.
Matchday 12 Results:
Mainz 3-1 Stuttgart
Borussia Dortmund 5-1 Wolfsburg
Hertha Berlin 1-2 Gladbach
Hoffenheim 1-1 Kaiserslautern
Nurnberg 1-2 Freiburg
Werder Bremen 3-2 Cologne
Bayer Leverkusen 2-2 Hamburg
Hannover 2-2 Schalke
Augsburg 1-2 Bayern Munich
|1||FC Bayern Munich||12||9||1||2||32:4||+28||28||CL*|
|3||SV Werder Bremen||12||7||2||3||23:16||+7||23||CL*|
|4||Borussia Mönchengladbach||12||7||2||3||15:9||+6||23||CL* Qual.|
|5||FC Schalke 04||12||7||1||4||24:18||+6||22||EL* Qual.|
|6||Hannover 96||12||5||4||3||16:17||-1||19||EL* Qual.|
|8||Bayer 04 Leverkusen||12||5||3||4||15:16||-1||18|
|10||Hertha BSC Berlin||12||4||4||4||16:17||-1||16|
|11||1. FC Köln||12||5||1||6||20:26||-6||16|
|12||1. FC Kaiserslautern||12||3||4||5||10:15||-5||13|
|14||1. FSV Mainz 05||12||3||3||6||16:23||-7||12|
|15||1. FC Nuremberg||12||3||3||6||13:20||-7||12|
Table thanks to Bundesliga Official Website