Oh have you not heard? I was under the impression that everyone had heard. Well, no – in this case the bird isn’t the word but the Bundesliga certainly is. The semi finals of the Champions League produced nights to treasure for Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund as der Klassiker outclassed El Clásico.
Things were closer back in Germany at the weekend for both, though that’s not too surprising with Jupp Heynckes and Jürgen Klopp making a combined 20 changes. Still, narrow victories were achieved over Freiburg and Fortuna Düsseldorf respectively. But with the title race over and three games left, Bayern and Borussia are not the main points of interest in the Bundesliga – that’s to be found in another pair: the race for the fourth Champions League place, and the struggle to avoid relegation.
The former has been characterised with just as much mediocrity as you might expect with the latter. Prior to this weekend, four points separated the five sides between 4th and 8th. Schalke though had Klaas-Jan Huntelaar back from injury and the man nicknamed “the Hunter” displayed his predatory instinct by netting a hat-trick against Hamburg. If you allow Huntelaar, the Torjӓgerkanone winner last season, nine shots on goal as HSV did, then a hat-trick is perhaps the least damage you can expect. That win for Schalke put some distance between them and the chasing pack of four – none of whom won at the weekend.
With Eintracht Frankfurt drawing with Mainz, Freiburg coming away with what is now considered a credible result at the Allianz Arena (a 1-0 loss) and Gladbach being comfortably beaten at a quietly resurgent Wolfsburg, Schalke would appear to be favourites for fourth. Yet with away games to come at Gladbach and Freiburg, it’s far from a certainty.
That applies too when it comes to survival where the likes of Werder Bremen and Fortuna Düsseldorf have been drawn into the mire. The reason for that is, in the main, Augsburg. Markus Weinzierl’s side only won 1 Bundesliga game in the Hinrunde. Such has been their form in the second half of the season, coupled with the demise of sides above, Augsburg have accrued more points in the Rückrunde than Werder and Fortuna put together. Their resurgence continued at the weekend as they equalled their biggest Bundesliga win, turning over Stuttgart 3-0 with Marcel De Jong scoring a 30-yard chip just 73 seconds after coming on.
The result drew them level with Fortuna (defeated by Borussia Dortmund) and within two points of Werder Bremen (lost at Bayer Leverkusen). Augsburg must still be wary with Hoffenheim showing signs of life. They overcame Nürnberg but with an inferior goal difference to those above them, two wins out of their final three still might not be enough to secure even the “relative” safety of the relegation/play off place.
The only side at the bottom to have been relegated is Greuther Fürth. It’s alarming that it’s taken until this weekend for that to become official. That said, they dominated Hannover for long spells on Friday night but somehow Frank Kramer’s side fell to defeat, meaning they’re in danger of becoming the first Bundesliga team ever to go a whole season without winning a home game.
Still with three games to go, the focus of where the remaining meaningful fixtures in the Bundesliga lie appears to be away from Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund – though you do know that they’re playing this weekend for the fourth time this season, right?
Matchday 31 Results:
Greuther Fürth 2-3 Hannover
Augsburg 3-0 Stuttgart
Bayer Leverkusen 1-0 Werder Bremen
Bayern Munich 1-0 Freiburg
Fortuna Düsseldorf 1-2 Borussia Dortmund
Hoffenheim 2-1 Nürnberg
Wolfsburg 3-1 Gladbach
Mainz 0-0 Eintracht Frankfurt
Schalke 4-1 Hamburg
|1||FC Bayern Munich||31||27||3||1||90:14||+76||84||CL*|
|3||Bayer 04 Leverkusen||31||16||8||7||59:38||+21||56||CL*|
|4||FC Schalke 04||31||14||7||10||54:47||+7||49||CL* Qual.|
|5||Eintracht Frankfurt||31||13||7||11||43:42||+1||46||EL* Qual.|
|6||SC Freiburg||31||12||9||10||40:37||+3||45||EL* Qual.|
|10||1. FSV Mainz 05||31||10||10||11||36:36||0||40|
|13||1. FC Nuremberg||31||9||11||11||34:42||-8||38|
|14||SV Werder Bremen||31||8||8||15||45:60||-15||32|
Table thanks to Official Bundesliga Website