Borussia Dortmund travel to London on Wednesday night and it’s perhaps appropriate they should face Arsenal after their result at the weekend.
You may remember the Gunners famously snatching the league title away from favourites Liverpool in 1989. Describing Micky Thomas’ injury time chip over Bruce Grobbelaar at Anfield, commentator Brian Moore exclaimed, “It’s up for grabs now!”
Moore’s epiphany accurately describes the Bundesliga title race after this weekend’s result at the Allianz Arena.
Borussia’s win over Bayern Munich was seismic even if the game was a close encounter. Jurgen Klopp’s now rather iconic fist pump illustrated his delight and the size of Die Schwarzgelben’s (Black and Yellows) achievement.
Speed was the decisive factor in the match. Mario Gӧtze reacted faster than Jerome Boateng when the ball looped into the air. The teenage sensation drilled past Manuel Neuer midway through the second half in the process opening up the Bundesliga title race; for Borussia Dortmund were not the only beneficiaries of this result. Borussia Monchengladbach and Schalke are narrowly behind the Champions waiting to capitalise on any slip.
Lucien Favre’s Gladbach are only behind Dortmund on goal difference. This came after the 5-0 thumping of fifth place Werder Bremen thanks to the magnificence of Marco “Rolls” Reus, as he has been labelled by some. His performance was as majestic and reliable as the aforementioned car. The difference with Monchengladbach’s machine is that the more he plays, the more his price escalates.
On the subject of rising stock, just a solitary point off Dortmund and Gladbach are Schalke, another team with prominent young German talent. Lewis Holtby, one of the Schalke starlets, rounded off the four goal demolition of withering Nuremberg. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar’s double and a strike from Raul grabbed the first three. The Gelsenkirchen outfit haven’t been affected by the second coming of manager Huub Stevens. He returned nine years since his first spell at the Royal Blues after Ralf Rangnick’s unfortunate departure for health reasons earlier this season.
Jupp Heynckes will probably be more concerned with his team’s faults rather than his rival’s strengths. There are problems that need solving fast. Analysing all of Bayern’s defeats this season against Gladbach, Hannover and Dortmund, Heynckes must consider his side have brought about their own downfall in all three. None of the four goals conceded have been moments of brilliance – they all came from silly defensive errors.
On the one hand, this must comfort Heynckes knowing these mistakes can be cut out easily. Then again, it must worry the Bayern boss that continual lapses in concentration are letting other teams back into the title race. What’s more the absence of midfield lynchpin Bastian Schweinsteiger is particularly noticeable. His return in the New Year cannot come quickly enough for the ex-Leverkusen manager.
After Saturday’s clash, Dortmund have the momentum. Klopp claims the mental edge over Heynckes having also won last year’s Bundesliga – an interesting sub plot to the title race. Nevertheless, Bayern still hold a slender advantage. Had the Bavarians won on Saturday, it would have been foreseeable to see them sail into the distance. As it is, they didn’t and the Bundesliga as a competition will benefit from this.
As the late Brian Moore once said, “It’s up for grabs now!”
* There was a sour note to this weekend’s Bundesliga fixtures with the news that prior to Cologne and Mainz’s match, referee Babak Rafati tried to take his own life. The game was subsequently called off due to the incident. Rafati’s assistant referees came to his rescue and the official was released from hospital on Monday. This incident comes just over two years after Robert Enke’s tragic suicide. Hopefully these latest events are not a representation of a deeper depression problem in the Bundesliga.
Matchday 13 Results:
Kaiserslautern 1-2 Bayer Leverkusen
Freiburg 2-2 Hertha Berlin
Gladbach 5-0 Werder Bremen
Schalke 4-0 Nuremberg
Wolfsburg 3-1 Hannover
Bayern Munich 0-1 Borussia Dortmund
Stuttgart 2-1 Augsburg
Hamburg 2-0 Hoffenheim
|1||FC Bayern Munich||13||9||1||3||32:5||+27||28||CL*|
|4||FC Schalke 04||13||8||1||4||28:18||+10||25||CL* Qual.|
|5||SV Werder Bremen||13||7||2||4||23:21||+2||23||EL* Qual.|
|6||VfB Stuttgart||13||6||3||4||20:13||+7||21||EL* Qual.|
|7||Bayer 04 Leverkusen||13||6||3||4||17:16||+1||21|
|10||Hertha BSC Berlin||13||4||5||4||18:19||-1||17|
|11||1. FC Köln||12||5||1||6||20:26||-6||16|
|13||1. FC Kaiserslautern||13||3||4||6||10:17||-7||13|
|15||1. FSV Mainz 05||12||3||3||6||16:23||-7||12|
|16||1. FC Nuremberg||13||3||3||7||13:24||-11||12||Play-offs|
Table thanks to the Bundesliga Official Website