Week 23 of Bundesliga action kicked off with no less than 5 teams in contention to finish the weekend occupying the second, third and fourth places in the table – the coveted Champions League places. With Bayern looking likely to have secured the title, the fight is on between Borussia Dortmund, Bayer Leverkusen,, Schalke, Red Bull Leipzig and, surprisingly to some, Eintracht Frankfurt to see who will be eating at Europe’s top table next season. At the other end of the table there is a scramble of a different kind. Cologne now look like they are doomed to be playing in the 2.Bundesliga from August but hope is not lost for Hamburg and Werder Bremen, who started the weekend in the other two relegation spots. Mainz, Wolfsburg, VfB Stuttgart and Freiburg were perilously close to danger, and the three teams below them will have been hoping for slip ups from them this weekend.
Hertha Berlin 0-2 Mainz
Both of these sides faced difficult away fixtures last week and came away with varying results. Hertha pulled off a shock beating Leverkusen 2-0 at the BayArena, while Mainz were on the wrong end of a 4-2 result against Hoffenheim. The roles would be reversed on Friday night though and Pal Dardai’s nightmare began in the 40th minute when Robin Quaison put the away side ahead. He would double the lead and his tally, scoring the winner in the process, on 65 minutes to ensure the points would go back with Mainz.
Cologne 1-1 Hannover
Cologne’s unlikely push for survival has began to falter in recent weeks and that continued with last week’s 4-2 loss in Frankfurt. Hannover have had a steady season back in the Bundesliga so far and a strong 2-1 home win against Freiburg last week typified that. Hannover wouldn’t get off to a great start here though when Yuya Osako put the home side ahead on 29 minutes. However, Stefan Ruthenbeck’s boys wouldn’t be able to hold on and Nikolas Fullkrug equalised on 37 minutes, a goal which ultimately sealed a point.
Hamburg 1-2 Bayer Leverkusen
Hamburg travelled to Dortmund last week trying to establish some kind of momentum. However, Bernd Hollerbach and his team were unable to stop BVB from walking away with a 2-0 win. Leverkusen were also disappointed after they were beaten 2-0 at home by Hertha Berlin. They would get back on track on Saturday though and it started with Leon Bailly’s goal on 40 minutes. Kai Havertz would double the lead for Heiko Herrlich’s boys 5 minutes after half time and Leverkusen looked home and hosed. Andre Hahn would pull one back on 70 minutes but it would ultimately be a consolation.
Freiburg 1-0 Werder Bremen
Freiburg have been one of the sides sleepwalking towards the relegation zone lately and their 2-1 defeat against Hannover last week did little to halt that slide. Bremen have been much more impressive, something which was encapsulated in their 3-1 demolition of Wolfsburg at home last Sunday. Their renaissance would take a hit on Saturday though when Nils Peterson’s 24th minute penalty proved to be enough to secure the points for Freiburg.
Wolfsburg 1-2 Bayern Munich
As mentioned above, Wolfsburg – another of those sides in freefall – were well beaten in Bremen last week. Bayern are in the midst of a 12 game winning streak which was added to last week with a 2-1 home win against Schalke. Daniel Didavi defied the odds though when he put Wolfsburg ahead on 8 minutes. It wouldn’t last, though it would take Bayern until the 64th minute for substitute Sandro Wagner to equalise. It looked like the sides would have to share a point until Robert Lewandowski score a stoppage time penalty to extend Bayern’s winning streak to 13.
Schalke 2-1 Hoffenheim
Schalke went into this one in inconsistent form, although their 2-1 defeat against league leaders Bayern Munich is probably excusable. Hoffenheim have been equally unpredictable but were able to beat Mainz 4-2 at home last week. Things wouldn’t start well for Julian Nagelsmann and his side at the Veltins Arena though when Thilo Kehrer headed Schalke into an 11th minute lead. After having a goal disallowed via VAR, Breel Embolo would finally have his moment after capitalising on a fatal error by Kevin Vogt to slot into an empty net. It looked like Domenico Tedesco’s boys were coasting to victory until Andrej Kramaric pulled on back on 70 minutes to provide a nervy finish to the game. It wouldn’t be enough though and Schalke were able to claim all the points.
Augsburg 0-1 VfB Stuttgart
Augsburg went to Leipzig last Friday well aware of the encounter they were in for and were expectedly beaten 2-0. VfB Stuttgart had a much better time, beating Borussia Moenchengladbach 1-0 at the MercedesBenz Arena. It would take just one goal to win this game as well. Mario Gomez was the hero for the away side, scoring the decisive goal in the 27th minute.
Borussia Moenchengladbach 0-1 Borussia Dortmund
Gladbach, as discussed above, went to Stuttgart last week and were disappointingly beaten 1-0 by VfB. Dortmund fared much better, comfortably beating Hamburg 2-0 at home. In what would be a tight derby encounter on a terrible pitch, an old face would come back to haunt Gladbach. Marco Reus has missed most of this season through injury but would be the hero of the piece for Dortmund, scoring what would be the winner in the 32nd minute to send BVB into 2nd place in the Bundesliga.
Eintracht Frankfurt 1-2 Red Bull Leipzig
Frankfurt were able to comfortably beat a resurgent Cologne 4-2 at home last week, while Red Bull Leipzig were equally successful when they beat Augsburg 2-0. It was the away side who took the lead here too, when Jean-Kevin Augustin gave them the lead on 13 minutes. It wouldn’t last though and Niko Kovac’s boys would equalise through Timothy Chandler 9 minutes later. Kevin-Prince Boateng would score the winner on 26 minutes with a goal that would send Frankfurt above their opponents, into third place in the Bundesliga.
Game Week 24 Fixtures
Friday 23rd February
Mainz vs. Wolfsburg (19.30)
Saturday 24th February
Bayern Munich vs. Hertha Berlin (14.30)
Hannover vs. Borussia Moenchengladbach
Hoffenheim vs. Freiburg
VfB Stuttgart vs. Eintracht Frankfurt
Werder Bremen vs. Hamburg (17.30)
Sunday 25th February
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Schalke (14.30)
Red Bull Leipzig vs. Cologne (17.00)
Monday 26th February
Borussia Dortmund vs. Augsburg (19.30)