It’s finally back! After three weeks of having to force ourselves to watch Premier League football, the Bundesliga returned this weekend to bring us all the joys of the new year. There are still plenty of questions to be answered in 2018. For instance, is Peter Stoeger’s influence over Borussia Dortmund the initial impetus a new manager brings to a club or are they really back? Can Stefan Ruthenbeck actually save Cologne after claiming their first win of the season before the Christmas break? Can anyone stop Bayern? Now we’re in the business end of the season and the all these questions will be answered between now and May.
Bayer Leverkusen 1-3 Bayern Munich
Bayern Munich had a very good end to 2017. Besides beating VfB Stuttgart 1-0 at the Mercedes Benz Arena on matchday 17, all their rivals for the Bundesliga crown faltered and they were able to beat Borussia Dortmund 2-1 at the Allianz Arena in the DFB Pokal. Leverkusen were not able to claim a victory on Matchday 17, only managing a 4-4 draw in Hannover, although they also managed to make it into the quarter-finals of the DFB Pokal thanks to a 1-0 win in Gladbach. In the first match of the year, it would be Bayern who get the first goal of 2018, Javi Martinez putting the visitors ahead. Bayern would eventually extend their lead through Franck Ribery on 59 minutes but Kevin Volland would give the home side hope, pulling one back on 70 minutes. It wasn’t to be for Heiko Herrlich’s boys though and James Rodriguez sealed the victory in stoppage time.
Eintracht Frankfurt 1-1 Freiburg
Frankfurt finished the year with a thoroughly entertaining 2-2 draw at home to Schalke. Freiburg were also only able to claim a draw, 3-3 with Augsburg. The home side would take the lead here when star man Sebastien Haller put Niko Kovac’s side 1-0 up on 28 minutes. It wouldn’t last though and Robin Koch would equalise six minutes into the second half to ultimately claim a much-needed point for lowly Freiburg.
Augsburg 1-0 Hamburg
As mentioned above, Augsburg were only able to close out the year with a draw at home to Freiburg. Hamburg finished in much more disappointing fashion going down 3-1 in Gladbach. It would take just one goal to win this one and it would come for Augsburg. Koo-Ja Cheol was the goalscorer on the stroke of half-time to snatch all the points for the home side.
Hannover 3-2 Mainz
Hannover have gained a reputation for themselves this season as one of the most entertaining sides in the league in terms of goals per game, a reputation enhanced in the 4-4 draw with Leverkusen last time out. Mainz seem to be sleepwalking towards the relegation zone and a 2-2 draw with Werder Bremen before the Christmas break will have done nothing to help their fight against the drop. Things started well for Mainz here though when Yoshinori Muto put them ahead within 26 minutes. It wasn’t long, just 5 minutes in fact, before their lead was doubled by Alexander Hack but that was as good as it would get for the visitors. Nikolas Fullkrug began the comeback on 33 minutes and completed it on 38 minutes from the penalty spot in what was turning out to be another barnstorming game. It looked like the game would end in a draw until Fullkrug completed his hat-trick on 75 minutes to win it for Hannover.
VfB Stuttgart 1-0 Hertha Berlin
Stuttgart were unlucky to lose 1-0 to Bayern on matchday 17 while Hertha Berlin claimed a very credible 3-2 win in Leipzig. Stuttgart would get back on track here though. It looked like the game was ending goalless until Niklas Stark put through his own net 12 minutes from time to deny Pal Dardai’s side any reward for their efforts.
Werder Bremen 1-1 Hoffenheim
Bremen’s run of results before Christmas has gone some way to aiding their fight for survival, their 2-2 draw with Mainz helped that. Hoffenheim went to Dortmund and were unable to come away with any points thanks to Christian Pulisic’s last minute winner. They would take the lead here though when Benjamin Hubner put them 1-0 up on 38 minutes. Bremen would fight back though and Theodor Gerbr Selasie would eventually equalise on 63 minutes, a goal which would ultimately claim point for the home team.
Red Bull Leipzig 3-1 Schalke
Leipzig had a poor end to 2017 which was compounded with a 3-2 home defeat to mid-table Hertha Berlin. Schalke also ended the year disappointed after being unable to close the gap on Bayern Munich at the top of the Bundesliga thanks to a 2-2 draw in Frankfurt. A tight first half finally had the deadlock broke just before the break when Naby Keita’s deflected effort found a way past Ralf Fahrmann to put the home side ahead, in what could possibly be his last act at the club. Schalke would equalise though 10 minutes after the restart when Naldo headed past Peter Gulacsi from a free kick. Ralph Hassenhutl responded by bringing on Timo Werner and Youssouf Poulsen and it would pay dividends for Leipzig. Werner would give the home side the lead again on 69 minutes and set up Bruma to seal the game two minutes later in a stunning second half display.
Cologne 2-1 Borussia Moenchengladbach
Cologne finally managed to gain their first 3 points of the season in their last game of 2017, beating Wolfsburg 1-0 at home in Stefan Ruthenbeck’s second game in charge. Gladbach were also successful in their last foray in the league, beating Hamburg 3-1 at home. Cologne’s quest for resurgence started well here when Frederik Sorensen put the 1-0 up on 34 minutes. The lead didn’t last though and Raffael eventually pulled Gladbach level on 69 minutes. It looked as if the game would end in a draw – until Simon Terrode sealed the points for the home side with the last kick of the game. Maybe there is still gas in the tank for Stefan Ruthenbeck and his boys.
Borussia Dortmund 0-0 Wolfsburg
Peter Stoeger seems to have revitalised Borussia Dortmund’s season and his side finished 2017 with a 2-1 win over Hoffenheim at Signal Iduna Park. Wolfsburg were much more unfortunate, coming a cropper 1-0 at the hands of bottom side Cologne. Dortmund would have the better of this game for long periods, but were unable to make their dominance pay and the game would end in a stalemate.
Matchday 19 fixtures
Friday 19th January
Hertha Berlin vs. Borussia Dortmund (19.30)
Saturday 20th January
Hoffenheim vs. Bayer Leverkusen (14.30)
Borussia Moenchengladbach vs. Augsburg
Mainz vs. VfB Stuttgart
Freiburg vs. Red Bull Leipzig
Wolfsburg vs. Eintracht Frankfurt
Hamburg vs. Cologne (17.30)
Sunday 21st January
Bayern Munich vs. Werder Bremen (14.30)
Schalke vs. Hannover (17.00)