Following the end of the annual Winterpause, it can take some time for Bundesliga teams to pick up where they left off a month ago. This year was no different than normal, as there were two red cards but only one goal scored in the first half of the Konferenz games, but normal service resumed (at least for some) in the second period as teams started to get back into the groove. There weren’t a whole lot of goals, but we saw two late winners.
GGFN’s Jack Grimse takes you through the matches.
VfL Wolfsburg 1-0 Hamburger SV
After heading into the winter break in 13th place, just three points above the drop zone, Wolfsburg were one of the busiest German teams in the January transfer window. New signings Yunus Malli and Paul-Georges Ntep were in the starting lineup as Die Wölfe moved into the post-Julian Draxler Era.
Kyriakos Papadopoulos debuted for Hamburg, who always seem to be in need of more defensive help. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how many defenders you have when they continue to play outside the rules. Hamburg went down to ten men 33 minutes into the match when Armin Ekdal recklessly went in behind on Ntep with no chance of winning the ball, picking up his second yellow card in a span of five minutes. Red cards are becoming far too regular of an occurrence for the Rothosen.
— OptaFranz (@OptaFranz) January 21, 2017
It isn’t hard to see why HSV are unable to pick up points when they defend like this. It took until the 83rd minute for Wolfsburg to confirm their opponents’ fate, but Mario Gómez got it done. It was his first goal at home for Wolfsburg. Ntep provided the assist after some skillful dribbling down the left.
It’s a step in the right direction, which will be encouraging for the club’s board, who had been less willing to spend money this season compared to years past. Read more about what Wolfsburg need to do here.
Werder Bremen 1-2 Borussia Dortmund
Marco Reus and André Schürrle were both in the starting lineup for the first time all season, and it didn’t take the pair of Germany internationals long to put Dortmund into the lead. Just five minutes in, Reus assisted Schürrle’s first Bundesliga goal since May 2016, when Schürrle was still a Wolfsburg player.
It was made worse for Bremen just five minutes before halftime when goalkeeper Jaroslav Drobny saw red. Reus got in behind the defence following a ball over the top and cut in centrally, and Drobny clumsily kicked the Dortmund man 15 yards outside of the penalty area.
Dortmund’s defensive struggles appear to have continued into the new year, as 10-man Bremen bit back through Fin Bartles. The 29-year-old produced one of the most spectacular solo goals you’ll ever see, collecting a throw in at about midfield before getting the better of both BVB centre backs — nutmegging Matthias Ginter and holding off Marc Bartra for about 20 meters before firing past Roman Weidenfeller to level the scoring.
But it was not meant to be for Bremen. Lukasz Piszczek was the unlikely goalscorer for Dortmund with about 20 minutes remaining. Following a scramble in the penalty area after a Dortmund corner, the ball popped up and hung in the air just outside of the six-yard box. Werder’s substitute keeper Felix Wiedwald was rooted to his line and Piszczek was able to dink the ball past him to give his side the lead once again. Dortmund moved into fourth.
Darmstadt 0-0 Borussia Mönchengladbach
Dieter Hecking made his touchline debut for BMG in a match that didn’t get a whole lot of airtime during Sky’s broadcast of Die Konferenz. It was an unceremonious start at the club for Hecking, with the club remaining in 14th place. The lone point doesn’t do a whole lot for Darmstadt either, still stranded at the bottom of the Bundesliga, three points adrift of Ingolstadt.
FC Augsburg 0-2 TSG 1899 Hoffenheim
Sandro Wagner can’t stop scoring. The Hoffenheim hitman, who was the best German goalscorer in calendar year 2016 in the Bundesliga (with 19), opened his account for 2017 following a clinical counterattack. Hoffenheim had a three-on-two breakaway with Nadiem Amiri in possession on the right flank. His centring ball picked out Wagner, who held off the defender to finish past Marwin Hitz in the Augsburg goal to give his side the lead.
Wagner was instrumental in creating Hoffenheim’s second, as he provided the pass to Mark Uth who assisted Andrej Kramarić. Julian Nagelsmann looked like a genius once again, as he’d subbed the Croatian striker on at the start of the second half. Hoffenheim remain the lone unbeaten side in the top European leagues, and move into third place (at least temporarily, Eintracht and Hertha have games in hand) in the Bundesliga with the win.
Schalke 04 1-0 FC Ingolstadt
Schalke snatched the three points at the death as Guido Burgstaller scored his first Bundesliga goal in his first Bundesliga game after signing for Die Königsblauen from FC Nürnberg this month. Latching on to a pass in the penalty area two minutes into the three allotted for stoppage time, Burgstaller got just enough of a touch on the ball to send it trickling into the far corner of the goal. It was a huge home win for Schalke, who move back into the top half of the table. Ingolstadt will rue the opportunity to take a point after defending well enough for more than 90 minutes, but just couldn’t hold on.