Bundesliga Matchday 18 | Five talking points

Eyes on the “El Plastico”

Heading into Matchday 18, all eyes were on RB Leipzig vs. TSG 1899 Hoffenheim. And rightly so. Ralf Rangnick was the man responsible for the rise of Hoffenheim to the Bundesliga, all the way back in 2008, and now, he’s repeating the same story with RB Leipzig. Taking a sporting director role after promotion in 2016, Rangnick is the brains behind the project at the Red Bull owned club.

Heading into this game, Julian Nagelsmann’s Hoffenheim were unbeaten – and the only remaining unbeaten team in the top five leagues in Europe – whilst RB Leipzig, coached by Ralph Hasenhüttl, were unbeaten at home.

Nadiem Amiri opened the scoring for Hoffenheim following a sublime counter-attack, but the one thing about “RB” this season is that you just can’t write them off. Timo Werner became Germany’s top scorer with his equaliser before Sandro Wagner was shown a red card. 13 minutes from time, Leipzig had turned it around through Marcel Sabitzer to keep the pressure on Bayern Munich at the top.

Whilst Leipzig and Hoffenheim’s rise to prominence may be disliked by many in Germany, there’s no doubt that both Hasenhüttl and Nagelsmann are destined for greatness.

Cologne hit Darmstadt for six

If there’s one thing Cologne don’t do enough, it’s scoring goals. After 18 games this season, the Billy Goats have scored just 27. Fair enough, they did put six past Darmstadt on Saturday afternoon. However, take Anthony Modeste’s 14 Bundesliga goals away and you can see where the problems lay for Peter Stöger.

After the game, Torsten Frings snapped in his press conference (regarding transfers) after just his second game in charge of the club. “This week he [Florian Jungwirth] trained like he wanted to go to the US. And I won’t be put under pressure. If someone here isn’t ready to give 100 percent for Darmstadt then they aren’t in the squad. And if he doesn’t learn that so long as he’s a player of ours he must give it his all, something that’s normal in the working world, that someone does their job the best they can, then he’ll have to live with the consequences.”

Goals from Anthony Modeste, Milos Jojic, Artem Rudnevs, an own goal and a brace from Yuya Osako contributed to Cologne’s 6-1 over bottom club Darmstadt. The first time they’ve netted six in a league game since 1990. For Darmstadt, it’s a huge task ahead for Frings.

Game of the season?

An early contender for Game of the Season, Bayer Leverkusen vs Borussia Mönchengladbach had it all. Ironically, Gladbach’s assistant boss Dirk Bremse said prior to the fixture that set pieces were the easiest way to score goals. By half-time, Jonathan Tah and Javier Hernandez made Bremse eat his words as Gladbach had conceded two goals from corners. Die Fohlen have been torrid away from home this season, and had it not have been for Lars Stindl, they’d be making the short trip home with no points. His brace got Dieter Hecking’s side back in the game, whilst Raffael grabbed a winner with 19 minutes left to play.

As Jonathan Harding of Deutsche Welle put it, Bayer Leverkusen are struggling for consistency this season. One minute, they can look world class, whilst the next, players such as Chicharito, Hakan Calhanoglu and Julian Brandt all go missing. Big task ahead for Roger Schmidt if his Leverkusen side are to qualify for the Champions League next season.

Hamburg lose (once again)

A New Year, but same old Hamburg. Poor defending resulted in a 3-1 defeat away to Ingolstadt, which meant that the two clubs swapped places. Markus Gisdol replaced Bruno Labbadia with the task of keeping Hamburg up, but now three points clear from safety and boasting the second worst goal difference (-20), it’s going to be a tough ask, especially with Bayer Leverkusen, Cologne and RB Leipzig all up next.

Marco Reus loves Mainz 05

Returning to the starting XI was Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but it was Marco Reus who took the plaudits as Thomas Tuchel returned to his former side. It took the Germany international just 122 seconds to give Borussia Dortmund a 1-0 lead – Reus’ fifth goal against Mainz in a row. Not a bad feat for someone who has missed much of the season through injury.


Unfortunately for Dortmund, it was ex-Schalke 04 youth academy graduate Danny Latza who rescued a point for for Mainz.


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