With just five games remaining in the Bundesliga, the end is almost in sight, although nothing is set in stone. We’re still yet to see Bayern Munich retain their German championship, whilst Darmstadt’s fairytale is still intact following a last minute win over Schalke.
The race for a place in Europe next season is just getting started, whilst the teams in the bottom-half of the league table are picking up wins.
Here’s GGFN‘s five talking points from week 29 in the Bundesliga.
1 | Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich superior to Carlo Ancelotti’s
Carlo Ancelotti’s debut season in charge of Bayern Munich has most definitely received its fair share of critics – despite sitting eight points ahead of RB Leipzig with five games remaining. A disappointing 0-0 draw away in Leverkusen summed up their performance, even though they were a man up on their opponents for most the second-half.
Ancelotti’s starting XI raised eyebrows with their second-leg against Real Madrid coming up in midweek. Thiago and Arturo Vidal both started whilst Xabi Alonso, Philipp Lahm, Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben all started from the bench – as if Ancelotti couldn’t decide if this game was a ‘must win’. Meanwhile in Spain, Zinedine Zidane rested his key players ahead of the crucial Champions League tie on Tuesday.
Leverkusen dominated much of the first half, but whilst Tin Jedvaj was shown a second yellow card, Thomas Müller & Co. were unable to breakdown a tight defence – something that Pep Guardiola’s side wouldn’t have had a problem in doing, who were ruthless in front of goal.
Robert Lewandowski will most likely make his return to the starting XI against Real Madrid, whilst his omission through injury is evident in this Bayern Munich squad.
2 | Football unites in Dortmund
Saturday 15 April is the day football won.
Following the events in Dortmund on Tuesday, what followed was something that football can be proud of. From the images of Borussia Dortmund and AS Monaco fans uniting to Nuri Sahin’s interview with Jan Aage Fjortoft, football really has come together as one following the attack on Dortmund’s team bus, which resulted in Marc Bartra needing surgery.
A routine win for Dortmund saw goals from Marco Reus, Sokratis and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang resulting in a 3-1 win, but it was everything leading up and following the game that made the headlines. Players warmed up in Bartra t-shirts wishing him a speedy return whilst BVB showed why they’re such a respectable club and why other clubs should follow. Special corner flags were installed to support equality, whilst ‘Together against homophobia’ was the message at the Westfalenstadion on Saturday afternoon.
Dortmund midfielder Nuri Sahin’s brave post-match interview on their bus attack.
Huge respect 👏
— SPORF (@Sporf) April 12, 2017
3 | European race is just getting started
Bayern Munich, RB Leipzig, Hoffenheim and Borussia Dortmund are all odds on to finish in the top four, providing a miracle – the race for a place in next season’s Europa League however is another story.
Defeats for Hertha Berlin, Cologne, Freiburg and Eintracht Frankfurt has allowed the likes of Werder Bremen to be in with an outside chance of finishing in fifth or sixth this season. That said, should Bayern Munich or Borussia Dortmund win the DFB Pokal – which is extremely likely – then the team that finish seventh will also be included in Europa League’s qualification campaign next season.
Like the fight to finish above the relegation play-off, the race for a place in Europe is one viewers will be keeping a close eye on until the final day.
4 | Eight-goal thriller in Sinsheim
There’s no doubt this season the Bundesliga is providing plenty of stories. From Freiburg’s European challenge following their promotion to Alexander Nouri’s turnaround of Werder Bremen – Julian Nagelsmann’s Hoffenheim is certainly one creating plenty of noise.
Taking over from Huub Stevens earlier than expected, Nagelsmann was tasked with the job of avoiding relegation. That he did. This season – they’ve once again exceeded expectations, despite losing both Roberto Firmino and Kevin Volland in the past two seasons.
Now, they’re on the verge of qualifying for the Champions League for the first time in their history. At just 29-years-old, Nagelsmann has got his team playing a brand of football many teams can only aspire to play like.
Saturday saw the Sinsheim club put on a superb tactical display which sees Hoffenheim remain unbeaten at home this season – they put five past an in-form Borussia Mönchengladbach on Saturday in an eight-goal thriller. Andrej Kramiric, Kerim Demirbay and Nadiem Amiri have all gained plaudits this season, Nagelsmann’s masterstroke in starting Adam Szalai paid dividends with a brace. Next season will certainly be a test of character with Sebastian Rudy and Niklas Süle both joining Bayern Munich.
5 | Relegation battle
A short while ago, it looked as though Darmstadt and Ingolstadt would be relegated, whilst Hamburger SV would once again finish in the relegation play-off. Now, it’s as though no-one wants to leave the Bundesliga. Hamburger SV under Markus Gisdol are formidable at home and despite losing the Nordderby, they’re producing good enough home form that warrants them a place in top flight football next season.
Alexander Nouri was close to getting the axe, but a remarkable 2017 now sees them just two points off a place in Europe after losing just two games in their past 10 Bundesliga fixtures – picking up 20 points, the same as Hamburg.
Augsburg picked up three points against Cologne on Saturday, despite playing with just nine men in the closing stages whilst if they’re not careful, Bayer Leverkusen could well finish in the relegation play-offs. Just six points separate Augsburg in 16th and Eintracht Frankfurt in 10th – who once looked like challenging for a place in Europe during the Hinrunde.
This battle will no doubt go down to the wire.
Week 29 Bundesliga Results
Augsburg 2-1 Cologne
Borussia Dortmund 3-1 Eintracht Frankfurt
Hoffenheim 5-3 Borussia Mönchengladbach
Mainz 1-0 Hertha BSC
RB Leipzig 4-0 Freiburg
Wolfsburg 3-0 Ingolstadt
Bayer Leverkusen 0-0 Bayern Munich
By Daniel Pinder.