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The Bundesliga Review – Week 22

“I think now he is the best Italian coach, one of the best in the world and it is a great achievement for him,” Chelsea’s Antonio Conte had nothing but positive words for Carlo Ancelotti, who marked his 1000th game in charge when Bayern Munich entertained Hamburger SV on Saturday.

Being an understudy to the legendary Arrigo Sacchi, Ancelotti made his managerial debut at A.C. Reggiana 1919 twenty-two years ago. There’s no questioning he’s one of the most decorated and well-respected managers in the modern age. Replacing Pep Guardiola as the head coach of Bayern Munich, Ancelotti has been tasked with doing what his colleague couldn’t – bringing the Champions League trophy to the Allianz Arena.

We know that Ancelotti likes to give his players freedom to think for themselves; which no doubt works for the likes of Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben – both of whom have excelled this season. The former, who’s now injured, criticised life under Pep but has since flourished under his new coach – recording seven assists in just the 760 minutes of football in the Bundesliga.

Whilst this system 4-2-3-1 system may not suit Thomas Müller – one goal in the league – Robert Lewandowski has flourished with his 19 Bundesliga goals; once again making him one of the deadliest finishers.

Questions were raised over Ancelotti’s future after some poor performances which produced disappointing results of which they drew with Hoffenheim; lost to Borussia Dortmund and squeezed past Bayer Leverkusen. Perhaps he was under pressure due to the rise of RB Leipzig who look likely to push Bayern all the way.

Whilst sitting five points clear of second placed RB, Ancelotti looks to create his own legacy at Bayern Munich after putting five past Premier League’s Arsenal in the Champions League. Only time will tell as to whether his on-and-off the field coaching will be enough to keep himself in a job heading into next season; with Julian Nagelsmann and Ralph Hasenhüttl already linked with the Bayern job when he does depart.

1 | Emil Forsberg and Timo Werner were both once again on the scoreboard as their goals helped RB Leipzig secure a 3-1 lead over travelling 1. FC Köln. Whilst the Bundesliga newcomers have been subject to plenty of criticism on the way their project is being ran, there can be no complaints about performances on the pitch.

The Sweden international – who has been on Jürgen Klopp’s radar at Liverpool – scored his seventh Bundesliga goal of the season, whilst he also remains the player with the most assists. Forsberg often plays behind Werner, whilst the duo play well together on so many levels. If Jogi Löw isn’t already looking at calling up Werner, then he certainly well should be.

Thirteen league goals this season makes the 20-year-old the highest scoring German this season; whilst he causes defences so many problems with his pace. RB forked out just €10 million for Werner, whilst the addition of Ralph Hasenhüttl has propelled the newcomers just five points behind Bayern Munich. Should they qualify for the Champions League, this season can certainly be deemed a success; despite the negativity of the German media towards the Red Bull owned club.

2 | Another game, another rout for Bayern Munich. Their 8-0 victory over a hapless Hamburger SV now means they have scored 55 goals in 14 Bundesliga fixtures since the 2010/11 season. It’s fair to say that the Bavarian club no doubt like playing against HSV, in what was the first ‘der Klassiker’, before their rivalry against Borussia Dortmund took that name.

Unluckily for Hamburg, Robert Lewandowski also likes to score against them. His hat-trick today means that the Poland international has now scored 13 goals in 15 games against them. The 28-year-old had a slow start to the season under Carlo Ancelotti – who celebrated his 1000th game in charge – but his three goals on Saturday has now put some space between himself and Anthony Modeste (17); despite being tied with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (19).

Thomas Müller’s performance on Saturday is probably his best in a Bayern trikot this campaign. Just one Bundesliga goal this season, the World Cup winner recorded his seventh and eighth assists of the season, capping off a truly magnificent performance from each player against Hamburg.

3 | Friday evening’s Bundesliga fixture saw Wolfsburg take on Werder Bremen in what had the potential to be that age-old cliché – a relegation six pointer. Bremen’s victory has now brought Wolfsburg into the battle at the bottom, which ultimately saw the dismissal of Valérien Ismaël on Sunday evening. Former Arsenal player Serge Gnabry stole the show in the first-half, netting a brace for the visiting Bremen.

Although his first took a deflection and his second coming about after a defensive error; it’s fair to say that the arrival of the now Germany international could perhaps be the signing of the season. His 10 league goals this season have come at vital times, whilst you shouldn’t look past Bremen to beat the drop. Alexander Nouri has actual got Bremen playing decent football, whilst being able to keep it tight at the back.

Unfortunately for Wolfsburg, the style of football that Ismaël has implemented just isn’t good enough. Too many times this season have they failed to take their chances, whilst winter signing Paul-Georges Ntep remains on the bench, despite an impressive debut. Borja Mayoral and Mario Gomez don’t look capable to be fighting for a spot in the starting XI although that’s all they have, whilst Yunus Malli – who came in to replace Julian Draxler – just hasn’t settled into this side yet.

4 | Facing Mainz on the back of a defeat against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League, Roger Schmidt needed to lift the spirits ahead of their fixture as he faces increasing pressures form those above him at Bayer Leverkusen. Before Javier Hernandez & Co. head to Spain for the return fixture, they face Borussia Dortmund and Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga; both of whom picked up victories and look like winning.

As GGFN mentioned in the week, Schmidt must get results or he may find himself looking for a new job next season should B04 not qualify for the Champions League. The thing with Leverkusen this season is although they have talents such as Julian Brandt, Benjamin Hencrichs and Kai Havertz, they just can’t defend. Very inconsistent.

Henrichs and Wendell play more like wingers as to doing what their No. 1 priority should be – defending and stopping the crosses from coming in. Against Atletico, Aleksander Dragovic and Ömer Toprak were both less than average, and not capable of playing at the top level, whilst Jonathan Tah has been inconsistent. After goals from Stefan Bell and Levin Öztunali for Mainz, Schmidt must manage his side to a good performance against Dortmund on MD23.

5 | In January the DFL [Deutsche Fußball Liga /German Football League] and the DFB [Deutsche Fußball-Bund/German Football Association] announced that they will be using video assistant referees in the 2017/18 season – this move couldn’t come at a better time for the Bundesliga.

MD22 saw plenty of calamitous refereeing decisions, none more so that Lars Stindl’s opening goal for Borussia Mönchengladbach against Ingolstadt on Sunday afternoon. The Gladbach captain bundled the ball into the net with his hand; of which the linesman failed to spot, despite looking right at the incident. Of course, if the referee didn’t see it, he can’t rule it out, but failure to spot these incidents could define the season for a club battling relegation.

“But we’re working so that through the video assistants it will become more honest. All that we want is that the result at the end of a game is achieved in a regular manner,” said FIFA Technical Director Marco Van Basten.

After the poor refereeing decisions on MD22, coaches will be looking for the technology to be implemented sooner rather than later.

Team of the Week: Yann Sommer (Borussia Mönchengladbach; David Alaba (Bayern Munich); Lampen Sané (Werder Bremen); Jannik Vestergaard (Borussia Mönchengladbach; Robert Bauer (Werder Bremen); Raphaël Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund); Levin Öztunali (Mainz); Emil Forsberg (RB Leipzig); Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich); Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund); Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich).

Goal of the Week: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund).

 

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