FEATURE | Bundesliga Talking Points – Week 21: Scintillating race for European football

Matchday 21 of the 2021/22 Bundesliga season produced one of the most extraordinary weekend’s. 31 goals were scored across nine games and we saw some incredible fixtures that saw old friends reunite, an exhilarating race for European football and the relegation battle heating up. 

1 | Wolfsburg secured a vital win in their bid to maintain a Bundesliga team. Their dominant 4:1 victory over fellow struggles, Greuther Fürth, catapults them from 16th into 12th. Such a win highlights how tight the race is to avoid relegation this season with many teams struggling to collect points for long periods. In fact, this was Wolfsburg’s first win in all competitions since a 1:0 victory over Augsburg in early November. You feel if Florian Kohfeldt failed to win this one his brief tenure as Wolfsburg head coach would have come to an end. However, with still plenty of football to be played, it was a welcome relief for all involved at Wolfsburg.

2 | Bayern Munich extended their league at the top to nine points with a win against RB Leipzig on Saturday evening. It was Julian Nagelsmann vs Domenico Tedesco and it was everything we thought the game would be. Pressing traps, high intensity and both teams excellent in the transitions. The thing that separated the two teams was defensive mistakes. Whilst evident in both sides, Bayern Munich capitalised on their chances and although scoring twice, Manuel Neuer was a standout performer. Kinglsey Coman and Thomas Müller both produced influential performances and Bayern Munich move close to another Meisterschale.

3 | Borussia Dortmund’s defensive woes were once again showcased on Sunday as they lost 2:5 against Bayer Leverkusen. For some, it may not have come as a surprise to see BVB ship 5 goals in one match. Over the course of the season, they’ve been unstable at the back and have often been reliant on their attacking prowess to get them out of trouble. Leverkusen should also be credited for the result with Jonathan Tah, Robert Andrich, and Florian Wirtz all shinning in a five-star performance. The fallout of the match has called into question BVB’s transfer strategy. Speaking to Bild am Sonntag, Marco Reus admitted “there are still clubs that are above us in the food chain.” Such statements make it seem that the hierarchy at BVB are happy with just falling short when it comes to winning trophies.

4 | FC Köln moved up into sixth and are just two points off a Champions League spot after their impressive 1-0 win against Christian Streich’s Freiburg. Anthony Modeste scored his 14th Bundesliga goal of the season and it’s easy to see that there’s a euphoria around at the club again. Steffen Baumgart has continued to play down their European aspirations but it’s difficult for fans not to get excited again.

5 | A late Ajdin Hrustic goal gave Frankfurt a crucial 3:2 win over Stuttgart in their bid for European football. It was an end-to-end match that ultimately went the way of the visitors who, after an awful start, now look like one of the favourites to achieve a top 6 finish. After a difficult start to his role as head coach at Frankfurt, Oliver Glasner now seems to have steadied the ship for the Eagles. Perhaps what is more bizarre is that this was Frankfurt’s first win of 2022 and yet they still seem in contention for a European place. Glasner’s men host Wolfsburg next and could further strengthen their position before a huge match away to fellow-European hopefuls, Köln.

6 | Though the race for the Bundesliga Meisterschaft may be all but over, the race for a top-four finish is as tight as ever. Union Berlin currently occupies 4th position but are only three points ahead of Mainz in 10th. With everyone having played exactly 21 games, it’s anyway’s guess as to who will be in the 4th, 5th, and 6th position come the end of matchday 34. The favourites in the mix will perhaps be Frankfurt, Leipzig, and Freiburg who themselves are having an excellent campaign. As we look forward to this weekend’s action many of these teams face one another including Friday’s clash between Leipzig and Köln and Saturday’s fixture of Freiburg vs Mainz.

By Jamie Allen.

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