Bundesliga: M’gladbach makes a move

Dortmund and Bayern win ho-hum. Big winner is Gladbach, ripping Schalke’s ass. Hertha is in crisis…

BUNDESLIGA, Round 21

VfL Wolfsburg        -    SC Freiburg           3:2 (2:2)   23,057  (Jiracek 2, M.Schäfer - Flum, Caligiuri)
Borussia Dortmund    -    Bayer Leverkusen	1:0 (1:0)   80,000  (Kagawa)
1. FSV Mainz 05	     -    Hannover 96	        1:1 (1:0)   30,173  (Zidan - Sobiech)
Bayern München	     -    1. FC Kaiserslautern	2:0 (2:0)   69,000  (Gomez, T. Müller)
Werder Bremen	     -    1899 Hoffenheim	1:1 (0:1)   39,176  (Arnautovic - Vestergaard)
VfB Stuttgart	     -    Hertha BSC Berlin	5:0 (4:0)   45,000  (Ibisevic, Harnik 3, Okazaki)
Borussia M'gladbach  -    FC Schalke 04	        3:0 (3:0)   54,049  (Reus, Hanke, Arango)
FC Augsburg	     -    1. FC Nürnberg	0:0 (0:0)   30,660
1. FC Köln	     -    Hamburger SV	        0:1 (0:0)   46,500  (Guerrero)

 1  Borussia Dortmund (M)    21   14 	4    3 	  46:14    +32 	  46
 2  Bayern München	     21   14 	2    5 	  49:14    +35 	  44
 3  Borussia M'gladbach	     21   13 	4    4 	  34:12    +22 	  43
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 4  FC Schalke 04 (P)	     21   13 	2    6 	  46:28    +18 	  41
 5  Werder Bremen	     21    9 	6    6 	  34:35    -1 	  33
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 6  Bayer Leverkusen	     21    8 	7    6 	  28:28     0 	  31
 7  Hannover 96	  	     21    7 	10   4 	  23:25    -2 	  31
 8  VfL Wolfsburg	     21    8 	3   10 	  27:38   -11 	  27
 9  VfB Stuttgart	     21    7 	5    9 	  31:28    +3 	  26
10  Hamburger SV	     21    6 	8    7 	  26:34   -8 	  26
11  1899 Hoffenheim	     21    6 	7    8 	  23:25    -2 	  25
12  1. FC Köln	  	     21    7 	3   11 	  29:41   -12 	  24
13  1. FSV Mainz 05	     21    5 	8    8 	  29:35   -6 	  23
14  1. FC Nürnberg	     21    6 	4   11 	  19:31   -12 	  22
15  Hertha BSC Berlin (N)    21    4 	8    9 	  25:36   -11 	  20
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16  1. FC Kaiserslautern     21    3 	9    9 	  15:26   -11 	  18
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17  FC Augsburg (N)	     21    3 	9    9 	  19:33   -14 	  18
18  SC Freiburg	  	     21    4 	5   12 	  27:47   -20 	  17

Wolfsburg and Freiburg delivered an entertaining Friday night clash. The VWs undoubtedly expected an easy win, especially when Petr Jiracek scored after only 5 minutes. But Freiburg gave a spirited performance, and with both defenses pathetic, it was anybody’s game. In the end, the VWs prevailed, but SCF probably deserved a point. Wolfsburg coach Felix Magath didn’t look too amused when the final whistle blew, probably intending on ripping his players for struggling against the tailenders.

Leaders Dortmund and Leverkusen played a snoozer. Bayer, along with Hoffenheim, seems to be the most boring team in the league, and they were able to impose their “will” on Dortmund. Leverkusen was tight in defense, but pathetic going forward. The Neons seemed only semi-interested in winning this game, and it took a nice individual effort by Shinji Kagawa to put one in the net. However, after that, Dortmund seemed content to just run down the clock, which meant that their usual all-out attack was not on display today.

Gladbach completely bitch-slapped Schalke in the top match of the weekend. The home side basically finished off the tie in a half hour, as they were up 3-0. Marco Reus opened things up after only 2 minutes. Hermann crossed the ball, Reus faked  Höwedes and Jurado out of their jock-straps, and put the ball into the net. I’m not sure Schalke knew what even hit them, and when Hanke scored after 15, it was really over. This allows the Gladbachers to leap over Schalke. This is really turning into an amazing season for Borussia, their first good campaign since perhaps 1989, when they finished 6th. (1987 was the last time they ended 3rd). Lucien Favre deserves a lot of credit of getting his team ready for each match. The Blues coach Huub Stevens was outraged over his squad’s lame effort, hinting darkly that there “are players who don’t deserve to be wearing the colors.”

Bayern München had no trouble in what Germans might call a Pflichstssieg, a “required win”. They basically just diod enough to wrap things early and then sail to the final whistle against a harmless Kaiserslautern.

Markus Babbel almost had a great debut with Hoffenheim. The Hoppers gave a strong 1st half performance at Bremen, and were nursing the lead until the bitter end. Unfortunately for them, Marko Arnautovic scored with seconds remaining to salvage a draw for Werder. This is actually a fair result, as Bremen definitely improved quite a bit in the 2nd half.

Babbel’s old team however isn’t looking too good. Hertha BSC lost 0-5 in Stuttgart, in what coach Michael Skibbe stated was the worst he had ever seen. Of course, this catastrophic performance is causing all sorts of speculation that Skibbe might be on a short leash, despite the fact he was just appointed in December when the board fired Babbel (who had announced he was going to quit at the end of the season.) The press is full of rumours that Skibbe will get canned, as Hertha has just sucked under his regime. (Which begs the question of why the board doesn’t fire itself, since they’re usually responsible when it really comes down to it. Michael Preetz, are you listening?) Stuttgart had been sucking bigtime recently, so beating the crap out of the “old lady” was just what the doctor ordered. Martin Harnik got the hat-trick, and with Vedad Ibisevic opening his account after his transfer from Hoffenheim, it might be that Cacau’s days with VfB are numbered.  Head coach Bruno Labbadia only put cacau in for the last 15 minutes, and when questioned mentioned “I don’t see any reason to change it.” As for the match itself, Berlin collapsed in about 8 minutes, when they gave up 3 goals enroute to a hopeless 0-4 half-time deficit.

Mainz and Hannover drew 1-1. Mohamed Zidan grabbed his 2nd in his second match since returning to Mainz, and it looked like the home side would get a needed victory. But with only 5 minutes remaining, 96er coach Mirko Slomka brought on Artur Sobiech, and the Polish international scored with seconds left to give Hannover a draw. Overall, this was probably a fair result, as both teams tried hard and were pretty evenly matched. I think this was Hannover’s 400th away Bundesliga match.

On the Sunday matches, Augsburg and Nürnberg played a draw that helps neither move out from danger. There wasn’t much to write home about, hard fought, but with little technical class and few chances.

Hamburg has basically come out of the dumps, as they manage another win, this time at Köln. Paulo Guerrero scored with only two minutes left, after it looked to peter out to a scoreless draw. However, the win for HSV isn’t too outrageous, as they were the more engaged team, actually trying to win the match. Köln didn’t show much except discipline in defense.

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