[button color=”eg. black, red, blue, orange, green, light” link=”” target=””]More records for Bayern and Bayer close in on Champions League[/button]
Bayer Leverkusen done themselves the world of good in regards to participating in the 2013/14 Champions League this weekend with a comfortable victory, whilst the two teams directly below them both lost. A thumping win for Bayern Munich sees them close in on even more records, whilst a rare victory for Greuther Fürth at the bottom of the league didn’t do much more than put a brief smile on their fans’ faces.
[button color=”eg. black, red, blue, orange, green, light” link=”” target=””]Champions League race & relegation battle[/button]
Bayer Leverkusen were resounding 5-0 winners at home to 1899 Hoffenheim, opening up a 7-point gap between them and fourth place Schalke 04 this weekend. The opening goal in each half from Stefan Kießling took him to 21 league goals this season, only two behind the league’s top goalscorer Robert Lewandowski.
Chelsea FC target André Schürrle scored a brace of his own, the first a delicious 20 yard strike across goal into the far corner. Stefan Reinartz completed the scoring with 11 minutes remaining. The Werkself look set for a third place finish now, 8 points behind Borussia Dortmund and 7 points ahead of the team below heading into the final four fixtures of the season.
The visitors had been reduced to 10 men when Eugen Polanski was shown a straight red for a trip on Kießling inside the penalty area midway through the first half. Simon Rolfes’ resulting spot kick had been saved by Koen Casteels. Hoffenheim have four games to get themselves out of the bottom four, three points behind FC Augsburg. They host 1. FC Nürnberg next weekend.
Schalke 04 were beaten 1-0 at Eintracht Frankfurt. Marco Russ scored the only goal for the home side by heading home Marc Stendera’s free kick 5 minutes before half-time. Earlier, Michel Bastos had seen his penalty saved by 38-year old Oka Nikolov. Playing in place of the injured Kevin Trapp, the Bulgarian made 7 saves to prevent the Royal Blues from equalising and thus ensuring both a clean sheet and 3 points for his side.
The win moves the Eagles to within 1 point of Schalke as the Bundesliga heads into an exciting final four games with five teams separated by just 2 points for that fourth spot and a Champions League qualification round place.
In between those two sides are SC Freiburg who missed the opportunity to jump into fourth place with a 2-1 loss at Stuttgart on Sunday. Christian Gentner and Vedad Ibisevic both scored in the first half for the hosts before Ivan Santini’s late goal proved to be nothing more than a consolation.
Stuttgart have picked up 7 points from their last three games but a top half finish looks like the most realistic achievement for Bruno Labbadia’s side who are 6 points off a Europa League spot, down in 10th place.
Borussia Mönchengladbach moved up to seventh and remain 1 point behind Eintracht Frankfurt with their 1-0 victory over FC Augsburg in the Friday night game. Filip Daems’ 27th minute penalty was the only goal of the game. The penalty was a result of Kevin Vogt tugging down Peniel Mlapa inside the area and received a straight red card for his actions. Minutes later, Mlapa hit the post. Mike Hanke would do the same in the second half as the Foals failed to add to their lead.
FC Augsburg remain in the relegation playoff spot, 3 points above Hoffenheim and 3 points below Fortuna Düsseldorf. They have lost three of their last four games as the great second half of the season is slowly fading. Markus Weinzierl’s side host VfB Stuttgart next weekend.
Hamburg are the last hopefuls for a Champions League spot. A brace in the opening 20 minutes from Rafael van der Vaart was enough to pick up 3 points in a 2-1 victory over Fortuna Düsseldorf. Back-to-back victories for Thorsten Fink’s side keep their hopes alive with four games remaining after their season looked set for a mid-table finish following three straight defeats that included a 1-0 home loss to Augsburg followed by a 9-2 thrashing at Bayern Munich.
Fortuna are now eight games without a win as they stand precariously over the relegation playoff, just 3 points above FC Augsburg. Their next two games are against Borussia Dortmund and Eintracht Frankfurt which won’t put the fans at ease heading into the final weeks of the season.
[button color=”eg. black, red, blue, orange, green, light” link=”” target=””]More records for Bayern[/button]
Mario Gómez looks set to start Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final 1st leg tie with Barcelona on fine form. With Mario Mandzukic suspended for the game at the Allianz Arena, Gómez is expected to start up front instead of the alternate option of Claudio Pizarro.
The German striker helped himself to a hat-trick in the space of 6 minutes during the 6-1 thrashing of VfL Wolfsburg in the DFB Cup semi-final on Tuesday and followed that up with a brace during Bayern’s 6-1 mauling of Hannover 96 on Saturday.
Some may have said the game was over before kickoff, but it certainly was after Lars Stindl’s own goal on 16 minutes that gave the visitors the lead. Franck Ribery doubled the lead midway through the first half before Gómez scored his first five minutes before half-time. His second came just after the hour mark before Peruvian Pizarro added two of his own in the final 20 minutes either side of a Andre Hoffmann consolation.
Hoffmann’s goal is only the third the Bavarians have conceded on their travels in the league this season. The victory means Bayern now share Borussia Dortmund’s record of 81 points in a season, with four games left to break it. Bayern Munich have scored 89 goals in the league this season – still chasing their 1971-72 record of 101.
Their current goal difference of +75 is set to break the Bundesliga’s previous best of +64 that they set in 1972-73. They need one more clean sheet in the final four games to break the record for most shut outs in a season too.
Borussia Dortmund remain 20 points behind the champions following their 2-0 victory at home to Mainz 05 on Saturday. Marco Reus opened the scoring on 33 seconds before Robert Lewandowski secured all 3 points three minutes from time. The Polish striker has now scored in 12 consecutive Bundesliga games.
Three consecutive defeats for Mainz appears to have ended their hopes of a fourth place finish as they look to hang onto a top half finish.
[button color=”eg. black, red, blue, orange, green, light” link=”” target=””]The rest of the action[/button]
In a largely appealing Saturday evening televised game, two bottom half sides met at the Weserstadion in Bremen. The home side Werder were handed a 3-0 thumping by VfL Wolfsburg and left head coach Thomas Schaaf considering his position at the end of the game. Schaaf has been in charge of the Green-Whites for 14 years now, successfully guiding them to the Bundesliga title in 2003-04 and UEFA Europa League runners-up in 2009.
18-year old Maximilian Arnold opened the scoring with his second Bundesliga goal in four appearances for the Wolves. Ivica Olic scored the second to make it seven goals in his last seven Bundesliga appearances. A Diego penalty midway through the second half gave Wolfsburg a comfortable-looking victory.
Last season’s 2. Bundesliga champions Greuther Fürth picked up only their third Bundesliga win of the season on Sunday with a 1-0 victory at FC Nürnberg in the final game of the weekend. Johannes Geis scored the game’s only goal in the 27th minute. The Clover Leaves held on to keep their fourth clean sheet of the season. They are nine points behind the relegation playoff with just four games to play, having won only three games all season.