Good week for: Bayern Munich, Fortuna Düsseldorf, Mario Götze, Bruno Labbadia
Bad week for: Heiko Herrlich, Hanover (again), Stuttgart (again), goalkeepers,
– After losing their first league game of the season in midweek, Borussia Dortmund bounced straight back to claim a 2-1 win over Borussia Mönchengladbach, who were second coming in to the weekend. Jadon Sancho and Marco Reus were on the scoresheet for the league leaders but substitute Mario Götze also shone and provided two assists. After a tough few years, Götze seems to be finding his way again and his side go in to the winter break six points clear.
– Bayern Munich kept up the pressure on their title rivals with an impressive 3-0 away win at Eintracht Frankfurt, making it five league wins and four clean sheets in a row. Franck Ribery defied his advanced age once again to grab a brace and the title race is most definitely on in 2019. About time.
– Domenico Tedesco will be one of the league’s more relieved coaches going in to Christmas, with his side winning the clash of two of the league’s biggest underperformers to finish a difficult half-season in 13th, seven points clear of the the relegation spots. The 3-1 win over struggling Stuttgart was notable for the performance of Ahmed Kutucu. The 18-year-old striker, a Schalke youth product, scored his first Bundesliga goal in his second appearance. In a team that have struggled for goals, could the solution be internal?
– Heiko Herrlich may not enjoy his Christmas break quite so much. The Bayer Leverkusen coach has appeared on the brink of the sack for the whole season but the timing of his dismissal on Sunday was surprising after a run of four wins in his last five games.
– Fortuna Düsseldorf are on fire. A vital three points against Freiburg was followed by inflicting Borussia Dortmund’s first loss and then Friedhelm Funkel’s players made it three in a row to close out 2018 with a 90th-minute winner away at fellow relegation battlers Hanover.
– Things are not going anywhere near as well for the other promoted side, Nuremberg. A 1-0 home loss to Freiburg means they haven’t won since September, haven’t scored in their last four, have the league’s worst defensive record and its second worst attack. Despite those grim figures, a decent start leaves them just three points off Stuttgart who occupy the relegation playoff spot. What that says about the quality at the bottom of the table is another matter.
– Wolfsburg’s 3-2 win over Augsburg on Sunday means they and Bayern have the league’s joint best record over the last six matches and the Wolves go up to fifth. They’re just five points off their total for the whole of last season.
Yannick Gerhardt’s 89th minute winner settled a helter-skelter clash between Augsburg and Wolfsburg and sent the Wolves into fifth place over the winter break. The visitors raced into a 2-0 lead, but but Augsburg turned it around after the restart, with Rani Khedira pulling one back and Sergio Cordova’s header restoring parity. But Gerhardt provided the deftest of touches to secure the points.
The final Bundesliga game of 2018 ended in a draw as Mainz hold Hoffenheim, who missed the chance to go 6th. Kerem Demirbay’s neat turn and finish opened the scoring for the hosts, but Mainz were only behind for five minutes. Jean-Philippe Mateta pounced on a poor clearance by Kevin Vogt and slammed the ball home. Hoffenheim have now drawn six in a row while Mainz haven’t won in four.
Bruma’s late winner sent RB Leipzig into the winter break with a victory. A stellar strike from Lukas Klostermann put the home side ahead early, and Timo Werner took advantage of a poor pass from Max Kruse to double the home side’s lead. Goals from Kruse and substitute Josh Sargent leveled the scoreline with 10 minutes to play, but Bruma’s late winner helped Leipzig secure all three points.
The defending Bundesliga champions were triumphant in Niko Kovac’s return to Frankfurt. Franck Ribery (left) scored twice for the Bavarians, giving him four goals in his last four league games. Rafinha added a third just before fulltime as Bayern moved within six points of league leaders Borussia Dortmund.
Dortmund rebounded from their first league defeat in midweek by triumphing over Gladbach in Signal Iduna Park. Jadon Sancho scored from a very tight angle to put the league leaders ahead, but Christoph Kramer equalized for the visitors just before the break. Marco Reus (pictured above) combined with Mario Götze to score the eventual game winner in the second half.
Two goals from Kai Havertz (third from right) helped Leverkusen pick up their third straight home victory. Kevin Volland got things started for the home side, tapping in a pass from Charles Aranguiz. Havertz capitalized on a Rune Jarstein mistake to double Leverkusen’s lead, though a goal from Jordan Torunarigha kept Hertha in the game. A Havertz chip shortly after halftime sealed the win.
After handing Dortmund their first league defeat on Tuesday, newly promoted Düsseldorf picked up their third consecutive victory with a win over Hannover. Oliver Fink (pictured), currently one of the Bundesliga’s oldest players at 36 years old, tapped in the game-winner in second half stoppage time. Düsseldorf now sit four points ahead of the drop zone heading into the winter break.
Schalke ended a four-game winless run by defeating Stuttgart and former coach Markus Weinzierl. Steven Skrzybski (third from left) gave the Royal Blues an early 1-0 lead and a Mario Gomez own goal shortly after halftime doubled their advantage. Nicolas Gonzalez got Stuttgart on the scoreboard in the 76th minute, but a strike from Ahmed Kutucu sealed the win for Schalke.
Nuremberg’s winless streak extended to 11 games after they fell to Freiburg in the Max Morlock Stadium. A free kick from Christian Günter put Freiburg ahead in the first half. The home side appeared to have found an equalizer shortly after halftime, but the goal from Adam Zrelak was disallowed for offside. The Franconian side enters the winter break as the Bundesliga’s worst team.
“I watched the DFB Pokal final three times. Once as a coach in the stadium, and two more afterwards. I felt goosebumps on each and every time.” – Bayern Munich coach Niko Kovac reminiscing about conquering his current club with Frankfurt last term after the sides met on Saturday.
“Bayern to win the league? That’s what we assume in Munich.” – Kovac again, showing that his integration in Bavaria is going to plan.
“There has been an undeniable stagnation in the development of the team.” Rudi Völler sticks the boot in on the departing Heiko Herrlich.
“Two assists from the bench – I think Paco’s rubbing off on me,” Mario Götze has learnt from teammate Paco Alcacer.
“I couldn’t even dream of such a week, if I’m honest.” – Fortuna Düsseldorf coach Friedhelm Funkel with an honest reaction to three wins in a week.
– With 42 points, Borussia Dortmund’s first half-season was the club’s second best ever, one point behind Jürgen Klopp’s title-winning 2010/11 side.
– Bayern Munich haven’t conceded a goal in four league games.
– Hoffenheim’s 1-1 draw with Mainz ono Sunday was their sixth consecutive stalemate in the league.
– Werder Bremen’s American forward Josh Sargent scored his second Bundesliga goal in just three appearances.
– Slippery conditions often make for a nightmare before Christmas for goalkeepers but there were no such excuses for two of the division’s more reliable stoppers, who both made similar errors on the same afternoon.
Jiri Pavlenka (Werder Bremen) and Rune Jarstein (Hertha Berlin) both made a mess of things with their feet which contributed to defeats. Pavlenka went short to an under-pressure Max Kruse from a goal kick and was unable to reach the underhit back pass, allowing Timo Werner to nip in and score. Jarstein’s was even worse, the Norwegian taking the heavest of touches on a backpass – Kai Havertz took full advantage.