With teams starting to return to form, the Bundesliga put on yet another show this past weekend. Improving from Matchday 26’s goal total of 26, 13 teams combined for 27 goals. Home sides struggled again this week, conceding 19 goals and losing five games.
Surprising many fans and pundits, Hertha Berlin carried their momentum from last week into the Berlin Derby, destroying their cross-town rivals 4-0. Bayern and Dortmund maintained their spots as the top two while the rest of the top five moved around. Taking care of business against Mainz, Leipzig moved into third place with the help of Leverkusen knocking off Gladbach.
Before each game this past week, teams gathered around the center circle for a moment of silence to remember those who have lost their life to COVID-19. Teams in the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga will continue to hold moments of silence next week, in addition to each athlete wearing a black armband in remembrance during games.
Hertha Berlin vs 1. FC Union Berlin (4-0)
Matchday 27 kicked off with the Berlin Derby at the Olympiastadion on Friday night. After a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Union in the reverse fixture, Hertha got their revenge, thrashing Union 4-0. Similar to last week, the Old Lady went into halftime level and came out firing in the second half, winning comfortably against the harmless Union squad, who did not do much to challenge the host, failing to score in two consecutive games for the first time this season. Following Friday’s game, the Berlin Derby is level at 2-2-2 competitively, although Hertha does have a 6-5-1 advantage over their neighbors in friendlies.
Unfortunately for Hertha and Union fans, the second-ever Berlin Derby in the Bundesliga was held behind closed doors. The Berlin derby is not just a top-flight clash between rivals, but also a game filled with political and cultural undertones. Although the friendship between both sides has deteriorated, one can not forget how the teams came together when Berlin was divided.
Before the fall of the Berlin Wall, a friendship developed between Hertha and Union supporters, with Hertha fans visiting the Stadion An der Alten Försterei and Union fans supporting Hertha during their European travels in the Soviet Bloc. 79 days after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Hertha hosted Union in a charity match as fans sang songs of German reunification.
This relationship started to break down when Hertha had money injected into them and broke away from their working-class backgrounds, commercializing the West Berlin side and putting off many Union fans. The friendship turned into a rivalry after the third competitive derby in 2012, when Union’s Cristopher Quiring described Hertha fans as “Wessis”, or westerners. Hertha has since added a spark to the rivalry by embracing their financial backers, while Union has stayed true to their anti-establishment roots.
This rivalry has slowly made its way onto the field, which could be seen on Friday when Union had more bodies hit the turf than shots on target. Even though the game lacked the atmosphere created by supporters, tons of strong tackles early on from both sides made the game feel much more like a derby.
Although Hertha controlled possession in the first half, they struggled to break through Union’s well organized defensive lines. Union focused on disrupting the Old Lady’s rhythm, which has been their strategy all season, earning them wins against the likes of Leipzig and Gladbach. As the half came to a close, the Iron Ones upped the ante, playing with their whole team in Hertha’s half.
Going into the break, the game was goal-less, which was a fair result for both teams. Hertha was the unhappier of the two sides, playing better than Union, but unable to create a clear cut chance to execute.
In the 51st minute, Hertha broke the deadlock with wonderful build-up play. Forward Vedad Ibišević scored his second goal in as many games thanks to defender Marvin Plattenhardt’s fantastic cross. The Old Lady has never lost in the 18 games Ibišević has scored the opening goal.
After the kick-off, Hertha won the ball back immediately and attacked an off guard Union backline. Ibišević split Union’s last two defenders, giving winger Dodi Lukébakio a one-on-one with goalkeeper Rafał Gikiewicz. 70 seconds after the first goal, Lukébakio stepped around Gikiewicz and doubled the Old Lady’s lead.
The hosts played with more courage and made more risky passes in the second half. This change in play was key to the Old Lady scoring three goals in 10 minutes. In the 61st minute, winger Matheus Cuhna dribbled past two defenders in the box and chipped the ball to Lukébakio, who whiffed on a bicycle-kick. Luckily for Hertha, the ball landed at Ibišević’s feet, which he laid off to Cuhna at the top of the 18. Cuhna slotted the ball perfectly into the bottom corner, scoring his fifth goal in six games for Hertha.
As the game came to a close, defender Dedryck Boyata settled a personal vendetta with Union by scoring Hertha’s fourth and final goal. In the reverse fixture, Boyata gave up a last-minute penalty, which cost his side the game. Union’s defense lacked organization and invited Plattenhardt to put the ball on a platter for Boyata.
Borussia Mönchengladbach vs Bayer 04 Leverkusen (1-3)
Matchday 27’s hallmark game was surrounded by controversy and VAR decisions. Visitors Leverkusen came out victorious on the back of another man of the match performance from forward Kai Havertz. Heading into the match, Gladbach sat two points above Leverkusen in third place but fell into Europa League qualification, after dropping out of the top four.
Picking up where he left off against Bremen last week, Havertz found himself at the end of winger Karim Bellerabi’s pass, slotting home his ninth goal of the season. Not much separated the two sides after Leverkusen’s opening goal for the remainder of the first half.
Gladbach found their way back into the game, seven minutes into the second half when midfielder Ramy Bensebaini chipped a ball over Leverkusen’s backline. Running under the ball, midfielder Marcus Thuram fired the first-time header past the keeper.
In the 58th minute, the visitors were awarded a penalty to the hosts’ disbelief. Racing through the box, Bellerabi fired a shot across the face of the goal but was taken down by defender Nico Elvaldi during his follow-through. VAR was called on, confirming the rare penalty being awarded after the shot was taken. Walking up to the penalty spot casually, Havertz buried the spot-kick, picking up his second brace in as many games. Leverkusen took home all three points with the help of defender Sven Bender’s goal off a late free-kick in the 81st minute.
VfL Wolfsburg vs Borussia Dortmund (0-2)
Both teams came into the match riding their momentum from the Bundesliga restart, where both teams left with all three points. However, it was Dortmund who came out victorious in this top six matchup after a comfortable win, holding Wolfsburg goal-less for six straight games. While the Wolves may have lost to the Black and Yellow, they retained their two-point cushion over Freiburg and Schalke, who both lost this weekend.
The matchup was full of notable appearances with Wolfsburg keeper Koen Casteels setting the Bundesliga record for games played by a Belgian player at 157 games. In addition to this, defender Mats Hummels played in his 250th Bundesliga game for Dortmund and midfielder Daniel Ginczek hit the century mark for league games as a Wolves player.
Dortmund looked comfortable on the ball early on, putting on a little more pressure at the attacking end than their opponents. In the 16th minute, winger Thorgan Hazard cut onto his left foot at the top of the box in an Arjen Robben-like move but sent his shot into the empty stands. 20 minutes into the game, the Black and Yellow controlled close to 75 percent of the possession, yet Wolfsburg’s backline was not giving them any chances. The visitors had their first real chance in the 25th minute but the inswinging-cross was slightly behind striker Wout Weghorst, who headed the ball over the crossbar.
The Black and Yellow finally broke through Wolfsburg’s defense in the 32nd minute to find the back of the net. With a brilliant move, winger Julian Brandt cut the ball back across the penalty area. It was striker Erling Haaland who had the first attempt on goal but the young Norwegian could not get a foot on the ball. Luckily for Dortmund, midfielder Raphaël Guerreiro was waiting behind Haaland and smashed in his third goal in two games. As Brandt, Guerreiro, Haaland, Hazard, and midfielder Acraf Hakimi continue to shine offensively, defenses across the Bundesliga must find new ways to slow down Dortmund’s young and energized attack.
Dortmund took a comfortable 1-0 lead into halftime. The hosts controlled possession and did not let Wolfsburg take a shot on keeper Roman Bürki. Before the start of the second half, defender Emre Can came on for Hummels in a precautionary move; Hummels had a slight issue with his foot before the game.
Wolfsburg’s best chance came out of thin air in the 48th minute. Taking advantage of a misplaced pass, Weghorst held up play and found winger Renato Steffan in the 18-yard box, who had a one-on-one with the keeper. Steffan went for power instead of placement and smashed his shot off of the crossbar, failing to level the game. The hosts started to grow into the game with Dortmund sitting back defensively, giving them too much time on the ball.
It did not take long for Dortmund to regain control. Winger Jadon Sancho was brought in the game in the 65th minute. The England international has been eased into action the last two games by coach Lucien Farve as he works his way back to full fitness. Sancho was welcomed into the game by Wolfsburg with a crunching tackle. This did not deter the winger, who picked up the ball at midfield in the 78th minute. Dribbling into the penalty area with speed, Haaland drew two defenders away from Sancho, who laid the ball off to Hakimi for his 16th assist of the season.
To make things worse for Wolfsburg, substitute Felix Klaus was shown a red card in the 81st minute. On the pitch, the referee was unsure of the severity of the foul and consulted the pitchside replay booth. Wolfsburg players screamed in disbelief as they saw the referee reach for his back pocket after stepping back on the pitch. Unfortunately for Wolfsburg, the decision could have gone either way since the tackle did not seem deliberate but the height and nature of the tackle are what sent Klaus to the locker room for the final nine minutes of the game.
SC Freiburg vs SV Werder Bremen (0-1)
Relegation contender Bremen pulled off a shocking win against Freiburg, thanks to an early goal and VAR. With a game in hand, the 17th place side is only a win away from the play-off spot and two wins away from safety. On the other hand, Freiburg has failed to gain momentum since the restart and will look to catch Wolfsburg for a spot in Europe.
The game started wonderfully, as both teams attacked relentlessly. Bremen keeper Jiri Pavelenka was forced to make a save in the 5th minute off a swerving free-kick from winger Vincenzo Grifo. In the 17th minute, winger Rolland Sallai sent Freiburg’s first open play chance wide of the net. The home side has only scored four goals from open play in the last 15 league matches.
In the 19th minute, Bremen broke the deadlock from a fantastic fast break. Just inside his half, midfielder Davy Klaassen hit a one-time, world-class through ball to winger Leonardo Bittencourt, 25 yards out from goal. Bittencourt took a half-volley with blistering accuracy, firing his shot into the bottom corner of the goal. The winger’s goal was vital for the Bundesliga’s worst attack, giving them something to fight for.
Bremen started the second half with great composure, searching for their second goal of the game. The hosts started to grow back into the game at the start of the second half, peppering Pavlenka’s goal with shots.
The game turned in the hosts’ favor as the match came to a close. In the 81st minute, winger Changhoon Kwoon curled an effort through traffic, bouncing just wide of the goal. Eight minutes later, Freiburg was given a man advantage when midfielder Philipp Bargfrede was sent off for his second yellow card of the game. With a minute left in regulation, Freiburg thought they had tied the game when defender Manuel Gulde poked home a goal from a rebound. The hosts were devastated when the referee overturned the decision on the field, with VAR deeming defender Robin Koch offside before his shot hit the post and made its way to Gulde. In the 97th minute, striker Nils Petersen had a last-second volley turned away at the near post by Pavlenka. Bremen held on for the win, just their second this year, and their second clean sheet of the season.
SC Paderborn 07 vs TSG 1899 Hoffenheim (1-1)
Hoffenheim bounced back from a terrible game against Hertha last week and scored an early goal against Paderborn. However, they could only manage to leave with a point after giving the hosts a free chance on goal. Paderborn has picked up two points from their last two games but it does not seem likely to help the Bundesliga’s worst team, who are nine points away from safety.
The visitors had an electric start to the game, scoring in the fourth minute off a great run of play. Gliding past two defenders, midfielder Pavel Kadeřábek played an inch-perfect pass into the penalty area. The ball rolled directly into striker Robert Skov’s path, who buried one from point-blank range into the top of the net.
It did not take long for Paderborn to find their way back into the game, who took advantage of Hoffenheim’s defensive blunder, as defender Ermin Bičakčić set striker Dennis Srbeny up perfectly from 25 yards out with his miss-hit pass. Srbeny had only one thing on his mind when the ball rolled into his path and curled a beautiful shot past keeper Oliver Baumann.
In the 28th minute, midfielder Christoph Baumgartner should have given Hoffenheim the lead but rolled a wide-out shot from 12-yards out into Leopold Zingele’s hands. Five minutes later, defender Stefan Posch hit a strong ball from just outside the box, but could not sneak his shot in at the near post.
Paderborn had the first clear chance of the second half at the hour mark, yet defender Uwe Hünemeier could not find the target with his header from the set-piece. A minute later, walking yellow card Klaus Gjasula picked up his 14th yellow card of the season, a Bundesliga record through Matchday 27.
With three minutes left in regulation, Hoffenheim missed a perfect opportunity to leave with all three points, failing to find the target with an unmarked shot once again. Paderborn will be happy with the point but have struggled to win a game, failing to do so in their last seven. On the other hand, Hoffenheim is still in the race for a Europa League spot, thanks to the three teams above them all losing.
FC Bayern München vs Eintracht Frankfurt (5-2)
After Saturday’s dismantling at the hands of the Reds, Frankfurt has lost five straight games. The Eagles showed what they were capable of when they picked up two quick goals to cut Bayern’s lead to one but shot themselves in the foot with their sloppy defending. Outside of a 10-minute spell where Frankfurt had Bayern on their back foot, the defending champions dominated possession and made chances hard to come by.
During the first five minutes of play, neither team could string a pass together or maintain possession. Things changed in the seventh minute when midfielder Thomas Müller cut back on the wing and played a cross into the box. The subsequent corner unleashed Bayern’s attack as Frankfurt struggled to get the ball out of their half.
The pressure applied by the Reds became too much for the Eagles to handle early on. In the 10th minute, striker Robert Lewandowski beat Frankfurt keeper Kevin Trapp with pace but his shot bounced back off of the crossbar. Two minutes later, midfielder Joshua Kimmich chipped a perfect ball over the Eagles’ defensive line but winger Ivan Perišić did not get enough power on his acrobatic effort. Defender Benjamin Pavard jumped into the action and sent his flying header right at Trapp.
In the 16th minute, the Reds opened up the scoring with an amazing set piece. Perišić made a beautiful fake towards the ball, letting it roll past him to Müller. The German international then crossed the ball into the middle of the box where midfielder Leon Goretzka ran onto the ball and volleyed the ball into the back of the net. After conceding the game’s first goal, Frankfurt remained the only Bundesliga side not to keep a clean sheet on the road.
Shortly before the end of the half, Müller tried to find Lewandowski with a pullback but the Eagles were able to clear their lines. The clearance proved to be disappointing, landing at defender David Alaba’s feet. The six-time Austrian Player of the Year showed his skill, whipping in a beautiful cross from 30 yards out to Müller, who chested the ball down and doubled Bayern’s lead. With shouts of offsides coming from Frankfurt’s bench, VAR checked the decision on the field and confirmed that the goal stood. After hearing the decision, Müller was delighted, after having a goal disallowed by VAR last week.
Less than a minute into the second half, Lewandowski gave Bayern a three-goal cushion. American defender Timothy Chandler was not given the opportunity to adjust to the pace of the game after coming on at halftime as a substitute. Winger Kingsley Coman targeted the American, dribbling past Chandler before he could take down the winger. With plenty of space in front of him, Coman had time to find Lewandowski, who leads the Bundesliga with 27 goals.
Against the run of play, the Eagles stole a goal from Bayern who failed to pick up defender Martin Hinteregger in the penalty area. Hinteregger was given a free run to the ball and beat goalie Manuel Neuer with a miss-hit shot which proved difficult to read and snuck past the German keeper. Three minutes later, Frankfurt came within a goal of the defending champions off of Hinteregger’s quick-fire brace. Neuer had no chance at making a save on the perfectly placed header, which bounced in off the far post.
The Reds overcame their brief stumble with the help of Frankfurt midfielder Gélson Fernandes. As the game opened up, both teams had the opportunity to counter-attack against a weaker backline. This is exactly what Bayern defender Alfonso Davies did in the 61st minute when he took on three Eagles’ defenders. The young Canadian was unable to break through on his own, but a poor clearance from Fernandes landed at his feet, which he happily put into the back of the net. Bayern’s rising star eased his side’s nerves and dealt Frankfurt a psychological blow.
In the 74th minute, Hinteregger bagged his hat trick in heartbreaking fashion. When Bayern winger Serge Gnabry fired a shot at Trapp, Hinteregger sat on the wrong end of the rebound. With pressure from Müller behind him, Hinteregger cleared the ball off his leg into the back of his net, giving Bayern a three-goal lead.
Schalke 04 vs FC Augsburg (0-3)
Augsburg bounced back from a last-minute loss last week with a convincing win over Schalke. The Bavarian club moved past Frankfurt and Union into 12th plain, gaining a valuable three points in the relegation battle. Although Schalke still sits in the top half table, the Gelsenkirchen side has failed to score since the Bundesliga restart and continue to look extremely out of form.
The visitors were given an early opportunity, after being awarded a free-kick 30 yards out from goal in the sixth minute. Midfielder Eduard Löwen fired Augsburg into the lead with an outstanding free-kick, curling a powerful strike over the wall and past the outstretched gloves of Markus Schubert.
Schalke dominated possession early on but could not hold onto the ball in the attacking third. The Royal Blues’ first real chance came in the 26th minute when midfielder Suat Serdar sent a shot from distance over the crossbar. Three minutes later, striker Rabbi Matondo had a great opportunity, forcing a decent save from Andreas Luthe. Heading into the break, the Royal Blues had five attempts on goal but could only force one save from Luthe.
Neither team possessed a threat early on in the second half. Both sides took shots on goal but did not trouble the keeper. Schalke continued to control the game, holding Augsburg with only one shot on target until the 61st minute.
As the game entered the final 20 minutes, Schalke seemed to lose a bit of their energy, making more mistakes on the ball. Augsburg took advantage of the tired Blues, doubling their lead in the 76th minute. Midfielder Noah Sarenren Bazee capitalized off of a poor clearance, curling a fantastic strike into the top corner. The visitors sealed the win in stoppage time off another counter-attack and mistake from Schalke’s defense. Stealing the ball outside the box, substitute Sergio Córdova dribbled around the keeper and passed the ball into the back of the net.
1. FSV Mainz 05 vs RB Leipzig (0-5)
After settling for a 1-1 draw against Freiburg, Leipzig returned to their old ways with a 5-0 demolition of Mainz. With Der Klassiker on Tuesday, RB will hope that results will go their way so they can continue to fight for their first Bundesliga title. Regrettably for Mainz, they were on the receiving end of Leipzig at the start of the season, falling 8-0 and conceding a total of 13 goals to the Red Bulls this season. On a positive note, Düsseldorf failed to hold onto a two-goal lead so they are still three points clear of the relegation zone.
Leipzig came out firing in the opening minutes of the game. Surprisingly, Mainz followed suit and opened up the game. This came back to haunt the hosts, who left their defense vulnerable, in the 11th minute when striker Timo Werner ended his goal drought and opened the floodgates for Leipzig’s attack.
In the 23rd minute, striker Yussuf Poulsen doubled RB’s lead in his 250th competitive appearance for Leipzig. The striker was left wide-open and given plenty of time to head the ball past keeper Florian Müller. Defensive midfielder Marcel Sabitzer joined the goal-fest, snagging a goal for himself after assisting Poulsen 13 minutes earlier. Poulsen traded places with Sabitzer, assisting the midfielder’s superb slicing goal. There was a brief delay after the celebrations, as VAR checked for offsides. The goal stood and Leipzig took a 3-0 lead into halftime.
Three minutes into the second half, Werner picked up his second of the game, finishing off of brilliant tiki-taka passing between Sabitzer and winger Christopher Nkunku. In the 54th minute, a last-ditch effort from Mainz stopped Nkunku from finding the back of the net. Eight minutes later, defensive midfielder Kevin Kampl was denied a wonderful goal because Poulsen was deemed offside by VAR and was blocking the keeper’s vision.
With 15 minutes left in regulation, Werner finished off his hat trick from Poulsen’s quickly taken free-kick. Sitting just inside his half, Poulsen caught Mainz flat-footed, playing Werner through with a perfectly chipped through ball. It was not surprising that Werner ended his goal-scoring drought with a hat trick against Mainz, having scored three and assisted two in the reverse fixture
1. FC Köln vs Fortuna Düsseldorf (2-2)
After blowing a two-goal lead in the second half to Mainz last week, Köln staged a comeback of their own, stealing a point from Düsseldorf. The Billy Goats have only lost one of their eight games under head coach Markus Gisdal, however, they have drawn six of those games.
Düsseldorf set up a high press early on, outrunning the Billy Goats by a kilometer through the first 15 minutes of the game. This intensity showed its importance for the visitors in the 21st minute, forcing a turnover from Köln’s backline and giving their first clear cut chance of the game. Striker Kenan Karaman forced a save from Köln keeper Timo Horn with his effort but did not challenge Horn. Four minutes before halftime, careless passing from the Billy Goats and a lucky deflection gave the visitors a 1-0 lead. After having his first effort saved, Karaman skipped past a defender and fired in his fifth goal of the season.
The Billy Goats looked likely to tie things up in the 57th minute but midfielder Mark Uth was denied by the post and then by keeper Florian Kastenmeier within seconds of his initial shot. After Uth’s second shot was saved, Düsseldorf midfielder Adam Bodzek brought down Uth with a sloppy tackle. Stepping up to the penalty spot, Uth fired a disappointing penalty kick slightly to the right of Kastenmeiner, who dove down to his side and made the save comfortably.
Four minutes later, Düsseldorf made the hosts pay for their missed penalty kick, doubling their lead with a classy finish from winger Erik Thommy. Catching Köln off guard, winger Steven Skrzybski played a ball across the box to Thommy for his second assist of the game. Thommy gave Kastenmeier no chance at saving the ball, nutmegging the defender with his perfectly placed shot.
The hosts cut their deficit in half in the 88th minute with a beautiful first-time header from substitute Anthony Modeste. Fellow substitute Dominick Drexler did most of the work leading up to the goal, playing in a great cross to Modeste. Three minutes later, the Billy Goats pulled off a last-minute comeback, shocking Düsseldorf in stoppage time. Sending a searching ball forward, Drexler picked up the ball near the corner flag. After assisting the Billy Goats’ first goal from a similar spot, Drexler chipped a cross into the box. With the game’s last clear chance, striker Jhon Cordoba stole a point from Düsseldorf.
- FC Bayern München – 61 points
- Borussia Dortmund – 57 points
- RB Leipzig – 54 points
- Bayer 04 Leverkusen – 53 points
- Borussia Mönchengladbach – 52 points
- VfL Wolfsburg – 39 points
- SC Freiburg – 37 points (-2 Goal Differential)
- FC Schalke 04 – 37 points (-10 Goal Differential)
- TSG 1899 Hoffenheim – 36 points
- 1. FC Köln – 34 points (-6 Goal Differential)
- Hertha Berlin – 34 points (-9 Goal Differential)
- FC Augsburg – 30 points (-14 Goal Differential)
- 1. FC Union Berlin – 30 points (-15 Goal Differential)
- Eintracht Frankfurt – 28 points (26 Games Played)
- 1. FSV Mainz 05 – 27 points
- Fortuna Düsseldorf – 24 points
- SV Werder Bremen – 21 points (26 Games Played)
- SC Paderborn 07 – 18 points