There’s one thing my coach never tired of saying to me: “Hau den Ball ins Tor hinein!” – best translated with: “Just slam it into the back of the net!” What did yours used to say to you? What about this one: “If we want to win the championship, we need to win away games!”? If you’ve ever played at the top of a league, then you’ve probably heard that one before.
Teams in the Bundesliga don’t appear see things that way, though. Neither record-holders Bayern München, nor the gutsy Schalke 04, nor even title contenders Bayer Leverkusen were able to win their away games on match day 27.
Things used to be different, of course. Back then, host sides knew as soon as they saw the team bus with the Munich licence plates that they were on a hiding to nothing. Nowadays, that’s simply no longer the case. When playing away this season, it seems that Bavaria have decided to try being nicer guests, swapping their dangerous goal-scoring for a more friendly style of play. Just look at their performance in the Champions’ League: while Manchester United made sure they went through playing Milan on home-ground, Munich barely scraped through Florence and have only Arjen Robben to thank for staying them in the running. They aren’t doing any better in the Bundesliga either, drawing 1:1 in Cologne and Nuremberg and losing 1:2 in Frankfurt – this kind of mediocre performance is more than just one player like Arjen Robben can make up for. The biggest German tabloid daily, Bild, called it nothing more than “cruddy football”, and they’re right: Bayern deserved to lose to Eintracht Frankfurt, who showed their class by turning the match around with two goals in the closing minutes – it kind of reminds you of Manchester, 1999. This kind of poor performance should really lose a team the top-spot in their league, but it doesn’t work that way in the Bundesliga.
Munich’s competitors for the top spot didn’t make much of their big chance though; like a fortnight ago when they lost to Nuremberg, Bayer Leverkusen just couldn’t seize the opportunity handed to them on a plate by Munich. While Leverkusen played strongly in the first half in Dortmund – Kießling and Derdiyok really should have taken the match – football is, as we know, a game of two halves; and Dortmund used the second half to their advantage. The Argentinian Lucas Barrios scored two goals, making him the most popular player at Germany’s largest stadium, the Westfalenstadion. Leverkusen left it with a lot of pent-up frustration and a 0:3 defeat.
Now to Schalke. At some point, Schalke is going to have to mount an assault on the upper ranges of the table if they want to be champions; but once again, they didn’t. Kuranyi may well be on such good form at the moment that he’d score blindfolded in the middle of the night (he’s scored 15 goals this season and three in the last three games), but that just wasn’t enough to secure a victory against HSV, with whom Schalke drew 2:2 after an exciting 90 minutes.
It’s as if the three teams leading the league all decided to not win away this weekend. Next week will be exciting, though, with Schalke playing away to Leverkusen and then at home to Bayern München, before the Müncheners then head off to Leverkusen the week after. Hopefully, after all of that, we’ll know who’s going to be champion.
The one real sensation on this match day 27 happened in Wolfsburg: Berlin’s Hertha BSC, currently battling hopelessly against relegation, went to Wolfsburg and secured a stonking 5:1 victory. Nevertheless, you could kind of tell that was going to happen, what with one half of the team from Berlin wanting to show their ex-manager Dieter Hoeneß(now at Wolfsburg) that they were worthy of him signing them and the other half wanting to settle an old score and beat him. It certainly wouldn’t be a surprise if the dangerous five-goal duo Gekas and Ramos were to replace Wolfsburg’s Dzeko-Grafite combo next season…
(Stefan Reichart / Brian Melican)
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Results Match day 27:
1. FC Köln – Borussia Mönchengladbach 1:1
Eintracht Frankfurt – Bayern München 2:1
1. FC Nürnberg – 1899 Hoffenheim 0:0
VfB Stuttgart – Hannover 96 2:0
Werder Bremen – VfL Bochum 3:2
SC Freiburg – 1. FSV Mainz 05 1:0
Borussia Dortmund – Bayer Leverkusen 3:0
Hamburger SV – FC Schalke 04 2:2
VfL Wolfsburg – Hertha BSC Berlin 1:5
1 Bayern München 56 P
2 FC Schalke 04 55 P
3 Bayer Leverkusen 53 P
4 Borussia Dortmund 48 P
5 Werder Bremen 45 P
6 Hamburger SV 44 P
7 VfB Stuttgart 38 P
8 Eintracht Frankfurt 38 P
9 1. FSV Mainz 05 38 P
10 VfL Wolfsburg 37 P
11 1899 Hoffenheim 33 P
12 Borussia Mönchengladbach 31 P
13 1. FC Köln 28 P
14 VfL Bochum 27 P
15 1. FC Nürnberg 25 P
16 Hannover 96 23 P
17 SC Freiburg 23 P
18 Hertha BSC Berlin 18 P