Cliché as it may be, Augsburg pulled off a David-meet-Goliath act, handing champions Bayern Munich a 1-0 loss. It was Munich’s first league defeat in 54 games. Coach Pep Guardiola was partly to blame for the loss.
Ahead of Bayern's away match in Augsburg, Guardiola raised a few eyebrows by saying that for his team, which has already wrapped up the German title, the Bundesliga was “over.” And he underscored that message by fielding a starting eleven that included little-used youngsters Mitchell Weiser, Ylli Sallahi and Pierre-Emile Höjbjerg. Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery were left out of the squad altogether.
To say that Guardiola's personnel rotation backfired would be an understatement. On the half-hour, Daniel Baier robbed Weiser of the ball and sent through Sascha Mölders. The hulking Augsburg striker smashed the ball past Manuel Neuer to score his first goal since October and give the hosts a deserved lead.
Bayern clearly had one eye on their upcoming Champions League return fixture against Manchester United, and Augsburg were good for their lead. Even the introduction of Mario Götze, David Alaba and Thomas Müller in the second half wasn't enough to turn the course of the match.
"You could see that our regular starting eleven weren't playing today," Neuer told reporters after the match. "We took the Augsburg match seriously, but the most important thing for us today was that no one got hurt."
The 1-0 loss was Bayern's first league defeat since the autumn of 2012 and ends their bid to become only the third team to record an undefeated season in a major modern European football league.
The unlikely victory left this season's pleasant surprise Augsburg in eighth place.
Foals eye Champions League
Mönchengladbach rolled into Nuremberg knowing that three points could take them fourth in the table. Meanwhile, the Club were hoping for a win to take them out of the drop zone.
The hosts were hampered by a number of injuries, and Gladbach's superior class showed right from the start. Juan Arango put the Foals ahead after 18 minutes with a deflected free kick.
Nuremberg desperately pressed for an equalizer, and Gladbach once again failed to put a game to bed. But the hosts never found their range, and ten minutes from time, Max Kruse went down melodramatically in the box.
"They of course think it was a dive," Kruse said. "But I've never dived in my life and I didn't today either."
The Gladbach forward calmly slotted home from the spot, and. Nuremberg’s goose was cooked. The 2-0 win for the Foals means that they’re hot in pursuit of a spot in club football’s premier competition.
The result means that Nuremberg plummet to second-last – a direct relegation spot.
Dortmund pull off gutsy comeback
Dortmund came into their home match against Wolfsburg on the heels of their disastrous 3-0 loss to Real Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday, and they looked out of sorts in the first half.
Wolfsburg striker Ivica Olic somehow contrived to miss twice from mere inches, sparing Dortmund further aggravation. He did spank in a rebound, though, to put the Wolves ahead in minute 34.
In the dressing room, Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp must have given his charges the sort of talking to he usually reserves for journalists, because the hosts came out in the second half with far more commitment. And Robert Lewandowski leveled things in minute 51, somehow directing a corner kick into goal with the back of his neck.
Dortmund’s second goal was even more curious. A quarter of an hour from time, Wolfsburg defender Robin Knoche undercut keeper Max Grün as he was trying to secure a corner. Grün crashed into Marco Reus and dropped the ball, whereupon Reus pounced. Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking wanted a whistle for a foul on Reus, but the goal was allowed to stand.
The 2-1 win takes Dortmund three points clear of third-placed Schalke. Wolfsburg are in sixth.
Stuttgart finally hold a lead
In the round's most hotly anticipated relegation match, Stuttgart made things even more interesting at the bottom of the table by beating Freiburg 2-0.
Both teams started cautiously, and chances were few and far between in the first half. Stuttgart had more of the ball, but their guests defended well. A bit of footballing class broke the ice twenty minutes from time. Alexandru Maxim played a nifty one-two with Ibrahima Traore and converted the latter's precise cross.
That loosened Freiburg's resistance, and just before time, a totally unmarked Martin Harnik side-footed in a corner kick to complete the scoreline.
"The relegation battle is pure insanity," Stuttgart sports director Fredi Bobic said. "You could feel the electricity on the pitch."
The result lifts Stuttgart out of the drop zone into fifteenth place. Freiburg are fourteenth, two points ahead of Stuttgart and once again right back in the thick of the relegation battle
On Friday, sixteenth-placed Hamburg pulled off a 2-1 upset of Leverkusen. The result cost Leverkusen coach Sami Hyypiä his job. Youth coach Sascha Lewandowski has taken over on an interim basis.
Frankfurt can breath easier
Elsewhere, Frankfurt are as good as safe from the drop after racking up a 2-0 win over a listless Mainz squad. Joselu and Alex Meier scored the goals – both in the second half.
In Bremen, Werder missed the chance to pull away from the bottom teams as well. The hosts went ahead early against Schalke, when Franco di Santo finished a lovely move by Eljero Elia.
But after half an hour, youngster Leon Goretzka exploited some typically poor Bremen defending to equalize. 1-1 was the final score.
The result means that the Royal Blues tread water in third. Bremen are six points clear of the drop zone with five games left to play and probably still need a point or two to clinch first-division football next season.
On Sunday, last-placed Braunschweig host their hated local rivals Hanover. Hertha Berlin meet Hoffenheim in the late match.