Bayern Munich had a golden chance to increase their advantage atop the table after both Dortmund and Schalke dropped points in games they should have won. And they took that opportunity in style, hammering Hamburg 3-0.
Bayern rolled into Hamburg looking to rebound from their only league loss of the season in round nine. Meanwhile, Hamburg were seeking to continue their recovery from a sputtering start and crack the top third of the table. The last match between these two ended 1-1, but in the previous two, Bayern had outscored Hamburg 11-0.
Buoyed by their home fans, Hamburg stood tall initially, but with a little more than five minutes until the break, Bayern made their dominance pay off. Toni Kroos lobbed a cross in for Bastian Schweinsteiger, whose diving header put the visitors ahead.
Bayern went into the dressing room with a 1-0 lead and deservedly so after racking up 60 percent of possession and a huge advantage in terms of crosses. Still Hamburg coach Thorsten Fink must have thought his side had a chance at an upset, substituting striker Artjoms Rudnevs on for defensive midfielder Tomas Rincon at the restart.
After the break, Bayern immediately doubled their lead. In minute 48, Thomas Müller looked to have pushed the ball too far forward but chipped it in from an extremely acute angle. Hamburg now had to be thinking damage control, but Toni Kroos was having none of that. He nearly took Hamburg keeper Rene Adler’s head off in minute 52, extending Bayern’s advantage to 3-0.
And that’s the way it stayed, as Bayern took a page from Shakespeare and decided that the quality of mercy is not strained. So did the referee who blew his final whistle a few seconds before the required ninety minutes.
"I think everyone in the league who hoped we’d slip up is having a bad evening tonight, while we’ll be having a good one," Müller said in his post-match interview.
Bayern are now seven points ahead of Schalke and Frankfurt in the table and have a whopping eleven point advantage over Dortmund.
Stuttgart frustrate champs
Last season Dortmund and Stuttgart played to a 4-4 draw, but neither team was hoping to repeat that result. Dortmund needed and expected a win at home to keep league leaders Bayern in sight. Stuttgart wanted to continue their recovery from a slow season start.
Stuttgart put the hosts under some early pressure, before Dortmund began to assert themselves. In minute 29, Dortmund fans couldn't believe their eyes, as Stuttgart keeper Sven Ulreich denied Mats Hummels from three meters out.
But the defending champs lacked the incisiveness that has taken them to two straight titles and were lucky not to go behind just before the interval, when Vedad Ibisevic failed to control a ball inches in front of goal.
Substitute Julian Schieber, who played for Stuttgart last season, had a chance to slot one in on the hour mark. But his former teammate Ulreich produced a skillful leg save. And Stuttgart almost grabbed an advantage when Ibisevic again got a one-on-one directly in front of goal with a quarter of an hour remaining.
At this point in the season, Dortmund's two young stars Marco Reus and Mario Götze simply aren't harmonizing as well as expected. The match ended goalless, and Dortmund's chances of a title three-peat took another blow.
Rollercoaster ride in Hoffenheim
The only positive to Dortmund's Saturday was that archrivals Schalke lost 3-2 in Hoffenheim.
Kevin Volland staked Hoffenheim to the lead just before the quarter-of-an-hour mark. It was the 20-year-old's first-ever Bundesliga. It took twenty minutes for Schalke to equalize on a header by Roman Neustädter after a corner.
Schalke should have had a few more goals, but were denied by a series of fine saves by Hoffenheim keeper Tim Wiese. And in minute 63, the hosts were given a somewhat soft penalty. Roberto Firmino converted to restore Hoffenheim's lead completely against the run of play.
Then in minute 82, Jefferson Farfan advanced up the right and put in a pinpoint cross for defender Atsuto Uchida to poke home. And Ciprian Marica could have secured the three points but headed over in the dying minutes.
And last-second substitute Sven Schipplock scored the game-winner at the beginning of extra-time to leave the Royal Blues looking for explanations.
"It’s a lack of experience," grumbled Schalke coach Huub Stevens. "When I see a defender push forward to try to score the 3-2, and then you concede the game-winner immediately thereafter, then that’s inexperience."
Goals hard to come by
Elsewhere in the league, Mame Diouf put Hanover up 1-0 against Augsburg with a point-blank header in minute 25. The goal came after a long pass that Augsburg failed to deal with and was Hanover's just reward for being the more positive side. Lars Stindl then sealed the 2-0 win five minutes from the end with a fine curling shot.
In Mönchengladbach, Igor de Camargo opened the scoring for the hosts against Freiburg just after the restart. It was one of the first signs of life in a moribund encounter, but the Foals failed to press their advantage. Daniel Caligiuri leveled the score for Freiburg fifteen minutes from time.
Foals coach Lucien Favre was so incensed that he got himself sent to the stands just before the final whistle. The 1-1 draw means Gladbach must continue to tread water.
In Nuremberg, the hosts and visitors Wolfsburg spent three-quarters-of-an-hour putting the crowd to sleep. Then Timo Gebhart, perhaps out of boredom, headed one in for Nuremberg. The 1-0 result keeps Wolfsburg in the relegation zone in sixteenth place.
In Friday's match, third-placed Eintracht Frankfurt and Greuther Fürth split the points after a 1-1 draw. Alex Meier put the hosts up in the opening minute, but Zoltan Stieber found his range in second half to nab a welcome point for Fürth.
Keep up to date with the latest scores and the points table in the Bundesliga.