Bayern Munich gladly accepted first place in the Bundesliga from Werder Bremen on Saturday by demolishing Duisburg 4-0 while Bremen, Schalke and Hamburg played to dismal draws.
It would be a good day for Ze Roberto (m) and Bayern Munich
Bayern Munich wanted to show to the rest of the league that last week's last-minute draw against Schalke would have consequences. Duisburg were just the right opponent to quench their thirst for goals. The Bavarians have averaged over three goals against the "Zebras" over the years and they improved that average by easily beating their guests 4-0.
"We dominated the game and never let any doubt come up otherwise," commented coach Felix Magath. "The fans had fun and it was worth their while to come."
For Duisburg, the journey from up north was not worthwhile. The promoted side didn't offer any true resistance to the onslaught that was destined to come their way on Saturday.
Booking: Referee Rafati shows Duisburg's Ivica Grlic yellow
Michael Ballack started off the scoring in the 27th minute with probably his most dangerous weapon, a headball. Six minutes later, Brazilian international Ze Roberto scored his first goal in ten months when he followed up on his first shot to knock the leather in with his heel.
Roberto would feed Roque Santa Cruz with a beautiful cross and the Paraguayan headed the ball home, again without any great effort to stop him. To put the icing on the cake, Peruvian Claudio Pizarro scored two minutes into added time. The only player missing out on the scoring fest was Roy Makaay who has not scored since the third week.
"I am not counting the minutes. There were two or three balls that you could say could have but didn't have to go in," commented the Dutchman stoically after the match.
Bremen , Schalke bring yawns to their fans
Bayern could storm back to the top of the standings because two of their nearest rivals, Bremen and Schalke, were unable to score. Bremen's coach probably would have wished that his side could have saved one of their goals from the 6-2 shellacking last week of Nuremberg for this week's match against Hanover.
Instead, league-leading goalscorer Miroslav Klose started the game on the bench. Coach Thomas Schaaf defended the move saying that the striker was fatigued. Without the adroit forward, Bremen played ineffectively. Not until Klose came into the match in the second half did Bremen wake up -- but it didn't help.
Wolfsburg's Pablo Thiam (l) and and Schalke's Kevin Kuranyi
Schalke also failed to score, playing to a goalless draw against Wolfsburg and bringing their season total of ties to six. Slowly, the top teams are pulling away from Schalke who now lie seven points behind Munich. Royal Blues team manager Rudi Assauer is optimistic though.
"Bayern are far away at the moment but the also make mistakes," was Assauer's assessment.
Wolfsburg on the other hand just completed a murderous three-game stretch against top-notch teams (Bayern, Hamburg, Schalke) and walked away with four points.
"Some people didn't think we would come away with a point from these games, but the team proved its good," said captain Pablo Thiam.
The good fortunes of Mönchengladbach continue. Last year they finished one spot away from relegation; this year they rest in fifth-place after ten weeks. On Saturday, they tore apart Kaiserslautern 4-1. In an entertaining match, it stood 1-1 after fifteen minutes on goals from Gladbach's Jeff Strasser and Kaiserslautern's Boubacar Sanogo. At half-time though, it stood 3-1 after an own goal and a late strike by Peer Kluge. The game was decided before Oliver Neuville put on the finishing touches in the 86th minute.
Mönchengladbach's Jeff Strasser (ctr) celebrates after scoring
"We are going to be relegated," was Kaiserslautern's striker Halil Altintop loud criticism. "Whoever gives up 25 goals in ten games doesn't have any reason to be in the league."
Lautern are headed in that direction. The "Red Devils" have collected just eight points so far, just one away from the relegation zone. Saturday's effort will only increase the number of rumors that coach Michael Henke will be soon packing his bags. The team's president, Rene C. Jäggi, said however that such a move is unthinkable.
Gladbach on the other hand have every reason to be in the Bundesliga at the moment, having won four of their last five matches, lying seven points back of Bayern Munich.
Berlin's Nando Rafael (r) is about to fall
For Hertha Berlin, a happy ending to this week's public feud between star midfielder Marcelinho and the rest of the team was found. The Brazilian playmaker, who at times can show flashes of unsurpassable brilliance, scored two first-half goals, one which made opposing goalkeeper Dimo Wache look foolish, in a 3-1 win for Berlin over Mainz. Earlier in the week, Marcelinho criticized some of his teammates for concentrating more on their national squads than on Berlin.
Cologne , Nuremberg crashing
The early season glee is turning into sour grapes in Cologne. After winning three of their first five games, coach Uwe Rapolder's side has gone on a five-game losing streak with almost every game getting progressively worse. Against Frankfurt, they were given a lesson in soccer, getting whacked 6-3.
Frankfurt's Alexander Meier (l) gets his shot off to make it 5-2
"I can't explain our effort. That was a catastrophe," exclaimed Cologne's German international striker Lukas Podolski.
Before most fans could even find their seats in Frankfurt, Ioannis Amanatidis had scored for the hosts in the second minute. Albert Streit got the equalizer just three minutes later before Marko Rehmer put the home side for good in the eighth minute. Those supporters who may have taken their time to get to the stadium would still be rewarded with high-scoring soccer. At half it was 4-1 after goals by Chris and Benjamin Köhler.
"The first half was excellent. I've seldom seen my team play so well," coach Friedhelm Funkel said.
In the second half, Podolski converted a penalty in the 54th minute. The final tallies for Frankfurt came from Alexander Meier and Du-Ri Cha. Özalan Alpay scored as time expired for Cologne. Rapolder must be wondering if his time is expiring at Cologne.
Nuremberg suffered a late collapse when Arminia Bielefeld scored two goals in the last three minutes to pip the home side 3-2. Nuremberg had taken the lead with seven minutes remaining but it didn't suffice and they, together with Duisburg, rest at the bottom of the table.
Hamburg drop more points in title challenge
Title contenders SV Hamburg fell further behind leaders Bayern Munich after a 1-1 draw with Borussia Dortmund on Sunday.
Hamburg could have closed to within two points of Bayern with victory but in the end they were just glad to net a point after going a goal behind. German international defender Christoph Metzelder headed Dortmund ahead on 58 minutes and Hamburg looked to be heading for a second successive defeat.
Without suspended Netherlands international Rafael van der Vaart for inspiration Hamburg looked devoid of ideas going forward. But then on 74 minutes Piotr Trochowski took advantage of some poor Dortmund defending to curl home an equalizer.
Bosnian international Sergei Barbarez went close to winning the match for Hamburg while Pole Ebi Smolarek also missed a great chance for Dortmund.
Skibbe and Trap feeling the pressure
In Sunday's other game Michael Skibbe is left waiting for his first win in charge of Bayer Leverkusen following a 1-1 draw with VfB Stuttgart.
Swiss midfielder Tranquillo Barnetta put Leverkusen ahead in the 56th minute and former Dortmund manager Skibbe was hopeful of a first win.
However in the 71st minute Danijel Ljuboja equalized with a penalty kick leaving Skibbe furious at Swiss international Marco Streller's theatrics to win the spot-kick.
The point does little to ease the strain on Stuttgart manager Giovanni Trapattoni who has won just two out of ten Bundesliga matches in his debut season.