RB Leipzig are starting to learn some tough lessons, as they allowed an unconvincing Bayern Munich side to increase their Bundesliga lead on Saturday. Thomas Tuchel also has some work to do after Dortmund's tepid loss.
Leipzig learning tough title lessons
After their sensational start to Bundesliga life, Leipzig look set to overachieve, almost regardless of what happens from now on. But they are quickly learning how difficult a top flight title race can be. Saturday's 3-0 loss to Hamburg, a team that has spent most of the season in the relegation zone, was their fourth defeat in seven games and put them seven points behind defending champions Bayern Munich. The sides were level on points as recently as Matchday 15. Whether it is fatigue or a simple reversion to the mean, Leipzig are letting their title hopes slip through their fingers at a time when Bayern's focus may be elsewhere, with the Champions League resuming on Tuesday. As disappointing as that is for Leipzig, it's also disheartening for those who want to see someone other than Bayern lift a German title.
Hamburg surviving through set-pieces
Kyriakos Papadopoulos has been the star in Hamburg's last two victories, scoring against the two clubs he played for before joining the Red Shorts on loan. But the bigger revelation is Hamburg's newfound success from set pieces. With their first two goals from Papadopoulos and Walace on Saturday - which came on near identical corner routines - Hamburg have scored from three dead ball situations in the last two weeks, after scoring just one in the first half of the season. This improvement can be, at least partially, credited to Markus Gisdol's coaching. The former Hoffenheim boss seems to be the right man to maintain Hamburg's status as Bundesliga ever-presents.
Dortmund fall into Torsten's trap
Sokratis Papastathopoulos told DW last week that Dortmund's 1-0 win against Leipzig would mean nothing if his team didn't also beat Darmstadt. It seems the rest of the team may not have been listening, as Dortmund failed to take advantage of the failures of Leipzig and Frankfurt, both of whom are ahead of them in the table, losing on Saturday. Thomas Tuchel's selection gamble - he made four changes to his German Cup line-up - did not pay off, as he tried to prepare his team for its Champions League clash against Benfica. But his players are also to blame, not firing away a shot until the 24th minute. Instead of solidifying their push for Europe, Dortmund gave Torsten Frings his first victory as a head coach and Darmstadt a breath of life at the bottom of the table.
Bayern get away with mediocre league display again
The defending champions have looked far from their best in 2017 but they keep pulling further clear of the pack. Bayern relied on two very late goals from Arturo Vidal and Arjen Robben to secure their win over Ingolstadt, in another performance that didn't seem fit for champions. That said, Carlo Ancelotti teams have shown mediocre league form before and have saved their best performances for the Champions League. With the Bundesliga looking almost in the bag, Bayern have to crank their play up a notch against Arsenal next Wednesday for this underwhelming form to be worth it. That's sometimes easier said than done.
Foals ugly, but practical under Hecking
Gladbach's win over Werder Bremen was not a scintillating spectacle, but it was their third victory in four games and kept them unbeaten under new coach Dieter Hecking. The former Wolfsburg manager has simplified the tactics at the club, giving Gladbach a consistent framework instead of making bold tactical moves like his predecessor Andre Schubert. The Foals have kept four clean sheets in five league and cup games in 2017, a remarkable improvement for a side that had one of the worst defenses in the Bundesliga in the first half of the season. The unbeaten run has lifted Gladbach far away from the relegation zone and Hecking's men can start to look up at the top half of the table instead of over their shoulder.