Germany's two top teams had little trouble making the transition back to domestic German football on Saturday. Dortmund embarrassed last-placed Fürth, while Bayern demolished Nuremberg.
The line-up Bayern fielded at home to Nuremberg featured only two of the players who started mid-week in the Champions League against Juventus. But any hopes the Club may have had that the understudies would give them a break were quickly dashed.
With only five minutes gone, central defender Jerome Boateng got a rare goal with an athletic left-footed shot. And twelve minutes later, he turned provider for Mario Gomez, who showed that despite dropping down the depth chart, he's still got a scorer's nose for goal.
By minute 24, Nuremberg keeper Raphael Schäfer was screaming at his lethargic defense, after little used fullback Rafinha made it 3-0. Visions of Munich's 9-2 destruction of Hamburg were dancing in everyone's heads.
It wasn't to be. Nuremberg had an eentsy-weentsy chance to get back in the game when they were awarded a penalty immediately after the restart. But reserve keeper Tom Starke saved Timothy Chandler's shot - with his head!
Bayern's win was never in doubt, but Xherdan Shaqiri still added an insurance goal in minute 55. 17-year-old Pierre Emile Hojbjerg got his Bundesliga debut with twenty minutes left, but that was the only notable occurrence left in the match, as Bayern jogged out a 4-0 win.
After the match, coach Jupp Heynckes praised his reserves.
"If I say I expected this, it might sound exaggerated, but it reflects the inner spirit of the squad," Heynckes told reporters. "All of the players are focused on delivering top performances, and they all want to play a part in our success."
Bayern now face Wolfsburg in the semi-finals of the German Cup on Tuesday.
Dortmund destroy Fürth
Real Madrid coach José Mourinho was in Fürth to scout for his team's upcoming Champions League semi-final clash with Dortmund. But the Special One couldn't have taken much away from his visit to Franconia.
Dortmund dawdled away 12 minutes against Germany's worst team, before Mario Götze had his way with Fürth's defense to open the scoring.
And a mere three minutes later, the visitors' advantage was doubled. Jakub Blaszczykowski penetrated and pulled the ball across the mouth of the hosts' goal for Ilkay Gündogan to tap home.
Scoring has been Greuther Fürth's major problem this season, but it was their defense that let the last-placed team down on Saturday. Meanwhile, Dortmund were having a dangerous amount of fun.
Blaszczykowski headed one home after a bit of penalty box ping-pong on the half-hour mark. Gündogan picked up his second with a low curler in minute 33. And Götze followed suit just before the break to make it 5-0. One could only hope that Mourinho enjoyed the stadium bratwurst and had a couple of beers before flying back to Spain.
"If he wanted to confirm with his own eyes that Mario Götze plays well on the left, he could have saved himself the trouble and just called me," Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp joked to journalists.
In the second half, Dortmund relaxed, and Edgar Prib got a consolation goal in minute 70. Robert Lewandowski then scored in his eleventh straight match to complete the 6-1 drubbing.
Leverkusen, Schalke play to disputed draw
There was a lot at stake in Saturday’s late match - with fourth-placed Schalke hosting Leverkusen in third. The third-best team in the Bundesliga qualifies automatically for the Champions League, while fourth-best must earn a berth in club football’s premier competition via a potentially tricky playoff.
So the intensity was high in Gelsenkirchen. The hosts had the early advantage, with midfielders Raffael and Michel Bastos coming close on several occasions. But Leverkusen grabbed the first half lead thanks to a controversial goal in minute 39.
Veteran Simon Rolfes headed the visitors in front, but the home fans were howling “unfair” because Leverkusen played on with a Schalke player lying injured in front of goal.
Leverkusencame out of the dressing rooms fresher and doubled their advantage on the hour mark. Michel Kadlec launched a long free-kick. Stefan Kiessling jumped for it, freezing keeper Timo Hildebrand, and the ball found the back of net.
Leverkusen was in cruise-control mode, but fifteen minutes from time, keeper Bernd Leno bobbled a shot, and substitute striker Teemu Pukki swooped in to hand Schalke a lifeline.
Ten minutes later, Pukki went down in the penalty area after being caressed from behind by Ömer Toprak. The referee pointed to spot, and Raffael knotted the score. Toprak was sent off – one of many debatable decisions.
“One minute before the equalizer, Schalke clearly handled the ball in their own penalty area, but the call wasn’t made,” a bitter Rolfes complained after the match.
Setill, Leverkusen were able to kill the clock and book a 2-2 draw that keeps them four points ahead of Schalke in the battle for that automatic Champions League spot.
Hamburg stop the rot
Hamburg came into Mainz amid headlines of crisis at the club, but pulled off a nerve-calming 2-1 win. After a listless - and goalless - first half, a pair of goals by Heung-Min Son were enough to rack up three points for the northern Germans. Shawn Parker grabbed a late goal for the hosts, but Hamburg held on. The result takes them past Mainz in mid-table.
In Düsseldorf, Hamburg's great rivals Bremen continued their habit of conceding shortly after the opening whistle. Only two minutes had elapsed when Robbie Kruse found Stefan Reisinger, who meandered through the dozy Bremen defense and netted.
Zlatko Junuzovic equalized in the first half, but immediately after the break, Bremen again came out half asleep, and Reisinger completed his brace. Only an own goal by Martin Latka salvaged a 2-2 draw for the northern Germans. The result represents a missed chance for both sides to bury all their relegation worries.
In Wolfsburg, second-to-last Hoffenheim were trying to better their awful away record. But youngster Maximillian Arnold put the hosts ahead in minute 13. Hoffenheim knotted things with a Sejad Salihovic penalty in the first half and took the lead after the break on a long-distance strike by Andreas Beck.
It was Beck's first Bundesliga goal in more than a year, but it would not prove a game winner. Naldo exploited some poor Hoffenheim defending to head home a late equalizer for Wolfsburg. The 2-2 draw took Hoffenheim - at least temporarily - up to third from bottom.
On Friday, Freiburg kept their over-achieving season going with a convincing 3-1 win over sputtering Hannover to stay in the top six.
Sunday sees Stuttgart hosting Mönchengladbach, and relegation-threatened Augsburg welcoming Frankfurt.