Leverkusen, Schalke and Frankfurt edged away from Borussia Dortmund in the top four while Bayern Munich survived a scare. Matchday 20 also saw another coaching casualty as Stuttgart parted company with Hannes Wolf.
Bad week for: Borussia Dortmund, Hannes Wolf, Julian Nagelsmann
Hannes Wolf sacked - VfB Stuttgart coach Hannes Wolf became the Bundesliga's seventh's managerial casualty of the season when he was relieved of his duties following the Swabians' 0-2 defeat to Schalke. The result left VfB only three points clear of the relegation play-off spot. Despite stating after the game that "[Wolf's] dismissal is out of the question," sporting director Michael Reschke then confirmed on Sunday morning: "We had a intense, emotional discussion with hannes after the game yesterday in which we conducted a detailed analysis of the situation. We have come to the conclusion that we cannot turn the situation around with the current set-up and need a new impluse to get back on track."
Borussia Dortmund's lethargy - Coaches coming, scouts going, a long injury list, a want-away striker, fans booing the players and the players calling them out (see below) - nothing seems to be ticking at Borussia Dortmund, who have now only won two of their last 13 Bundesliga games. On Saturday, the Black and Yellows were devoid of ideas for long periods and Jeremy Toljan's injury time equalizer had a healthy helping of fortune as his shot somehow found its way through two defenders' legs on its way into the net. They have the relative mediocrity of the league to thank that they're still sixth but they've lost ground on the top four.
Nils Petersen's finish and Freiburg's form - If Dortmund are struggling currently, then Freiburg are one of the teams of the hour. Saturday's 2-2 draw at the Westfalenstadion saw Christian Streich's side extend their unbeaten run to eight games (four wins, four draws), including impressive comebacks against Cologne, Augsburg and RB Leipzig. Captain Nils Petersen personified the confidence running through Freiburg's squad with his 40-yard lob which looped over Roman Bürki to put the visitors 2-1 up. As BVB pressed for an equalizer, Freiburg remained calm and disciplined in their 5-4-1 formation and were unlucky to concede late on.
Record-breaker Naldo on target again as Schalke get back on track - Schalke defender Naldo made his 337th league appearance in Schalke's 2-0 win over Stuttgart, surpassing former Bayer Leverkusen, Bayern Munich and Hamburg star Ze Roberto's record as the Brazilian with the most Bundesliga appearances. Naldo gave the Royal Blues the lead with his fifth goal (and fourth header) of the season as Schalke got their first win of 2018 to go second overnight, before Bayer Leverkusen overtook them on Sunday.
Leon Bailey with another stunner - Leon Bailey (20) followed up last week's cheeky back-heel with a thumping long-range effort to give Leverkusen the lead against Mainz on Sunday - his eighth goal of the season as the Werkself became the first second-place team to win and defend their position since Matchday 11, lifting the "second-place curse."
Gnabry good, Nagelsmann not - It’s unlikely that Serge Gnabry (22) will forget his first 15 minutes on the Allianz Arena’s hallowed turf as a Bayern player. On loan at Hoffenheim from the German record titleholders, the 22-year-old won a penalty, missed a penalty and beat Sven Ulreich from 25 yards. His parent club eventually ran out 5-2 winners but Gnabry gave Bayern fans a taste of what to expect when he returns from his loan spell.
Eintracht Frankfurt go fourth - Coach Nico Kovac has steadied the Eintracht ship since taking over in 2016 when he kept them in the league via the relegation play-off. A respectable 11th place finish and a cup final appearance followed last season and they've made steady progress this year too, up to fourth after Matchday 20. Kovac's side has only lost five games all season and boasts the second-best defense in the league (after leaders Bayern). They have also added a reliable threat up front in the shape of Sebastian Haller (eight goals) - although it was Luka Jovic and Kevin-Prince Boateng who scored the goals against Gladbach.
"He's had better days but it's not easy for him in his situation. We selected him because we know what qualities he has. But it wasn't his day today." – Borussia Dortmund coach Peter Stöger on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
"We're Borussia Dortmund and we have to be in the Champions League, so our recent results aren't very helpful. It's just not clicking up front. We need to create more chances and start taking them." – Nuri Sahin on BVB's current predicament.
"I'm playing well at the moment and I'm enjoying it! But in football, things can quickly go in the opposite direction. We're eight games unbeaten now and my goals are helping the team. I hope we can keep it up!" – Nils Petersen is feeling positive after his wonder-strike against Dortmund.
"Nils always tries those shots in training!" - Freiburg coach Christian Streich wasn't surprised by Petersen's long-range effort.
"It means a lot to me. This is my home, I used to stand on the terraces. So it's great to score my first goal here." – Sandro Wagner on his first goal on his return to his boyhood club Bayern Munich.
"We were still asleep at the start! We weren't aggressive enough and suddenly it was 2-0. But we responded brilliantly and deserved to win in the end." - Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng after having a lie-in.
"Will Grigg's on fire" – Boateng then took to Twitter after hearing that Euro 2016 cult hero Will Grigg had scored in Wigan Athletic's shock FA Cup win over West Ham United in England.
"It was for my cousin in Brazil. When we were on holiday, she told me that I should do it the next time I score a goal!" Schalke defender Naldo on his "C" hand gesture after scoring his fifth goal of the season.
"When you fall behind against the second-best home team in the league, you can easily collapse if you're low on moral. But we stood strong. The lads showed a lot of heart" – Bernd Hollerbach on a hard-fought draw in Leipzig in his first game in charge of Hamburg.
“It was a sign of life.” – Hamburg sporting director Jens Todt
"We want to see a shot!" - the chant from travelling Mainz fans as their team lost 2-0 to Bayer Leverkusen.
"Atmosphere: poor. Pitch: bad. Game: forgettable." - Sky Sports commentator Wolff-Christoph Fuss wasn't impressed with the Lower Saxony derby between Hannover and Wolfsburg.
Borussia Mönchengladbach No. 1 Yann Sommer was forced off in the first half of the Foals’ loss to Frankfurt.
Cologne are sweating on the fitness of Marco Höger, who was replaced in the 24th minute of their 1-1 draw against Augsburg after clashing heads with Ja-Cheol Koo.
Julian Baumgartlinger and Lars Bender both came off in the first half of Leverkusen’s win against Mainz.
Borussia Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Bürki had some strong words for the BVB fans who booed the team during and after the Black & Yellows' 2-2 draw with Freiburg.
"Sometimes I feel like the fans in the east and west stands think: 'Oh, it's Saturday. I'll go to the game, see how it goes and then boo my own team,'" said Bürki post-match. "I don't hear any support from them. It's different on the south stand [the famous Yellow Wall]; they are always there for us and support us. But when the team is low on confidence, whistling doesn't help. I'd rather they stay at home instead."
The comments divided fans on social media and didn't please sporting director Michael Zorc either. “I’d encourage our players to watch the 90 minutes back on the TV," he said. "Then they’ll have to be wary of whistling themselves.”
Bürki later took to Instagram to clarify his comments. "When we don't play well, everyone has the right to express their disappointment," he wrote. "But the whistles were very early in the game today so, on behalf of all the lads, I'd just like to ask for more support from some fo the fans."