Bundesliga Bulletin: Leipzig snatch top spot, Coutinho shows his class for Bayern Munich | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 15.12.2019
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Bundesliga Bulletin: Leipzig snatch top spot, Coutinho shows his class for Bayern Munich

For the first time in 10 weeks, we have a new front runner in the Bundesliga title race after Mönchengladbach's defeat. It was also a weekend to remember for Philippe Coutinho, who finally announced himself at Bayern.

Good week for: The title race, Philippe Coutinho, Cologne, Jürgen Klinsmann, Dortmund, RB Leipzig

Bad week for: Werder Bremen, Leon Bailey, Freiburg, Gladbach

The lowdown:

 Borussia Mönchengladbach's 10-week stay at the top of the Bundesliga ground to a halt on Sunday when Wolfsburg stunned them at the Volkswagen Arena. Marco Rose's side traveled to Wolfsburg off the back of their 2-1 win over Bayern Munich last weekend, but they were unable to repeat those heroics here. Max Arnold rifled in a stoppage time winner to end their run of two straight defeats.

— Any doubts football fans had over Philippe Coutinho at Bayern Munich were ended in the 6-1 win over Werder Bremen. The Brazilian scored a fantastic hat trick, scoring one tap-in, one chip and one curling effort to dismantle the visitors who are very much in a relegation battle now. Robert Lewandowski also bagged a brace, but this was the day Coutinho arrived in Munich.

Fußball: Bundesliga, FC Bayern München - Werder Bremen (picture-alliance/dpa/S. Hoppe)

Coutinho became the first Brazilian since Giovane Elber in 2003 to score a hat-trick for Bayern.

— It might not be very popular news, but it is quickly becoming clear that RB Leipzig are serious about winning the title as they rose to the summit and stayed there after Gladbach lost. Julian Nagelsmann's side dispatched of a tepid Fortuna Düsseldorf side with little problem, but more worring for the rest of the league was that a game that ended 3-0 could have had the same scoreline inside the opening quarter of an hour. This team means business, no pun intended.

Borussia Dortmund, undeterred by not being given a penalty for blatant handball, were driven to victory by Marco Reus. The captain scored one and assisted another, as did Jadon Sancho, as Mainz were swept aside. Roman Bürki had very little to do on a day when Dortmund showed their best side.

Schalke are up to fourth, leapfrogging Bayern Munich in the process. Their Sunday night clash with Eintracht Frankfurt was decided by a solitary goal by Benito Raman, but the game will be remembered for a horrific tackle by Schalke goalkeeper Alexander Nübel, who raced out of his goal, kung-fu kicking Mijat Gacinovic in the chest and knocking him to the ground with his forearm. The challenge, which earned Nübel a straight red card, had echoes of Toni Schumacher's brutal collision with France's Patrick Battiston at the 1982 World Cup.

Fußball Bundesliga Schalke 04 vs Eintracht Frankfurt | Foul Alexander Nübel (Imago Images/Team 2)

The brutal challenge that earnt Schalke goalkeeper Alexander Nübel a straight red card.

— There were huge wins for Hertha Berlin and Cologne as both sides look to fight their way out of the relegation zone. Jürgen Klinsmann got his first win thanks to a Vladimir Darida wonder goal that left Freiburg empty handed, while Cologne overcame nine-man Bayer Leverkusen to win the derby and seal their first three points in the league since October. Things are very close at the bottom of the table now.

Augsburg are perhaps the most average side in the league, but their undefeated run in the last five games has seen them return their familiar hunting ground: midtable. They disposed of Hoffenheim on Friday night, with Florian Niederlechner stealing the show. Another season of midtable glory beckons for a side that continues to overachieve.

The stats:

— Marco Reus scored the opener in a Bundesliga game for the 50th time. Good old captain reliable. In the same game, Dan-Axel Zagadou picked up the first assist of his career. A game full of records.

— Jan Thielmann made his pro debut for Cologne in the derby against Leverkusen. The striker (17) became the first Bundesliga player born in 2002. Feel old yet?

— There were also milestones for Kai Havertz and Jerome Boateng. The Leverkusen playmaker became the youngest Bundesliga player to make 100 appearances (20 years, 186 days), while Boateng made his 300th appearance for Bayern. Hats off.

— Florian Niederlechner assisted three goals (and a penalty if you count that sort of thing) in Augsburg's win against Hoffenheim, becoming the first man to do so for the club.

— After beating Düsseldorf, RB Leipzig handed Julian Nagelsmann a new record. He now has victories against all 24 teams he has faced in the Bundesliga.

— Schalke's Raman Benito scored in his fourth consecutive Bundesliga game. The last Schalke player to achieve that was Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.

— RB Leipzig have won 8 of their last 10 games in all competitions.

The quotes:

"Because of our own stupidity."
- Kai Havertz when asked why Leverkusen weren't able to win in Cologne.

"A derby win is so important for the fans and for the club but we would have taken the points against anyone. But to get them against Leverkusen is even better!"
Dominik Drexler after Cologne's derby win.

"It's not the first red card and I expect an apology."
Sven Bender on Leon Bailey getting sent off

"Just let Hansi get on with his work."
- Bayern Munich sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic on coach Hansi Flick

"I knew this would come. My team were treated like a punching bag, being hit here and there."
- Gladbach coach Marco Rose on Wolfsburg's physical approach.

"What is there to save? We've achieved all our aims in the first half of this season."
- BVB goalkeeper Roman Bürki when asked if Dortmund need to beat RB Leipzig on Tuesday to save their season

"Why? Does it look so s***?" 
- Union Berlin's Robert Andrich when asked if he died his hair blonde because he lost a bet.

The fans:

Bayern Munich fans made their feelings clear during their thumping of Werder Bremen. While most had reason to cheer given the 6-1 win and Coutinho's hat trick, there was some frustration at the club's decision to set up and promote an e-sports team. Having recently agreed a new partnership with Japanese entertainment and gambling conglomerate Konami, the decision for the club to start an e-sports team in Konami's eFootball Pro League is not a surprise. Clearly, it is also not popular.

The weird:

Another week, another curious case of understanding VAR. Mainz's Aaron Caricol made a great save just inside the box from Marco Reus' low cross. The only problem is, Caricol is a defender and not a goalkeeper. For some reason referee Benjamin Cortus decided to wave play on. A very strange no decision or no call in from the VAR to correct Mr. Cortus on his clear and obvious error.