Bundesliga Bulletin: Top two power on, Stuttgart and Schalke sink to new depths | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 22.04.2019
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Bundesliga Bulletin: Top two power on, Stuttgart and Schalke sink to new depths

Constrasting but comfortable wins for Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund keep the title race tight with four games left. At the other end, Stuttgart and Schalke's tradition and fan bases can't save them from their woes.

Good week for: Martin Schmidt, Bayern Munich, Marco Reus, Jean-Philippe Mateta, Julian Nagelsmann

Bad week for: Markus Weinzierl, Nuremberg (again), Milos Veljkovic, Schalke

The lowdown:

- It's as you were on the title tightrope, with Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund both winning and keeping clean sheets. While it took Bayern 75 minutes and a kind deflection to get the breakthrough against a stubborn Werder Bremen side, Dortmund cruised to a 4-0 victory in Freiburg with their front players all impressing. Goals for Jadon Sancho, Marco Reus, Mario Götze and a penalty off the bench by Paco Alcacer got Dortmund back to within a point of their rivals. Both face sides in the lower reaches of the table next week, Bayern travel to Nuremberg while Dortmund host rivals Schalke in the Ruhr derby.

- At the other end of the table, misery was piled on misery for Stuttgart and Schalke. The two clubs both boast grand tradition and fan-base but are enduring lamentable seasons featuring changes in coaches and sporting directors. Markus Weinzierl become the second Stuttgart coach to get the chop this term after a humiliating 6-0 shellacking by his old club Augsburg while the Royal Blues' worst season since relegation in 1983 hit a new low with a 5-2 loss at home to Hoffenheim. Last season's runners up will probably avoid the same fate this year, with Stuttgart's inadequacies meaning there's a six point gap between Schalke and the relegation playoff spot.

-  That win wasn't the only bit of good news for Julian Nagelsmann, whose Hoffenheim side are peaking at exactly the right time to secure European football, just as they did last year. A couple of hours earlier, he'd seen the team he'll be coaching next season, RB Leipzig, all but secure a return to the Champions League in 2019-20. Since losing to Dortmund on the Bundesliga's return from the winter break, the Red Bulls have won nine and drawn three of their 12 league games, conceding just five goals in that time. With or without Timo Werner, Nagelsmann might fancy a title tilt next season.

Frankfurt and Wolfsburg both dropped points in their hunt for Champions and Europa League football, respectively. Frankfurt had looked on course to win against the run of play on Monday, until Kevin Trapp and Makoto Hasebe's defensive wall finally shattered in the last minute, when John Anthony Brooks tied the score at 1-1. Frankfurt stay fourth, missing a chance to put four points between them and Gladbach; Wolfsburg remain ninth, but are just four points off sixth spot.

- Two of the season's big overachievers also met on Saturday. While Mainz's 3-1 win over Fortuna Düsseldorf didn't mean a huge amount in terms of the table, it did mathematically confirm safety for Mainz, who will make it 11 Bundesliga seasons in a row on the tightest of budgets.

The quotes:

"Before the goal I was screaming and praying for Thiago to see me. I'd taken two shots against Dortmund but hit the fence, like in American football. So it was nice I could decide it today, even though it took a deflection." Niklas Süle is delighted with his matchwinner

“I want to play more. Five minutes is not enough.” But teammate Renato Sanches, who went on to say he wants a loan move, is not quite so overjoyed.

"Today has just reaffirmed that this is my most difficult job ever." Interim Schalke coach Huub Stevens, who started his coaching career in 1986.

"After the extremely disappointing match in Augsburg we chose to review the situation again and decided that a clear break is necessary in order to secure our Bundesliga survival," Stuttgart sporting director Thomas Hitzlsperger on the dismissal of Markus Weinzierl.

"My first thought after the final whistle was 'two days off,' Mainz's Jean-Paul Boetius after his club secured survival for another year. Priorities and all that.

The stats:

- Jean-Philippe Mateta's opening goal against Fortuna Düsseldorf was the quickest this season. The French striker found the net after only 35 seconds.

- Werder Bremen's loss to Bayern ended two impressive streaks. Until the 1-0 defeat, Bremen were unbeaten in 2019 and had scored in every league game this season. No longer.

- Augsburg's 6-0 thrashing of VfB Stuttgart is the Bavarians' highest ever win in their Bundesliga history.

- Alassane Plea's 61st minute goal for Gladbach against RB Leipzig was the first the Red Bulls have conceded in the second half of games in 2019.

The fans: 

Protests against RB Leipzig have somewhat died down since their initial ascension to the Bundesliga, but Borussia Mönchengladbach’s hardcore fans were keen to voice their opposition to the clubs ties with Red Bull again on Saturday. But while many of the banners were familiar digs at RB's lack of tradition and ownership model, one in particular proved controversial by referring to Leipzig coach Ralf Rangnick’s suffering of severe burnout, or mental exhaustion, some years ago. The banner called to mind one raised by Dortmund fans two years ago thhat also references "burnout" and called on Rangnick to hang himself. Gladbach's press offficer later reported that  the club "don't know how the banner got in," before apologizing and adding that "several arrests have been made". 

On a more positive note, Freiburg's choreo for their game against Dortmund was pretty spectacular.

Freiburg fans unveil their choreo as the players walk out (picture-alliance/dpa/S. Gollnow)

Freiburg fans unveil their choreo as the players walk out

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