Bundesliga Bulletin: World Cup injuries and great escape on again for Hamburg | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 29.04.2018
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Bundesliga Bulletin: World Cup injuries and great escape on again for Hamburg

They'd been written off once again, but a sudden run of form has given Hamburg real hope of another miraculous escape. But for a couple of German World Cup contenders, this weekend didn't go quite so well.

Good week for: Bobby Wood, Hamburg, Sandro Wagner, Bote Baku, Andrej Kramaric

Bad week for: Cologne, Lars Stindl, Bruno Labbadia Serge Gnabry, RB Leipzig, 

The table

The lowdown

- After winning just two games from late August to early April, Hamburg have won three of their last four to put them within touching distance of yet another dramatic late act of escapology. After a narrow win over fellow strugglers Freiburg last time out, their 3-1 win on Saturday puts them within two points of their opponents Wolfsburg, who sit in the relegation playoff spot where they finished last season. Lewis Holtby, who scored the second, now has four goals in his last five games while Bobby Wood (top) opened the scoring on his first start for two months. With HSV facing out-of-sorts Eintracht Frankfurt and Wolfsburg travelling to Leipzig next weekend, Hamburg could yet have their fate in their own hands on the last day.

- Despite their recent heroics, that playoff spot still looks the best Christian Titz's men can realistically hope for, after Freiburg and Mainz both picked up critical wins. Freiburg finally relegated Cologne with a 3-2 win but it was the Zero Fivers who recorded the biggest shock of the weekend with an emphatic 3-0 win over struggling RB Leipzig on Sunday. A win for Freiburg or Mainz next week (Gladbach away and Dortmund away respectively) would secure another season in the top flight. Both also have favorable home fixtures on the season's last day.

-  At the top of the table, a much-changed Bayern Munich, captained for the first time by Mats Hummels, brushed aside an Eintracht Frankfurt side managed by their next boss Niko Kovac, in a dress rehearsal for the German Cup final on May 19. But before that, the champions have a mountain to climb in the second leg of their Champions League semifinal in Madrid on Tuesday. Sandro Wagner got Bayern's second in a 4-1 win and the target man wasn't slow in suggesting to Jupp Heynckes that he could be the man to make the difference (see The quotes).

- Hoffenheim started the weekend off with a 3-1 win over Hannover that featured a hat-trick from Andrej Kramaric and lifted them to fourth, but it came at a cost. Serge Gnabry limped off early after an early goal while Kerem Demirbay was also withdrawn. Hoffenheim said Gnabry has "torn a groin muscle" but made no mention of a timeframe for recovery, putting his potential World Cup participation in doubt. With Jerome Boateng's fitness unclear and Lars Stindl ruled out of Russia 2018 after picking up an ankle knock on Saturday, Joachim Löw's options seem to be narrowing by the day.

- Though a 1-1 draw with Glabach after being reduced to 10 men early is creditable, Schalke are making heavy weather of guaranteeing participation in next season's Champions League. Their 2-0 win over Dortmund on matchday 30 is their only victory in the last four and they could still be caught by both Hoffenheim and Bayer Leverkusen. A win in Augsburg next weekend looks essential if Domenico Tedesco's men aren't to take the race to the last day.

- Along those lines, Schalke may want to send a thank you basket to Bremen goalkeeper Jiri Pavlenka. The Czech shot stopper came up with several big saves in his side's 1-1 draw with Borussia Dortmund, many of them in the final moments of the game. He batted away a header from André Schürrle from point-blank range in the 86th minute before denying Marco Reus in second half stoppage time. Because of Pavlenka's heroics, Dortmund were unable to snatch second place away from Schalke. 

Fußball Bundesliga TSG 1899 Hoffenheim vs. Hannover 96 | Serge Gnabry, Verletzung (Imago/J. Huebner)

Serge Gnabry's groin injury has cast doubt over his World Cup hopes

The stats

- Benjamin Pavard (Stuttgart), Naldo (Schalke), Matthias Ginter (Borussia Mönchengladbach) and Christian Günter (Freiburg) are the only outfield players still in with a chance of playing every minute of this Bundesliga season.

- Sandro Wagner's goal against Frankfurt means he's scored against every side currently playing in Germany's top flight.

The quotes

"Of course today is really bitter for us. But I can promise you one thing: we will most certainly be coming back." Goalkeeper Timo Horn will stay with Cologne in the second division, but he doesn't intend on being there long.

I am sure that we will remain in the Bundesliga next year. We are not giving up." Hamburg's Gotoku Sakai has no intention of joining Horn and co. next term.

 "I don't know what to say. Unbelievable. Today couldn't have gone better for me!" Debutant Bote Baku is almost speechless after his goal helped Mainz take a big step towards safety.

"I think Real were all at sea defending every cross, so we know what we have to do...It goes without saying that I want to play a part. We have injuries, and the coach will have to make changes." Sandro Wagner states his case to start in Madrid on Tuesday. 

"To injure myself at this time is very tough to take. Not only can I not help the team at a crucial part of the season but also my World Cup dream is now over." Gladbach skipper Lars Stindl on the ankle injury that means he'll be watching the World Cup from afar.

"We did not do enough. We did not take our chances and then when we went behind we didn't manage any more shots on their goal. You can't win a game of football playing like that." RB Leipzig keeper Peter Gulacsi doesn't pull any punches after his side slipped to defeat at Mainz.

The weird

- Two weeks ago, Freiburg was called back from the dressing room so that Mainz will be able to take a penalty that was awarded after the halftime whistle has already been blown. Freiburg's ultras have replied to the incident cheekily against Cologne, calling for fans to remain close to their seats, as they might miss a goal! 

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