Saturday's round 12 action was high scoring and topsy turvy. Bayern won convincingly and welcomed back a star. Schalke just hung on for three points, and Dortmund's frustrations continued.
Three points and nothing less were Dortmund's goal as they traveled to upstarts Paderborn. With coach Jürgen Klopp finally able to field more-or-less his preferred starting eleven, the men in yellow and black had every reason to be confident of racking up their first away win of the season.
Things initially went to plan. Only twelve minutes had elapsed when Erik Durm's cross found speedy forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at point-blank range in front of goal. And just before the half, Aubameyang located Marco Reus on the break. Reus, who had just returned from injury, doubled the visitors' advantage before the teams headed into the dressing rooms.
The second half began uneventfully, and even when Lukas Rupp scored on the hour mark, it didn't look as though the goal would be any more than cosmetic. Six minutes later, though, Reus had to be stretchered off after a late challenge by Marvin Bakalorz, and that changed the complexion of the match. Bakalorz was lucky not to see red.
"Because of the injury to Marco Reus, it's tough for me to talk about football," Klopp told reporters after the match. "It just wasn't a good day for us."
Paderborn seemed to believe that more was possible. Ten minutes from time, a Kevin Grosskreutz goal was controversially ruled offside. Then Mahir Saglik scored the equalizer only sixty seconds after being substituted in. Dortmund pressed but had nothing left in their tank.
The 2-2 drew means that Dortmund continue to reside near the bottom of the table, five points adrift of newly promoted Paderborn.
Schalke just barely hang on
Schalke came into their home match against second-placed Wolfsburg on the heels a series of indifferent performances, but they jumped all over the visitors. Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting put the Royal Blues in front after only ten minutes.
And EMCM, as he's known in Gelsenkirchen, was at it again in minute 22, after Kevin-Prince Boateng freed him with an inspired through ball. The Wolves had barely caught their breath when Christian Fuchs made it 3-nil with a free kick that slipped past friend and foe.
"We played good football, especially in the first half, against a strong Wolfsburg team," Schalke caoch Roberto Di Matteo said. "The first half with the
three goals was very, very good."
Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking looked like he was drawing up a mental list of whose leg to chew off at half-time, but he may have been slightly mollified by an Ivica Olic goal in minute 37.
After the break, Schalke were content to defend, and Wolfsburg had little luck breaking them down until a quarter of an hour before time. But Felipe Santana deflected a Niklas Bendtner shot, and suddenly a sure Schalke victory looked very shaky indeed.
Naldo almost grabbed an equalizer with a late blast, but the aluminum preserved the narrow 3-2 win for Schalke. Schalke leap into the top half of the table while Wolfsburg stay in second behind Bayern.
Munich welcome back Schweinsteiger
Bayern home clash against Hoffenheim went as many of the reigning champions' matches have gone this season. Their opponents put up a good fight for twenty minutes or so, until Munich's superior class wore them down, and Pep Guardiola's men took a 2-0 lead. Mario Götze and Robert Lewandowski were the goal scorers this time.
In the second half, Bayern took their foot of the gas, and Manuel Neuer got to make a couple of nice saves. Then with their opponents running out of energy, another couple of players got on the score sheet. The names here were Arjen Robben and Sebastian Rode.
"If you want to get something in Munich, everything has to fit, and today everything didn't fit," said a philosophical Hoffenheim coach Markus Gisdol.
Another game, another comfortable win for the cream of the Bundesliga crop. The highlight of Saturday from Munich's perspective was the return of Bastian Schweinsteiger. The midfielder was substituted in for Götze twelve minutes from time and provided the assist for Rode's goal.
It was the first appearance for Schweinsteiger in a competitive match since his gutsy performance in the World Cup final.
Goals galore elsewhere
There was no shortage of drama in the Bundesliga's other stadiums either. Frankfurt fell behind early in Mönchengladbach, but recovered for a 3-1 win after Marc Stendera, Alex Meier, Takashi Inui scored in the second half.
Mainz surrendered a first half advantage at home against Freiburg, but salvaged a 2-all draw and a point, when Stefan Bell squeezed in a last-minute equalizer.
Leverkusen saved their scoring for the second half in Hanover but emerged with a deserved 3-1 win. Stefan Kiessling notched his first goal since the initial round of this season.
In Saturday's late match Hertha Berlin got their first away win of the season in Cologne. Berlin triumphed 2-1 on a late deflected free kick by Marcel Ndjeng,
Sunday features the Northern German derby Hamburg versus Bremen and a Southern German clash Stuttgart against Augsburg.