1. Bundesliga VfB Stuttgart gegen Borussia DortmundImage: imago sportfotodienst
Bayern on hold
March 30, 2013
Dortmund booked a rare win over Stuttgart to extend the title race by a round. Bayern destroyed Hamburg in Munich, but Dortmund's 2-1 victory earlier meant that the Bundesliga crown is not yet officially decided.
Dortmund don't have a good record against Stuttgart, and they began with a moderate surprise in their starting eleven. Kevin Grosskreutz – usually a winger – got a nod ahead of Lukasz Piszczek at right back. Perhaps coach Jürgen Klopp was resting the Polish defender ahead of Dortmund's Champions League quarterfinal against Malaga on Wednesday.
Stuttgart got off to the better start, and the visitors were lucky that an early Vedad Ibisevic goal was disallowed for offside. And Klopp was forced to bring on Piszczek in minute 24, when left back Marcel Schmelzer went off with a broken nose.
"It was a really intense match - for me too intense because some of the challenges were too hard," Klopp said afterward. "It was a good day for us except for the injury to Marcel Schmelzer."
It took a set piece for the still-champs to get going. Marco Reus curled in a free kick, and Piszczek headed it home. Dortmund's lead was slightly against the run of play.
After the break Stuttgart should have levelled things on a dangerous corner, but Mario Götze cleared twice off the line. At the hour mark, Alexandru Maxim angled a shot home after a throw-in to knot the score.
With twenty minutes left, the hosts shot themselves in the foot, when Georg Niedermeier saw a second yellow card and earned an early shower. Dortmund made their man advantage tell with just over five minutes left. Reus crossed in for Robert Lewandowski to tap home. The 2-1 win means that Dortmund hold steady in second place and rained on the parade in Munich.
Bayern massacre Hamburg
But if Bayern were depressed about the result in Stuttgart, they didn’t let in show on their wet pitch against Hamburg. With the first leg of their Champions League clash against Juventus looming on Tuesday, coach Jupp Heynckes chose to rest Franck Ribery, Thomas Müller and Mario Mandzukic.
Their replacements - Xherdan Shaqiri, Arjen Robben and Claudio Pizarro – all scored. There are routs in football. Blow-outs. Matches that are so one-sided they make a mockery of the very idea of competition. And then there is what Bayern did to Hamburg.
Shaqiri got the party started after only five minutes with a rocket goal that reminded spectators of why he is one of Europe’s top young prospects.
After that, Bayern generated chances by the minute – and put nine of them away. Robben in particular seemed determined to take out his frustration at being second choice on his hapless opponents. He would finish the day with a pair of goals and an assist.
By half-time, the hosts were already in front 5-0. Pizarro was utterly rampant, bagging four goals and a pair of assists. Defenders Jeffrey Bruma and Heiko Westermann provided Hamburg with a pair of late highlights, but they had no call to celebrate and duly didn’t.
"There's no explanation for this," Wetsermann said. "I'm ashamed of myself and of the team. I'm sorry for the fans who travelled here and for the club."
If there was any consolation for Hamburg, it was that the 9-2 massacre in Munich was not actually the club’s worst-ever loss. In 1954 Hamburg were beaten 10-2 by Arminia Hanover (today in division 6).
Meanwhile, Bayern need only a single win to seal the title. And they can head into their first-leg Champions League match against Juve feeling very good indeed about themselves.
Leverkusen cruise past Düsseldorf
Third-place Leverkusen began languidly against hard-fighting Fortuna Düsseldorf, but the hosts helped them on their way in minute 22. Leon Balogun brought down Sidney Sam in the area, and Stefan Kiessling slammed in the penalty.
In minute 41, Leverkusen's Daniel Schwaab returned the favour with an own goal. The score at half-time: 1-1.
After the break, Leverkusen didn't raise their pulse rate much, but at around 60 minutes, their individual talent advantage told: André Schürrle put the favorites back ahead 2-1 with a nifty lofted shot.
With Düsseldorf forced to throw men forward, Schürrle caught them out on the break to seal the deal. And not to be outdone, Kiessling completed his brace with a neat volley. The 4-1 win makes Leverkusen a very good bet to finish at least third in the table.
A bit further down the standings, Max Kruse put Freiburg ahead against Gladbach with a beauty of a left-footed shot in minute 69. And he salted away the three points, and a 2-0 win, with a goal in injury time. Freiburg stop their losing streak and move ahead of the Foals in the battle for the Europa League.
Relegation battle stays tight
Bremen fielded a more offensive line-up than in recent weeks in Mainz, and that backfired immediately. The hosts were on top after only 12.6 seconds thanks to a horrendous give-away by Assani Lukimya. Adam Szalai scored the third quickest goal in Bundesliga history for Mainz.
Bremen pressed in the second half and were rewarded with a Aaron Hunt goal in minute 69. The 1-1 draw is a minor dent for Mainz's international ambitions, while Bremen go seven points clear of the drop zone.
In Augsburg, a Konstantin Rausch goal in minute 61 put Hanover – the Bundesliga's worst away side – ahead of their resurgent hosts. Rausch also added a late second for the 2-0 victory and clearly claimed man-of-the-match honors. Augsburg stay third-worst in the table.
"We won't allow this to floor us," defiant Augsburg sports director Stefan Reuter told reporters. "We performed well."
Second-to-last Hoffenheim had a prime chance to make up some ground in Schalke. But in an ugly match, the hosts draw late first blood with a goal by Marco Höger just after the 70 minute mark.
Five minutes on, Raffael doubled the Royal Blues' lead with a slotted shot, and Teemu Pukki added another goal to make the final score 3-0. It was goodbye for the struggling visitors, while Schalke reclaimed fourth spot in the table – at least temporarily.
On Sunday, last-placed Greuther Fürth host Champions League aspirants Eintracht Frankfurt. The early match pits Wolfsburg against Nuremberg.