Schalke won easily against pretender Wolfsburg Saturday. Stuttgart played poorly and saw their title hopes plummet in Hamburg. Hertha Berlin and Werder Bremen, however, have made their championship aspirations known.
Schalke can celebrate, but must now wait for Bayern's Sunday result
Schalke 04 have pulled back even with Bayern Munich at the top of the standings with an easy 3-0 victory against Wolfsburg. It did not take long for Ralf Rangnick's "Royal Blues" to make clear who was the superior team. In the 13th minute, German international striker scored with a header off a free kick taken by Lincoln.
Lincoln would assist again off a free kick in the 35th minute. This time Ebbe Sand was the beneficiary and practically eliminated Wolfsburg from any chance of reaching their goal of qualifying for European club competition. In the second half, Mike Henke would put on the finishing touches with a goal in the 85th minute.
Schalke now stand even with Bayern on 41 points, but Bayern has a game in hand.
Stuttgart fading in second leg
Matthias Sammer's VfB Stuttgart traveled to their northern nemesis Hamburg and lost 2-1. Things looked promising for the southerners when, in the 15th minute, Imre Szabics found the net. Two minutes later, Hamburg tied it when Sergej Barbarez took a Stefan Beinlich cross and easily scored. In the second half, Daniel van Buyten headed the game-winning goal. Again it was Stefan Beinlich who assisted.
Stuttgart drops to fifth place. Hamburg are hot, in the hunt for a UEFA Cup spot and lie just one point behind Stuttgart.
Werder's "W" is moving towards the top of the standings
Hamburg's Hanseatic neighbor, defending champions Werder Bremen, are all of a sudden making a move to the top of the standings. Four weeks ago they lost to Schalke and everyone thought Thomas Schaaf's side would throw in the towel. Instead they have thrown down the gauntlet and with their 2-0 win over weak Mönchengladbach, they lie alone in third place on 37 points. 18-year old Aaron Hunt and Mohamed Zidan scored for Bremen.
Bremen's nearest challenger are Hertha Berlin. A late goal by Artur Wichniarek gave a 2-1 victory to the team from the capital. Bundesliga goalscoring leader Marek Mintal tied it in the 79th minute. One minute later, Nuremberg had a man advantage when Berlin's Andreas Neuendorf was sent off but failed not only to profit, they lost the game.
Dortmund wins in miserable conditions
Just one month ago, Dortmund were fighting to avoid the relegation zone. Now they stand 12 points away from that unusual region. They drove their Ruhr Valley rival Bochum further down into the depths of the relegation zone after a 1-0 victory.
Playing on a pitch more reminiscent of swimming pool, both sides watched the ball stop suddenly in puddles but the game didn't lack chances. Jan Koller scored the lone goal, but Bochum were the unfortunate victims of an offside call that wasn't. Coach Peter Neururer must now truly be worried about his job.
The remaining two sides far down in the table, Freiburg and Rostock, are falling further and further away from 15th place which would preserve their place in the top division.
Rostock lost 2-1 in Kaiserslautern. A late goal by Rostock's Rade Prica made the game interesting but minutes later he was sent off for unsportsmanlike conduct. Rostock are now in last place on a meager 13 points.
Freiburg played at home but managed only to gain a point with a 0-0 tie against Hanover, a result that truly helped neither side. Levan Tskitishvili failed to convert a spot kick for Volker Finke's side, valuable points they could not afford to give up. Freiburg is even on points with Bochum on 16.