Top five talking points from Matchday 23 | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 04.03.2017
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Top five talking points from Matchday 23

Leverkusen's patience with coach Roger Schmidt snapped after his side were routed in Dortmund. He is joined by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Andries Jonker in the spotlight following the latest matches.

Leverkusen's defending lets Schmidt down again

It was the straw that finally broke Roger Schmidt's back. The 6-2 defeat in Dortmund cost the Leverkusen coach his job. Sporting director Rudi Völler accurately described Bayer Leverkusen's performances this season as a "mixed bag" ahead of kick-off but the fragility of the Werkself's defending is becoming less surprising by the week. Poor organization from set-pieces saw them concede two early goals against Mainz last week and the same frailness was evident again in Dortmund this weekend. A slip by Charles Aranguiz on the edge of his own box allowed Ousmane Dembélé to fire home the opener before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, of all people, was left unmarked to nod home a second from a corner. The Gabonese was again left unmarked in the 70th minute score an almost identical goal. Leverkusen have now conceded 16 goals from set-piece situations.

Schmidt's decisions seemed somewhat strange and he can only have himself to blame. He had a wealth of attacking talent at his disposal but controversially decided to start Javier Hernandez, Kerim Bellarabi and Julian Brandt on the bench, opting instead for 17-year-old Kai Havertz.

Fußball Champions-League Bayer Leverkusen - Atletico Madrid (Reuters/W. Rattay)

Roger Schmidt was sacked after Leverkusen's defeat to Dortmund

Bayern have found their rhythm 

If the first half of Bayern Munich's season was characterised by a steely never-say-die attitude which saw them score late goals in tricky away matches at Hamburg, Freiburg, Ingolstadt and Hertha BSC, the champions have now found their groove. A 5-1 victory over Arsenal in the Champions League, an 8-0 thrashing of Hamburg in the Bundesliga and a  3-0 win against Schalke in the cup have been followed by a comfortable 3-0 win over Cologne which sees them extend their lead at the top to seven points. 

And the goals are coming from all over the pitch. In the Cologne victory, it was defenders Javi Martinez and Juan Bernat who shot Bayern into a 2-0 lead before Franck Ribery made it three. The champions have now registered a league-high seven goals from defender. At the other end, Manuel Neuer proved once again why he is the world's best keeper with a sensational save from Yuya Osako with the game still goalless. The Bavarians ooze class all over the pitch and are slipping ominously into gear as we approach the business end of the season.  

Deutschland 1 FC Köln gegen FC Bayern München (Getty Images/AFP/S. Schürmann)

Robert Lewandowski failed to find the target, but Bayern are scoring from all areas

Aubameyang matches Lewandowski's BVB record

Robert Lewandowski scored 74 goals in 131 Bundesliga appearances for Borussia Dortmund before joining Bayern Munich in summer 2014, leaving many a BVB supporter wondering how they could ever fill that gap. Well, statistically at least, they have their answer - Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has now eclipsed his Polish predecessor's tally and it's taken him 14 less games.

The Gabonese striker has had his critics this season. His profligacy in front of goal saw Dortmund lose 1-0 against Benfica in the Champions League and the 27-year-old has made no secret of his "dream" to join Real Madrid one day. But he underlined his importance to Thomas Tuchel's team with his goals number 104 and 105 for the club in all competitions as Dortmund hammered Leverkusen 6-2. 

Another honorable mention must go to Ousmane Dembele, who posed a constant threat from the left wing against Leverkusen. The French youngster - another gem discovered by Dortmund's tireless scouting team - opened the scoring and set up Aubameyang as well.

BVB-Trainer Tuchel mit Aubameyang (picture alliance/Pressefoto Rudel/R. Rudel)

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is now fifth on Dortmund's all-time scoring chart

Hoffenheim have resilience as well as flare

Relegation-threatened Ingolstadt are a tough nut to crack under Maik Walpurgis and won't go down without a fight -  as Champions League-chasing Hoffenheim were forced to work hard for victory. The 5-2 scoreline might look comfortable at first glance but Ingolstadt were the better team for large periods and led 2-1 after an hour.

Julian Nagelsmann's side have attracted praise for their free-flowing, attacking football but here they also showed that they are capable of digging deep and making use of a squad stocked with quality. Andrej Kramaric's entrance in the second half proved decisive as the Croatian scored Hoffenheim's third and set up their fourth in the space of two minutes as the hosts killed off the game in clinical fashion.

Deutschland TSG 1899 Hoffenheim v FC Ingolstadt 04 - Jubel (Getty Images/Bongarts/D. Kopatsch)

Andrej Kramaric came off the bench to help Hoffenheim to victory

Van Gaal-lite in Wolfsburg as Jonker and Gomez are re-united

When Louis Van Gaal was relieved of his duties at Bayern Munich in 2011, assistant manager Andries Jonker took charge for the final five games of the season, of which Bayern won four and drew one. Mario Gomez scored in every one of those games and the successful combination quickly worked again in Mainz when Gomez gave Wolfsburg the lead after 20 minutes.

At his press conference in the week, the 54-year-old Dutchman said he would bring a "clarity of ideas" and a "clear footballing philosophy" to Wolfsburg and he put this into practice by switching to a classic defensive four. The Wolves out-passed Mainz with 510 passes to their hosts' 301 and enjoyed 62% possession. But they nevertheless managed only seven shots. If today is anything to go on, the imprint of Louis Van Gaal is clear to see. 

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