Five things we learned in the Bundesliga
Borussia Dortmund’s victory caps a traumatic week, Bayern Munich miss Robert Lewandowski and RB Leipzig lose a tooth on the way to Champions League qualification.
Here are five things we learned from the 29th round of Bundesliga matches this weekend:
Sokratis’ ‘beautiful’ goal
Borussia Dortmund ended a nightmare week for the club with a morale-boosting 3-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt, capped by three dream goals.
The club is still dazed after three bomb blasts rocked the team bus on the way to a Champions League game on Tuesday, leaving the players dazed and defender Marc Bartra needing a wrist operation.
Marco Reus capped his return after six weeks sidelined with the opening goal after 122 seconds with a deft backheel flick.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sprinted 70 metres for the third on 86 minutes to claim his 26th Bundesliga goal this season.
But arguably the best came from defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos, who hit the ball from 23 metres out at 108km/h into the top corner on 34 minutes to give Dortmund a 2-1 lead.
“It was the most beautiful goal of my career. All in all, it was a strange feeling to play today. The things which have happened are still in our heads,” said the Greece international.
Julian Nagelsmann, 29, is the youngest coach in the Bundesliga’s history and is on the verge of steering Hoffenheim to the Champions League for the first time.
Adam Szalai and Kerem Demirbay both netted twice in Saturday’s 5-3 win at home to Borussia Moenchengladbach to leave Hoffenheim third with five games left.
The Bundesliga’s top three qualify directly for the Champions League’s group stages.
Hoffenheim are just one short of the club’s record points tally of 55 in the 2008/09 season and this is the first time they have won all of their last six home games.
“I’d rather have a game like that a thousand times more than when both teams hold back,” said Nagelsmann’ Germany’s coach of the year for 2016.
“When you go to a concert, you don’t want to hear the boring music.”
Hoffenheim’s home game against fourth-placed Dortmund in a fortnight is set to decide which club claims a direct Champions League berth or a play-off place.
Bayern miss Lewandowski
Misfiring leaders Bayern Munich laboured to a goalless draw at Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday with top-scorer Robert Lewandowski sidelined with a bruised shoulder.
He also missed Wednesday’s 2-1 defeat to Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final.
But the Poland hot-shot had no problems in a 45-minute training session in Munich on Saturday and Bayern is confident he will be fit for Tuesday’s return leg in Madrid.
“With him, I’m very confident he’ll play in Madrid,” said Bayern coach Carlo Ancelotti.
Bayern badly missed Lewandowski’s finishing in Leverkusen as David Alaba, Arturo Vidal, Kingsley Coman, Thomas Mueller and Philipp Lahm all wasted clear chances.
“Robert has qualities which no one else can bring,” admitted Alaba.
Demme’s missing tooth
Diego Demme took one for the team when the defensive midfielder scored second-placed RB Leipzig’s final goal in the 4-0 thrashing of Freiburg.
The win means Leipzig are guaranteed a top-four place and a crack at the Champions League next season.
But the victory came at a price as Demme lost a front tooth in the process of scoring the first Bundesliga goal of his career.
“If he lost a tooth for every goal in his career, he’d still almost have a full set,” joked coach Ralph Hasenhuettl.
Werder’s dramatic U-turn
Werder Bremen’s 2-1 comeback win over Hamburg on Sunday – thanks to midfielder Florian Kainz’s late winner – leaves them two points from the Europa League places.
Bremen are unbeaten in their last nine games and it is a dramatic turn-around under Alexander Nouri, who took charge in September when they were bottom of the table.
The up-turn in fortunes has only happened in recent weeks.
Bremen were 15th – and only out of the relegation places on goal difference – in mid-March, but took 13 from a possible 15 in their last five games to climb to eighth.
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