The Bundesliga resumed on Friday night after the annual winter pause in hostilities, the league benefitting from over a month recuperation where the majority of clubs escape the harsh German winter and enjoy training camps in warmer foreign climbs. In stark contrast to the premier league where teams have been going hell for leather since August and will do until May, the break ensures that the second half of the Bundesliga campaign remains as intense as the first.
Bayern against high flying Monchengladbach at the Borussia Park proved to be the perfect reintroduction. Added spice came in the shape of Marco Reus coming up against the club he opted against joining in January, with the Bundesliga player of the season thus far instead returning to boyhood club Borussia Dortmund. This obviously left a bitter taste with the Bavarian giants who are in no way accustomed to losing out on any German talent and didn’t know quite how to react. “Maybe he didn’t trust himself to be ready for the step to go to Bayern” was the acid tongued response from Bayern left back Holger Badstuber upon hearing the news that he’d signed a pre-contract with Dortmund.
This negativity and arrogance from the Bayern camp clearly stirred a response from Reus who put them to the sword spectacularly on Friday night with a goal and an assist, Manuel Neur’s howler of a clearance on 11 minutes allowing Reus to curl his effort into the unguarded net. Borussia’s second came just before half time as Mike Hanke, the German Heskey, sent 20-year-old Patrick Herrmann through to double their lead with a smart finish. The cherry on top for Gladbach came midway through the second half, Bayern were caught flatfooted as Reus’ impudently crafted through ball sent Herrmann through to round the flailing Neur and claim his second goal, all but killing Bayern with 20 minutes still to play. Schweinsteiger’s close range consolation on 76 minutes failed to spark a late revival with Bayern now a meagre one point clear of Favre’s Foals.
Current champions Dortmund are now equal on points with both Bayern and Schalke at the top of the table after demolishing Hamburg 1-5. A Mario Gotze-less Dortmund wasted little time in pouncing on Bayern’s slip up with Polish duo Lewandowski and Blaszczykowski each scoring a brace to sink a rudderless Hamburg side. Lewandowski is one of the Bundesliga’s most improved players and has reduced Dortmund’s principal goal getter of last season Barrios to the role of spectator. The attacking quartet including Kagawa and Großkreutz proved to be far too much for the north Germans. The fifth and final goal was the pick of the bunch, Lewandowski exchanging passes inside a packed penalty area before finishing past a soggy and annoyed looking Jaroslav Drobny in the Hamburg goal. Jurgen Klopp’s men go from strength to strength despite their only real winter purchase of note not arriving until the summer.
Manuel Neur’s howler of a clearance on 11 minutes allowing Reus to curl his effort into the unguarded net
Schalke incredibly find themselves joint top of the league after a steady run of form under Huub Stevens and finally having a consistent goal threat in the shape of Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. Nigerian forward Chinedu Obasi joined on loan from Hoffenheim as Schalke’s main winter recruit, providing cover for the injured Jefferson Farfan. Schalke made light work of Stuttgart in Gelsenkirchen, a young and exciting group including Holtby, Draxler, Howedes and Matip who opened the scoring for the Royal Blues on Saturday combined with a proven strike force have got people wondering whether they could crash Dortmund and Bayern’s private party. At this stage you would have to say no but stranger things have happened. Schalke’s third goal looked like something straight out of a Barcelona training match, with Draxler finishing off a lesson in how to pass and move. Stuttgart grabbed a late consolation through Japanese striker Okazaki.
Robin Dutt’s Leverkusen side ran out 3-2 winners at home to Mainz after a mini second half collapse saw them blow a two goal lead. It was left to Lars Bender to power home a header in the 70th minute and save his teams blushes. Mainz were denied a late penalty after a clumsy tackle from Kadlec and Choupo-Moting hit the post in the final minutes keeping Mainz one point clear of the drop zone.
Results: Borussia Monchengladbach 3-1 Bayern Munich, SC Freiburg 1-0 FC Augsburg, Nuremberg 2-0 Hertha Berlin, Wolfsburg 1-0 Koln, Hoffenheim 0-0 Hannover, Schalke 3-1 Stuttgart, Kaiserslautern 0-0 Werder Bremen, Hamburg 1-5 Borussia Dortmund, Bayer Leverkusen 3-2 Mainz
Click here for more Bundesliga stories
Click here for more Football and Sport stories
Click here to follow Sabotage Times on Twitter
Click here to follow Sabotage Times on Facebook