Posted by Radu M. Pandea

Posted in Bundesliga / Football


Bundesliga Match Day 28 Recap
Official Bundesliga League Table

April 1 – You cannot look at the games from this weekend in the Bundesliga and not be amazed and surprised.  The title of this article tells you the story of the German league at the moment, but also the story of the matchday.  Analyzing the implications brought on by the results, you know that everything is up for grabs, nothing is really sure, probably the only thing close to being settled is FC Kaiserslautern’s relegation at the end of the season.

For the rest of the teams, the title race is still on, the third place battle is undecided, five teams are fighting for three Europa League places and from the 10th place almost anyone can finish the season in a relegation spot, or having to meet a team from the second league in a playoff to stay up.

After enjoying the breathtaking football on Friday night between Borussia Dortmund and VfB Stuttgart, you could not compare it with rest of the games.  There were important results, but without bringing you the same excitement.  This 28th episode of the season brought everything into a big pot, boiling after more logs were put in the fire.

It may have been a setback in terms of points, but from the point of view of team spirit, fabulous football, and great character, Dortmund won a lot after their game with VfB Stuttgart.  They will learn a lot after the mistakes that costed them the 2-0 lead, they will realize their fantastic mental power and vanity which brought them back in the lead after going down 3-2, and in the end, they will see that their opponents may seem down, are only beaten when the whistle ends it all.

Sure, it is a tough moment to go through, knowing that your advantage has shrunk to only three points, but Borussia can be thankful that this minor error came when there was still room for a mistake.  Jürgen Klopp has to turn this disappointment into a valuable lesson to guide his team through the end of the season, but he’s also forced to use the positives which came obvious after this game to strengthen the squad before the two finals against Bayern München, one for the league and the other one for the DFB Pokal.

Stuttgart also needs to get a huge amount of credit for what they achieved in this game, even if it was mostly the last 30 minutes, Bruno Labbadia’s team transforming itself from the disappointing group of players drawing 0-0 at home against Kaiserslautern, to a squad capable of coming back from 2-0 and 4-3 to get a point from the leaders.  The transfer of Vedad Ibisevic seems to be one of the best investments made by the Swabian team in some time, the Bosnian coming back to his usual form to show that he still is one of the best forwards in the league.  Stuttgart has the fire-power to envy, with an experienced man like Cacau, a young and powerful Julian Schieber, one great finisher like Martin Harnik backing up Ibisevic, they have the potential to be a title challenger next season if they can also improve their other lines and have some stability and continuity in their results.

If Dortmund is showing the human side, making errors and displaying emotions, Bayern has almost reached a level of computerised precision, one which they were actually after, when they decided to get a coach to continue what Louis van Gaal built, instead of searching for a new vision from a younger coach.  Of course, there is also the element of chance involved, like in the game with 1.FC Nürnberg, but it’s only the end result which matters when calculating the points, and FCB is gathering them like a hard working ant.  Having reached a point in the season where they have to play twice almost every week, Jupp Heyenkes had to create a rotation capable of working and getting the job done with only minor tweaks from game to game to keep the level high.

Working hard, taking the pressure, sacrificing some games to make some tactical experiments, the 66-year-old manager has achieved his task of arranging the components to create a stable structure, having now a team which is ready carry battles in any competition, against any opponent, with a chance of celebrating at the end. Maybe there are stronger sides, more united and talented teams, but if the mechanism works, the objective is fulfilled.

There’s a month and a half left to go in the season, one final to play, one semi-final almost booked and six important league games to overcome including a date with Dortmund looming in 10 days, and Bayern has very good chance of getting all the titles in the sack, all thanks to this meticulous work of Heyenckes.  This is the business end of the season and FCB is ready for it, this last win in Nuremberg coming as confirmation of the functionality of their system, but they still have to be realistic and know that as good as they can win them all, they can also lose them all, one failure being maybe enough to take everything down like dominoes.

Looking lower in the league you only see inconsistent teams, squads which find it very hard to deal with pressure, with the number of games, the disappointments lived through the year.  There is only momentum growing and then fading away, with only one exception – FC Kaiserslautern and their series of games without a win.  Others like FC Schalke 04 or Borussia Mönchengladbach are paying for their lack of stability with their exit from the title race, their model being adopted also by other teams like Werder Bremen or Bayer Leverkusen.

These four teams made all errors this weekend, for Werder and Leverkusen these mistakes caused them to slip lower in the table and allowed the teams with momentum to believe in their dreams of European adventures next season.  One head was chopped off by the blade after these games, Robin Dutt’s spell at Leverkusen ending after the painful 2-0 defeat at the hands of his former team, SC Freiburg.  Stale Solbakken was a bit luckier, keeping his position at 1.FC Cologne for now after his team failed to show against FC Augsburg.

A closer look is needed at the above mentioned SC Freiburg, a team which is not yet at a safe distance from the relegation places, but is fighting with some style to survive.   Christian Streich’s appointment in charge of the Brazilians of Breisgau turned out to be the lifeline for the team.  The Black Forest team ended the first half of the season at the very bottom, but the 18 points gathered in eleven games pushes the team in a position of relative safety, three points clear of the playoff spot.

The former coach of the second team of the club brought a different air in the dressing room, managing to build a squad capable of fighting against anybody, despite the winter departures of their top-scorer Papiss Demba Cisse and two key players from last season, Felix Bastians and Heiko Butscher.  Bringing to the first squad and playing a lot young new faces, Streich created a hard working group which has no shaky knees in front of big teams like Bayern, Schalke, Leverksusen, or Werder.  Their results are a deserved reward for all this work, for all this trust invested by the board of Freiburg when promoting the second team coach to the first squad, the great eye of Streich perfectly choosing the players to develop a chance of rowing the ship back from the dark waters at the bottom of the table.

Moving in a completely opposite direction are FC Cologne and Hertha Berlin, both teams making changes which had only a minimum effect, the lack of connection between the players in the squads cancelling the efforts of the managers assigned the task of saving the sinking boat.  Hamburger SV were in a similar situation but they had the chance of playing an opponent with a worse morale than them, Thorsten Fink’s team winning in Kaiserslautern but without anything to build on.  Three points taken, some confidence gained but from the point of view of football, nothing really improving to spark any real trust from the fans.

It is a league of contrasts, a beautiful competition which is growing a lot of talented players thanks to this education of the leaders of the teams, which have the patience and trust to invest in young talent, either on the bench or on the pitch.  Germany is building a lot of future for itself, unlike England or Italy, where the teams in these leagues transfer foreign players in a frenzy to deny the chances for younger players, the result of this seen in the performances of their national teams and also in European competitions.

It’s good that this blur now exists in the Bundesliga, the last six games of the season remaining interesting in every part of the table, everybody having the chance to prove that they deserve the love of their fans. There is a lot more in store for all the fans until the end, so keep enjoying the German league!

Bundesliga Finals – Match Day 28

Borussia Dortmund 4-4 VfB Stuttgart

FC Augsburg 2-1 1.FC Cologne
1. FC Nürnberg 0-1 Bayern München
1. FC Kaiserslautern 0-1 Hamburger SV
Werder Bremen 0-3 1.FSV Mainz
Bayer Leverkusen 0-2 SC Freiburg
Hertha Berlin 1-4 VfL Wolfsburg

Hannover 96 2-1 Borussia Mönchengladbach
Hoffenheim 1899 1-1 FC Schalke

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