There were no draws in a throughly entertaining set of four other simultaneous 15:30 kickoffs. Dortmund, Frankfurt, Wolfsburg, and Leipzig emerged as the sides capable of claiming three points at the start of the Bundesliga’s packed “English Week”.
German record champions FC Bayern München are back at the top of the Bundesliga table over holding off Hertha 3-2 at Berlin’s Olympiastadion on Saturday afternoon. In a wild match that featured four goals in the final right-minutes of the first half, Julian Nagelsmann’s charges were able to clamp down defensively and prevent a Hertha comeback during the second 45.
FCB trainer Nagelsmann made five changes from Tuesday’s Champions’ League “dead-rubber”. The big news was, of course, the return of German national team keeper Manuel Neuer between the sticks. The German captain replaced Sven Ulreich for his first deployment since Bundesliga matchday nine.
Nagelsmann also rotated out Josip Stanisic, Ryan Gravenberch, Marcel Sabitzer, and Kingsley Coman. Alphonso Davies, Leon Goretzka, and Serge Gnabry returned. The Bavarians lined up precisely as they did against Mainz last weekend, only with Benjamin Pavard taking Matthjis de Ligt at center back.
Hertha trainer Sandro Schwarz had to make two enforced changes from the XI that narrowly lost to SV Werder Bremen in last round’s curtain-raiser. With strikers Stevan Jovetic once again injured and Wilfried Kanga troubled by a stomach bug, Jean-Paul Boëtius and Davie Selke played from the start.
Matters initially proceeded as one might expect in Berlin’s Charlottenburg quarter. Hertha were able to display some bite in the opening ten minutes, but BSC man Dodi Lukebakio couldn’t fashion decent enough chances to trouble Neuer. Musiala stroked home the opening goal in the 12th after Sadio Mané picked the ball off Suat Serdar and set up the German phenom.
Bayern effectively entered “cruise-control” mode and rarely let their hosts see much of the ball. Some brief complacency set in near the half-hour mark. After Selke and Marco Richter missed a double chance to equalize in the 27th, Bayern woke back up and pressed deeper into their opponent’s territory once more.
Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting attained the 2-0 with a clinical finish in the 37th after some nice prep work from Goretzka. One minute later, Choupo had a brace off a rather incidental finish. The resurgent Cameroonian international slid somewhat blindly into a Gnabry cross and deflected the ball in with his shin.
With Bayern up 3-0, many will have assumed that the game was over. Te capital city hosts neverhthxss managed to pull a goal back in the 40th when Lukebakio, marked rather loosely by Noussair Mazraoui, finished off a Richter cross in the 40th. Hertha were then awarded a penalty shortly before the half when a VAR review confirmed that Pavard had stomped on Selke’s foot.
Selke converted the penalty himself to pull “die alte Dame” back within one goal. After the wild finish to the first-half, Bayern came out a little calmer when play restarted. By the 55th, however, the German giants were slicing their way back through the Hertha defensive ranks again. The guests thought they had the 4-2 when Agustin Rogel deflected the ball into his own net in the 57th.
Rogel’s own-goal was disallowed for an offside FCB position in the lead-up and the one-goal margin stood. Both sides defended resolutely down the stretch with no especially dangerous chances emerging at either end. There was a little excitement in front of the Bayern goal deep into injury time, but there were simply too many bodies in the box for both sides for Hertha to fashion an opportunity out of it.
Elsewhere in the Bundesliga’s 15:30 kickoffs, VfL Wolfsburg were able to extend their unbeaten run to seven fixtures on-the-trot with a 3-0 win over Mainz. Last week’s brace-scorer Felix Nmecha earned an assist this time on a Patrick Wimmer goal. VfL squad captain Maximilian Arnold–embroiled in some controversy this week–also scored. So to did up-ticking German international Ridle Baku.
RB Leipzig too were able to keep up their hot streak. Marco Rose’s German Red Bulls extended their unbeaten run to an incredible 11 games on-the-bounce with a 3-1 defeat of Hoffenheim in the match Germans refer to as “El Plastico”. More magic from the Bundesliga’s leading goal-scorer Christopher Nkunku saw the Frenchman bag a brace. The Frenchman currency leads the “Golden Cannon” race with 11 goals.
Over at the WWK-Arena in the Swabian section of Bavaria, Eintracht Frankfurt bounced back from their league defeat against Dortmund last week to top Augsburg 2-1. A very clever goal from German youth international Ansgar Knauff proved the game-winner. The win pulls the RheinMain Eagles up to fifth place.
Over at Signal Iduna Park, a brace from Youssofa Moukoko led Borussia Dortmund over Ruhr rivals VfL Bochum 3-0. The intense and also surprisingly competitive affair also featured a penalty conversion from Giovanni Reyna. The BVB’s win pulls them up to third place. Freiburg have a chance to overtake die Schwarzgelben tomorrow.