Bundesliga gameweek 12 roundup: Schalke up to second, Borussia Dortmund continue to plunge
After what was a fairly drab international break for the German national team, the Bundesliga certainly didn’t disappoint as there were a few captivating games in the German top flight.
Going into the gameweek, all the talk was regarding Bayern’s resurrection under Jupp Heynckes and Borussia Dortmund’s rapid fall after a bright start. Dortmund needed the international break desperately but failed to make any use of it as they suffered yet another chastening defeat.
Dortmund’s archrivals, Schalke, have surprised quite a few this season and continued to do so after climbing up to second in the league table.
Here are the key takeaways from the weekend:
Schalke succeed where Dortmund fail
A 32-year old manager taking over a club who’ve underachieved in the last five years – not much was expected of Schalke when the first time the ball was kicked in August. Fast forward a few months and the Gelsenkirchen side find themselves in second place, just six points behind Bayern Munich.
The usual suspects for second place – Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig – have been inconsistent, especially the former. Dortmund's defensive woes have let them down in the last month and a half as they’ve conceded 14 goals in just five games. On the other hand, Domenico Tedesco’s side have done extremely well defensively and have kept four clean sheets in their last five games, winning them in the process.
Apart from a stable three-man defence, Tedesco has managed to integrate Max Meyer well a deeper role, something has helped the team transition from defence to attack without too many hiccups, owing to Meyer’s ability with the ball.
While there were moments against Hamburg where Schalke were casual, they got the job done in the end, something they've become rather popular for this season; getting the right result. And all that without their talisman Leon Goretzka.
Dortmund, meanwhile, failed to cut out their petulant mistakes at the back against Stuttgart and Roman Burki was the culprit once again as he didn't have to come out rushing to collect a pass from Marc Bartra.
Schalke go into the Revier Derby as favourites, keeping in mind the previous results, and that’s not something many would have predicted when the fixtures were announced!
Bayern continue to roll under Heynckes
You can’t really put into words the impact Jupp Heynckes has had at the Allianz Arena since taking over as caretaker manager. Carlo Ancelotti’s experimentation worked against him and Heynckes has managed to go back to a more stable 4-2-3-1 system with Javi Martinez shielding the back four and Arturo Vidal playing a box to box role.
Vidal has managed to pick up his game after being asked by the gaffer to train harder and arguably put in his best performance this season in the Bavarian derby against Augsburg. Manuel Baum's side were never expected to challenge the might of Bayern and the hosts put them to their place with a goal from Vidal and a brace from Robert Lewandowski.
Tougher games await Bayern as they face a high-flying Borussia Monchengladbach side and then host PSG in early December, but you sense the Bayern side that the Parisians will face in the coming month will be a whole different prospect. Remeber the days when Bayern used to put aside teams without hitting their top gear? Yeah, this is that Bayern.
Werder Bremen finally pick up their first win, VAR controversy hurts FC Köln
It was another despondent game for the travelling Köln fans as their side were undone at the Opel Arena. While the defeat left a sour taste in their mouth, at least the fans will take solace from the fact that their team was good enough to at least lose the match owing to no fault of theirs!
While the letter of the law says that a freekick is awarded to the opposing team if its player is impeded, it doesn't really say anything about the degree of causality. Köln can feel hard done by that as Frederik Sörensen and Konstantin Rausch hardly 'impeded' Pablo de Blasis. Referee Felix Brych pointed to the spot straight away. The decision should have been overturned as there was hardly any contact, but they decided to go with it anyway.
Daniel Brosinski made no mistake from the spot and the goal proved to be the difference as Mainz picked up their fourth win of the season.
Unlike Köln though, Bremen rode on a Max Kruse hattrick to pick up a much-needed first win of the season against Hannover. While Kruse did the scoring, Bargfrede impressed in midfield, working hard to win tackles and teeing up Fin Bartels who assisted Kruse twice in the game.
Bremen climbed up to 16th in the league table and will hope to kick on. That's not going to be easy, though, as they travel to Leipzig next. As for the losing side, manager Andre Breitenreiter will be slightly concerned they conceded five against a side who had struggled to score. But Hannover have been pretty consistent and have the ideal game to bounce back when they take on fellow promoted side VfB Stuttgart this Friday.
The Bayer Leverkusen of old, but can they kick on?
Ah, Leverkusen. The team that build you up to let you down! Taking on a good Leipzig side, there was a part of me that presumed they'd flatter to deceive. But then, it's Leverkusen, you never really know what you're going to get!
A team with quite a few youngsters, Leverkusen went behind to a Timo Werner strike in the fairly early in the 13th minute but held on to equalise late in the second half courtesy of a well taken Leon Bailey goal. It seemed the Jamaican messed up his chance but had the audacity to tap it in with the outside of his left foot to square it before halftime.
Did they keep their composure after halftime? It's Bayer, that isn't normal. In normal circumstance -- and yes, the score being at 1-1 is perfectly normal -- you wouldn't expect your players to save a shot directed at goal with an arm. But our man at Leverkusen, Benjamin Henrichs, didn't think that made any sense. He was rightly sent off and Emile Forsberg converted from the subsequent penalty.
Did the craziness stop there? Of course, it didn't. It's LEVERKUSEN! They fought their way back to find an equaliser once again, with 10 men, to claim a point and keep their unbeaten seven-match streak going. Phew. The emotions their fans must be going through!
Hertha fall, Monchengladbach rise
From the beginning, Hertha never looked like competing and were behind as early as the 5th minute when Zakaria's marauding run on the left wasn't kept in check by the Berlin defence. Stindl was on hand to tap it in and the hosts, already short on confidence, never really recovered as they conceded two more goals in the following 15 minutes to virtually lose the game in the first half.
The late attempt to salvage something from the game was all but ended when Raffael scored 13 minutes from time.
This time last season, Gladbach were struggling while Berlin were flying high at the right end of the table. The state of transfers is questionable as Berlin still have an ageing attack. Davie Selke did sign, but the team's lack of creativity is evident and it's going to be a long and arduous season for the Europa League side this campaign.
Dieter Hecking's side, on the other hand, are in the top four and overtook Borussia Dortmund. The Revier Derby next weekend provides them with the chance to further climb up the table as Schalke are merely two points ahead.