Bundesliga matchday 22 round-up: Dortmund climb up the table, Leverkusen slip up
It was another intriguing matchday in the Bundesliga as we had our share of a few routine wins, upsets and quite a few thrills and spills. If you're surprised by Bayern Munich not making the headline, then don't be. The holders once again won, making it five successive wins in the Rückrunde, and are sitting pretty at the top of the table.
Apart from Bayern, however, the table is pretty interesting to look at. Here are the talking points from Spieltag 22 (Gameday 22)...
Robert Lewandowski can't stop scoring
The Pole has scored in 11 successive home games in the Bundesliga so far and his strike against Schalke made it 19 goals for the season, eight strikes more than the closest competitor who happens to be Alfred Finnboggasson (Aubameyang scored 13 goals before moving to Arsenal).
It wasn't an easy game against Schalke who adapted their game and went pressed higher up the pitch. Bayern did have difficulty dealing with the press and Schalke deserved their equaliser which came via Franco Di Santo after Lewandowski had given the hosts the lead in the 6th minute.
Domenico Tedesco's side played a five-man midfield -- with Franco Di Santo often dropping deep -- as the duo of Max Meyer and Leon Goretzka played box to box roles. The latter, who'll join Bayern in the summer, put in an impressive performance and it was only after Meyer's substitution that Bayern got a foothold in the game.
The defeat against Bayern means Schalke are now two points behind the last of the Champions League spots. Bayern, on the other hand, are still 18 points clear at the top of the table.
Bayer Leverkusen flatter to deceive
You just cannot expect Heiko Herrlich's side to maintain the consistency, can you? Placed second in the league table before the matchday began, they were favourites to stay behind Bayern as they had a favourable fixture against Hertha Berlin at home. However, the young side were perhaps a bit too eager and the inexperience showed when they conceded the opening goal trying to break forward.
After Hertha intercepted a pass from the midfield, Vladimir Darida played a beautiful through-ball for young Valentino Lazaro who neatly sidefooted past Bernd Leno. The second goal too came from a Leverkusen mistake as Jonathan Tah misread the flight of the ball and Salomon Kalou was on hand to put the ball past Leno.
Bayer were handed a lifeline when Rune Jarstein's mistake gave the hosts an indirect freekick inside the box. All the Hertha players were stationed on the line as if to say, 'go on, you've only go to beat 11 of us.' Bayer made as many as three attempts from the subsequent freekick but could only hit the bar as Volland was denied a goal.
With a tricky away tie against Hamburg up next, Herrlich will hope his young side get their act together.
Werder Bremen and VfB Stuttgart pick up vital home wins
The two sides remain 14th and 15th in the table but with the bottom three -- Mainz, Hamburg and Köln -- losing their games, it was overall a good week for the relegation strugglers. The morale was high at Weserstadion as Bremen came from behind in the previous matchday to beat Schalke at the Veltins.
It took Florian Kohfeldt's side just over three minutes to open the scoring as fullback, Ludwig Augustinssonn, lost his marker and scored a header from a corner. Bremen added a second in the 40th minute through Florian Kainz's beautiful curled effort and the hosts were sitting pretty at halftime. Though Paul Verhaegh reduced the deficit from the spot, a second goal from Kainz pretty much settled the tie.
Unlike Bremen, Stuttgart had to dig deep for their win over their much-fancied opponents Borussia Monchengladbach. Dieter Hecking's side dominated possession and had as many as 12 shots but drew a blank at the Mercedes-Benz Arena.
The defeat means Gladbach are now in 10th in the league table, though they are just five points behind fourth-placed Frankfurt.
Michy Batshuayi has replaced Aubameyang's goals and the backflip
As promised before the game, Batshuayi scored and mimicked departed striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's famous backflip celebration! As for the game itself, it wasn't the most entertaining one.
Dortmund saw a lot of the ball but struggled to create openings in the first half. The second half saw them playing a bit more direct and immediately it paid dividends as a few Dortmund players combined well before Christian Pulisic's cross found Batshuayi who tapped it into an open net.
Despite the early lead in the second half, Hamburg managed to stay in the game and grew more expansive as the game went on. However, the combination that won Germany the World Cup back in 2014 clicked for Dortmund as Andre Schurrle, a threat down the right all game with his pace and dribbling ability, cut in from the left and beat two defenders to find a pass for Mario Gotze. The attacking midfielder showed immense composure and dinked it over the keeper to make the points safe.
The win took Dortmund up to third in the league table and was their second consecutive win after three draws in the opening three games of the Rückrunde.