Bundesliga matchday 24 round-up: Bayern drop points, Cologne stay in the survival race, and more
Matchday 24 was spread over four days as Bundesliga fans had plenty of reasons to be happy. Of course, Bayern Munich dropping points adds to the joy because the holders have been dominant for so long now!
Like every game week, we had plenty of talking points from the German top flight. Here's a recap...
Bayern Munich held at home
It was an odd game for the league leaders. A 0-0 draw isn't something you'd expect from Bayern Munich, considering how star-studded their line-up is. It was the first time they drew a blank and the stalemate ended their 10-game winning streak in the league.
Frank Ribery and Robert Lewandowski had good chances to give their side the lead, but the former's shot sailed over the bar while the latter's was saved by Rune Jarstein. Speaking of Lewandowski, the Pole failed to find the back of the net for the first time at home in the Bundesliga against Hertha.
The Berliners had a few chances, the most notable of which was a stinging Vladimir Darida shot that was saved by Sven Ulreich.
Bayern will be disappointed their winning run came to and ended, but it didn't really matter as...
Dortmund fail to take advantage
Around 15,000 Borussia Dortmund fans decided to skip the side's home tie owing to the scheduling of the games. Gegen Montag (against Monday games) banners were seen at Frankfurt last Monday and the tone was very much the same at Westfalenstadion last night.
The fans who missed the game will be sort of glad, however. It was another unconvincing performance from Peter Stoger's side who weren't really at their fluid best. Of course, it's been so long since that happened, so we're sort of accustomed to the lacklustre BVB now.
Though Marco Reus gave Dortmund the lead fairly early -- in the 16th minute -- against FC Augsburg, the Bavarians kept their high intensity and didn't allow the hosts to control the game.
Manuel Baum's side were on a two-game losing streak and seemed adamant not to make it a third defeat. In fact, they mustered more shots that Dortmund in the game -- 6 to BVB's 2 -- and got their deserved equaliser in the 73rd minute when a poorly marked Kevin Danso scored past a helpless Roman Burki. The Swiss custodian saved the initial header but Danso was on hand to bury the rebound.
Dortmund did have a few late chances but were more or less restricted to taking shots from outside the box. A solid defensive performance from Augsburg who are in contention for a Europa League spot.
Schalke get a crucial win against Champions League rivals Leverkusen
Trust me, all eyes were on this one. With Bayern pretty much on their way to another title, the rest of the so-called top sides have been left chasing three Champions League berths. Schalke and Bayern Leverkusen were separated by just a point before the tie.
The game began with Leverkusen seeing more of the possession as Schalke were fine letting their opposition see more of the ball. The Royal Blues have been deadly on the counter more often than not this season and scored the opener that was started by one long diagonal pass by the man in form Daniel Caligiuri.
The German managed to tackle Kevin Volland on the right and his sublime pass was equally well controlled by Guido Burgstaller. With a flick, the Austrian managed to wrong-foot Panagiotis Restos and finish with much aplomb.
Schalke were given another massive advantage when Leverkusen midfield Dominik Kohr was sent off in the first half for his second yellow of the game. The challenge was pretty dangerous and Kohr is lucky he won't be serving a three-game ban for a direct red.
Despite the man's advantage, Leverkusen saw more of the ball as Schalke were content to defend what they had. They should have sealed the game as Breel Embolo missed a one one one opportunity but a late penalty saw Nabil Bentaleb seal the three points. With the win, Schalke are up to third because of a few favourable results.
Cologne still have life in them
At the half-way mark, Cologne had just 6 points while the two teams above them had 15 points each. Fast forward a couple of months and Cologne now have 17 points, the same as Hamburg and just 7 points behind 16th placed Mainz who occupy the relegation playoff spot.
Going into Sunday's tie against RB Leipzig, Effzeh were the underdogs and it didn't seem like they would get anything would change when Jean-Kevin Augustin gave the hosts the lead in the 5th minute. Stefan Ruthenbeck's side, though, stayed in the game and equalised in the 70th minute courtesy of a belter from Vincent Koziello.
The Frenchman controlled the ball on the edge of the penalty area and unleashed a left-footed drive that Peter Gulacsi couldn't stop. Cologne had the momentum and just six minutes later, scored the winning goal courtesy of Leonardo Bittencourt. Marcel Risse had a hand in both the goals, though it was his run on the right flank for the second that was a treat to watch.
With 30 points still to play for, Cologne are more than alive in the race for survival. They've mustered 3 wins and 2 draws from the 7 games in the Rückrunde, so form wise, they perhaps have a good chance to usurp Mainz.
Hamburg staring down the Zweite Liga
Yeah, I know Borussia Monchengladbach ending 4-game losing streak needs a mention, but how can I miss out on the derby that had so much at stake? It was another disastrous week for the Hamburg who fell to arch-rivals Werder Bremen in the Nordderby.
The hosts were far more adventurous than the away side who needed the win more but adopted a more cagey approach. Werder created far more than the away side and managed to eke out the crucial three points late on when a Rick van Dronglene own-goal gave them the lead.
It seemed a controversial goal considering Ishak Belfodil was offside when Aron Jóhannsson took his shot from the left. However, the classic case of Belfodil not touching the ball meant that the goal stood.
Taking into account the number of chances Hamburg created, a draw would have flattered them. Their main source of chances was Aaron Hunt who had a few shots from the edge of the box.
The win took Werder above Wolfsburg, 2 points above Mainz who occupy the relegation playoff spot. As for Hamburg, well, they're ahead of Cologne only by virtue of goal difference. A pretty dire situation to be in, if you ask me.