Matchday 13 headlines:
– Lewandowski at it again to secure Bayern top spot
– Thuram sees red for spitting at Posch in Gladbach loss
– Dortmund have won one in five after defeat to overachieving Union
– Same old story for tired Bayern
In midweek, Bayern needed a Robert Lewandowski brace to rescue them after Wolfsburg took an early lead. On Saturday, they needed a Robert Lewandowski brace to rescue them after Bayer Leverkusen took an early lead. In truth the champions were off the pace, particularly in the first half, but once again found a way. With even a short winter break serving as a chance to recharge the batteries, have their challengers missed their chance?
– Thuram facing ban after spitting
Any notions of challenging for the title that Borussia Mönchengladbach may have held evaporated on Saturday, as Marcus Thuram’s unsavory actions contributed to a 2-1 home loss to Hoffenheim that leaves the Champions League overachievers in midtable. After Hoffenheim had equalized with 15 minutes to go, Thuram lost his head, his part in the game and the respect his performances had earned by spitting in Stefan Posch’s face from close range. After Ryan Sessegnon scored a late winner for Hoffenheim, Thuram made his apologies on Twitter. Given the nature of the offence and the time we’re living in, it may not be enough to save him from a long suspension.
– Cologne play party poopers
Pretenders to the Bundesliga crown, RB Leipzig, came face-to-face with the Christmas Grinch on Saturday. Cologne defended valiantly at the Red Bull Arena to deny the title challengers any Christmas cheer. Grinch-in-chief and Cologne coach Markus Gisdol admitted it was a big result in Cologne’s quest for survival: “A year ago we had to play here, we were dizzy for a long time after the game.” The only dizziness this time around for was his opposite number, Julian Nagelsmann.
– Big city contrast
Borussia Dortmund were stung on Friday night by Union Berlin, whose remarkable season continued with victory over the Black and Yellows. Goals from Taiwo Awoniyi and Marwin Friedrich were enough for Union, who are sixth. The game will be remembered for a superb finish by 16-year-old Youssoufa Moukoko, who becomes the youngest scorer in Bundesliga history — but there is still plenty of work to do for Dortmund’s caretaker coach Edin Terzic. As there is for Union’s city rivals Hertha Berlin, who are the polar opposite of Union — all the money but no cohesive plan. Their 3-1 loss to Freiburg leaves them 14th.
– Dinkci does it on debut
Werder Bremen have struggled for goals all season, managing just over one per game. And their bluntness looked likely to cost them against struggling Mainz on Saturday. In desperation, Florian Kohfeldt turned to untired 19-year-old Eren Dinkci with five minutes remaining and the sides deadlocked. As injury time approached, Dinkci rose highest to head his side to three points. It won’t always be this good, but this wasn’t a bad introduction.
– Schalke: Sad, sorry and surely doomed
There is little left to say about Schalke that the numbers can’t explain. It’s now 29 games without a win, two short of Tasmania Berlin’s Bundesliga record, eight goals and four points from 13 games and three head coaches this season. Probably their best chance of breaking that streak, at home to Arminia Bielefeld, ended in a tame defeat after Fabian Klos grabbed the only goal of the game. Somehow there’s still mathematical hope, but that’s about it.
Player of the week: Robert Lewandowski
Five goals, six points and officially the best player in the world, it’s been quite a week for the ruthless Pole. He struggled early on against Leverkusen, as did his team, and was perhaps a bit fortunate with both his goals. But do it every week, and it becomes clear it’s no fluke. His 17 league goals this term have come at a rate of one every 59 minutes.
Young player of the week: Youssoufa Moukoko (Borussia Dortmund)
The 16-year-old became the made history on Friday night with a rasping, first-time left-footed finish high in to the roof of the net. Dortmund, for a change, are more concerned with the present than the future, but there are signs Moukoko can be both.
Coach of the week: Urs Fischer (Union Berlin)
A squad assembled on a shoestring, talk of second season syndrome and the absence of the fans many thought drove Union Berlin on: none of it seems to matter. Union’s formula is deceptively simple. Desire, discipline, teamwork and set pieces allow them to stay in games and give their small cohort of players a chance to shine. Fischer is the man who pulls it all together.