Bundesliga Update - Borussia Dortmund win the Championship again
As the sun set on the AWD Arena on Sunday afternoon the final game of the weekend in the Bundesliga had an end of season feeling. But while Freiburg squeezed the point they needed out of Hannover to guarantee the own safety, there is still a great deal left undecided in the final few weeks of the season even if the most important issue is now resolved.
On Saturday, the Bundesliga title was decided with two games to go at Borussia Dortmund's packed 80000 capacity stadium, the Westfalen. BVB needed to beat fourth placed Borussia Mönchengladbach in order to seal the deal. For a moment it looked like the three points were unnecessary until Franck Ribery of Bayern Munich popped up in the dying seconds of the earlier game against Werder Bremen. The Frenchman's strike and subsequent 2-1 win declared that Bayern had not given up their claim on the title despite resting key players ahead of their Champions League semi final at the Bernabeu this week.
Dortmund were perhaps a little nervous to begin with. However, they faced a 'Gladbach side who were missing Roman Neustadter in the midfield and have generally struggled to find the same zest that they showed for so many months and has taken them to the brink of the Champions League.
The game ended 2-0 with goals from two players with less than certain futures at the club. The Croatian, Ivan Perisic has been a star off the bench this season and scored some memorable goals (perhaps the most notable being against Arsenal). A few weeks ago he'd expressed his frustration that he was not starting enough games and that maybe his future lay elsewhere. Perhaps his headed goal in the game that sealed the title will make him feel better about hid role and decide that life is pretty sweet playing in front of the Westfalen's mammoth south stand, the Sud Tribune.
The other goal scorer was the whirlwind Japanese international Shinji Kagawa with a lovely tight angled rifled shot to beat 'Gladbach keeper, Marc Andre Stegen, at the far post. The diminutive attacker has a new contract offer from his club which he won't sign. The feeling is that the Premier League is calling and it will be of no surprise if he leaves in the Summer. In truth, Kagawa was erratic on the day. Snatching the ball from teams mates, unwilling or unable to distribute effectively and finally getting his first yellow card of the campaign. Then came redemption with the goal and a mighty bear hug from his adoring coach, Jurgen Klopp. After that 'Gladbach accepted the reality of the situation and allowed BVB their moment.On the final whistle the players celebrated in the time honoured tradition of wasting copious amounts of beer by pouring it all over their coach.
Winning back to back titles for any Bundesliga club that isn't Bayern Munich is rare and impressive. Dortmund themselves achieved it once in the nineties. However, the price they paid was too high as financial mismanagement was the legacy of those golden days and the club almost went to the wall as a consequence. This Dortmund team was assembled on the principle of fiscal frugality, relatively speaking. That is why this generation's achievement will probably be regarded as the greater by Bundesliga historians of the future. The next step is the prospect of doing the double and winning the German FA Cup, the DFB Pokal, in a few weeks against Bayern Munich in Berlin's Olympic Stadium.
The Munich club may be smarting from having gone two seasons without lifting the Bundesliga Trophy but they can rightly claim Champions League bragging rights this season. In fact if they can overcome Real Madrid in their semi final and win the Champion League in their own stadium against Barcelona or Chelsea and
take the DFB Pokal then you could make an argument that this will be Bayern Munich's season.
In terms of European action, the final running order has yet to settled. 'Gladbach could still automatically qualify for the Champions League despite their defeat on Saturday. This is because Schalke were unable to break down a resolute Augsburg side who are on the verge of avoiding relegation after only one season in the top flight, something no one, possibly including themselves, would have expected of them. Only two points separate Schalke and 'Gladbach with two games remaining.
The two regular Europa League spots are pretty much sorted with Stuttgart and Leverkusen checking their passports are renewed. However, there is the unwanted slot that would have gone to the Pokal winners that will now go to the team in seventh place. That will be contested between Hannover and Werder Bremen.
At the bottom, it's curtains for Kaiserslautern despite their 2-1 win over second from bottom Hertha who are unable to get out of the bottom three and may miss out on the third from bottom play off spot currently occupied by Cologne. The is a four point gap between the Billygoats
and fourth from bottom Augsburg. While they managed a 1-1 draw against high flying Stuttgart it looks very much like the best they can hope to achieve is a two legged play off against St Pauli, Paderborn or the hated Fortuna Dusseldorf who are currently contesting third place in Bundesliga 2.
Technically, Eintracht Frankfurt can still finish third in the second division and contest that play off themselves. However, they will join Greuther Fürth in the Bundesliga 1 automatically if they beat bottom of the table Alemennia Aachen on Monday 23rd April. Aachen, in turn will be relegated if they lose. It could be an emotional night.
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