Terry Duffelen
Tue 29 September 2009

Bundesbag Week 7: Hamburg stake their claim | Favre pays the price

There is something reassuring about a 1-0 win, particularly in top of the table clashes. 1-0 says a keenly-contested game between two well-matched teams. 1-0 says attrition, tension, hard work and good defending. 1-0 says a hard-fought, well-earned win. Unlike your 4-3 which says knockabout hi-jinks and grown men wearing party hats.

And so it was, last Saturday evening, the Bundesliga's top club Hamburg faced their stiffest test of the season so far as they welcomed Bayern Munich to the Nordbank Arena. Down the years, this is the moment when the upstart pretender is brought back to Earth by the moustache-twirling Bavarians who gleefully put them back in their place. But that was the Bayern of old. The new Bayern are like Liverpool in the early 90's, a diminished force trading on past glories with a dodgy back four.

You'll gather from the preceding paragraphs that events did not go too well for Bayern and you'd be right. Hamburg won the match, you guessed it, 1-0 thanks to a second half goal from Croatian international striker Mladen Petric. Having said that, if the Bayern coach hadn't dropped goalkeeper Michael Rensing earlier in the season, the result could have been more like 6-0. Thankfully for the Munich club, Hans Jorge Butt is made of stronger stuff and made some big saves in the match.

For Hamburg, who have struggled in recent Cup fixtures, the result is a clear marker. The season is beginning to take shape and Hamburg have beaten Wolfsburg and now Bayern. Bruno Labbadia has placed the club flag in the centre circle and declared their intention to win the League and it's too late to take it back now.

Keeping pace with Hamburg at the top are Bayer Leverkusen. They also won their weekend game 1-0. While their opponents were the less illustrious Koln, this fixture is a keenly contested derby match and was settled by Leverkusen's captain Simon Rolfes. To combine the Koln fans misery, they also had to watch their Portuguese playmaker Maniche get sent off for stamping on Arturo Vidal's goolies.

Meanwhile, further up the Rhine, the big Ruhr Derby took place at the Westfalon between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04. BVB have had a poor start to the season with some of the new signings not settling in too well, one of them being Lucas Barrios. The Argentine had thought that he'd finally got off the mark for his new club against the best possible time with a shot from distance which rebounded off the crossbar and across the line. Unfortunately the linesman was not up with the ball and the goal never stood. To make matters worse for BVB and better for Schalke, Jefferson Farfan (a player rejuvenated under new boss Felix Magath) popped up to score the game's only goal.

While we're here, we may as well wrap up the 1-0 scorelines with an excellent win for Bochum on Friday at Nurnberg. Diego Klimovicz scored the goal on 7 minutes and his team mates held on to give interim coach Frank Heinemann his first win in his first Bundesliga match.

Elsewhere, champions Wolfsburg warmed up for their visit to Old Trafford on Wednesday with a 4-2 victory over Hannover. Claudio Pizzaro was on the mark twice for Werder Bremen as they beat Mainz 3-0. Eintracht Frankfurt's unbeaten run came to an end at home to Stuttgart, two goals from the young forward Julian Scheiber plus one from Thomas Hitzlsperger doing the damage. Freiburg beat 'Gladbach by the same scoreline which keeps them comfortably in mid-table for now.

In Hoffenheim it was a day of great joy and sorrow. The Hoff's Bosnian striker Vedad Ibisevic has been waiting to get back on the scoresheet after missing half of last season with injury. On Sunday, the floodgates opened and he scored a whizz hat-trick as the home side destroyed Hertha 5-1. The result proved to be too much for the Berliners who decided to sack their coach Lucien Favre on Monday.

Favre had led his team to fourth place last season and could still have won the title on the penultimate game. However, the sale of Josep Simunic to Hoffenheim and the failure to retain Andrey Voronin for another season clearly left a gaping hole in the side. Hertha have conceded eleven goals in the last three Bundesliga matches and were knocked out of the German Cup by 1860 Munich. It's hard to see any manager recovering from such a mauling, frankly. To make matters worse, Lothar Matthaus is tipped to replace Favre.

It's not all doom and gloom in the capital. While the top club in the city may be about to become the biggest car crash of the season, down the road at Stadion An Der Forestei, Union Berlin keep on winning in 2. Bundesliga. Their latest victory was against Rot Weiss Ahlen puts them second in the table. Kaiserlautern are top on goal difference after beating Karlsruhe 2-0.

That's it. Results and tables here. Follow the Bundesbag on Twitter.

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