Terry Duffelen
Wed 17 February 2010

Bundesbag Week 22 - The return of the horse faced killer!

You don't need to be an expert Bundesliga pundit to figure out that if fit, Ruud Van Nistelrooy will score goals for Hamburg. And sure enough, the moment RVN spent any meaningful amount of time on a football pitch, he scored. Twice in fact. The 33-year-old warhorse came on as a sub at Stuttgart with the score at 1-1. Twelve minutes later it was 3-1, the Dutchman scoring both goals and was being mobbed by most of his teammates and all of the subs bench.

The first goal was a beauty. A first-time shot from a through ball from Tunay Torun was classic Van Nistelrooy. I wonder if Hamburg coach Bruno Labbadia will utilize the injury-prone veteran as an impact player for the rest of the season before putting him through a full pre-season in the Summer. Of only mildly less significance was the scorer of Hamburg's goal Marcus Berg. The Swedish under-21 star was a big money signing last Summer but has struggled. Hopefully the young fella can get look forward to a decent second half to the season.

The win puts Hamburg into fourth place behind Schalke, who despite predictions from a certain ill-informed German football blogger have not fallen away from the title challenge yet, are still in decent form. They beat Koln 2-0 with goals from Joel Matip and Jefferson Farfan. Felix Magath's team are keeping a watching brief over the top two, Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen who are neck and neck on 48 points.

The Leverkusen club seem to be victims of the maiden tied to the railway tracks narrative in the media. Helpless, as the steam train that is Bayern Munich comes hurtling along the line. The assumption is that Leverkusen will be crushed under the weight of their own history and choke while Bayern will do likewise and clinch top spot along with the title in May. The Bundesbag is less certain and remembers how bad they were in the early part of the season without Robben and Ribery.

Both teams won their games to keep the pressure on themselves. Bayer were pretty convincing against Wolfsburg (who are awful) and Bayern swatted Dortmund like a fly after they had the temerity to open the scoring at the Allianz with Mo Zidan. However three goals from van Bommel, Robben and Gomez put Jurgen Klopp's team back in their box. That's the third defeat in a row for BVB which has put the brakes on their upward journey through the table. Surly they'll get back to winning ways this weekend against Hannover who are on their third head coach now and plummeting out of the league. Like a horse stuck in quick sand, the more they struggle the worse they get and they were soundly beaten at home by Werder Bremen 5-1! At this time the 96ers are even worse than Hertha.

Speaking of the Berliners, such is their plight that they really need wins rather than draws. Nevertheless, Friedhelm Funkel has injected some steel into their veins and the bottom club are proving very hard to beat. They went a goal down to Mainz only to equalise and hang on for a point. Berlin are four points away from second from bottom Nurnburg, who lost to 'Gladbach on Friday and five points off Hannover in the relegation play off spot. This must be their target and something tells me they could pull it off.

Elsewhere, Bochum's progress under Heiko Herlich continued against the wayward Hoffenheim with a 2-1 win. Ibisevic scored for the Hoff for the first time in weeks.

Finally, more praise for Eintracht Frankfurt who snatched a dramatic injury time winner and beat Freiburg 2-1. The scorer was new signing, attacking midfielder Halil Altintop who has slotted straight into the Frankfurt team. He has rewarded his coach Michael Skibbe's good judgement with a couple of seminal performances and clearly relishes being the centre of attention after spending so much time on the periphery at Schalke. Frankfurt are seventh and official Europe League contenders.

That's it. Results and tables here. Don't forget to follow the Bundesbag on Twitter here.

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