Terry Duffelen
Sun 18 April 2010

Bundesbag Week 31 - Brace yourselves!

To be honest, it could have been double figures. That's how many chances Bayern Munich had against Hannover 96 on Saturday. The visitors came to the Allianz looking to limit the damage and their plan backfired horribly, for them. By the end of the game Bayern were playing liquid football, using flicks and tricks, not to deliberately embarrass or humiliate their opponents but to stamp their authority on the Bundesliga. The final score was 7-0 and it is almost impossible to see any other team than Bayern winning the title.

Coach Louis van Gaal started Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben and it was the Dutchman who controlled the game. He was immense, scoring a fantastic hat trick. The first to goals were of superb quality while the third was from clearance. Ivica Oic and Thomas Muller scored the remainder, each bagging a brace, The Croatians importance to the Bayern squad cannot be underestimated. While not the most naturally gifted player in the squad, he brings balance to the team along with tremendous industry. Muller has the potential to be an international star which is why the Bundesbag is going to break from tradition this once and describe Bayern's win as a (Thomas) mullering as opposed to a (Gerd) mullering.

For Hannover, the result must leave a chasm in the squad where their confidence used to be. But they must remember that they still have a chance as the relegation scrap is wide open. More on that later.

Of course, one person who'll be keeping his head while the Bundesbag loses it's is Schalke coach Felix Magath. His team bounced back from two consecutive defeats with a 3-1 win against mid-table 'Gladbach. The game feature an absolute net-burster from Ivan Rakitic from maybe 30 yards. It also feature yet another dreadful mistake by Schalke 'keeper Manuel Neuer to let Bobadilla in for the equaliser. The Royal Blues retook the lead with a header from Jefferson Farfan after a controversial corner (the ball seemed to come off Kevin Kuranyi's haad) before Rakitic scored his second from the penalty spot and kept his team two points behind the leaders.


Immediately below and the wheels are coming off Bayer Leverkusen's wagon, not for the first time in their history. Despite taking the lead against Stuttgart, they lost Tranquillo Barnetta after accruing two yellow cards before 20 minutes were up. Christian Gross' players took full advantage of the extra man and Cacau scored a brace. The Werkself are still third but only on goal difference and their Champions League hopes are slipping away.

In fact, they could already be out of the top three were is not for a last minute equaliser from Vedad Ibisevic of Hoffenheim which denied Borussia Dortmund a 1-0 win. The Hoff haven't won a game since February and the pressure is mounting on coach Ralf Rangnik. For BVB, it betrays, perhaps that lack of ability to finish off teams when it matters. Werder Bremen capitalised by moving above the Ruhr giants on points and look to be peaking at the right time after beating champions Wolfsburg 4-2. The Bremen club are a could bet to be in the Champs League next season.

To the bottom then and while Hertha are not actually relegated, they soon will be. In fact it's pretty impressive that they have managed to survive this long. However, a 2-2 draw at Eintracht Frankfurt is only sufficient to keep the respirator on. The Berliners can score a maximum of 29 points. Hannover are above them on 27 and Freiburg, Bochum and Nurnberg all have 28. Realistically, those are the relegation candidates. Freiburg beat Nurnberg 2-1 in a sechs punkter while Bochum, who looked to have done enough to stay up a few weeks ago are right back in it after losing to Koln last Friday.

The Billygoats 2-0 win came courtesy of a brace from Zoran Tosic, the on loan Manchester United youngster. He had a cracking game and United fans should welcome him when he returns to Old Trafford next season. He was also the seventh player to score two goals or more the weekend stat fans. Koln are pretty much safe and will enjoy Bundesliga football for the third season in a row next season.

Finally, the importance of Hamburg's Europa League tie against Fulham was heightened even more after they lost at home to Mainz. Aristide Bance scored the only goal. Qualification for Europe next season through the league is looking increasing unlikely. It may be that the German Cup winner's spot will go to the sixth placed team as the finalists are Bayern and Bremen who will almost certainly have already qualified. Even so, the Red Shorts are in eighth place. Another route would be by winning the current Europa League competition. This makes the forthcoming Semi Final a season breaker for Hamburg and a must for all fans of English and German football. But you knew that already.

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

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