Heading into the poorly-timed and ridiculous International break, Borussia Dortmund were hoping to continue their momentum and secure another 3 points in the hotly-contested race for the top four. Unfortunately, after a dream start to the match with FC Köln, Die Schwarzgelben sat back and were punished twice by the Billy Goats. Luckily, substitute Ansgar Knauff made his Bundesliga debut count by assisting the Erling Haaland equalizer to salvage a point for BVB. Because of Dortmund’s poor performance, the race for the top four has gotten even more dire.
Here is the full list of matchday 26 results:
Arminia Bielefeld 0-1 Leipzig
Bayern Munich 4-0 Stuttgart
Eintracht Frankfurt 5-2 Union Berlin
Köln 2-2 Borussia Dortmund
Werder Bremen 1-2 Wolfsburg
Schalke 0-3 Borussia Monchengladbach
Hoffenheim 1-2 Mainz
Hertha Berlin 3-0 Leverkusen
Freiburg 2-0 Augsburg
Here is where the league table stands heading into the break:
Leipzig were able to keep the pressure on Bayern with a 1-0 over Bielefeld on Friday to remain in the title race. It should have been a lot more comfortable for Leipzig, but Bielefeld goalkeeper Stefan Ortega made several clutch saves to keep his side in it, Dortmund should consider getting someone who can do that. In response to the Leipzig challenge, Bayern went down to ten men only to score all four of their goals before half-time, with Lewandowski netting a hat-trick. Those 3 goals take Lewandowski to 35 for the season, just 5 short of Gerd Muller’s record of 40 and with 8 matches remaining the Polish striker looks likely to break it with ease.
Dortmund supporters were hoping to see Frankfurt drop points and probably felt like their was a chance when Max Kruse equalized five minutes after Andre Silva’s opener. Unfortunately, that game ended up being a shoot-out and Union fell 5-2, and Die Adler increased their advantage to four points over BVB. While Dortmund are not very close to Wolsburg, our hearts were with Werder Bremen on the day, and while they pulled one back before half-time, the game would end with Die Wolfe taking all the points and looking very likely to play Champions League football next season. Saturday finished with a predictable Schalke loss to future Dortmund manager Marco Rose’s Borussia Monchengladbach. After the announcement that Rose would depart Gladbach, Die Fohlen had capitulated and lost 7 straight in all competitions, including exiting both the DFB-Pokal and the Champions League before defeating Schalke on Saturday. I was glad to see Borussia Monchengladbach get a much-deserved win, perhaps some of the anger toward Marco Rose will start to fade away if they can end the season strong, although it was Schalke.
The weekend for Dortmund supporters got a little better on Sunday, as Hertha Berlin, who entered the relegation zone earlier in the morning, pulled out an impressive 3-0 victory over Bayer Leverkusen, affording Dortmund extra breathing room to the team directly below them in the table. Earlier in the day Mainz defeated Hoffenheim 2-1 meaning Köln are now back in the relegation playoff spot, after their draw with BVB. League play finished with a whimper as two mid-table mush teams duked it out, with Freiburg defeating Augsburg 2-0, thanks to goals from Roland Sallai and Philipp Lienhart.
Not that bad after all
Dropping two points to Köln was not how Dortmund wanted to head into the break, however Leverkusen’s loss was a nice surprise to further separate the club from sixth place. After the break, Dortmund host Frankfurt in the proverbial 6-pointer, and while it is not a must-win, it is definitely a must not lose. Both Frankfurt and Dortmund have similar schedules down the stretch with both clubs facing Wolfsburg, Leverkusen, and Mainz. Frankfurt also have to play Borussia Monchengladbach, while Dortmund must face Leipzig again. With Jadon Sancho, Raphael Guerreiro, and Mateu Morey expected back from injuries, I have to expect Dortmund should win at home against Frankfurt. That would cut the lead to fourth place to a single point, with 7 matches to play.
Will Dortmund take fourth place and secure Champions League for next season?