After almost a month off, the Bundesliga returned last weekend with what proved to be a relatively quiet round of matches, by Bundesliga standards. We saw just 18 goals across 9 games, with four of them coming in the final match of the weekend, between Borussia Mönchengladbach and Stuttgart.
After an absolutely blinding first half of the season, Stuttgart did not get their Rückrunde off to a similar start. Despite having the vast majority of the ball, Stuttgart got hit on the break by a ruthless Gladbach side on multiple occasions, and never really found an answer.
The good news for BVB is that both RB Leipzig and Stuttgart lost, meaning they are only three and four points ahead of Dortmund now, but this loss has put Stuttgart seven points behind Bayern Munich, making an unlikely title challenge look almost impossible at this point.
Here are the results from the return to action after the winter break:
Bayern Munich 3-0 Hoffenheim
Augsburg 0-1 Leverkusen
FC Köln 1-1 Heidenheim
Freiburg 0-0 Union Berlin
Mainz 1-1 Wolfsburg
RB Leipzig 0-1 Frankfurt
Darmstadt 0-3 Borussia Dortmund
VfL Bochum 1-1 Werder Bremen
Borussia Mönchengladbach 3-1 VfB Stuttgart
Late Winner Keeps Leverkusen Four Points Clear
Bayer Leverkusen had an almost perfect first half of the Bundesliga season, going unbeaten throughout, and drawing only three times in total. Despite this blistering run, they are still only four points clear of Bayern Munich who have a game in hand, which leaves very little room for hiccups in the second half of the season.
Leverkusen came pretty close to suffering such hiccups over the weekend, taking until the 94th minute of the game to find a winner against Augsburg.
There have been plenty of doubts raised about Bayer Leverkusen’s ability to hold off Bayern and win the Meisterschale for the first time in the club’s history. This Leverkusen side is definitely the real deal, but they are also extremely thin beyond their first eleven. Having lost Odilon Kossonou, Edmond Tapsoba, and Amine Adli to AFCON, and Victor Boniface to injury, Leverkusen’s depth is an even greater concern right now.
If the weekend’s performance is anything to go by, however, Leverkusen should be able to ride it out until everyone returns. Die Werkself may have needed a last-minute winner to come away with all three points, but Augsburg were pretty lucky to still be level at that point in the game. Leverkusen had 76% of the possession, put up an xG difference of +1.47 and a shot difference of +21, and had multiple very good chances not quite find their way into the back of the Augsburg net.
Leverkusen are going to need to continue to play at the very high standards they set in the first half of the season, and they will need a little bit of luck along the way, but I’m sure all of us are rooting for them at this point!
With 17 games left in the Bundesliga season, do you think Bayer Leverkusen will win the title?