Matchday 23 saw Dortmund become Deutscher Meister again. However, this does not mean the season is over as all eyes turn onto the bottom of the table as a former champion bits the relegation dust and the other place is up for grabs.
BORUSSIA DORTMUND 2 BORUSSIA MONCHENGLADBACH 0
It may not have been party time before kickoff but after Shinji Kagawa hit the post with just ten minutes gone it did not take long for the party to get started as Ivan Perisic gave Dortmund a lead shortly afterwards. Then came two key moments either side of half-time as ‘Gladbach had a goal disallowed for a very tight offside call and then they could have had a penalty as future Dortmand man, Marco Reus, went round Roman Weidenfeller and had his shot blocked by the hands Marcel Schmelzer on the line. Mind you, it would have been tough on Schmelzer as he was only using his hands to protect what any man would want to protect when a ball was being fired towards you.
Then it was time to put the game, and the championship, beyond doubt as Kagawa doubled the lead, sending coach, Jürgen Klopp, galloping down the sideline to join the celebration. It also allowed Mario Gӧtze a quick run out in his return from injury, a sight that would have probably heartened even the away fans and the whole of Germany with Euro 2012 in mind.
The celebrations can begin:
HERTHA BERLIN 1 KAISERSLAUTERN 2
Everyone knows that phrase about buses, and so it proved true for Kaiserslautern as they finally scored a goal through Oliver Kirch to take the lead before scoring second through Andrew Wooten.
As it was, this was a game that they not only won, but deserved to as their nigh-on impossible situation seemed to make them play with a freedom they had not had during the previous 21 matches they had played without winning.
This result was more debilitating for Hertha who themselves seem to be finding ingenious new ways to avoid victories. Peter Niemeyer gave them hope on the hour but capped things off by getting himself sent off for a second booking, the first of which was for dissent.
Hertha now know they need at least two points from a trip to Gelsenkirchen and a last day meeting with former boss Markus Babbel, to have any chance of staying up.
KOLN 1 STUTTGART 1
With Stuttgart still holding out hopes for a Champions League place while Kӧln fans probably willing to accept a relegation play-off place if it was offered to them right now, it is tough to imagine that when they met half a season ago, Kӧln were the side higher up the table. It was much easier to imagine when Kӧln came out of the traps playing with an attacking vigour that we have not seen from them since Christmas, the biggest problem was that they failed to score before half-time and surely could not play as well after the break.
That was only true if you were willing to back against Lukas Podolski, the talisman was at it again from the restart and his unselfishness allowed Slawomir Peszko to score in an empty net. Only now did Stuttgart begin to play like a side that were unbeaten in nine and start to dominate yet, when the goal game from Cacau, it was lucky in the extreme as it hit both posts before trickling home.
Now they were flying and only a wonder save by Michael Rensing saved a key point that pulls them two points ahead of Hertha Berlin and confirmed Kaiserslautern relegation.
AUGSBURG 1 SCHALKE 1
For the half hour of this one, it seemed that Schalke’s hearts and minds were still caught up in the announcement from Raúl that this would be his last season in the Bundesliga and Augsburg capitalised with an early header from Sebastian Langkamp.
It took Klaas-Jan Hunterlaar, who converted what was little more than a long hoof clear by Joel Matip for his 25th goal of the campaign, to kick start them into life as the superior quality of the side from Gelsenkirchen temporarily took control of the game from that point.
Need and desperation are powerful forces though and it was clear to see that Augsburg needed and were more desperate for the points than their visitors as they wrestled control of the game back as the second half wore on. They did not have quite enough to grasp a win that would have all but confirmed safety but it took the pressure off their backline and made it much easier to secure a point.
HOFFENHEIM 0 BAYER LEVERKUSEN 1
Sometimes, it is better to be lucky than good. In this case it may just help Sami Hyypia into the full-time Bayer Leverkusen job if he wants it. Hoffenheim, knowing that a win in this one would launch them fully into the Europa League race, threw the kitchen sink and all the other utensils they could find with it as they dominated this game.
Ryan Babel had the best chance as he headed wide, but not before they had a goal rightfully disallowed from Tobias Weis. Then Hyypia’s luck went through the roof as André Schürrle, who has flattered to deceive all season, scored an absolute corker before something finally went the home side’s way with a controversial penalty being giving. That luck did not last for long though, as Bernd Leno saved the resultant penalty from Sejad Salihovic.
This win was enough to secure Europa League qualification for Leverkusen, killing of Hoffenheim’s hopes in the process.
WERDER BREMEN 1 BAYERN MUNICH 2
It was clear from the two starting line-ups who this game meant more too, with the visitors’ eyes firmly on Wednesday night’s Champions League second leg as they made seven changes to the first leg side and giving the likes of Nils Petersen and Thakashi Usami a run out.
As for Werder, there is a growing feeling around Bremen that failure to reach European competition of any type would be completely unthinkable for the club and would see the squad heavily gutted. Therefore points were vital and the opportunity to play against an under strength Bayern side cannot be underestimated.
It was a nervous first 45 minutes however, but when centre-half Naldo gave the home side the lead just after the break, the roof almost came off the Weserstadion as the place erupted.
Jupp Heyneckes sent for the cavalry and it arrived as Franck Ribery ripped into a side that has only picked up 12 points since the winter break. He firstly forced Naldo to score again, this time at the wrong end, with a stunning cross and as injury time approached, he scored himself to win the game and deal a debilitating blow to the European hopes of the home side.
HANNOVER 0 FREIBURG 0
It is Hannover that takes advantage of that Bremen defeat, scrapping a point in a dull game to give themselves a three point lead to hold onto in that crucial seventh spot. The plaudits from this game belong to Freiburg though as a clean sheet guaranteed survival with a ninth game unbeaten. It was a showcase of the defensive steel that has been added to the side from the Black Forest, mainly as a result of investing the money from the sale of Papiss Demba Cissé in players who could tighten up the other end of the field.
NURNBURG 1 HAMBURG 1
At one stage, this game looked like one where the most exciting moment was when Jaroslav Drobny had to be taken off after a collision with Tomás Pekhart. In the second half it looked slightly livelier as Heung-Min Son, who has been one of Hamburg’s better players in this poor season, grasped the lead for the away side.
It was not held for long as Daniel Didavi dropped off of Jeffrey Bruma in the box and the man on loan from Stuttgart fired home his fifth goal in the last four games. A decent draw for Hamburg though, as it is enough to pull them five points ahead of Kӧln and seven ahead of Hertha, therefore nearly securing their continued status as the only permanent Bundesliga member.
MAINZ 0 WOLFSBURG 0
What seems a dull game was not as bad as the score line suggests as woeful shooting was the cause for the respective clean sheets. As a result, Wolfsburg have seen their long-shot Europa League chances realistically fall apart as they sit fourth.
Tags: Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Bundesliga, Franck Ribery, Lukas Podolski