After their disappointment in the Europa League it was back to the Bundesliga for Dortmund and the task of hosting HSV. In the reverse of the fixture they lost 3-1 and even though the title race is all but over they would have been keen to avenge their earlier loss, not to mention maintain their record as the best second placed Bundesliga team of all time. But before that was the rest of the weekend, first up on Friday night 2.Bundesliga bound H96 playing host to Gladbach. The latter are a team which have struggled on their travels, almost making them easy pickings for a somewhat revitalized H96. Despite picking up more points in their last two games than in the previous eleven relegation still seems a foregone conclusion, it would be nothing short of incredible where that not to be the case. Elsewhere in the relegation battle Bremen took full advantage of Wolfsburg’s terrible away record and picked up what could prove to a very valuable three points in a thrilling 3-2 win, not to mention putting a dent in the latter’s hopes of playing in Europe next season. Schalke, Mainz and Gladbach all have a six point gap over them in the fight for Europa League places. The two Champions League spots are beyond them with Hertha and Leverkusen having ten and eleven points more than them.
On the subject of things being out of reach survival is slipping away from Eintracht Frankfurt after losing 3-0 to Leverkusen who with that victory displace Hertha from third place. With four games left to play they’re six points from safety and with Bremen and Stuttgart above them it doesn’t look good for them. Mainly because whilst Bremen are inconsistent they are still capable of getting a result and Stuttgart have an infuriating tendency to turn things around right at the last minute. Despite them being winless in five games I can see them scraping through yet again. Frankfurt on the other hand have won just twice in the last twelve, the first of those back on MD18 when they beat Wolfsburg 3-2. They’ve won just once under new coach Niko Kovac and it’s most likely not a good sign that the win in question came against H96 on MD27. They’re not playing particularly badly, they just seem to be unlucky.
Luck is something HSV certainly did not have any of on Sunday afternoon, despite being the better team in the opening minutes of the game they went into half-time 2-0 down. After keeping Dortmund plenty busy for the majority of the first half they then conceded two goals in quick succession. In the 38th minute seventeen year old Christian Pulisic scored his first ever Bundesliga goal which gave Dortmund a little bit of confidence and before you knew it Adrian Ramos made it two just before the end of the first half, HSV’s luck did not get any better in the second. Just seven minutes after the restart their keeper Adler found himself on the receiving end of a red card for what the referee judged to be an ill-timed tackle against Shinji Kagawa. The only saving grace for HSV was the fact it happened just outside the box, meaning it was only a free-kick and not a penalty. It made no difference however because Dortmund made it 3-o anyway just four minutes before the end of the game with Adrian Ramos getting his second. Bayern also beat Schalke 3-0 in a game which was not nearly as entertaining as Dortmund’s was. Watching Bayern break down what is essentially a ten man defence was never going to be a lot of fun. The only saving grace of the afternoon was the Jogi video I got from the match, no half-time interview but then you can’t have everything.
The title race could be decided this very weekend if Bayern win against Hertha but everything else other than second place is still up for grabs. The battle for survival is proving to be every bit as tight as it was last season and could go down to the very last day again. At least this time I can watch from a distance and not have to worry about Freiburg, instead of fighting against relegation they are fighting for promotion from the 2.B. I say fighting but really the battle is over, with their 3-0 win over Duisburg yesterday evening they’ve secured their promotion status.