From an unstoppable goalscorer to a Bundesliga table full of teams clambering over one another week in, week out, Matchday 26 delivered drama – and plenty of goals. Here are the top talking points.Goals galore
After the first seven games of Matchday 26, an incredible 25 goals had been scored. While it doesn’t say much about the league’s defensive qualities, the league’s entertainment value certainly rocketed after Saturday’s action. A frantic five-minute spell in the second half saw Thiago score in Munich, Nils Petersen from the spot in Freiburg and Forsberg double the scores in Leipzig. Notably, 17 goals came in the second half as sides fell away, notably Augsburg and Freiburg. It was the ninth time this season Bayern Munich managed four or more goals in a game (all competitions). Leipzig hit the back of the net four times for the third time this season. Before the weekend’s action, the Bundesliga had the fourth highest goals per game ratio in Europe. The league’s players responded this weekend.
As far as derby games in football go, there is always an extra talking point away from the football and the 150th edition of the Ruhr derby was no different. First, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang put on what looked like another superhero mask after opening the scoring. Unnecessary for some, amusing for others, the stunt will likely cost the striker as it seems the mask was a Nike one and Dortmund, sponsored by Puma, won’t be too happy about that. Further drama happened afterwards when Schalke mascot (Erwin) returned referee Felix Zwayer’s lost red card, but also brandished it at the official after he controversially denied Schalke a late penalty. Schalke’s sporting director Christian Heidel said Erwin would turn up in costume if a special report had indeed been filled, but it seems once things had calmed down Erwin had escaped any punishment.
Bayern Munich’s title charge is at full speed, and so is their number nine. The number of statistics linked to the Pole are endless, but quite a few of them are worth mentioning. Lewandowski scored his sixth Bundesliga hat trick (equalling the record by foreign players) and now has a terrifying 16 goals in 12 games against Augsburg. For the fourth time in his career he has scored 22 or more in a Bundesliga season, and has an incredible total of 44 goals in 43 games for club and country this season. On the day, he also assisted two goals as Bayern romped to victory. Lewandowski is staking a real claim for being the world’s best number nine – he just needs his goals to transfer into trophies and not many will be able to argue against him.
Tighter than ever
With two games left on Matchday 26, the Bundesliga table couldn’t be tighter. Cologne are in sixth with 37 points and just eight points away in the relegation playoff spot are Augsburg. In contrast, this time last year the gap between sixth and and sixteenth was 16 points. In the 2016/17 season, the nine spots between the two read like a number counter, with the difference between points totals rarely rising above one. Hamburg have climbed out of the relegation spaces and are now astoundingly only one point behind the Bayer Leverkusen who recently exited the Champions League. The line between a great and a disastrous season is going to be very, very fine in the Bundesliga this year.
Of all the teams in the relegation fight, Werder Bremen have been remarkable of late. Werder have the second-best Bundesliga form in their last five games (13 points) behind only perfect Bayern. Alexander Nouri’s team have found their scoring boots in that time, scoring a goal for every point they have won. Against Freiburg, they really turned it on, scoring five or more goals in a game for the first time since Matchday 32 at the end of last season. Even in the last 10 games, Werder’s form is still fifth best (16 points). Max Kruse has been key, but so has Thomas Delaney (hat trick hero against Freiburg) and goalkeeper Felix Wiedwald. All of this under a head coach who was reportedly close to losing his job after the club lost the first four games of 2017. A tough run-in awaits, but Werder have put themselves in a fantastic position.