Round 15 of the German Bundesliga started against the backdrop of the final matchday in group stage play of both European cup competitions. Unlike the disaster of last season, German teams did relatively well this time.
Besides TSG Hoffenheim’s exit from the UEFA Champions League and RB Leipzig’s unlucky elimination from the Europa League, all other representatives of Germany advanced into the knockout stages of continental play. We will talk about their opponents there later in this post.
First, let us focus on this past weekend’s league action, which began last Friday evening with 1.FC Nuremberg taking on VfL Wolfsburg. The Wolves, who had to compete in the relegation playoffs to secure their Bundesliga survival in each of the last two seasons, seemed quite beatable that night.
But thanks to second half goals by Daniel Ginczek and Croatian international youngster Josip Brekalo, they prevailed 2-0. This victory has Bruno Labbadia’s men suddenly dreaming of a European place of their own for next season.
On Saturday afternoon, Hoffenheim faced Borussia Mönchengladbach in the standout fixture of the round on paper. In it, the ball hit the back of the net on a few occasions, but only to be disallowed by the refereeing crew each time. Therefore, it ended scoreless, but nobody knew exactly how.
Elsewhere, a Mario Gomez brace secured a comeback 2-1 victory for VfB Stuttgart over Hertha BSC Berlin. FC Augsburg drew Schalke 04 1-1, earning a point that was not enough for either relegation threatened team.
Meanwhile, Bayern Munich demolished Hanover 96 4-0 and Fortuna Düsseldorf overcame SC Freiburg 2-0. Both results could have been significantly more lopsided.
On Saturday evening, Borussia Dortmund beat Werder Bremen 2-1, to earn the unofficial title of Bundesliga “fall champions”, two rounds before the winter break.
On Sunday Leipzig hammered Mainz 05 4-1 and Eintracht Frankfurt outlasted Bayer Leverkusen 2-1.
Monday marked the knockout stage draws in both European club competitions. Its results were not the best for German teams. In the Champions League Round of 16, Bayern will face Liverpool FC away first. Dortmund will also take on Tottenham Hotspur away first, while Schalke will play Manchester City at home first.
In the Europa League Round of 32, Frankfurt plays Schachtar Donezk, as Leverkusen awaits FK Krasnodar. Here, both Bundesliga outfits play away first.