Germany: Bundesliga
2 - 0
(0 - 0)
FC Bayern
FC Köln
R. Guerreiro (65), T. Müller (90)
By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

15:30 Kickoffs: Bayern postpone Leverkusen championship clinch, Mainz win big again

Despite some coordination and injury issues, FC Bayern München managed to defeat relegation candidates 1. FC Köln at home on Saturday afternoon. The result robs soon-to-be-crowned league champions Bayer 04 Leverkusen of a chance to clinch the title prior to their Sunday kickoff. Xabi Alonso's Werkself can still confirm their championship with a win against Werder Bremen tomorrow. 

In the race for the top-four, both Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig were able to ensure that the status quo prevailed with respective wins against Gladbach and Wolfsburg. A second consecutive compelling win from Bo Henriksen's FSV Mainz 05 moves the Rheinhessen closer to potential safety. Relegation candidates VfL Bochum ceded some ground by drawing their first match under interim head-coach Heiko Butscher.

Thomas Tuchel's FC Bayern München - much as they did in the Hin-runde - have prevailed over 1. FC Köln by a narrow scoreline. A 2-0 win over Germany's cathedral city side at the Allianz helps the mighty German giants out immensely in their quest to maintain a place in the top-four ahead of next season, yet only delays Bayer 04 Leverkusen's inevitable 2023/24 Championship celebration. Xabi Alonso's Werkself need only win tomorrow against SV Werder Bremen in order to officially clinch the German Meisterschale. 

Tuchel rotated heavily from Tuesday's Champions' League draw with Arsenal. Seven fresh faces took their place in the FCB starting XI. Sven Ulreich, Raphaël Guerreiro, Noussair Mazraoui, Aleksandar Pavlovic, Kingsley Coman, Thomas Müller, and Mathys Tel took the places of Manuel Neuer, Alphonso Davies, Leon Goretzka, Konrad Laimer, Jamal Musiala, Leroy Sané, and Serge Gnabry. Neuer, Gnabry, and Sané were unable to partake due to injury issues. Guerreiro worked alongside Pavlovic in midfield whilst Mazraoui played on his unnatural side at left-back. 

Coming off an enthralling late win comeback over VfL Bochum last week, Köln trainer Timo Schultz adjusted the XI he initially used against his direct relegation rivals in two positions ahead of the meeting with the record champions. Danish midfielder Jacob Christensen made his starting debut for "die Geißböcke" in place of the suspended Eric Martel. Schultz opted to give Frankfurt loanee Faride Alidou the go in place of Davie Selke following the latter's season-ending injury. Alidou served on the right flank as Schultz's previous 4-4-2 turned into a mirror of Tuchel's 4-2-3-1. 

The first two chances, albeit distance efforts well wide of the mark, belonged to the Westphalian guests. Tuchel's Bavarians - with so many new faces on the pitch - required time to begin combining effectively on the ball. Even after the hosts improved, it was Köln's lone lead striker Sargis Adamyan who came closest to scoring. FCB #2 Ulreich had to employ a strong paw to parry Adamyan's point-blank-range header after a sharp Kölner counterattack in the 20th. The defending champions weren't able to produce anything until Guerreiro forced a save out of Marvin Schwäbe at the half-hour-mark. 

Bayern did manage to exert dominance in the final 15 minutes of the first half. Harry Kane found himself unlucky to strike the post after a fine FCB attacking sequence in the 35th. Kane sent an effort just centimeters wide of the goal-frame three minutes later. Schwäbe saved a third Kane effort in the 41st. Bayern emerged from the break with the same momentum. Unfortunately for the hosts, Coman injured himself on the first real scoring chance of the second half. The Frenchman twisted his leg chasing a Schwäbe-parried cross in the 47th and had to be immediately subbed off. 

Coman's injury took some of the air out of the game for a while. Bayern eventually woke up shortly after the hour-mark and began peppering Schwäbe again. The 1-0 came from an unsuspecting dead-ball in the 65th. Guerreiro - totally unmarked by Schultz's men on a Joshua Kimmich corner - flicked in the opening goal off a flat service. For much of the rest of proceedings, it did appear as if there would not be another goal. After Bayern escaped an equalizer scare late in normal time, Müller finally took advantage of a miscommunication in the Kölner ranks to net the 2-0 at 90+3. 

Elsewhere in the Bundesliga's 15:30 kickoffs, there was no change in the race for the final Champions' League slot after both Dortmund and Leipzig won their respective fixtures. Marco Rose's German Red Bulls prevailed over their former trainer Ralph Hasenhüttl's VfL Wolfsburg 3-0 at the Red Bull Arena. Edin Terzic's "Schwarzgelben" survived a Karim Adeyemi sending off and held on for a 2-1 win away at Gladbach. Marcel Sabitzer recorded a brace as the scorer of both BVB goals. Sabitzer netted once from open play and again from the penalty spot. 

There was plenty of interest as pertains to the relegation race following the results in Mainz and Bochum. Incredibly enough, Bo Henriksen's Mainzer scored four goals for the second consecutive week. A 4-1 home win over Hoffenheim now accord the Rheinhessen a four-point cushion over Köln in the race for the all-important relegation playoff place. It nearly appeared as if Mainz were even going to be able to draw level with Bochum on points for outright safety.

A wild match at the Vonovia Ruhrstadion nevertheless ended in a 1-1 draw. League sensations 1. FC Heidenheim largely outplayed their hosts and took a deserved lead into second half injury time. VfL Bochum defender Keven Schlotterbeck - who had just scored an own goal nine-minutes prior - atoned for his mistake an ensured that his team took a point. Bochum retain a one-point advantage over Mainz in 15th-place. 

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