A highly intriguing Bundesliga weekend in which teams from the top half of the table square off against teams from the bottom in all nine fixtures rolled on with a fabulous set of 15:30 kickoffs. There were plenty of twists and goals galore.
Wins for Leverkusen and Dortmund saw both sides make huge gains in their quest for a top-four-finish. The one upset, admittedly not the most sensational of topples, involved Hoffenheim knocking off Jesse Marsch's Leipzig 2-0.
Over at the old Bielefelder Alm, Frank Kramer's Arminia very nearly pulled off the sensational upset. Visiting Wolfsburg, courtesy of a blitz comeback shortly after the hour mark, ensured that the two sides would split the difference in a 2-2 draw.
A four-goal thriller on the northern fringes of the Teutoburg Forest ended with hosting Arminia Bielefeld and VfL Wolfsburg deadlocked at two goals apiece. New Wolfsburg trainer Florian Kohfeldt remains undefeated with his new club. The draw with Bielefeld, coupled with a Leverkusen victory, nevertheless means that the German Wolves slip out of the top four.
Arminia entered the round having secured their first league win of the season against VfB Stuttgart shortly before the international break. DSC head-coach Frank Kramer made just one change to the XI that earned those three points, with Alessandro Schöpf replacing Florian Krüger in attack. Arguably the team's most in-form player, Austrian international Patrick Wimmer, was able to continue with a broken nose thanks to a specially fitted face-mask.
Although Kohfeldt had gotten off to a perfect start with three straight wins since taking over at Wolfsburg, many had their doubts that his new 3-4-3 was up to a functional level yet. These suspicions seemed to be confirmed via a very weak test fixture over the break. The new trainer nevertheless stuck with the formation. Calf problems for pivotal defensive actor Joshua Guilavogui still forced the 39-year-old to insert Kevin Mbabu in place of the squad's former captain in the back three.
The WOB pressed high from the onset, making a strong (if not obvious) attempt to open up space via long switches and quick verticals. The East Westphalian hosts managed to wreck this fairly well and push the match flow into a state of disorder. From this midfield chaos, a fabulous bit of football emerged. "Masked Man" WImmer sliced through the VfL ranks on a great run and chipped a well-aimed ball into the penalty area. Japanese winger Masaya Okugawa supplied a wonderful first-time finish off the half-volley for his third Bundesliga goal of the season.
Their match plan disrupted, the visiting Lower Saxons couldn't muster up a response. While Kohfeldt's men struggled to make an impact offensively, a very confident Okugawa--backed up by adventurous Danish fullback Jacob Barrett Laursen, engineered more chances. The affair proceeded to be very one-sided in favor of the hosts until as pair of injuries involving both teams slowed down the tempo. Wolfsburg left wingback Paulo Otavio couldn't continue. Neither could Bielefeld's goal-manufacturer Wimmer.
Arminia were slow to pick the pace back up after the substitutions, but did finish the first-half strongly. With his team restricted to just one meager goal-scoring chance, Kohfeldt brought on Maximilian Philipp to replace Renato Steffen for the second 45. This initially produced nothing. In point of fact, the DSC went up 2-0 seven minutes after the restart. Mbabu was adjudged to have followed through illegality whilst trying to tackle away from Schöpf in the penalty area. Fabian Klos converted cooly from the spot.
It looked as if the game might be out of reach for the Lower Saxons, but Kohfeldt didn't take long to bring Dodi Lukebakio on for Mbabu and send everyone forward. In his first action of the game, the Belgian attacker burst through on the right and hit Wout Weghorst with a simple cross at the far post. The Dutch striker pushed the ball over the line with an easy finish in the 61st.
After a video review to ensure that Weghorst wasn't offside, Wolfsburg then equalized on the very next play in the 63rd. Weghorst and substitute Philipp quickly sent Lukas Nmecha through and the new German national team striker calmly blasted a finish into the top corner. Within two minutes, the German Wolves had drawn level 2-2.
Nmecha came closest to delivering his side the win with a fantastic acrobatic move to set up Sebastiaan Bornauw in the box ten minutes later. The WOB defender unfortunately saw his follow-up effort saved by DSC keeper Stefan Ortega Morena. Wolfsburg were unquestionably the stronger side down the stretch, though substitutions and foul stoppages precluded either team from really getting into a groove.
Elsewhere in the Bundesliga's 15:30 kickoffs, an early 4th minute goal from Amine Adli proved sufficient for Leverkusen to hold off VfL Bochum 1-0. The crucial league win for Gerardo Seoane's side, actually their first since round seven, sees Germany's red company team pull ahead of Wolfsburg into fourth-place. Die Werkself now hold the Bundesliga's final Champions' League spot.
It was by no means an easy three points for Borussia Dortmund at home against Stuttgart, but the heavily criticized Donyell Malen and ever-vocal BVB captain Marco Reus managed to both score in a hard-fought 2-1 win. The result proves a huge one for the Erling-Haaland-less Schwarzgelben. Bayern's loss to Augsburg on Friday mean that Dortmund are just one point off top spot.
In the match Germans term "El Plastico", TESG Hoffenheim topped RB Leipzig 2-0 at home. Jesse Marsch's German Red Bulls still haven't won on the road this season and looked very flat throughout in their visit to the Rhein-Neckar-District. On the topic of flat teams, last-place SpVgg Greuther Fürth were easily dispatched by Gladbach 4-0 at Borussia Park.
The team off to the worst start to a Bundesliga campaign ever has now lost ten straight.
|1||Stefan Ortega Moreno|
|5||Jacob Laursen ↩66|
|19||Manuel Prietl (C)|
|39||Sebastian Vasiliadis ↩66|
|20||Patrick Wimmer ↩30|
|11||Masaya Okugawa ⚽ ↩83|
|9||Fabian Klos ⚽ ↩83|
|10||Bryan Lasme ↪83|
|21||Robin Hack ↪83|
|15||Nathan De Medina ↪66|
|16||Fabian Kunze ↪66|
|22||Edimilson Fernandes ↪30|
|1||Koen Casteels (C)|
|19||Kevin Mbabu ↩61|
|6||Paulo Otávio ↩25|
|11||Renato Steffen ↩46|
|10||Lukas Nmecha ⚽ ↩88|
|9||Wout Weghorst ⚽|
|17||Maximilian Philipp ↪46|
|28||Dodi Lukebakio ↪61|
|5||Mickey van de Ven|
|15||Jérôme Roussillon ↪25|
|8||Aster Vranckx ↪88|
|22||Felix Kalu Nmecha|