Germany: Bundesliga
2 - 0
(1 - 0)
M. Diaby (30), J. Tah (82)
By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

15:30 Kickoffs: Leverkusen conclude 2022 with three straight victories, Leipzig and Wolfsburg extend unbeaten runs

There was plenty of intrigue in the final set of 15:30 Bundesliga kickoffs for the 2022 calendar year!

Leverkusen, Wolfsburg, and RB Leipzig are all likely somewhat disappointed that club football must take a long break after finishing their year on significant form runs. 

Down at the bottom of the Bundesliga table, Hertha BSC and VfL Bochum picked up much-needed points for the 2023 relegation race.

Relegation candidates Augsburg, Köln, and VfB Stuttgart will be grateful for the break after suffering losses. 
Bayer 04 Leverkusen were indeed able to conclude their calendar year with three consecutive victories after Xabi Alonso's Werkself easily bested visiting VfB Stuttgart on Saturday afternoon at the BayArena. Leverkusen fully dominated a game that ended with a misleadingly low 2-0 scoreline. While Xabi's appointment looks to be increasingly successful, chances that Michael Wimmer will be appointment Stuttgart's permanent head-coach now appear to be slim.

Leverkusen trainer Alonso made three changes to the XI that bested neighbors Köln on Wednesday. Robert Andrich was unable to serve due to suspension. The Werkself gaffer also left both Callum Hudson-Odoi and Adam Hlozek on the bench. Kerem Demirbay, Nadiem Amiri, and and Amine Adli replaced the trio. Germany's red company team lined up in a 3-4-3 that featured Amiri as the lead-striker.

Stuttgart interim trainer Wimmer - having a host of personnel problems of his own - had to do without four starters from his side's recent win over Hertha. One piece of good news concerned the fact that Chris Führich was once more fit. Führich joined the XI along with Dan-Axel Zagadou, Atakan Karazor, Enzo Millot, and Joscha Vagnoman for a total of five changes. The Swabians lined up in a tight 5-4-1.

The BaWü guests were able to absorb most of the early Leverkusen pressure until Jeremie Frimpong broke through on the right in 11th. The World Cup bound Dutchman attempted to service Adli with a cross, but the Frenchman shot wide. Adli and Amiri would find some penetration over the next 25 minutes without creating anything terribly dangerous.

Moussa Diaby would be first B04 player to test VfB keeper Florian Müller with a shot on target in the 27th. The hosts would build upon the chance with a barrage of quality attacks around the half-hour-mark. Eventually, the first goal came in the 30th. Diaby rushed into the area. sweeping past four Stuttgart markers. Diaby then pulled the trigger. The 1-0 deflected in off Waldemar Anton's hip.

Diaby had two more looks before the half was out. Stuttgart, by contrast, couldn't fashion anything remotely dangerous. Wimmer's men pressed forward a bit more after the restart. Many of the players on the trailing team still remained back as a protective measure against the dangerous Bayer counter. Some VfB attempts to reach lead-striker Serhou Guirassy near the hour mark didn't result in much.

The NRW hosts continued to press forward in search of an additional goal. Frimpong unluckily struck the crossbar in the 63rd after impressively besting Führich in the area. Frimpong then thought he had the 2-0 in the 74th before his direct finish was disallowed for offside. The second goal finally came in the 82nd, when Jonathan Tah finished off an Exequiel Palacios flick-on of a Demirbay cross.

Elsewhere in the final set of Bundesliga kickoffs for the calendar year, VfL Wolfsburg were also able to conclude their fine run of league play on a high note. Niko Kovac's Wölfe wrap up 2022 on a nine-game-unbeaten streak after topping TSG 1899 Hoffenheim 2-1 at the PreZero Arena. Surging German international Ridle Baku scored the game-winning goal.

RB Leipzig's incredible unbeaten run also continues after Marco Rose's Red Bulls defeated Bremen at the Weserstadion, also by a 2-1 scoreline. The result means that Rose's team concluded 2022 on a 13-game-unbeaten-run. Leipzig have, for now, also climbed all the way up to second place in the table. Freiburg, Union Berlin, and Eintracht Frankfurt still have a chance to overtake this weekend.

Over in the Bundesrepublik's capital city, Hertha BSC got a much needed three points with a 2-0 win over Köln. In another match highly relevant to the relegation race, VfL Bochum surprised Augsburg 1-0 at the WWK Arena to gain their first away win of the season. Hertha pull out of the relegation zone while Bochum's 13 points leave them in a much better position to escape.

Stuttgart remain in the relegation playoff place on 14 points. Hertha have passed them on goal differential while Bochum are suddenly breathing down the Swabians' necks.

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Play-offs 1/2 - Düsseldorf - Bochum