If you bet on all the home bankers last weekend in the Bundesliga, there’s a good chance your pockets are now empty. Some real surprise results in Germany on the Saturday, again working in favour of a now buoyant Bayern Munich side. The Bavarian giants continue to be the imperious pace-setters, while the nearest contenders stutter to weaker opposition.
Despite Stuttgart’s poor start to the season, both domestically and in Europe, they have maintained an impressive record of 19 games unbeaten at home. This tally was brought to an end on Saturday by a useful Hannover outfit. Hardly brimming with confidence these last few weeks, things got worse only some 8 minutes into the game as skipper Fernando Meira was given his marching orders for a deliberate handball offence. Szabolcs Huszti slotted home the spot-kick to put ‘Die Roten’ in front, and the Hungarian effectively killed the game off in the second half with a header. Stuttgart couldn’t muster anything like a response, and top keeper Robert Enke had an easy time of it.
It just so happened that Schalke suffered the same fate at home, although this defeat may have been on the cards. Schalke have endured an inconsistent start to the season, whilst Karlsruher have shown excellent form on their return to the top tier of German football. A brace from forward Christian Timm gave Karlsruher a priceless 3 away points, and more importantly moved the club up to the lofty heights of 2nd in the table. Schalke are now 7 points behind league leaders Bayern; it seems they had their golden opportunity last year and it might be a while before they can mount a serious challenge again.
Cottbus have struggled this season for goals, largely the result of selling their strikeforce over the summer. The poor performances eventually did for manager Petrik Sander (despite the dreaded vote of confidence from the chairman), and Bojan Prasnikar has come in to replace him. The new coach then, will be fairly pleased with a goalless stalemate against Hertha Berlin, who are traditionally a force to be reckoned with at home in the 74,500 capacity Olympic Stadium.
Not all the favourites had slip-ups at the weekend though. Bayern enjoyed a regulation 3-0 victory against local rivals Nurnberg, whilst Bremen rounded out comfortable 3-1 winners away at Duisberg. Bremen have had an interesting week. Handing out an 8-1 pasting to Bielefeld last weekend, Werder collapsed to an embarrassing mid week Champions League defeat against Greek champions Olympiakos — a side who had never won an away game in the competition. The complete lack of effort must have been concerning for manager Thomas Schaaf, who will have been relieved by a return to winning ways against an unpredictable Duisberg team. Bayern continue to go from strength to strength this season, and Luca Toni’s couple of goals highlight why Lukas Podolski has to settle for a spot on the bench for the time being. Ze Roberto bagged the other goal.
Elsewhere, Hamburg continue to show decent progress — nothing like the shocking start to the season last year where they were bottom at Christmas. Led by lynchpins Van der Vaart and Jarolim in midfield, Hamburg possess both steel and creativity typified in their narrow 1-0 victory away to Arminia Bielefeld. Another defeat for ‘Die Arminen’ then, who will be pleased that a repeat of last Saturday’s horror show was avoided, but desperate to start picking up points again.
Former Bayern gaffer Felix Magath secured a maiden home win as manager of unfancied Wolfsburg, running up 1-0 victors against Hansa Rostock. It took a last gasp effort from Edin Dzeko to break the deadlock. Borussia Dortmund also secured 3 points in what has been an unpredictable start to the season from them. Its never an easy task to get anything at the Westfalenstadion, which Bochum found out to their cost with a narrow 2-1 defeat.
Finally, the clash on Sunday saw perennial under-achievers Eintracht Frankfurt take on the improving force of Leverkusen. Without Greek talisman striker, Theofanis Gekas, the away side lacked an obvious target and firepower, and eventually succumbed 2-1. A Greek did get on the score-sheet however, albeit for the opposition – Sotiris Kyrgiakos helped himself to a second-half double. Not all bad news for Leverkusen though, they did qualify through to the group stages of the UEFA Cup in the week.
Borussia Dortmund 2-1 Vfl Bochum
Arminia Bielefeld 0-1 Hamburg
Hertha BSC 0-0 Energie Cottbus
MSV Duisberg 1-3 Werder Bremen
Schalke 04 0-2 Karlsruher SC
Vfb Stuttgart 0-2 Hannover 96
Vfl Wolfsburg 1-0 Hansa Rostock
Bayern Munchen 3-0 Nurnberg
Eintracht Frankfurt 2-1 Leverkusen