Five Conclusions from Matchday 24By: Jan | March 6th, 2012
The title race has turned into a title procession. Just a couple of weeks ago, we could gloat over the most fascinating Bundesliga title race in recent years. Now we have to conclude that Borussia Dortmund are simply far too consistent and everybody else, well, is not. Dortmund went seven points clear at the top, with a confident win over Mainz, that only briefly – like two minutes – looked to be in doubt. Based on current form, there is little hope, we can enjoy a thrilling conclusion to the 49th Bundesliga season. What little hope is left? Statistics maybe? Dortmund are on a club record 18 match unbeaten run. Their winning streak now extends to eight matches. With every passing week it becomes more probable one of those runs will end. Or maybe we just have to wait until April? With games against Bayern, Schalke and Gladbach looming, there is at least a theoretical chance of Dortmund dropping a full nine points. Not that Dortmund wouldn’t be worthy champions of course. It could just all be a little bit more exciting.
Gladbach lost, Bayern kept and Schalke still look for their rhythm. For the title race to become a bit more exciting, Dortmund’s rivals will need to fix their problems first though. Without an adequate replacement for Patrick Herrmann, Lucien Favre opted to rearrange his front line and bring in Igor de Camargo. Something that has completely taken the bite out of Gladbach’s attack and cost the club points for the past two weeks. Bayern basically play the same way, they do all year. But since that is utterly predictable, particularly away from home, it won’t win them any trophies this season. Schalke, it seems, never really found a rhythm to begin with, and keep alternating between confident thrashings by and for them.
The relegation zone is open to new applicants. Performances and results have been promising for all bottom teams except Kaiserslautern. Augsburg and Freiburg in particular are ready to do all they can to defy the odds. Hertha, aka the Ottoman Empire, have stopped their downward trend too. At least potentially this could yet drag another mid table team into the relegation mix. Given the somewhat predetermined situation at the top, that’s good news for the suspense driven Bundesliga fan.
Robin Dutt and Leverkusen are slowly but surely getting along. For a usually small and quiet club like Bayer Leverkusen, the Hinrunde was more Bayern-like than Bayer-like: Endless discussions on/off the pitch, in the media, through agents and via all sorts of club officials surrounding one or two big egos sitting on the bench or in the stands. That’s more akin to FC Hollywood than the unassuming Werkself. Yet, since the Ballack situation has been “resolved”, Robin Dutt has slowly but surely managed to teach his team some winning football. And when you beat Bayern for the first time in 14 attempts, it’s more than just a fluke. Schalke’s indifferent form has meanwhile helped Leverkusen move within four points of the Champions League places and momentum is certainly on Bayer’s side.
Bruno Labbadia works on overcoming his Rückrunde Hoodoo. Bruno Labbadia’s coaching career can be summarized as follows: promising up to exciting football in the Hinrunde, a series of injuries in the winter, disappointing Rückrunde, dressing room rifts, getting sacked. At Stuttgart he is now trying to mix all these aspects a bit more. A so-so first half of the season is currently followed by a promising spell of second half of the season football and a flirt with the Europa League places. If he keeps balancing the highs and lows, Labbadia might even delay the inevitable sack longer than usual.