The battle to secure a top four place in the Bundesliga this season and with it a Champions League berth for next year took an unexpected twist in mid-week.
Four of the German top flight’s current top five dropped points as the Bundesliga continued to add to its reputation as one of Europe’s most unpredictable domestic competitions.
2nd placed Borussia Dortmund were edged out 1-0 by traditional rivals Bayern Munich in Tuesday’s early Klassiker kick-off – a result that virtually extinguished their hopes of pushing the Bavarians all the way for the title, though none of the challengers behind BVB were able to capitalise on their defeat.
Remember – we’ll be covering all of the weekend’s German top tier action on our Bundesliga predictions page.
Big points dropped
In Tuesday’s biggest upset, Bayer Leverkusen saw their 12-match unbeaten streak halted in emphatic fashion by a rampant Wolfsburg side who counter-attacker their way to three points and a 4-1 victory at the BayArena.
Bayer struggled to cope with the inventive passing and line breaking runs of Die Wölfe star Maximilian Arnold, who finished the game with a goal and two assists – and the 26-year-old is one to watch again when the Bundesliga resumes this weekend.
Borussia Monchengladbach, who started the day in 5th spot behind Bayer, managed to leapfrog their continental qualification competitors with the point they earned at second from bottom Werder Bremen, though their tie at one of the division’s worst performing clubs will undoubtedly be seen as a massive missed opportunity by coach Marco Rose.
After the game, Gladbach star Oscar Wendt suggested that the skirmish for a top four place looked like going to the last day of the season, saying:
“It was a difficult game. Bremen played well; they were very aggressive. We didn’t play the way we usually do so that’s disappointing. We didn’t create enough chances.
“I don’t know whether it was a lack of ideas from us, but Bremen won a lot of duels in important spaces and they made it difficult for us to get into our rhythm.”
In order to finish the season in the top four, we still have six very important matches ahead of us. And it’s going to go down to the wire, the last minute, the last second. It’s a very tight race but we’re ready for it.”
RB Leipzig miss their chance
At day later on Wednesday evening, RB Leipzig botched their chance to take advantage of their rivals’ profligacy, after Die Roten Bullen were left frustrated by a resurgent Hertha Berlin outfit at the Red Bull Arena.
Leipzig came back from an early goal down to lead in the final stages of the contest, however, a late Krzysztof Piątek spot-kick earned the visitors a deserved share of the spoils after a pulsating 2-2 draw.
After full-time, an emotional RB manager Julian Nagelsmann aired his frustrations over the result. Speaking to DAZN, he said:
“I’m not at all satisfied. We have to ascribe this to ourselves. We simply have to learn so that we are not constantly lagging behind.
“In the beginning, we defended like a student team. The frustration is deep.”
“It was difficult to get into the game, which is normal; for us, it was the first ‘English week’ for months,” he said.
“It wasn’t an ‘English week’ for Hertha. They had a four-day break. I don’t understand how the game is scheduled. Hertha play on Friday, we on Sunday and have our game on Wednesday.
“It is again the case that we get a really sh*tty game plan. That was addressed at the DFL meeting, but nobody is interested.”
Bundesliga top four outlook
With six rounds of 2019/20 Bundesliga fixtures left to contest, and just four points separating Borussia Dortmund in 2nd from Bayer Leverkusen in 5th, the race for a Champions League place feels incredibly open ahead of the campaign’s climax.
Remarkably, the June 20 clash between RB Leipzig and Borussia Dortmund in the penultimate round of fixtures this season is the only game where any of the teams currently placed between 2nd and 5th go head-to-head for three points, and that in turn makes picking up wins against the division’s lesser lights key between now and July.
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