Dortmund came from behind to beat Stuttgart 3-2 and retake second place.

Bundesliga Wrap: Dortmund come from behind, Bayern held to draw

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Bayern Munich’s victory over Hertha Berlin on Tuesday saw them crowned champions of Germany, but that doesn’t mean the Bundesliga has gotten boring. There’s still a frantic race to avoid the drop, a cluster of sides working to get into Europe…and a puzzling mystery as to what, exactly, Bayer Leverkusen are trying to achieve.

Friday Results

Schalke 2-0 Hertha Berlin
Schalke took temporary position of second place thanks to Friday’s win, with the goals scored by Chinedu Obasi and – you guessed it – Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. But the real story here is Hertha, who’ve lost their last four in a row, haven’t won since February 8th, and have fallen to 10th after spending the first half of the season competing for a European position.

Saturday Results

Bayer Leverkusen 1-1 Braunschweig
Yet another slip for Leverkusen, who clearly have no desire to be part of the Champions League action next season. They’re a point away from slipping out of fourth after winning just one of their last eight games. But they can take a bit of comfort from this one, at least, with Stefan Kießling’s penalty conversion canceling out Ken Reichel’s opener. Well done at keeping the league’s bottom side at bay.

Bayern Munich 3-3 Hoffenheim
Surprised by the scoreline? Well, with Bayern already in possession of the Bundesliga title, Pep Guardiola’s focus was on the Champions League match against Manchester United, and so chose to rest many first team players. With Hoffenheim playing their brand of attacking, defense-less soccer, the match was quite a thriller. Anthony Modeste opened the scoring, which we all know is like poking a sleeping bear. Sure enough, Bayern roared to life, with Claudio Pizarro scoring a brace around a goal from Xherdan Shaqiri, all within ten minutes. Sejad Salihović pulled one back, making it 3-2 at the break. A 75th minute goal from Roberto Firmino made Hoffenheim the first team to take points from Bayern at the Allianz Arena this season.

Mainz 3-0 Augsburg
A routine win for Mainz, who move temporarily into sixth place – but the true fun in this match came in the form of the second goal. Augsburg goalkeeper Marwin Hitz made a mess of saving Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting’s shot, sending the ball flying off the post. Matthias Ostrzolek came running to the rescue, but his attempted clearance shot straight into Hitz’s face…and ricocheted into the back of the net. Whoopsie, Augsburg.

Stuttgart 2-3 Borussia Dortmund
It looked like struggling Stuttgart were going to pull off a surprise win over Dortmund. Goals from Christian Gentner and Martin Harnik had the hosts up 2-0 by the 20th minute. Marco Reus pulled one back, but Stuttgart still lead at the break. Then came Georg Niedermeier. Just minutes after being shown a yellow, the defender hauled down Robert Lewandowski and was shown a straight red. Reus took the penalty, then completed his hat-trick with eight minutes to spare.

Wolfsburg 1-2 Eintracht Frankfurt
Eintracht took the early lead thanks to a goal from Stefan Aigner, but Ivica Olić pulled one back for the hosts in the second half. A last minute goal from Naldo propelled Wolfsburg to within one point of the coveted last Champions League position.

Freiburg 3-2 Nurnberg
Wondering why a bottom-of-the-table clash got top billing this weekend? Well, this one had plenty of excitement. Emanuel Pogatetz’s header put Nurnberg in front after just ten minutes, only for Pavel Krmas to equalize with his own header in the 23rd. Nurnberg took back the lead just before the break with Josip Drmić’s spot kick, but Freiburg’s own penalty saw Admir Mehmedi put the hosts even. In the 65th, Felix Klaus scored the winner for Freiburg, putting them five points clear of the danger zone.

Sunday Fixtures

Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. Hamburg
Gladbach need a win if they want to get themselves back into the European positions. Hamburg need a win if they want to lift themselves out of the bottom places. This one should be worth a watch.

Hannover vs. Werder Bremen
It’s a race toward mediocrity as two sides sitting on the same number of points, almost assured of avoiding relegation but with no chance of reaching the European positions, face off to finish the Bundesliga weekend. But hey, it’s Germany – at least there’s likely to be goals.

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?

Olivier Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott

Olivier Giroud, France
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Is it just me, or does the press really only ever get noteworthy quotes from players during international breaks?

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I suppose it’s not surprising, given Premier League players get away from the mean ole British press, go back to their respective homelands and speak with journalists they’ve likely known since their early playing days, thus feel more comfortable opening up about key issues.

Anyway, today we have Olivier Giroud essentially calling himself out for having lost the starting striker’s job at Arsenal because he’s been outplayed of late by Theo Walcott. As discussed before, this is bad news for Giroud because he’s now falling down the depth chart for France with next summer’s European Championship on the horizon.

[ MORE: Aguero admits he wants Guardiola link-up ]

Giroud, on losing his place at Arsenal — quotes from the Guardian:

“At Arsenal, I am in competition with Theo for the striker position. But he is doing well at the moment, so there is no reason to change.

“Whether it was at Tours, Montpellier or Arsenal, I have never experienced a situation like this, I have often played from the start. I need to take positives and to harden myself mentally. It is something new for me.

“I was in [Walcott’s] place in previous seasons at Arsenal. I imagine what he must have been thinking. But I feel that the coach believes in me.”

Giroud goes on to cast into doubt his own confidence, stating in very certain terms he needs “to believe more in [his] abilities.” Giroud’s always come across as a bit of an existentialist, but it’s always strange to hear players publicly call themselves out — particularly their confidence — as if that’s not going to increase the pressure currently weighing down on them.

[ MORE: Rodgers reportedly chosen to take over at Aston Villa ]

The next eight months are going to be monumentally important in Giroud’s career, as the 29-year-old attempts to prove he’s worth keeping around at Arsenal and deserving of a place in the national team squad for next summer’s EUROs, which are to be played in France.