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Bundesliga wrap: Bayern closes ground after BVB’s awful finish

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A wild day in the Bundesliga saw humiliating performances for two of the Top Three.

[ RECAP: Liverpool 3-0 Bournemouth ]

The third side did not blow its chance to take advantage, as Bayern Munich moved ahead of Borussia Monchengladbach to get within five points of leaders Borussia Dortmund.


Borussia Dortmund 3-3 Hoffenheim

Leading 3-0 at home with 15 minutes remaining in the match, Dortmund disintegrated.

There’s no other way to describe it. Jadon Sancho, Mario Gotze, and Raphael Guerreiro led to a solitary point thanks in large part to Ishak Belfodil.

The 27-year-old scored his fifth and six goals of the season, sandwiched around a Pavel Kaderabek goal, as Hoffenheim keeps its European hopes alive.

USMNT attacker Christian Pulisic was an unused sub in the draw after playing 120 minutes at midweek. BVB meets Tottenham on Wednesday in the UEFA Champions League.

Borussia Monchengladbach 0-3 Hertha Berlin

Thirty-three year old Salomon Kalou was among the scorers as Hertha scored a result almost as surprising as Hoffenheim’s draw. Ondrej Duda and Davie Selke scored second half goals to put the away win in the bag.

Bayern Munich 3-1 Schalke

An own goal started the scoring at the Allianz Arena, and the hosts didn’t wilt when Schalke answered in the 25th minute, as American midfielder set up Ahmed Kutucu.

The deadlock lasted all of two minutes.

Robert Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry scored on either side of halftime to give Bayern a boost in the table and leading into a UEFA Champions League tie with Liverpool.

And Lewandowski assisted Gnabry’s goal with a very nice-looking overhead attempt.

Elsewhere
Mainz 1-5 Bayer Leverkusen — Friday
RB Leipzig 0-0 Eintracht Frankfurt
Freiburg 3-3 Wolfsburg
Hannover 96 2-0 Nurnberg
Werder Bremen v. Augsburg — 9:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Fortuna Dusseldorf v. Stuttgart — Noon ET Sunday

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Borussia Dortmund 21 15 5 1 54 23 31 9-2-0 6-3-1 50
 Bayern Munich 21 14 3 4 47 24 23 6-3-1 8-0-3 45
 Mönchengladbach 21 13 3 5 41 21 20 9-0-1 4-3-4 42
 RB Leipzig 21 11 5 5 38 18 20 7-3-1 4-2-4 38
 Eintracht Frankfurt 21 9 6 6 40 27 13 5-2-3 4-4-3 33
 Bayer Leverkusen 21 10 3 8 37 32 5 5-1-4 5-2-4 33
 VfL Wolfsburg 21 9 5 7 32 30 2 3-3-4 6-2-3 32
 Hertha BSC Berlin 21 8 7 6 34 31 3 4-4-2 4-3-4 31
 1899 Hoffenheim 21 7 9 5 41 32 9 3-5-3 4-4-2 30
 Werder Bremen 20 7 6 7 32 32 0 3-4-3 4-2-4 27
 FSV Mainz 05 21 7 6 8 23 33 -10 4-4-3 3-2-5 27
 SC Freiburg 21 5 8 8 29 37 -8 3-5-3 2-3-5 23
 FC Schalke 04 21 6 4 11 25 32 -7 4-0-6 2-4-5 22
 Fortuna Düsseldorf 20 6 4 10 22 39 -17 4-0-6 2-4-4 22
 FC Augsburg 20 4 6 10 29 33 -4 2-4-4 2-2-6 18
 VfB Stuttgart 20 4 3 13 17 44 -27 3-2-5 1-1-8 15
 Hannover 96 21 3 5 13 20 44 -24 3-1-7 0-4-6 14
 1. FC Nürnberg 21 2 6 13 17 46 -29 2-4-5 0-2-8 12

Bayern tops Hoffenheim 3-1 to pull within a game of the top

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Bayern Munich put the pressure on Borussia Dortmund on the top of the Bundesliga table with a 3-1 road victory at Hoffenheim on Friday behind two goals from Leon Goretzka.

The midfielder took his tally to four goals on the season with the brace, striking just past the half-hour mark on a deflected near-post strike and following that up with a goal just seconds before the break, finishing off a ruthless counter-attack.

Goretzka, who arrived from Schalke this past offseason on a free transfer, has been a vital part of the Bayern midfield, appearing in 15 of their 18 Bundesliga matches and starting 12. The pair of goals are his first since late October in the win over Mainz.

Bayern dominated the match for long stretches of play, and while Goretzka’s opener came via a heavy deflection that left Oliver Baumann’s near post disappointingly unguarded, it would be unfair to say Bayern didn’t deserve the lead, owning a 13-1 shot advantage at the time. Even Goretzka’s deflected effort came off the rebound of Robert Lewandowski’s powerful header that required a stellar Baumann save to parry.

Goretzka’s second was a vicious and swift counter-attack that left Hoffenheim picking up the pieces. Off a Hoffenheim corner, Bayern took the ball and broke down the left and David Alaba delivered a fabulous cross that Goretzka just reached with an outstretched foot to poke home.

While Hoffenheim scored on a counter of its own, Bayern killed off the game with a third deep into the second half as Lewandowski got behind defender Benjamin Hubner and poked home Thomas Muller’s cross. It all came from a wonderful flick over the top by James Rodriguez who returned from a knee injury to play his first 11 minutes since early November.

The win pushes Bayern within three points of leaders Borussia Dortmund who have a tough road visit to RB Leipzig. That match features Americans Tyler Adams and Christian Pulisic on opposite sides as fourth hosts first in a critical Bundesliga meeting.

Bundesliga is back: What to watch for

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The Winterpause ends Friday, as Bayern Munich visits Hoffenheim with a new feel for its first match of a calendar year: That of the title chaser.

The six-time defending Bundesliga champions enter the second half of the season six points back of Borussia Dortmund.

[ MORE: JPW’s PL picks ]

Still 2.5 months from the next Der Klassiker (April 6 at the Allianz Arena), Bayern has to navigate a title fight without the chance to directly affect its rivals. Both clubs face Premier League opposition in the Champions League — Bayern with Liverpool, BVB v. Spurs — and neither has a particularly easy start to 2019. Other storylines to watch:

How much will Christian Pulisic’s transfer further affect his playing time? Whether or not Pulisic leaves for Chelsea as a Bundesliga champion is one thing, but many American eyes will be trained upon how often he’s deployed by Lucien Favre at Borussia Dortmund.

Let’s be clear on one thing: Favre has rotated his forwards heavily between Champions League and the Bundesliga. Jadon Sancho has played 1025 minutes, Jacob Bruun Larsen 830, Maximilian Philipp 515, Paco Alcacer 503, and Pulisic 483. Numbers two through eight on the playing time scale are defenders or midfielders (Marco Reus is first with 1483).

Amongst BVB attackers in the Champions League, however, only Reus has played more than Pulisic’s 339 minutes. And while Pulisic played 1 and 2 minutes in consecutive Bundesliga matches, he went 90 against Monaco in the UCL match separating those sub spots.

In other words, this isn’t as much of a quagmire as some Americans would lead you to believe. Yes, ex-Man City man Jadon Sancho has stolen Pulisic’s wonder boy numbers and title, but the kid isn’t being left in the cold.

Is Weston McKennie heading for Liverpool? It seems more likely a new deal is coming at Schalke, but you could easily see Jurgen Klopp liking the versatility of the 20-year-old midfielder as its midfield gets a bit older.

Schalke’s American midfielder Weston McKennie (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

What about the rest of the Americans (and a Canadian)? Almost as many eyes will be on Tyler Adams as the New York Red Bulls product takes the next step at RB Leipzig. FC Dallas’ Chris Richards is also now with Bayern Munich, while Canadian phenom Alphonso Davies begins his much-anticipated time with Bayern.

John Brooks of Wolfsburg is the top-rated American player in the top flight this season via WhoScored.com, one of eight Yanks to take the field.

Here are the Americans abroad in Germany :

Christian Pulisic, Borussia Dortmund — 11 apps, 483 mins, 1G-2A
Weston McKennie, Schalke — 13 apps, 778 mins, 1G-1A
Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen —
2 goals in 45 senior minutes
John Brooks, Wolfsburg — 16 apps, 1440 mins, 1G-1A
Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig  —  
Arrived in January
Haji Wright, Schalke  —  5 senior games, 1 goal
Bobby Wood, Hannover 96 — 14 apps, 913 mins, 3G-1A
Aron Johannsson, Werder Bremen — Hasn’t played
Fabian Johnson, ‘Gladbach — 11 apps, 543 mins, 1 goal
Timothy Chandler, Eintracht Frankfurt — Hasn’t played
Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf — 11 apps, 917 mins, 1 goal
Caleb Stanko, Freiburg — Hasn’t played
Timothy Tillman, Nurnberg — Hasn’t played

How low will Schalke finish? A dreadful start to the season has last season’s No. 2 team, Schalke, sitting four points above the relegation playoff spot, nine back of the last Europa League spot, and 13 behind the Top Four.

Schalke’s other route to Europe include the DFB-Pokal, where they next face Fortuna Dusseldorf in the Round of 16, and winning the Champions League (Manchester City is their next opponent).

Will Robert Lewandowski defend his Golden Boot? The Bayern Munich star is chasing his fourth time leading the league in goals since 2013-14, his final year at Dortmund. Here are the current leaders:

Race for the Golden Boot
Pos Name Total
1 Luka Jovic, Eintracht Frankfurt 12
1 Paco Alcácer, Borussia Dortmund 12
3 Marco Reus, Borussia Dortmund 11
3 Timo Werner, RB Leipzig 11
5 Robert Lewandowski, Bayern Munich 10
6 Sebastien Haller, Eintracht Frankfurt 9
6 Thorgan Hazard, Borussia Monchengladbach 9
6 Alessane Plea, Borussia Monchengladbach 9
9 Youssef Poulsen, RB Leipzig 8
10 Alfred Finnbogason, Augsburg 7

[ MORE: Emery on possible exit for Mesut Ozil, reason for his absence ]

Will any of the new boys survive? Two teams go down and a third goes to a playoff game against the third place team in 2.Bundesliga (currently FC St. Pauli).

This season, the four latest teams to earn promotion are all in danger of the drop. Here’s how bottom of the table looks:

14. Fortuna Dusseldorf(2018/19) – 18
15. Augsburg (2011/12) – 15
16. Stuttgart (2017/18) – 14
17. Hannover 96 (2017/18) – 11
18. Nurnberg (2018/19) -11

Champions League wrap: Insanity between Bayern, Ajax; Lyon advances

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Most of the knockout rounds spots were decided before a ball was kicked on Wednesday, but it was another wild day of UEFA Champions League play across Europe.

[ MORE: Who can PL clubs draw in UCL? ]

That includes Thomas Muller’s terrible red card and a number of beautiful goals — Hi, Nabil Fekir — as the group stage concluded with eight matches.


Benfica 1-0 AEK Athens

Grimaldo’s 88th minute goal kept AEK from getting its first point of the group stage.

Ajax 3-3 Bayern Munich

There was one goal in the first hour, and five in the final 30 minutes, as the winner of Group E changed several times on the night.

Robert Lewandowski’s 13th minute goal gave Bayern a halftime lead, but Dusan Tadic scored in the 61st and 82nd minutes to put Ajax atop the group… for five minutes.

Lewandowski completed his brace to restore the tie and Bayern’s lead, then Kingsley Coman made it academic in the 90th.

The game being what it was, with both teams finishing with 10 men thanks to Thomas Muller and Max Wober being sent off, Nicolas Tagliafico gave Ajax a point with an equalizer in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

Muller, WYD?


Man City 2-1 HoffenheimRECAP

Aymeric Laporte conceded an early penalty, but Leroy Sane was electric all night long in producing a brace en route to a 2-1 win and the group crown.

Shakhtar Donetsk 1-1 Lyon

Junior Moraes’ 22nd minute goal looked set to send the Ukranian side into the knockout rounds, but it’ll instead be headed for the Europa League thanks to Nabil Fekir’s wonderful 65th minute goal.


Real Madrid 0-3 CSKA MoscowRECAP

Georgi Schennikov, Arnor Sigurdsson, and Fedor Chalov all scored as Real Madrid’s second choice side suffered its worst home loss in UCL history.

Viktoria Plzen 2-1 AS Roma

Jan Kovarik and Tomas Chory scored for the home victors in the 62nd and 72nd minutes as the match’s three goals all came in 10-minute span, as Viktoria Plzen prepares for the drop into Europa League. Roma’s Cenzig Under scored his third goal of the group stage and second against Viktoria Plzen.


Valencia 2-1 Manchester United — RECAP

Phil Jones‘ disastrous own goal was the difference as Valencia built a two-goal lead and held on to beat United despite Marcus Rashford‘s late pullback.

Young Boys 2-1 Juventus

Two goals for 34-year-old forward Guillaume Hoarau paced the Swiss side to a feel-good upset of Juve. Paolo Dybala scored for the visitors.

Champions League wrap: Onward for 7 dreamers

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Seven of eight potential knockout round berths were sewn up Tuesday on Matchday 5 of the UEFA Champions League group stage.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]


Bayern Munich 5-1 Benfica

The old guard was roaring for Bayern, as the first of Robert Lewandowski’s two goals was his 50th Champions League goal for Bayern. He joined Arjen Robben in recording a double, and Franck Ribery also scored in the win.

Benfica will head to the Europa League.

AEK Athens 0-2 Ajax

Ajax is back in the knockout rounds after a Dusan Tadic double gave them an away win and second place in the group after of a Dec. 12 visit from leaders Bayern.

Group E
Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
Bayern Munich 5 4 1 0 12 2 10 2-1-0 2-0-0 13
Ajax 5 3 2 0 8 2 6 2-0-0 1-2-0 11
Benfica 5 1 1 3 5 11 -6 0-1-1 1-0-2 4
AEK Athens 5 0 0 5 2 12 -10 0-0-3 0-0-2 0

Lyon 2-2 Manchester CityRECAP

End-to-end action in France, where Pep Guardiola‘s men twice trailed to Maxwel Cornet goals (the first one a stunner). But Aymeric Laporte and Sergio Aguero headed home equalizers off set pieces as Man City avoided a series sweep and advanced to the knockout rounds along with their hosts.

Hoffenheim 2-3 Shakhtar Donetsk

Taison’s second goal of the match marched Shakhtar Donetsk into third place in the group as Hoffenheim’s rally from a 2-0 deficit wasn’t enough in the end. Ismaily and Taison scored a minute apart in the first half, but Andrej Kramaric had it 2-1 two minutes later and Steven Zuber leveled the score before halftime.

Group F
Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
Manchester City 5 3 1 1 14 5 9 1-0-1 2-1-0 10
Lyon 5 1 4 0 11 10 1 0-3-0 1-1-0 7
Shakhtar Donetsk 5 1 2 2 7 15 -8 0-1-1 1-1-1 5
1899 Hoffenheim 5 0 3 2 10 12 -2 0-1-2 0-2-0 3

CSKA Moscow 1-2 Viktoria Plzen

Nikola Vlasic‘s 10th minute penalty was all the hosts could muster, as Roman Prochazka and Lukas Hejda scored second half goals to keep Viktoria’s Europa League hopes alive.

Roma 0-2 Real Madrid

CSKA’s loss was Roma’s and Real’s gain, as both clubs knew they had qualified for the knockout rounds before they kicked off in Italy. Gareth Bale scored just after halftime then helped Lucas Vazquez put the match to bed in the 59th minute.

Group G
Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
Real Madrid 5 4 0 1 12 2 10 2-0-0 2-0-1 12
Roma 5 3 0 2 10 6 4 2-0-1 1-0-1 9
Viktoria Plzen 5 1 1 3 5 15 -10 0-1-1 1-0-2 4
CSKA Moscow 5 1 1 3 5 9 -4 1-0-2 0-1-1 4

Juventus 1-0 Valencia

Mario Mandzukic’s 59th minute goal made sure Valencia dropped the points necessary to open the door for Manchester United.

Manchester United 1-0 Young BoysRECAP

David De Gea made a spectacular reaction save minutes before Marouane Fellaini saved United blushes and clinched a spot in the next round for the Red Devils.

Group H
Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away  

PTS

Juventus 5 4 0 1 8 2 6 2-0-1 2-0-0 12
Manchester United 5 3 1 1 6 2 4 1-1-1 2-0-0 10
València 5 1 2 2 4 5 -1 1-0-1 0-2-1 5
Young Boys 5 0 1 4 2 11 -9 0-1-1 0-0-3 1