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Bundesliga Weekly: Dortmund & Leipzig stall, Leverkusen & Bayern cruise

Matchday 16 of the Bundesliga brought all the usual excitement, with the winter break set to draw the curtain on games until January.

Strap yourselves in as we navigate a sea of last-gasp heroics, title-race earthquakes and all the enthralling narrative twists.

Leipzig stumble in Bremen

RB Leipzig stuttered in their clash with Werder Bremen as Die Roten Bullen’s three-game winning run came to an end.

Emil Forsberg, playing his last game for Leipzig, lofted a through pass for Lois Openda to open the scoring early in the second half.

The Belgian striker showed remarkable strength to hold off challenges from the defence before finding a way beyond Michael Zetterer in goal.

However, Leipzig failed to hold on to their lead as Justin Njinmah’s gorgeous strike clinched a vital point for Werder Bremen later. 

Bremen lacked speed in recent games, and Njinmah changed their dynamic with his pace and could be crucial for them heading into the second half of the season.

The result leaves Leipzig in fourth while Werder Bremen are 13th.

Dortmund fail to win their sixth straight match as Mainz fight back

Mainz 05’s Sepp van den Berg headed home from a free-kick to cancel out Julian Brandt’s opener.

Brandt’s stunning free-kick opened the scoring, and Marcel Sabitzer struck the post with a curled effort. However, Mainz fought back into the game and had opportunities but had to settle for a point.

The 1-1 draw means Dortmund have failed to win any of their last six games, putting manager Edin Terzic under more pressure. 

The 05ers are 16th in the standings g, while BVB remain in fifth place.

Leverkusen cruise past Bochum as Schick fires hat-trick

Bayer Leverkusen ensured their stay at the top of the Bundesliga heading into the winter break as Patrick Schick, making his first Bundesliga start since returning from his long-term injury, bagged a first-half hat-trick.

The Czech striker won and netted a penalty to get his name on a Bundesliga scoresheet for the first time since February before turning in Jeremie Frimpong’s delightful cross 108 seconds later.

He then headed in a corner from Alejandro Grimaldo to complete his treble and keep Die Werkself on track for their first Meisterschale.

Victor Boniface beat Manuel Riemann to enter double digits on the domestic scoring chart in the second half. Xabi Alonso’s men signed out of 2023 in style, maintaining their unbeaten run this season.

Bochum are in 14th place and six points away from the relegation battle.

Late agony for Gladbach as Wober’s red card paves the way for Frankfurt’s dramatic win

Maximilian Wober went from hero to zero as Borussia Monchengladbach lost to Eintracht Frankfurt. 

Wober gave Gladbach the lead in the first half but was sent off in the 88th minute for a second bookable offence, leaving his side handicapped.

Die Fohlen held that 1-0 lead until added minutes when substitute Aurelio Buta headed in a fantastic cross to draw level. 

The Eagles came forward again, and defender Robin Koch was at the end of another cross as they claimed the three points. 

Die Fohlen are in 12th place while the three points were enough for Frankfurt to stay in sixth.

Thomas Muller leads Bayern to a 2-1 victory over Wolfsburg

Bayern Munich beat a listless Wolfsburg 2-1 at the Volkswagen Arena as the Wolves fell to their fourth consecutive defeat. 

Der Rekordmeister grabbed the game by the scruff in the first half as Jamal Musiala netted a lovely header to give his side the lead before Harry Kane’s curled strike left Koen Casteels stranded. 

However, as the first-half whistle was about to go, Maximilian Arnold thundered an effort beyond Manuel Neuer to make Bayern nervous.

Inspired by Thomas Muller’s two assists, the champions held on to keep the pressure on Leverkusen.

As for Wolfsburg, they have one win in their last six, losing four on the spin, and pressure is on Niko Kovac as his team sits in tenth place – far from where they aspire to be.

Around the grounds

Darmstadt 98 held TSG Hoffenheim to an enthralling 3-3 draw at the PreZero Arena. Die Lillen came back three times to force a stalemate.

Klaus Gjasul brought Ihlas Bebou down for a penalty in the 14th minute, and Andrej Kramaric converted calmly from the spot to give Hoffenheim the lead.

Ten minutes later, Luca Pfeiffer pulled Darmstadt level with his maiden Bundesliga goal, stabbing home a cross to make it 1-1.

Grischa Promel set Bebou through on goal in the 28th minute, and the Togolese striker rounded the keeper before restoring Hoffenheim’s lead. 

Darmstadt’s Tim Skarke didn’t want to be outdone by the electric Bebou and showed great touch before levelling it at 2-2.

Bebou then bagged his second of the day and third in two games, showing quick feet before dispatching a sweet strike beyond Marcel Schuhen. It was his first brace since January 2022.

Following some calamitous passing at the back, Pfeiffer stole the ball and set up Skarke for his own brace.

Darmstadt remain rooted to the bottom of the table while Hoffenheim drop to eighth.

Union Berlin clawed their way to a crucial 2-0 victory over Cologne.

Despite Cologne’s dominance for much of the first half, Union scored twice after the break through Benedict Hollerbach and David Datro Fofana, leaving the Billy Goats licking their wounds in the Bundesliga relegation scrap. 

Cologne huffed and puffed throughout the game, but they lacked the ruthlessness in front of goal that ultimately separated the two sides. 

This win propels Union three points clear of the relegation zone, while Cologne are on 10 points.

VfB Stuttgart’s forward line was on fire as they overpowered Augsburg in a 3-0 win. Deniz Undav headed in their first goal from a corner this season before Serhou Guirassy doubled up after racing through on goal.

Chris Fuhrich ensured their win with a deft finish to keep Die Schwaben in third place as Jess Thorup succumbed to his second loss as manager of the Fuggerstadter. They fall to 11th in the table.

Heidenheim came from behind to defeat SC Freiburg at the Voith-Arena to push into the top half of the table.

Lucas Holer opened the scoring for Freiburg in the first half before Eren Dinkci’s equaliser after the break.

Holer stepped up and converted a penalty won by Ritsu Doan to restore Freiburg’s lead.

Tim Kleindienst had assisted Dinkci’s goal after fantastic footwork. He got on the scoresheet before Matthias Ginter inadvertently put the ball in the back of the net as Heidenheim took the three points and climbed to ninth. Freiburg are in eighth place.

Player of the week

Our player of the week is hat-trick man Schick, who put behind his injury troubles to give Leverkusen all three points. 

The 27-year-old can be an ace up Xabi Alonso’s sleeves heading into the second half of the season.

Bundesliga News

  • FC Koln and Steffen Baumgart part ways (official) & CAS confirm their transfer ban.
  • Edin Terzic under pressure after a six-game winless run but will continue (RN).
  • Stuttgart defender Dan-Axel Zagadou has a tempting €15 million release clause (Sky Germany).
  • Bayern & Dortmund reject the European Super League (official). 
  • Milan eye move Serhou Guirassy (Gazzetta dello Sport).
  • Bochum interested in loan deal for Union Berlin’s Benedict Hollerbach (Sport Bild).
  • RB Leipzig in advanced talks to sign Napoli midfielder Eljif Elmas (Fabrizio Romano).
  • After passing the planned investor deal, three companies are interested in investing in the DFL (Bild).
  • Stuttgart have held talks with Fortuna Dusseldorf over midfielder Ao Tanaka (Sky Germany).
  • Stuttgart are looking at a potential replacement for the wanted Guirassy – Braga’s Simon Banza and Torino’s Antonio Sanabria are their main options (Sky Germany).
  • Leipzig interested in Sancho (Christian Falk).
  • Muller extends his contract till 2025 (Official).
  • Donny van de Beek is set to join Frankfurt on loan (Fabrizio Romano).
  • Inter eye Thomas Meunier (La Repubblica).

Matchday 17 action to watch out for 

Bundesliga action returns on January 12 as Bayern welcome Hoffenheim to the Allianz Arena while Augsburg face Leverkusen.

Leipzig versus Frankfurt will also be an exciting tie between unpredictable sides. Dortmund will attempt to get their title aspirations on track when they travel to Darmstadt.

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