With Hamburger SV, 1. FC Nürnberg and VfL Wolfsburg all picking up what could prove to be pivotal victories in reaching their respective targets, the air is thinning at either end of the standings. As ever, bundesliga.com is on hand to round up the main talking points from the latest round of German top-flight action...
Before hosting Borussia Dortmund, Mirko Slomka claimed Hamburger SV didn't need a "miracle" but "hard work". He actually got both on his debut as HSV head coach, with his side clinching a 3-0 win. The Red Shorts ended a seven-game losing streak and also collected a clean sheet - their first in 12 matches - against one of the league’s most prolific frontlines. Hakan Calhanoglu's audacious 40-yard free-kick was one of many reasons that “today was indescribably wonderful” in the words of goalkeeper Rene Adler.
VfL Wolfsburg’s 3-1 win over Bayer 04 Leverkusen made one thing very clear: the Wolves are ready to make the battle for a top-four spot incredibly interesting this season. Following a patchy start to the second half of the campaign (1D, 2L), Dieter Hecking’s charges are now on a three-game winning streak and sit just two points behind fourth-placed FC Schalke 04. “The side showed all the qualities that currently set them apart from the rest of the league,” exclaimed Hecking following the victory.
Down to ten men and conceding two penalties in a relegation six-pointer. In the first half of the season that would have spelt defeat for 1. FC Nürnberg, but on Matchday 22 luck and a never-say-die attitude played their part in der Club taking all three points in a 2-1 win over Eintracht Braunschweig. Providing the heroics was goalkeeper Raphael Schäfer, who saved two penalties and claimed that the encounter “had everything that a football-mad fan could hope for".
Sitting in second place, you’d think everything was going swimmingly for Bayer 04 Leverkusen, but that isn’t the case. Die Werkself have lost their last four matches in all competitions, but defeats to FC Schalke 04 and, most recently, VfL Wolfsburg have proven the most painful with just four points separating Bayer 04 and the Wolves in fifth. “We’re currently experiencing issues in the goalscoring department and conceding far too often,” admitted head coach Sami Hyypiä. “You can’t win games like that.”
FC Bayern’s historic march towards a 23rd Bundesliga title has maintained its break-neck speed as they cleared their latest hurdle courtesy of a 4-0 win over Hannover 96. Boasting a 19-point lead at the summit at present, the record title-holders could clinch the title in record time. Should they maintain that gap come the conclusion of their Matchday 27 encounter with Hertha Berlin, the Bavarians, undefeated in 47 Bundesliga fixtures, will be crowned champions a week earlier than last season, which is the current record.