Robert Andrich was Bayer Leverkusen's hero against Stuttgart. - © IMAGO/RHR-FOTO
Robert Andrich was Bayer Leverkusen's hero against Stuttgart. - © IMAGO/RHR-FOTO

Matchday 31 talking points: Bayer Leverkusen remain unbeaten, Darmstadt relegated, Harry Kane and Loïs Openda chase history


Bayer Leverkusen struck in familiar fashion to remain unbeaten, while Darmstadt were relegated to the second tier. Elsewhere, Harry Kane and Loïs Openda continued their pursuit of history.

1. Bayer Never Losin'

Leverkusen just do not know how to lose, do they? VfB Stuttgart have threatened to derail their unbeaten run in all three games the teams have contested this term, with them 2-1 up in the 96th minute on this occasion. However, as they have so often done over the past eight months, Die Werkself found a way, with Robert Andrich firing home after the visitors failed to clear Florian Wirtz's free-kick.

The result means Xabi Alonso’s men have gone 46 games without defeat in all competitions. With the title already wrapped up, the remainder of the Bundesliga season is about making history, and they are now just three matches away from becoming the first team to avoid losing across all 34 matchdays. Quite the carrot to keep them interested, you would say and, at this point, you wouldn’t bet against them doing so, no matter how few seconds are left on the clock.

It is not just in the league where immortality awaits, though. With a UEFA Europa League semi-final and the DFB Cup final still to come, a historic treble is still on the cards, and Leverkusen could still win both of them unbeaten as well. Should they do so, they will shatter Benfica’s European record of 48 matches without defeat in all competitions, including continental games. No pressure, lads.

Watch: Leverkusen strike at the death to maintain unbeaten run

2. Openda chasing Seeler

RB Leipzig recorded a crucial victory in their quest for a top-four spot as they defeated Borussia Dortmund 4-1 at the Red Bull Arena. Only two sides – champions Leverkusen (77) and Bayern Munich (89) - have scored more than their 73 goals in the German top flight term, and Loïs Openda now has 24 of them. This time, he netted his side’s leveller, which set them on their way to a comfortable three points.

Harry Kane’s exploits this campaign have set the gold standard for new arrivals to the Bundesliga and, as a result, he has overshadowed Openda. However, the Belgian's own tally must not be underestimated – after all, his return is the third-highest for a player in his debut Bundesliga term.

Kane, of course, tops that list and could well add to his 35 efforts. Openda, though, is six behind second-placed Uwe Seeler, who netted on 30 occasions for Hamburg during the 1963/64 term, the inaugural edition of the Bundesliga. It would take an impressive goalscoring spree to catch the German legend, but Openda certainly has the ability to find the back of the net in three successive matches, at least – he has been on the scoresheet in his last four outings.

3. Dortmund guaranteed fifth – and probably Champions League

The loss at Leipzig was hardly the way Edin Terzić will have wanted to prepare his side for their Champions League semi-final first leg against Paris Saint-Germain, but there was at least one silver lining. Eintracht Frankfurt’s 2-1 defeat to Bayern means Die Schwarzgelben are guaranteed to finish no lower than fifth in the table.

Unlike previous terms, that should be enough to score a place at Europe’s top table thanks to the Bundesliga’s exploits in this campaign's UEFA competitions. Due to a revamp of the tournament, there are two extra spaces on offer for the divisions with the highest coefficients across the 2023/24 term, and the German top flight current leads the English Premier League for the second one. Unless Aston Villa win the UEFA Europa Conference League and German teams are unable to win two more matches in either the Champions League or Europa League, things will remain that way.

Dortmund Champions League triumph alongside a fifth-placed finish, as well as a Leverkusen DFB Cup victory, means ninth in the Bundesliga could even be enough for Europa Conference League qualification. For the likes of Hoffenheim, Werder Bremen, Heidenheim and Wolfsburg, therefore, there is still plenty on the line – for Dortmund, though, they have reached their minimum objective for the season, and there is still more to achieve.

Watch: The best of Dortmund in 2023/24

4. Kane continues Lewandowski chase

Bayern registered a fourth consecutive victory in all competitions as they defeated Frankfurt at the Allianz Arena. It wasn’t the easiest of victories, but they got over the line, and the victory confirms their place in next season’s Champions League – not that that was ever really in doubt.

Kane was the hero against Die Adler, as has so often been the case this season. He gave his side the advantage with a simple finish before scoring from the penalty spot after Hugo Ekitiké levelled things up. That was the ninth time in which he has scored more than one goal in a league game this term, and his lead in the Golden Boot race now stands at 10 strikes after Serhou Guirassy (25) blanked against Leverkusen.

More importantly, at least in a historical sense, Kane remains in with a chance of breaking Robert Lewandowski’s single-season record. A slower scoring rate across the second half of this term means the England captain trails the Pole’s 2020/21 tally by six strikes but, with three games left to play, Lewandowski can still be caught. Tuchel and the rest of his players will surely do everything they can to help Kane enter the history books.

Harry Kane was one scoresheet again as Bayern Munich beat Eintracht Frankfurt. - IMAGO/Bernd Feil/M.i.S.

5. Darmstadt relegated

Die Lillien’s demotion was almost confirmed even before they kicked a ball against Heidenheim at the Merck-Stadion am Böllenfalltor, but Florian Kainz’s 95th-minute penalty for Cologne against Mainz earned Effzeh a 1-1 draw and meant Torsten Lieberknecht’s men could still theoretically stay up. However, they would still require a maximum 12 points from their remaining four matches and, while they threw everything they had at their fellow promoted side, they were ultimately undone by Nikola Dovedan’s stoppage time winner.

Unfortunately for last season’s Bundesliga 2 runners-up, they have performed in stark contrast to Heidenheim throughout this campaign, with the reigning second-tier champions still in the race for European football. Darmstadt have propped up the table since Matchday 14, while just six of their accumulated 17 points have come on home turf.

With one side’s fate now sealed, attention turns to who will join them. Cologne remain in trouble in 17th despite the late equaliser, while Mainz sit in the relegation play-off spot five points above. Bochum, Union Berlin, Borussia Mönchengladbach and Wolfsburg are within touching distance, though, meaning the fight for survival could well go down to the final day. We will find out who will hold their nerve as things get tense at the bottom.

Watch: Darmstadt relegated with defeat against Heidenheim