Bochum, Bayer Leverkusen and VfB Stuttgart were among the biggest winners in Matchday 22. - © imago / Getty
Bochum, Bayer Leverkusen and VfB Stuttgart were among the biggest winners in Matchday 22. - © imago / Getty

Leverkusen press on, Bochum stun Bayern and the other key talking points from Matchday 22


Relentless Leverkusen, another Xavi masterpiece and blistering Bochum are among the big talking points as casts its eye over the most dramatic events of a breathtaking Matchday 22.

The B04 show rolls on 

Is there any stopping the all-conquering Bayer Leverkusen this season? Unbeaten in eight previous fixtures, Heidenheim were hopeful of halting Xabi Alonso's fearsome Bundesliga leaders at their Voith-Arena home on Matchday 22. With B04's tactician taking his Bayer stay into a 500th day and the visitors seeking a record-equalling 32 games without a competitive reverse this season, however, there seemed too much at stake for Leverkusen to falter here. And so it proved. Once Jeremie Frimpong - returning to the starting line-up after last week's jaw-dropping win against Bayern Munich - hit the net for the seventh time this term, there was little doubt about the outcome in Heidenheim. The hosts had their moments, but Bayer had Amine Adli adding a second, rendering Tim Kleindienst's late consolation irrelevant.  

"To come here is never easy but we played with a lot of emotional control and overall the performance was good," Alonso explained after watching his side set club records for goals scored (57) and fewest conceded (15) after 22 matchdays. "We're really happy and need to keep going," the tactician added, with a Friday night home game against an awakening Mainz in sight. The 05ers did Bayern Munich a favour by denting Borussia Dortmund's title hopes at a crucial stage last season and the defending champions will be crossing their fingers Bo Henriksen's men can come up with the goods to scupper Alonso and Co. this time around. But how likely is that with Leverkusen in the sort of form no team in Europe can match right now? 

Watch: B04 flying high in Heidenheim 

Füllkrug's on fire, defences terrified 

Dortmund may have left Lower-Saxony largely frustrated not to have put opponents Wolfsburg to the sword (1-1), yet having one of the division's deadliest strikers find the net once again will go some ways to making up for the Black-and-Yellows' inability to take the three points on Saturday. 

The Germany international's eleventh goal of the campaign - and sixth since the turn of the year - may not have been the prettiest, but last season's joint-top Bundesliga scorer won't give a bratwurst about that. His eighth-minute tap-in saw Füllkrug give BVB a 1-0 lead for the fifth time this campaign and meant he had a direct involvement in his team's last seven goals. The player affectionately known as Lücke - because of the gap between his front teeth - has 18 Bundesliga goal involvements in total for Dortmund this season and his form will be making next opponents PSV take note ahead of a Champions League Round of 16 first leg this week.  

Watch: Füllkrug's progression from Werder great to Dortmund star

Xavi and Openda the brightest of lights   

To see Xavi Simons' 14th minute strike for Leipzig against Borussia Mönchengladbach was to delight in football at its finest. A super move involving Dani Olmo and Yussuf Poulsen led to Xavi controlling on his thigh before smashing a volley home to a roar of appreciation from the home fans inside the Red Bull Arena. Already a Goal of the Month award winner for January, the deadly Dutchman will now surely be in the running for February's gong too after his weekend visual treat.

After a run of unconvincing performances and several underwhelming results, Leipzig looked back to their slick selves as they tormented their troubled opponents. Loïs Openda's deliciously lobbed finish then brought his top-tier goals tally to 16 in 2023/24, and meant he had found the net in each of his last five Bundesliga games.

What additions Xavi and Openda have been to both Leipzig and the Bundesliga, the pair now boasting a combined total of 33 goal involvements. Marco Rose's side may have been drifting a touch of late but with their deadly duo always only a moment away from producing fireworks, Leipzig remain in with a big chance of a top three finish this season.  

Watch: check out Xavi and Openda's must-see goals

Serhou & Stuttgart look unstoppable 

It didn't take Serhou Guirassy long to rediscover his scoring boots for Stuttgart. On his first start for the Swabians since injury and Africa Cup of Nations duty, the 27-year-old headed home a 14th minute opener - Stuttgart's 50th goal of the season - for the Champions League chasers at Darmstadt. That brought the Guinea international's tally up to a remarkable 18 Bundesliga goals in just 16 top-flight appearances this term.

Only Bayern's Harry Kane can better that total right now while for VfB fans, memories of a certain Mario Gomez continue to be rekindled, with the club's championship winning striker once finishing a season with a record 24 goals for Die Schwaben. While Guirassy has that number well within his sights, Stuttgart's 15th win of the campaign (1-2) - that came with 10 men - cemented their position in third place in the standings and they also had loanee Mahmoud Dahoud on target for the first time.

With Super Serhou back banging in the goals and Sebastian Hoeneß's side looking to have recovered from an early blip this year to claim their fourth Bundesliga win in a row, the sky appears to be the limit for high-flying VfB. 

Watch: Darmstadt 1-2 Stuttgart - highlights

Bochum mean business

In their third consecutive season in the top flight, Bochum are by all appearances here to stay - as they continue to bruise big guns along the way.

The Ruhr club's 1-1 draw with Dortmund in Matchday 30 of last season was a major moment in their local rivals' ultimately failed title charge. Bayern Munich are now left staring at an eight-point gap to leaders Leverkusen after coming off the worse in a five-goal thriller on Sunday.

The blistering performance from the hosts showed everything Bochum are about. They forced their way back into the game with sheer graft after Jamal Musiala's early strike. Japanese international Takuma Asano was at his deadly best again, with the relentless Christopher Antwi-Adjei a superb creative force and Bernardo shining amid a stupendous collective defensive showing as he continues to boast the most challenges won in the Bundesliga - all anchored by an extraordinarily alert goalkeeper in Manuel Riemann.

One thought that might console Bayern fans a little after their defeat is that Leverkusen still have to visit Bochum on the penultimate Matchday of the season in May.

Watch: Bochum beat Bayern in five-goal thriller