Bayern goalscorer Alphonso Davies led the Bayern celebrations following their win in Augsburg. - © Alexander Hassenstein
Bayern goalscorer Alphonso Davies led the Bayern celebrations following their win in Augsburg. - © Alexander Hassenstein

MD19 talking points: Bayern and Leverkusen both strengthen on a weekend when Füllkrug fired BVB


Bayern Munich closed the gap to Bayer Leverkusen to two points before both clubs announced new signings on a weekend when Deniz Undav and Niclas Füllkrug impressed for VfB and BVB respectively. lays out the big talking points on one more exciting weekend in Germany's top division.

1) The title race is tightening 

Leverkusen had opened up a seven-point lead on Bayern, albeit having played a game more, when they beat RB Leipzig 3-2 last Saturday, but the champions are just two points behind at the conclusion of Matchday 19 - two weeks out from their head-to-head at the BayArena.

Bayern had beaten Union Berlin 1-0 in their rescheduled fixture on Wednesday, and they laid down the gauntlet to Xabi Alonso's young pretenders on Saturday afternoon with a 3-2 win at Augsburg. It wasn't pretty, but they got the job done.

Cue Leverkusen's chance to win for the eighth time in nine meetings with North Rhine-Westphalian rivals Borussia Mönchengladbach. But despite having 28 shots on goal to their opponents' four, Die Werkself simply couldn't find a way through

"It's a game that we we'll be able to analyse and use for the future, and learn what we could do better next time," Alonso reflected after the game. "But we're staying positive and keeping our good energy." They'll have to - the title race has been blown back wide open.

2) Stuttgart can win without Guirassy

VfB Stuttgart has been the first surprise package of the season to ascend to the top of the Bundesliga table, with Serhou Guirassy scoring a barely fathomable 14 goals across his first seven games. He added three more before heading off to the Africa Cup of Nations with Guinea.

But the Swabians had failed to win in his absence in their two games since, losing 3-1 to Gladbach and 1-0 to Bochum, and they weren't exactly betting favourites with Leipzig headed for the MHPArena on Saturday, whether or not they had the suspended Xavi Simons in tow.

Deniz Undav duly tore up the script, though, hitting a hat-trick as Sebastian Hoeneß's side ran out 5-2 winners. The Brighton-owned striker pulled onto 12 goals for the season, meaning Stuttgart are the only team to have two double-digit scorers, and calls for him to break into Julian Nagelsmann's Germany set-up are growing louder.

3) 'Fortuna For All' Round II

Down a division, and Fortuna Düsseldorf played the second of their initial three trial games that have free tickets as they look to put fans back at the heart of the matchday experience with their 'Fortuna For All' campaign.

The first match was a thrilling 4-3 win over Kaiserslautern, and while the second result went against them - a 2-1 loss to league leaders St. Pauli - the real victory went to the fans, who filled the 54,600-capacity Merkur Spiel-Arena free of charge.

"We want to make it clear what Fortuna Düsseldorf stands for," said club CEO Alexander Jobst upon on launching the campaign. "With 'Fortuna For All', we're doing things differently and breaking new ground." 

The club is running a pilot scheme this season before fully implementing the project in coming years. The gradual loss of matchday revenue will be compensated by greater investment from sponsors, who have also pledged funds to develop the club's youth academy, women's football team and digital infrastructure. 

4) Faithful Füllkrug keeps Dortmund perfect

The only Bundesliga team with a 100 per cent record in 2024, BVB are also top scorers in the division since the turn of the year and with striker Niclas Füllkrug firing in a hat-trick in his side's win against Bochum on Sunday, the Black-and-Yellows almost look a team reborn. Füllkrug's last treble came for Werder Bremen against Schalke in September 2020 and among the Germany international's three goals at the weekend were two of the calmest penalty kicks surely ever netted in the German top-flight.  

Watch: BVB beat Bochum with a Niclas Füllkrug treble 

The goals helped Edin Terzic's men to a third straight triumph this year and lifted the Schwarzgelben up into the Champions League places.

Yet BVB did not have proceedings all their own way against a dogged Bochum and Borussia's recently revamped coaching team will be well aware their is still work to do in the games ahead. Shorn of the likes of Julian Brandt, Gregor Kobel and Marco Reus, among others, at the weekend however, Terzic's team could be forgiven for not being at their very best and they will take great encouragement form the fact that they still managed to emerge triumphant to maintain their distant title hopes. The evening belonged to Füllkrug, however, who went into the night rightly receiving plenty of praise for his match-winning performance.  

5) New players to look forward to

No sooner had the final whistle been blown on Leverkusen's draw with Gladbach that the club announced the loan signing of Spain striker Borja Iglesias from Real Betis. Scorer of 15 La Liga goals last season, he can't wait to get going in the Bundesliga.

"I'm excited about the opportunity to be part of that and I will give my all for the success of this team," he said.

The Iglesias' announcement was quickly followed by Bayern's of Sacha Boey, the Frenchman joining from Galatasaray and plugging a gap in the champions' back line as a specialist right-back.

"He was a fan favourite at Galatasaray," explained Bayern sporting director Christoph Freund. "He has developed very well down the years, arrives with Champions League experience and won the league title with Galatasaray last season. He'll increase our quality in defence."