Bundesliga's best battling it out in blistering championship race


It's too tight to breathe atop a Bundesliga table that oozes unpredictability and after weekend wins for Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Freiburg, Eintracht Frankfurt and Mainz, the task of guessing the halfway-point leaders just got that much harder.

Union Berlin still sit at the helm by a point despite being "eaten up" by bottom side Bochum, as Irons coach Urs Fischer put it following his side's 2-0 loss at the Vonovia-Ruhrstadion on Sunday. Follow a line down from the capital club on 23 points, and you'll find Bayern (22), Freiburg (21), Eintracht (20), Dortmund (19), Mainz (18), Hoffenheim (17) and Leipzig, Borussia Mönchengladbach and Cologne (all on 16). Augsburg, on 14 points, end an amazing sequence that cannot be found in any other top league around the world.

It was Carnival Club Mainz who got the whole show started last Friday night when the 05ers blew Cologne away 5-0 at the MEWA Arena. "[We] gave our fans such a nice footballing festival, which we knew was due," Karim Onisiwo - on target in his team's rout - said after Mainz posted a maiden home win of the campaign that briefly moved them up to third.

A goosebump-inducing trip to Bayern is up next for Bo Svensson's men who will have watched the reigning champions' victory against Hoffenheim on Saturday with keen interest.

Watch: Mainz hit five against Cologne

Jamal Musiala scored his ninth competitive goal of the season and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting struck for a fourth time in his last three competitive games to seal a straightforward three points for Julian Nagelsmann's team. The Bayern boss was particularly pleased with what he described as a "world-class first 35 minutes" as well as one more top contribution from man of the moment Choupo-Moting. "We're happy to have him; he's a tremendous player," Nagelsmann said.

Everyone at Dortmund was just as effusive in their praise of Jude Bellingham after the England international scored two - the first after 90 seconds - in BVB's demolition of Stuttgart. The victory was Dortmund's first after three consecutive Bundesliga games without a win and it gave an important shot in the arm to the Black-and-Yellows, who are up to fifth place.

"We're hoping we can draw a lot of positive energy and self-belief from this," BVB coach Edin Terzic said after a game in which USMNT international Gio Reyna was also among the goals. "We don't want to settle for one win; we want to start a run now," the tactician added.

Vincenzo Grifo's goalscoring run in the Bundesliga not only helped to push Freiburg past Werder Bremen and into third place but it also took the Italy International past his one-time hero Luca Toni as the highest scoring Italian in Bundesliga history on 39 goals. The 29-year-old even gave it a typical Toni celebration after he netted his team's second of a 2-0 win.

"I apologise to [Luca] because he's an outstanding striker, player and person," Grifo said. "I'm honoured to have taken over his position. The goal I also dedicate to him because I was a big fan of his and watched him a lot in the Squadra Azzurra and with Bayern."

Freiburg's Vincenzo Grifo pays tribute to the great Luca Toni. - Helge Prang/Getty Images

In a weekend that overflowed with excitement, Eintracht burst into the top four with a 3-1 win at the home of Gladbach, the Eagles even going three up in the first half. "It was a very confident performance," goalkeeper Kevin Trapp explained after his side notched up a sixth top-flight win of the campaign. "The first half in particular was very efficient, we played it almost perfectly and implemented our plan," Trapp added.

Plans went out the window when Leipzig launched into a gung-ho comeback charge against Augsburg, who had led their game against Die Roten Bullen by 3-0 with more than an hour played at the WWK Arena. An Iago sending off quickly changed momentum, however, and Leipzig produced one of the more remarkable Bundesliga comebacks, Andre Silva, Christopher Nkunku and Hugo Novoa all finding the net.

The only problem for Leipzig captain Willi Orban, was that his team ran out of time. "If we'd carried on for five more minutes, I think we’d have won that game," the Hungary international insisted.

There is still plenty of time for things to chop and change several times over in what is turning out to be a rollercoaster of a Bundesliga campaign that has so many sides jostling for position with four rounds of games to go before we break for the FIFA World Cup. Who will sit on top spot come mid November is anyone's guess, but enjoying the ride all the way there is what it's all about.