The dust is beginning to settle on a weekend that saw crucial victories for Hamburger SV and 1. FC Nürnberg, while FC Bayern München's march to the title gained even more momentum after a crushing victory in Hanover.
bundesliga.com brings you the reaction from the 22nd week of action this season as it comes in.
Dortmund will no doubt still be feeling disappointed after defeat to Hamburg, but midfielder Nuri Sahin is adamant that their confidence will not be affected for Tuesday's crunch game at FC Zenit in the UEFA Champions League. "We'll draw the right conclusions from this", he told bundesliga.com.
Meanwhile, Borussia Mönchengladbach have announced that USA international Fabian Johnson will join them on a free transfer this summer when his contract expires at 1899 Hoffenheim. You can read more on that transfer here.
German football magazine 11 Freunde took a light-hearted view of one particular performance at the weekend: that of Sandro Wagner for Hertha Berlin at VfB Stuttgart. The rangy striker experienced the full range of emotions in just ten second-half minutes, nodding in what proved to be the winner, before accruing two needless bookings and heading for an early bath. No wonder the magazine used the phrase "hero to zero" to describe his contribution. The winning goal probably made it a good day for him, though.
Take a look at Hiroshi Kiyotake’s sensational goal ten seconds into the second half for Verbeek's Nürnberg that really set the tone for their dramatic win over Braunschweig, courtesy of the official Bundesliga YouTube channel:
Our quote of the day comes from Nürnberg coach Gertjan Verbeek, who is beginning to forge himself a reputation as a cryptic. He recently said: "You can control 80-85 per cent of a football game and the rest is down to luck, the referee and the weather." And following the win over Braunschweig he commented: "I hope I live to be 90. Then I can say, I may make it to 100 but [if not] I can at least say I've worked at 1. FC Nürnberg."
There's no doubting which game was the most eventful on Matchday 22 and that was at the Grundig Stadion, where 1. FC Nürnberg came back from a goal and a man down to beat Eintracht Braunschweig 2-1 in the first Bundesliga game ever to produce three missed penalties. German newspaper Die Welt called the game "bizarre and unbelievable", while Süddeutsche Zeitung compared FCN's spot-kick hero Raphael Schäfer to German great Bodo Illgner, positing that if the Lions had been awarded a third penalty, Schäfer would have saved it as well.
Dortmund's rivals Bayer 04 Leverkusen lost at the weekend, going down to VfL Wolfsburg. It was Bayer's sixth defeat in eight games but for Wolfsburg, their top-four challenge continues to gather pace. They are now just four points off fourth and have Bas Dost hitting form. The 24-year-old has three goals in his last six appearances and thanked team-mates Robin Knoche and Ivan Perisic for assists on Saturday: "It was great play from both of them." The Wolves travel to 1899 Hoffenheim next before hosting the champions.
Dortmund boss Jürgen Klopp congratulated his opponents on the victory but was left frustrated that his team didn't help themselves to take something from the game. "HSV fully deserved to win today. We did ourselves absolutely no favours at all. They played well in the first 45 minutes, and at half-time we were determined to come out and change things. That didn't go to plan, though, and their goal was reward for three very painful months. This was a very average performance from our perspective."
Hamburg's victory was a winning start not only for Slomka but also for central defender Slobodan Rajkovic. The 23-year-old Serbian was making his very first appearance of the season under the club's third coach this term. He completed the 90 minutes and helped his side earn a clean sheet against the 2012 double-winners. It couldn't have gone much better for Rajkovic, who spoke exclusively to bundesliga.com following the game.
Perhaps the most surprising result of the weekend came at the Imtech Arena. Hamburg had suffered seven defeats in a row before Mirko Slomka’s appointment, but they ran out 3-0 winners against Champions League participants Borussia Dortmund, courtesy of goals from Pierre-Michel Lasogga, Petr Jiracek and Hakan Calhanoglu. The latter finished the scoring with an outrageous long-range free-kick, but insisted the collective effort was what had decided the game: "The important thing is that we won and that we all stuck together and fought for the result."
Good morning one and all to Bundesliga fans around the globe. It's fair to say that Matchday 22 was a weekend of games that fully justified the Bundesliga's reputation for drama, tension and excitement. The salient facts when one glances at the standings are that FC Bayern now have a 19-point lead at the summit and that lowly Eintracht Braunschweig continue to prop up the table, but that doesn't begin to tell the story....
Monday 24 February
The weekend's key events:
- New Hamburger SV coach Mirko Slomka got off to an ideal start as his side beat Borussia Dortmund 3-0. HSV youngster Hakan Calhanoglu scored a sensational 40-yard free-kick to seal the win. Here's what he made of it.
- VfL Wolfsburg boosted their hopes of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League with a convincing 3-1 win over Bayer 04 Leverkusen.
- 1. FC Nürnberg goalkeeper Rafael Schäfer saved two penalties against Braunschweig. A total of three spot-kicks were missed in that match - a Bundesliga record.
- FC Schalke 04's winning run came to an end on Friday as they were held to a goalless draw by Mainz.
- There were no goals in Sunday's early game either, as Eintracht Frankfurt a and Werder Bremen shared the spoils.
- FC Bayern München capitalised on Bayer 04 Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund's slip ups to move 19 points clear at the Bundesliga summit courtesy of a 4-0 win in Hanover in the weekend's finale.
Sunday 23 February
This concludes our live updates for today, please join us again on Monday morning for more Matchday 22 reactions.
After yet another victory, FC Bayern München players took to twitter to share their delight at winning a 14th consecutive match and extend their lead to a whopping 19 points.
It seems there is no-one capable of stopping FC Bayern München at present. Despite exerting plenty of energy during their midweek win over Arsenal FC, the record titleholders showed no signs of weariness on Sunday evening as they collected a 4-0 win over Hannover 96. Click here to read bundesliga.com's exclusive match report and check out the tweets below for a look at Bastian Schweinsteiger's reaction.
Find out what Alexander Meier (pictured) and other protagonists from Eintracht Frankfurt's goalless draw with SV Werder Bremen thought of Sunday's clash at the Commerzbank Arena with our post-match reaction.
Bremen played almost an hour with ten men, but still managed to escape with a point. You can read our match report here.
FC Bayern coach Pep Guardiola has made four changes to the side that beat Arsenal FC in the UEFA Champions League in midweek - this is how the Bundesliga leaders and Hannover 96 will be lining up today at the HDI Arena (kick-off 16:30 GMT/17:30 CET):
Borussia Dortmund will have to do without the services of Germany defensive midfielder Sven Bender in the coming weeks - to find out more, please click here.
This is how Eintracht Frankfurt and SV Werder Bremen will be lining up today:
Levan Kobiashvili became the oldest goalscorer for Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga on Saturday with his strike helping the capital club to a 2-1 win at VfB Stuttgart. 5,551 days after his first Hertha goal, the 36-year-old showed he can still make a difference, which is what he plans to do in the final three months of his Hertha career. "I'm going to help ensure it's a successful season for the team," he told bundesliga.com. "I do my job, no matter what position I'm playing in, and I think everybody can see that I can help. I'm just trying to enjoy every game and every day."
One goal and one assist from Kevin Volland helped 1899 Hoffenheim snatch a point away at Gladbach, despite trailing 2-0. "We're in good form and haven't lost in four games now," said Volland to bundesliga.com. "Now we've got Wolfsburg to come and we've won our last two home games. We've got to stick at it and play another 90 minutes like our second-half performance here." They may well be particularly motivated for the visit of the Wolves after losing in the DFB Cup earlier this month. "We've got a score to settle," said Volland.
The action gets underway in Germany's second tier and there are three fixtures on the cards this afternoon:
1. FC Kaiserslautern v VfR Aalen
Dynamo Dresden v FC St. Pauli
VfL Bochum v Fortuna Düsseldorf
Keep up to date with latest from all today's games via our live ticker!
The DFB team will be meeting a number of familiar faces in their quest to qualify for France 2016 as the three-time European Champions have been drawn against Poland in UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying. The other sides Joachim Löw's charges will be locking horns with in Group D are Scotland, Georgia, Ireland and Gibraltar.
Having finally got back to winning ways and ended a seven-game losing streak on Saturday, Pierre-Michel Lasogga made no secret of his relief after he too found the net in the 3-0 victory over third-placed Borussia Dortmund. The Hamburger SV forward said: "We played very well - all of us. We had a difficult time, but never lost faith in our qualities." Lasogga admitted the change in the HSV dugout was extra motivation for the Red Shorts in the first game under new coach Mirko Slomka. "Everyone wanted to prove themselves, which was noticeable."
UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying draw
Also, you can stay with us find out who Germany will be locking horns with on their route to UEFA EURO 2016 in France, as the qualifying draw starts in just a few moments.
Before the action in the top tier gets underway though, we'll be bringing you all the live action from Bundesliga 2, 1. FC Kaiserslautern and top goalscorer Simon Zoller could boost their promotion chances if they beat VfR Aalen to jump into second, while Dynamo Dresden play hosts to FC St. Pauli and Fortuna Düsseldorf travel to western rivals VfL Bochum. Kick-off is at 12:30 GMT.
Dramatic and action-packed the Matchday 22 Saturday may have been, but there's a lot more to be expected today in Germany's top flight as Toni Kroos (l.) and FC Bayern München hope to extend their lead at the top of the Bundesliga when they travel to mid-table Hannover 96 this evening (kick-off: 17:30 GMT, click here for our exclusive preview). Also, Eintracht Frankfurt are hoping their stunning mid-week comeback in the UEFA Europa League against FC Porto will be the springboard to bounce back from recent domestic setbacks as they entertain SV Werder Bremen, starting at 14:30 GMT.
Saturday 22 February
That concludes our LIVE coverage for today. We'll be back on Sunday morning with all the latest tidbits and updates. Stay tuned!
The Bundesliga kick-offs are almost upon us, so make sure you check back later on for more updates. In the meantime, click here to find your local television broadcaster and stay on top of all the in-game statistics here.
This afternoon's line-ups:
.@1_fc_nuernberg XI vs Braunschweig: Schäfer - Angha, Nilsson, Pinola, Plattenhardt - Frantz - Gebhart, Feulner, Kiyotake, Hlousek - Drmic— Bundesliga Live (@BL_Live_EN) February 22, 2014
Braunschweig XI vs FCN: Petkovic - Kessel, Bicakcic, Correia, Reichel - Pfitzner, Theuerkauf, Boland - Hochscheidt, Kumbela - Nielsen— Bundesliga Live (@BL_Live_EN) February 22, 2014
The clock is ticking down on the start of Saturday's Bundesliga action. Are you ready? Hamburger SV had better be since Borussia Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp (pictured) said he has "no sympathy" for their plight. An intriguing game coming up at the Imtech Arena with both sides desperate for points for contrasting reasons.
Before getting to the nitty-gritty of the Bundesliga, there are two big Bundesliga 2 encounters getting underway. Karlsruher SC are up against SV Sandhausen while last weekend's big winners SC Paderborn pay 1860 Munich a visit.
You can follow those matches live on our ticker, and stick around for the match reports to come straight after the final whistles have sounded.
A staggering 5,200 Borussia Dortmund supporters will be making their way up north to Hamburg today, according to this Tweet from the Westphalian club. A total of 57,000 spectators will be attending new HSV coach Mirko Slomka's debut against the UEFA Champions League 2013 finalists at the sold-out Imtech Arena.
Not only were Schalke lacking creativity in the final third of the pitch, but also tempo and rhythm, according to Roman Neustädter (pictured, r.) as his charges were held by Mainz in the opening game of Matchday 22.
Find out what the S04 midfielder and some of the other players had to say after yesterday's goalless draw in Gelsenkirchen in our post-match quotes.
You can stay up to date with all the live action from both the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 on our exclusive ticker.
To find your local television broadcaster for the weekend's action, including Hoffenheim's tussle with Mönchengladbach, please click here.
Hamburger SV will be hoping new head coach Mirko Slomka (pictured) can help inspire them to a mighty upset over third-placed Borussia Dortmund this afternoon, while in-form VfL Wolfsburg are aiming to stretch their winning streak to three when they host Bayer 04 Leverkusen in the evening.
To get to grips with all today's action in Germany's top flight, please check out our exclusive previews by clicking on each fixture below:
14:30 GMT kick-off:
Hamburger SV - Borussia Dortmund
Borussia Mönchengladbach - 1899 Hoffenheim
VfB Stuttgart - Hertha Berlin
1. FC Nürnberg – Eintracht Braunschweig
SC Freiburg - FC Augsburg
17:30 GMT kick-off:
VfL Wolfsburg - Bayer 04 Leverkusen
Friday 21 February
Mainz's Nicolai Müller: "We deserved the point, want our form to continue. We fear no-one. We'll see what position we're in after 34 games"— Bundesliga Live (@BL_Live_EN) February 21, 2014
Loris Karius: "We'd be happy to finish in ninth place. Anything higher than that would be a bonus for us. Now our focus is on Leverkusen"— Bundesliga Live (@BL_Live_EN) February 21, 2014
.@S04's Leon Goretzka: "It was a tough game. Mainz did well to make it difficult for us but I think we cold have done better going forward"— Bundesliga Live (@BL_Live_EN) February 21, 2014
Mainz coach Thomas Tuchel: "I'm very happy. We were brave tonight and we had confidence going into the game because of the run we were on"— Bundesliga Live (@BL_Live_EN) February 21, 2014
Jens Keller: "I think we can be pleased with that. Mainz played well and were really organised. We were too slow” #S04M05— Bundesliga Live (@BL_Live_EN) February 21, 2014
Stand by for pitchside match reaction from both camps...
CHALLENGE! 78' Elkin Soto slides in brilliantly to stop Farfan in his tracks after Mainz were denied by a block at the other end #S04M05— Bundesliga Live (@BL_Live_EN) February 21, 2014
SUBS: 74' Two positive changes from Mainz's Thomas Tuchel: Shawn Parker and Maxim Choupo-Moting on for Ja-Cheol Koo and Okazaki #S04M05— Bundesliga Live (@BL_Live_EN) February 21, 2014
CLOSE! 29' What a chance for Okazaki! He connects well with a left-wing cross but Fährmann is agile enough to parry the ball clear! #S04M045— Bundesliga Live (@BL_Live_EN) February 21, 2014
Here we go then, the team news is beginning to come in for Schalke vs. Mainz at the Veltins Arena...
FC Bayern boast an army of fans not just in Germany but the world over. And, it seems, among British electro-pop bands. Depeche Mode, natives of Essex, England, may have grown up watching the likes of West Ham United and Southend FC, but they were over the moon to receive signed shirts from the World and European Champions.
As Friday evening matches go, there aren't too many more match-ups that promise the same level of excitement as Schalke vs. Mainz. In an exclusive interview with bundesliga.com this week, The visitors' coach Thomas Tuchel said that every one of his players will have to be at his best, but insisted that his team is under no pressure this evening. "What we have against Schalke is a chance to impress on a big stage." He's obviously looking forward to the encounter, just like this Schalke fan:
The 'quote of the day' comes in two parts today. In response to a question about the differences between UEFA Champions League and Bundesliga fixtures, Pep Guardiola claimed that: "The Champions League is like having a five-course meal at a top restaurant. The Bundesliga is more like having pizza and hamburgers everyday." Hannover 96 sporting director Dirk Dufner wasn't without a witty response though. "Our aim this weekend will be to give them a taste of a more gourmet meal." Bibs at the ready!
.@FCBayernEN head coach Pep Guardiola: "Possession for possession's sake is pointless. Touches aren't important, creating chances is."— Bundesliga Live (@BL_Live_EN) February 21, 2014
Saturday's 14.30 GMT kick-offs are dominated by the battle raging at the foot of the Bundesliga table. 1. FC Nürnberg host Eintracht Braunschweig, with both sides brimming with confidence following their victories on Matchday 21, while Baden-Württemberg duo VfB Stuttgart and SC Freiburg are hosting sides from the top half of the table in Hertha Berlin and FC Augsburg respectively. For bundesliga.com's exclusive preview of these three potentially pivotal matches click here.
1. FC Nürnberg have confirmed that Japanese international Makoto Hasebe will not feature in the Matchday 22 encounter with Eintracht Braunschweig on Saturday. The experienced holding midfielder, who suffered a knee injury during the winter break, has returned to training, but is still short of full fitness. "Makoto Hasebe will not be in the matchday squad, it's still too early," reads the tweet below.
During his pre-match press conference, Borussia Dortmund head coach Jürgen Klopp confirmed that wing wizard Marco Reus has returned to training following a thigh injury. However, according to the tweet below from BVB's official account it looks like Klopp may be sparing Reus an immediate return in part, perhaps, due to the upcoming UEFA Champions League last-16 first-leg clash with Russia outfit Zenit St. Petersburg.
Looking ahead to Saturday's action, Hamburger SV are hoping that the appointment of head coach Mirko Slomka could inspire them to a much-needed victory on Saturday. Unfortunately for them they're set to welcome an in-form Borussia Dortmund side to the Imtech Arena with Slomka set for his very own Yellow-Black baptism of fire. Click here to read bundesliga.com's exclusive preview for the Saturday's showdown.
Fancy watching the highlights from FC Schalke 04's narrow win over 1. FSV Mainz 05 on Matchday 5. Then look no further. Click here to watch the highlights and click here to see what Kevin-Prince Boateng had to say after scoring his first goal for the Royal Blues.
GOAL! The Bundesliga Magazine had the pleasure of catching up with one of the Bundesliga's most exciting and established young head coaches during the week. Seen as one of the foremost tacticians in Germany's top flight, 1. FSV Mainz 05's Thomas Tuchel discussed his ambitions for the 05ers and how the Bundesliga has raised his game in his five years involved with the club. Click here to watch the full interview.
FC Schalke 04's performances have been on the up and up since welcoming star striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar back from injury at the start of the second half of the season. Since then they've collected five wins, despite 'The Hunter' scoring just twice himself. After scoring the winner against Bayer 04 Leverkusen, bundesliga.com caught up with the frontman to get his thoughts on the Royal Blues' form and tonight's clash with 1. FSV Mainz 05. follow this link to find out what the Dutchman had to say.
Doubts still surround the inclusion of Joo-Ho Park for 1. FSV Mainz 05's clash with FC Schalke 04 in the Matchday 22 curtain-raiser. Head coach Thomas Tuchel admitted that "it’s going to be tight" in the South Korean's race to be match-fit in time. However, he has travelled with the side, who stayed overnight in Bochum on Thursday. The left-back will undergo a late fitness test on Friday to determine whether on not he is able to feature. Fingers crossed!
FC Schalke 04 will once again have to make do without club captain Benedikt Höwedes for their home game against 1. FSV Mainz 05. The German international centre-back is still labouring under the effects of a torn muscle in his thigh. With Japanese international Atsuto Uchida still unavailable for selection, Tim Hoogland is expected to retain his place at right-back having performed admirably in the 2-1 win over Bayer 04 Leverkusen.
Two of the Bundesliga's in-form sides are set to get the ball rolling on Matchday 22 as 1. FSV Mainz 05 travel to the Veltins Arena to take on FC Schalke 04. With a UEFA Champions League encounter against Real Madrid CF on the horizon, could distractions prove a problem for the Royal Blues? Not according to head coach Jens Keller who claims his players are "incredibly focused". Click here to read bundesliga.com's exclusive preview for the Friday night showdown.
To find your local television broadcaster for the weekend's action, including tonight's curtain raiser as Kevin-Prince Boateng and FC Schalke 04 host 1. FSV Mainz 05, please click here.
For an overview of all the Matchday 22 fixtures, as well as the latest stats and figures, please follow this link.
...to bundesliga.com's LIVE coverage of Bundesliga Matchday 22, which boasts it's fair share of storylines. Can FC Schalke 04 start the Rückrunde with five-straight wins for only the second time in the club's history? Will Mirko Slomka survive his baptism of fire as he makes his debut as Hamburger SV head coach? Can VfL Wolfsburg make a statement of intent at home to second-placed Bayer 04 Leverkusen? You don't want to miss a minute of action so stay with us for all the build-up.