Coming up on the Bundesliga Preview Show this week...
The Matchday 21 Saturday afternoon programme was certainly not one for the faint-hearted, with three of the five games going not so much down to the wire as almost beyond it. Borussia Mönchengladbach took the Carnival weekend derby honours against 1. FC Köln courtesy of a 91st-minute Granit Xhaka goal, while Sebastian Rudy's winner for 1899 Hoffenheim against south-western rivals VfB Stuttgart came even later. For compound drama, however, the BayArena was the place to be - Bas Dost rounding out a remarkable individual shift to secure VfL Wolfsburg victory deep into added time.
If they got off to a slow start in 2015, FC Bayern München are certainly making up for it now. Saturday's 100th Bundesliga meeting with Hamburger SV saw the record champions inflict record damage on their traditional northern rivals, hitting them for eight without reply. There were forward fireworks aplenty from Arjen Robben, Thomas Müller and Mario Götze while, perhaps even more pleasingly for head coach Pep Guardiola, long-term absentee Holger Badstuber started in central defence, with a fit-again David Alaba just in front of him - and a third recent injury case, Franck Ribery, enjoyed a 20-minute stint of the bench as well. All-in-all, the immediate future looks bright again for Bayern - exceedingly bright.
It has long been common knowledge that Marco Reus is a lifelong, to-the-core Borussia Dortmund fan. The widely coveted attacking star underscored the fact in the best way possible last week by extending terms with die Schwarz-gelben through to 2019, in a true demonstration of loyalty to a club currently trying to battle their way free of the relegation dogfight. The decision was far from a sentimental one, either; for Reus, there is a “job to be finished” at Dortmund and an inspired display on his own part against 1. FSV Mainz 05 took them another small step along the road. The BVB faithful, meanwhile, took the opportunity to reveal what his ongoing commitment means to them.
Werder Bremen's 3-2 victory over fellow surprise form side FC Augsburg is the latest chapter in the Green-Whites' spectacular renaissance under Viktor Skripnik, which has seen them climb from the foot of the standings to the fringes of the battle for a place in Europe. From new defensive rock Jannik Vestergaard to free-scoring forward duo Franco Di Santo and Davie Selke, Bremen are a team transformed. And for good measure, playmaker and free-kick king Zlatko Junuzovic has just penned a new contract.