The race for places in Europe is hotting up in the Bundesliga, but that is not the only script being amended after Matchday 21. has the key talking points from the latest round of top-flight action.


Auba stealing the show

Borussia Dortmund had to do without Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who still attracted plenty of attention in the SIGNAL IDUNA PARK stands. There was nevertheless enough ammunition in Thomas Tuchel's armoury to see off struggling Hannover 96, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan scoring the decisive goal in a 1-0 win. With Hertha Berlin losing, it gave the Westphalians an increased 13-point advantage over third place and took them that little bit closer to securing their return to the UEFA Champions League next season.

Watch: Aubameyang steals the show on MD21

Lewandowski on the Müller trail

© gettyimages / Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts

Only the great Gerd Müller has scored more (23) than the 21 goals Robert Lewandowski has after 21 games of a Bundesliga season, and it will not be long before such an adjective is rightfully being used ahead of the prolific Pole's name. The Bayern forward showed eagle-eyed precision with his brace against FC Augsburg, scoring two in a game for the fourth time in 2016. Lewandowski has accounted for eight of the defending champions' ten goals since the turn of the year, and does not look anywhere near finished yet.

Read: All about Robert Lewandowski

Bayern for Badstuber

© gettyimages / Matthias Hangst/Bongarts

The complete Bayern staff entered the arena with shirts saying "We are with you, you will make it again" on the front, and "Badstuber" with number 28 on the back in a show of support for the central defender, who faces a further three months out after injuring his ankle in training on Saturday. The Germany international has featured in only 17 of Bayern's last 106 Bundesliga games since his injury agony started in early 2013. Bayern's fans also paid tribute to the 26-year-old, chanting his name in the 28th minute of the 3-1 win at Augsburg and wishing him well in his latest recovery.

Stuttgart's charge continues

© gettyimages / Alexander Hassenstein

VfB Stuttgart are the team of the moment, with their fifth win in a row hoisting them into the top ten for the first time this season. It almost beggars belief to think that, after Jürgen Kramny took over on Matchday 16, they were bottom of the Bundesliga. Now, they are just six points away from a place in Europe next season and a comfortable seven ahead of the relegation play-off. "17 points in a row – not bad, eh?" said Kramny. "But we're not settling for that." Their next opponents FC Schalke 04 and Hannover 96 have been warned.

Read: Stuttgart 2-0 Hertha

Wolves bounce back ahead of historic tie

© gettyimages / Martin Rose / Staff

Stuttgart's seven-game unbeaten streak included a 3-1 win over VfL Wolfsburg, who had not won in any of their last seven games – until Saturday. A 2-0 success over FC Ingolstadt 04 came at just the right time too, ahead of potentially the biggest week in the club's history. The Wolves head to KAA Gent on Wednesday for their first ever UEFA Champions League knockout fixture, with the prospect of muscling their way into the top eight clubs in Europe. "This was a completely different performance from last week, and we need to latch onto this," said goalscorer Robin Knoche, as the Wolves can now head to Belgium on the back of a success.

Leverkusen up to third – without Chicharito

© gettyimages / Hangst

Bayer 04 Leverkusen head coach Roger Schmidt said his side could win without Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez, and his team proved it. A 2-1 victory over SV Darmstadt 98 even took Die Werkself into third place for the first time since Matchday 2. It was a scrappy affair on a muddy pitch, and Leverkusen showed the sort of character that stands them in good stead as the battle for a place in the Champions League next season hots up. "This could be a very important win for the rest of our campaign," said Kevin Kampl. "It proves we are going in the right direction."

Hannover's plight worsens

© gettyimages / Dennis Grombkowski

It was a battling performance from Hannover in Dortmund, but the only fact that really matters is they lost 1-0. The seventh straight defeat for the Lower Saxony club leaves them alone at the bottom of the Bundesliga, with six points to make up on SV Werder Bremen in the relegation play-off, or seven to be totally safe. All is not yet lost, however. "I saw us play with the kind of engagement and the attitude I always want to see from us," said coach Thomas Schaaf, who has lost all four games since taking charge. "We just need more self-confidence, and then we will get our reward."

Hope for Nagelsmann's Hoffenheim

© gettyimages / Baron

It was the debut of the youngest ever coach in Bundesliga history, and the smile on Julian Nagelsmann's face as he took his pew at the Weser Stadium was still there come the final whistle. A 1-1 draw may not have been the best result for the 28-year-old, but it was nevertheless a step in the right direction for a man who replaced Huub Stevens after his health-related resignation last week. "I was no more nervous than I was with the youth team," the club's former U-19 boss said. "It was a great experience." If only a smile could earn any points, Hoffenheim would be well on their way to survival, but Nagelsmann's positivity could indeed be key for the Sinsheim club staying up this season.

Read: Ten things about Nagelsmann

Can Mainz make Europe?

© imago / Jan Huebner

1. FSV Mainz 05 succeeded in qualifying for the UEFA Europa League under Jürgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel, and they appear to be up to similar mischief under Martin Schmidt. Friday night's 2-1 win over FC Schalke 04 has taken the unfancied side once again into the top six, and who is to say it could not get even better for the 05ers, who are on a three-game winning streak. Next up, they travel to Hoffenheim before hosting Leverkusen in a true test of their renewed European credentials. So are Mainz really aiming for another European tour next season? "Not yet, no," said Schmidt.

Rudnevs' return inspires Hamburg

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Artjoms Rudnevs was introduced by Hamburg coach Bruno Labbadia at half-time of his side's Matchday 20 game at 1. FC Köln with his side trailing 1-0. He immediately set up a goal and threatened more, leaving Labbadia in no two minds about his righteous place on Matchday 21: in his starting XI. The Latvian paid him back with interest, scoring one as Hamburg snapped a six-game winless streak to pull six points clear of the danger zone.

Read: Hamburg 3-2 Gladbach