- Bayern and Dortmund both win.
- Relegation battle hots up.
- Köln produce impressive comeback at Mainz.
Drama and suspense was around every corner on Bundesliga Matchday 30, with home sides ending the happier. Accordingly, bundesliga.com rounds up the ten major talking points from the weekend's action.
1) Double century for Tuchel
After the dramatic, heartbreaking exit at the hands of Liverpool FC in the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals on Thursday night, Sunday provided some reason to smile for Borussia Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel. In BVB’s 3-0 win over Hamburger SV, the 42-year-old presided over his 200th game as a Bundesliga coach. Of current top-flight coaches, only VfL Wolfsburg’s Dieter Hecking (321 games) has more matches under his belt. Indeed, only FC Bayern München's Pep Guardiola (80 per cent) has a better win percentage amongst coaches in charge for more than five games in Germany’s top division than Tuchel boasts at Dortmund (73 per cent).
2) Pulisic the history boy
Christian Pulisic is another at Dortmund with reason for celebration. Handed only his third start in the top flight by Tuchel, the young attacking midfielder netted his first Bundesliga goal to open the scoring against Hamburg. It was a fine strike, worked from a short corner and finished emphatically past Rene Adler at the near post. "I was so excited to finally get my first goal in the Bundesliga. It was just amazing," he said afterwards. Indeed, at only 17 years and seven momths of age, Pulisic is now the fourth-youngest top-flight goalscorer in history, with only Timo Werner (VfB Stuttgart), Julian Draxler (VfL Wolfsburg) and his team-mate Nuri Sahin younger when they netted for the first time.
3) The on-song Julian Brandt
It is turning into quite a season for Bayer 04 Leverkusen youngster Julian Brandt. The attacking midfielder’s goal against Eintracht Frankfurt on Matchday 30 was his fourth in as many games, and his seventh of the season. “I don’t really think it’s important to talk about how I played,” said Brandt after the eventual 3-0 win. “Describing how we played as a team is more important.” Indeed, Leverkusen were again excellent this weekend, and a fifth win in succession lifts Roger Schmidt’s side to third, the Bundesliga’s final automatic UEFA Champions League qualification spot and the highest Die Werkself have been since Matchday 21.
4) Lewandowski on fire
It is certainly not the first and probably will not be the last time it is said this season, but FC Bayern had Robert Lewandowski to thank for an eventual 3-0 win over FC Schalke 04 on Saturday evening. The visitors impressed in the first half, denying Bayern time and space on the ball, but as soon as the Pole struck nine minutes after the break, the game was up. It was the seventh time this campaign that the 27-year-old has put his side 1-0 ahead – more than any other player – and his second strike ten minutes later lifted him to 27 goals for the season. “He’s [Lewandowski] a fantastic goalscorer,” Arturo Vidal, who scored Bayern’s third, told bundesliga.com. “I think he’s the best striker in the world.”
5) Home strength
Even in the Bundesliga, there are days when it would have been better just to have stayed at home. On Matchday 30 eight of nine fixtures ended in home wins, with 1. FC Köln’s win at 1. FSV Mainz 05 the only instance of an away side coming out on top. The last time every fixture of a weekend ended in a home win was on Matchday 19 in the 1989/1990 season.
6) Claudio Pizarro, superstar
Peruvian legend Claudio Pizarro offered another reminder of his enduring class in calmly slotting the penalty that helped SV Werder Bremen to a priceless 3-2 win over VfL Wolfsburg on Saturday afternoon. It was the 37-year-old’s 13th goal of an injury-interrupted campaign, and his fifth in his last five games – his best run of scoring since early 2001. More significantly, though, Pizarro’s penalty was his 102nd goal for Die Grün-Weißen, meaning he is now the club’s record goalscorer. “Legend,” tweeted his strike partner Anthony Ujah after the win. Rarely has a truer tweet been sent.
7) Nagelsmann's home comforts
It is also turning into quite a season for TSG 1899 Hoffenheim coach Julian Nagelsmann, whose side beat Hertha Berlin 2-1 on Matchday 30. Only 28, Nagelsmann took the reins at the WIRSOL Rhein-Neckar-Arena on Matchday 21, and has since lifted Die Kraichgauer to 13th, picking up 20 points in only ten games in charge – more than his predecessors Markus Gisdol and Huub Stevens combined.
8) Sandro Wagner, Darmstadt's saviour?
If SV Darmstadt 98 do stay up – and yesterday’s 2-0 win over fellow promoted side FC Ingolstadt 04 gives Dirk Schuster’s side an excellent chance of beating the drop – then Sandro Wagner will probably never have to buy a drink in the southwestern city again. The 28-year-old pitched up in Darmstadt last summer after only scoring eight goals in 75 appearances in a three seasons at Hertha Berlin, but netted a remarkable goal 13th goal of the season in yesterday’s triumph – his fourth goal in the last five games. What’s more, his assist for Konstantin Rausch’s opening goal was his fourth of the campaign – more than his six previous Bundesliga seasons combined.
9) Carnival comeback
Matchday 30 ended with a thrilling encounter between Köln and Mainz. Two goals to the good and cruising thanks to Leon Balogun’s first-ever Bundesliga goal in the 49th minute, Mainz looked set to climb to fifth and within a point of UEFA Champions League qualification. Goals from Marcel Risse, Milos Jojic and Anthony Modeste in the final half-hour turned the game on its head, however, and instead lifted the Billy Goats to tenth and 37 points – enough to feel safe for another season.
10) The Finnbogason effect
Alfred Finnbogason seems to be on a one-man mission to save FC Augsburg from the drop. The Iceland international scored the only goal of the game in his side’s crucial 1-0 win over VfB Stuttgart on Matchday 30 – his fourth goal in the last five games and fifth overall strike since joining from Real Sociedad de Futbol in the winter transfer window.