The star cast of the brilliant Bundesliga are set to provide a final day feast of footballing entertainment. For their spectacular efforts during an exceptionally exciting 2016/17 campaign, we believe a standing ovation is in order. But in case you still need convincing, bundesliga.com is ready with the Matchday 34 numbers to support our suggestion.
With more drama and intrigue than the denouement to a James Bond blockbuster, the race for this season’s Torjägerkanone trophy sees the main protagonists prepared for a spellbinding shootout. Robert Lewandowski, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Anthony Modeste have produced an impressive combined tally of 84 goals during this campaign, with those numbers certain to rise on Saturday.
Sitting slightly behind his Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund striking rivals, Cologne’s Modeste is considered the outsider to take the top-scorer’s title this time around. The French forward’s 25 strikes places him four behind Auba and five adrift of Lewy. But let’s nonetheless consider Modeste’s merits, for they are many.
The 29-year-old has scored a staggering 51% of Cologne’s goals this term and only two players in Bundesliga history – Papiss Cisse of Freiburg and Eintracht Frankfurt’s Theofanis Gekas – boasted a bigger share. Indeed, when you factor in that Cologne have won just once in 16 games when Modeste failed to score, it is clear his importance has been paramount to the Billy Goats’ aims of a first European finish for 25 years. Modeste and Cologne will look to end on a high against Mainz on Saturday.
And then there was the Bundesliga rivalry for the ages: Lewandowski versus Aubameyang. The potent Pole with his 30 strikes in 32 appearances and the Gabon goal-getter on 29 hits in 31 games. The latter has never finished above Lewandowski in his three previous seasons with Dortmund, two of which the Bayern great has taken the Torjägerkanone title.
As Dortmund look to achieve a club first of remaining undefeated at home in the Bundesliga in successive seasons, Aubameyang knows he must score at least once against Werder Bremen to challenge even for a share of the top scoring honours.
Yet Matchday 34 is historically Lewandowski’s favourite, netting – as he has – on each final day of the season for the past five years [for a total of seven goals]. The 28-year-old has never surpassed 30 successful strikes in a single campaign, and should he score against visitors Freiburg this weekend, would achieve that feat which only five others before him have managed. He would also be the first non-German to register a 30+ season.
The good folk at Freiburg will no doubt fret over having to face such exalted ambition, but the boys from the Black Forest will be emboldened in Bavaria as they seek to share a Bundesliga first. Should Christian Streich’s band of brothers hold on to – or even better – their sixth-place standing, the Bundesliga would see two newly promoted teams qualify for European competition for the first time in the same season.
RB Leipzig – already into next term’s UEFA Champions League group stage – are the other former Bundesliga 2 team tearing up Germany's top division. A victory in Frankfurt for the Bundesliga’s youngest team would mean a record points finish [the current standard set at 68] for a promoted side.
And so, to the last scene of what could be a Shakespearean tragedy for either Hamburg or Wolfsburg, both candidates for a relegation play-off. Mario Gomez has already taken to the stage for a soliloquy, his pensive utterance, “The thunderstorm was in keeping with our season,” setting the tone for the drama ahead. The elements moved to hamper the Wolves’ hopes of winning safety at home to Borussia Mönchengladbach last weekend while a late HSV goal against Schalke kept Markus Gisdol’s men – currently occupying 16th position – alive.
Only three points will do for Saturday’s hosts as they chase hero status. Recent history, however, bodes badly for Hamburg. Wolfsburg have won their last three away games against the Red Shorts, and are an incredible nine matches unbeaten at the Volksparkstadion. In fact, so distant was the last home win for HSV in this fixture that former coach Huub Stevens was at the helm when it was achieved.
What fate awaits the Bundesliga’s only ever-present team and what intrigue awaits us!? The cry for make-up has gone up, and soon the curtain call will follow suit. Take your seats ladies and gentlemen, the final act of the 2016/17 Bundesliga season is about to begin.
Watch: The Bundesliga at it's very best: relive Leipzig vs. Bayern on MD33!