How do you outline pleasure? If high-quality match-ups, targets galore and shock outcomes are what you are after, then matchday 18 within the Bundesliga had it in spades.
After the 2 Borussias from Mönchengladbach and Dortmund served up a six-goal thriller on Friday evening, an extra 18 targets have been scored in Germany’s prime flight on Saturday afternoon — 14 of them within the first half alone, and 6 of them in Bielefeld as Eintracht Frankfurt gained 5-1.
When you’re after main upsets, look no additional than Mainz, who began the day joint final within the desk however twice got here from behind to beat title challengers RB Leipzig.
Whereas the outcome was nice for Mainz, it wasn’t for these hoping that somebody — anybody — may problem Bayern Munich’s hegemony this season.
After Bayer Leverkusen additionally slipped to a 1-0 defeat at house to Wolfsburg, the Bavarians did what was anticipated of them and thrashed hapless Schalke 4-0 to open up a seven level lead on the prime of the Bundesliga.
With followers nonetheless not allowed inside stadiums, the Bundesliga’s unpredictability on the pitch has this season develop into each its best power and its Achilles’ heel.
As a result of, even with Bayern failing to dwell as much as their very own excessive requirements, the chasing pack look too inconsistent to capitalize, and ninth straight title beckons.
On December 19 2020, Leverkusen have been simply seconds away from holding Bayern Munich to a draw and going into the quick Christmas break as unbeaten league leaders. Then, Robert Lewandowski did what Robert Lewandowski does and Leverkusen did not win once more for a month.
That well-deserved victory over Borussia Dortmund showcased precisely what Peter Bosz’s crew are able to. However, having misplaced Kai Havertz to Chelsea, Kevin Volland to Monaco and captain Charles Aranguiz to harm all winter, consistency was at all times going to be arduous to come back by.
Florian Wirtz has lit up the league together with his three targets and 6 assists, however the playmaker continues to be solely 17 and cannot be anticipated to fill Havertz’ footwear simply but. Out huge, Leon Bailey and Moussa Diaby too typically sway between the spectacular and the irritating.
On Saturday, regardless of beginning nicely and hitting the publish in opposition to Wolfsburg, Leverkusen failed to duplicate the precision and penetration which noticed them beat Dortmund. The Wolves drew stage on factors and opened up the highest 4.
Gladbach scored 4 in opposition to Dortmund for the primary time since 1996
Borussia Mönchengladbach have been the Bundesliga’s stand-out crew this season, turning heads throughout the continent as they progressed by way of a Champions League group containing Actual Madrid and Inter Milan taking part in engaging, offensive soccer.
Domestically, they’ve already crushed Bayern, Leipzig and Dortmund, with the latter reportedly focused on bringing coach Marco Rose to the Westfalenstadion subsequent season.
However Gladbach are nonetheless fifth, nicely behind Bayern, with too many attracts placing an finish to any critical title ambitions. Final week’s 2-2 tie away Stuttgart might have seen them on the flawed finish of a controversial VAR choice, however its troublesome to be overly essential of the Foals given their European exploits and their packed schedule.
RB Leipzig could not even get some extent in Mainz
RB Leipzig additionally made it by way of a tricky Champions League group and went toe-to-toe with Bayern Munich in a 3-3 draw on the Allianz Enviornment in December.
Attracts in opposition to Frankfurt, Cologne and Wolfsburg nevertheless are much less respectable outcomes, whereas Saturday’s shock defeat in Mainz definitely wasn’t a part of the plan.
Below Julian Nagelsmann, RB are much less depending on all-out urgent and counterattacking, and so they have the most effective defence within the Bundesliga. However they’re nonetheless susceptible from set items, overly reliant on left-back Angelino, and there is a Timo Werner formed gap in the course of their assault.
In opposition to Mainz, a late effort from Nordi Mukiele – one in every of 5 substitutions made by Nagelsmann after Mainz went 3-2 up – compelled a superb save from Robin Zentner, however that was about it.
For a membership whose rise to the highest has been meticulously deliberate and expensively bankrolled by an vitality drink firm, the failure to adequately change Werner appears like an uncharacteristic error.
And in an unprecedented season the place Bayern are extra susceptible than typical, it may value RB Leipzig a primary Bundesliga title, and the league an thrilling title race.