Schalke 2-1 Werder Bremen

Schalke fought back after a lacklustre first half performance to beat Werder Bremen 2-1 and keep pace with 1. Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich. An Aaron Hunt-inspired Bremen deserved the 1-0 lead they took into the break after executing an effective gameplan and capitalising on some lethargic play by the home side (with Hunt himself putting the ball in the net). But after being allowed to equalize a little too easily shortly after the hour mark (Roman Neustädter’s headed goal was pretty defendable, and came at a time when Bremen were still exerting a degree of control), Schalke took charge, with 18-year-old substitute Julian Draxler showing great composure – amid erratic defending by the visitors – to score the winner with just under 20 minutes to play.

Thomas Schaaf will feel his side didn’t get what they deserved after one of their best performances on the road this season, yet Bremen only have themselves to blame. Huub Stevens, meanwhile, will be relieved his side came away with all three points from this game, as during the first 45 minutes, Schalke looked tired after their heroic efforts against English Premier League side Arsenal in the Champions League on Wednesday. Although Schalke remain seven points behind Bayern Munich, who also won this afternoon, beating Eintracht Frankfurt 2-0 at the Allianz Arena, Stevens’ side remain four points clear of fierce rivals Borussia Dortmund (who won 3-1 at Augsburg), and three ahead of third-placed Frankfurt, with a much better goal difference. So, in a nutshell, a forgettable match but an important result – one that could be the difference between tears of joy and jubilation come the conclusion of matchday 34 for both these sides.

Match preview here.

Starting formations

Schalke (4-2-3-1, from right to left): Lars Unnerstall; Benedikt Höwedes, Kyriakos Papadopoulos, Joël Matip, Christian Fuchs; Jermaine Jones, Neustädter; Jefferson Farfán, Lewis Holtby, Ibrahim Afellay; Klaas-Jan Huntelaar

Werder Bremen (4-1-4-1, from right to left): Sebastian Mielitz; Theodor Gebre Selassie, Assani Lukimya-Mulongoti, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Lukas Schmitz; Zlatko Junuzović; Marko Arnautović, Hunt, Kevin De Bruyne, Eljero Elia; Nils Petersen Continue reading

Fortuna Düsseldorf 4-2 Energie Cottbus

The first half formations.

Fortuna Düsseldorf crawled back to the top of the 2. Bundesliga table thanks to a disciplined and ruthless first half display that took full advantage of three key Energie Cottbus errors. However, despite being reduced to ten men straight into the second half, the visitors nigh-on instantly scored two goals to pull it back to 3-2! However, former BVB striker Dimitar Rangelov stupidly lost his head, and earned himself a red card with 16 minutes still to play. Down to nine men, Cottbus’ chances of taking even a point from the game were gone, but they deserve credit anyway for a much-improved second half showing where they had Düsseldorf on the ropes.

Match preview here.

The visitors got us under way amid a tremendous noise from a highly-populated crowd, and managed to launch the first ball into the box in the opening minute. This came from the long-throw weapon of right-back Christopher Schorch, but Dimitar Rangelov wasted the chance to make something of the invitation through his over-physicality. For the next five minutes, though, the ball belonged to the hosts. They went calmly from their own box to Cottbus’, spreading side to side with confidence and precision. It was becoming a backs-to-the-wall job for the visitors, and with the box blocked off by bodies, this was what perhaps encouraged Andreas Lambertz to try his luck from range in the fourth minute. Thorsten Kirschbaum dropped the tricky – but not particularly fierce – shot straight into the path of Max Beister, who had been allowed to wander freely into the path of a tap-in by the ball-watching Roger. The in-form attacker made no mistake, firing the 2. Bundesliga high-fliers into an early 1-0 lead! Continue reading

Fortuna Düsseldorf 4-1 FC Ingolstadt

The first half formations, as Ingolstadt forcefully imposed their system and tactics on the game.

Fortuna Düsseldorf overcame 43 minutes of being outclassed by a seemingly inferior 2. Bundesliga opponent to secure what was in the end a comfortable victory. Despite bossing the majority of the first half with their risky attacking play and high defensive line, Ingolstadt paid the price for not taking their chances. After taking the lead seconds before the interval, Fortuna then had the relatively simple task of picking off their crestfallen guests on the break in the second half.

Match preview here 

The match began in a competitive manner, each sides giving as good as they got. Therefore, we saw a number of half chances as formations were temporarily abandoned, Andreas Buchner and Max Beister, cutting in from the wings for the away and home side respectively, probably seeing the clearest openings of goal in the opening five minutes. Continue reading