The Bundesliga has reached the half way point with just five points separating the top five teams. Borussia Dortmund have almost come from nowhere to suddenly be considered title contenders and lie in fifth place with a recent excellent run of form with four straight wins and they are now unbeaten in their last 10 league matches after a poor start to the season. They won a tight affair 1-0 over Freiburg at the weekend with Lucas Barrios scoring the game’s only goal after 19 minutes. Borussia’s fierce rivals Schalke remain second with a hard fought 1-0 victory over Mainz, Jefferson Farfan scoring after 12 minutes. After such an impressive early season, Mainz’s form has taken somewhat of a nosedive having managed just one win in their last six, but there is still plenty of daylight between them and the drop zone.
Hamburg played the majority of the second half of their match against Werder Bremen with 10 men after Jerome Boateng was dismissed for a fierce tackle, but still managed to hold on to win 2-1 thanks to their two first half goals scored by Joris Mathijsen and Marcell Jansen. Naldo scored in injury time for Bremen to make it a nervy last few seconds and the result lifts Hamburg to fourth. They are four points from Bayer Leverkusen who remained a point clear at the top following their exciting 3-2 win over Borussia Monchengladbach. Toni Kroos opened the scoring for Bayer, but they fell behind in the second half after goals from Roel Brouwers and Dante. Eren Derdiyok equalized just six minutes later and Kroos’ second goal of the game secured the points and the top spot over Christmas for Leverkusen.
The Bayern Munich resurgence continued in style as they trounced Hertha Berlin 5-2 and they remain in third place, just two points from Bayer Leverkusen. Daniel Van Buyten opened the scoring and Bayern were 3-0 up at half time with goals from Mario Gomez and Arjen Robben. Thomas Muller and Ivica Olic were Munich’s other scorers and Gustavo Ramos and Raffael managed consolations for Hertha who head into the winter break with just six points after a wretched first half of the season. Relegation surely looms, but a cluster of teams still lie within touching difference in the unlikely event they can put together a decent run. Six points above them in 17th place are Nurnberg who lost 3-0 to a Cologne side who are in considerable danger of relegation themselves and had only managed 11 goals for the season going into the game.
The other relegation place is occupied by Bochum who managed a 3-2 win at Hannover, also in danger of being sucked into the drop zone and now sitting just a point above 16th. Stuttgart have just managed to keep their heads above water – but only on goal difference – however the early signs are that they may be able to recover under new manager Christian Gross. They beat Hoffenheim 3-1 who have not managed a win their last four. The battle to avoid relegation promises to be just as exciting as the title race with eight teams still in serious contention for the three relegation places.
Saturday December 19, 2009 – Bayer Leverkusen 3-2 Borussia Monchengladbach Bayern Munich 5-2 Hertha Berlin, Borussia Dortmund 1-0 Freiburg, Eintracht Frankfurt 2-2 Wolfsburg, Hannover 2-3 Bochum, Stuttgart 3-1 Hoffenheim.
Sunday December 20, 2009 – Cologne 3-0 Nurnberg, Hamburg 2-1 Werder Bremen.