Union Berlin lost to Bayern blizzard, but Bundesliga title race is open | Bundesliga

yours Fischer knew. At a time when anything, anything was possible for Union Berlin and after a week when the bar being raised even more didn’t seem like a pinch, there was still a frontier too far away. And that was it.

“We didn’t have a chance,” said Union defender Robin Knoche after the 3-0 loss to Bayern Munich in Sunday’s final game, a defeat that won’t ruin the Berliners’ phenomenal season but could have been much worse without the intervention. from Frederik Rønnow, whose run of saving saves included one literally with his face, at the end of Thomas Müller, after the captain was set up by Sadio Mané, making a spirited return from injury as a substitute. The entry of one of the best players in the world from the bench, incidentally, was not even one of the moments that most accentuated the difference between two teams statistically tied at kick-off.

“According to the table, it was a duel on an equal footing,” wrote Michael Färber in the Berliner Morgenpost, but it soon became clear that it was not. If Union had been hard on themselves, with Fischer and Knoche lamenting the team’s two and three goals (“we made it too easy for them,” said the manager with some regret), it probably shouldn’t have been. It was another extraordinary week for Union at all levels as they knocked Ajax out of the Europa League in an absorbing – not to mention physically and emotionally draining – night at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei. As they sweated their way to the Round of 16 and another significant moment in their history, Bayern had an empty calendar and room to think.

Bayern were “spurred on”, as Färber put it, by last week’s defeat by Borussia Mönchengladbach, a familiar plague for them, but the way it played out pissed them off. This was most apparent in Julian Nagelsmann’s reaction (particularly to Dayot Upamecano’s red card) and it did not go unnoticed in the Union camp. “Now they are particularly dangerous,” warned Fischer ahead of Sunday’s game. “Now they are angry. That’s when they are (most) ready.”

So it proved from the beginning. Bayern were seething with intent from the start, coming onto the pitch with something of a DIY look to their defence, minus the banned Upamecano, but that was never going to matter with the champions attacking like they did. Kingsley Coman was fouled in Mönchengladbach and back in the squad for the first time since scoring another Champions League win against Paris Saint-Germain, he was irresistible. His cross allowed Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting’s header to break the half-hour barrage, and minutes later he sped up Müller’s pass, tipped past Rønnow and added a second.

Kingsley Coman rounds Frederik Rønnow and scores Bayern’s second goal. Photography: Action Press/REX/Shutterstock

It then became simply a case of how many Union were “shaken off like a handful of snow”, as Christoph Kneer of the Süddeutsche Zeitung put it, with several gusts on a cold afternoon, adding to the feeling that visitors were lost somewhere. type of blizzard. Müller, close to his best, underlined the impossible task, settling Jamal Musiala into third place on the occasion of the prodigy’s 20th anniversary. At the age of 18, Müller scored the first goal for Bayern’s second team in the third division against Union in July 2008 – he played alongside another future Champions League winner, Holger Badstuber that day. Union have reached unimaginable heights since then. Just like Muller.

This is not the end of the Bundesliga title race, even if Bayern are back on top on goal difference. They are always at their best when the best is demanded of them and when they are provoked. This might not happen every week and who knows if Champions League life will take over? What this reminds us of is that to wrest the title from them will take a herculean effort from Borussia Dortmund, Union, Leipzig, anyone. This flexing of muscles, if nothing else, only served to emphasize how incredible Union’s achievements have been thus far.

Bayern 3-0 Union Berlin, Freiburg 1-1 Leverkusen, Schalke 2-1 Stuttgart, Cologne 0-2 Wolfsburg, Hertha Berlin 2-0 Augsburg, Hoffenheim 0-1 Dortmund, Leipzig 2-1 Eintracht Frankfurt, Werder Bremen 3-0 Bochum, Mainz 4-0 Borussia Mönchengladbach


Quick guide

Bundesliga results


Bayern 3-0 Union Berlin, Freiburg 1-1 Leverkusen, Schalke 2-1 Stuttgart, Cologne 0-2 Wolfsburg, Hertha Berlin 2-0 Augsburg, Hoffenheim 0-1 Dortmund, Leipzig 2-1 Eintracht Frankfurt, Werder Bremen 3-0 Bochum, Mainz 4-0 Borussia Monchengladbach

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talking points

Dortmund were overnight leaders courtesy of a single (and very unusual) Hoffenheim goal that came off the back of Julian Brandt, maintaining their 100% record in all competitions in 2023. It seemed indicative of at least one partial changeover, with Brandt confessing that his team had “a bit of luck” – but acknowledging that this was exactly the sort of result they would have thrown away in the recent past. In line with this, senior players including Emre Can and Gregor Kobel have since spoken about the title being a genuine goal.

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Julian Brandt improvises to score in the back and keep Dortmund rampant on Bayern's trail.
Julian Brandt improvises to score in the back and keep Dortmund rampant on Bayern’s trail. Photography: Ronald Wittek/EPA

Things are taking shape for BVB off the field too, with sporting director Sebastian Kehl telling Das aktuelle Sportstudio that in the coming weeks he hopes to make “useful decisions” about the future of Marco Reus and Mats Hummels, both out of contract. at the end of the season. With free transfers on the cards for Ramy Bensabaini and – perhaps – Daichi Kamada from Eintracht Frankfurt, optimism is high, and Kehl has even admitted his ambition to keep Jude Bellingham for another year, to applause from the public.

Leipzig remain fourth, just four points adrift of Bayern-BVB after a tough victory over Eintracht Frankfurt notable for an intense attacking effort in the first half and increasingly dogged defense in the latter stages. Timo Werner shone with a goal and an assist (“that’s why we went to get him”, underlined Marco Rose), although midfielder Konrad Laimer scored his fifth yellow card of the season, which will keep him out of the big clash on Friday in Dortmund. With Laimer expected to move to Bayern this summer, the arrival of Nicolas Seiwald from Salzburg – as a possible replacement – was announced on Sunday.

BVB’s perennial local rivals Schalke may be moving in a different sphere at the moment, but it was a positive weekend for the latter side too, as they beat Stuttgart 2-1, their first win since November and the first goal since January, putting them back in touch with relegation. They’ve been harder to beat recently, but this was a breakthrough, with Tom Krauss admitting there were emotional locker room scenes afterwards. “Ralle (goalkeeper Ralf Fährmann, whose botched Borna Sosa shot allowed the visitors to come back into the game in the second half) and some of the others even shed a tear or two,” he said.

They face another local (and current) rival next week in Bochum, who were beaten 3-0 by Werder Bremen, their third in a row and their fifth in seven games this year. “It didn’t take a great work of art from Werder to beat us,” admitted their sporting director, Patrick Fabian.

Bochum go into this bottom two game after Hertha’s snowy romp against Augsburg, winning 2-0 in Sandro Schwarz’s 100th match as Bundesliga manager. A second successive home win confirmed their upswing on the field, and was much needed after a week in which news emerged that 777 Partners’ projected €100m investment was in doubt and that their sacked sporting bosses Fredi Bobic, suing the club.

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