After last week’s defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt, VfB Stuttgart elected to keep their coach Thomas Schneider for another game despite their perilous position in fourth from bottom of the Bundesliga. On Saturday they faced the bottom side Eintracht Braunschweig at home. It was a Wikipedia definition of a must win game.
Jan Hochscheidt took the lead for Braunschweig but Stuttgart hit back with two goals from Alexandru Maxim and Martin Harnik. The home side played well enough but missed a chance to finish the game off when Christian Gentner missed a penalty. Inevitably, Braunschweig equalised on 83 minutes through Ermin Bičakčić.
The following day, Schneider (who joined the club as a schoolboy) was sacked. It is a personal tragedy for him and a setback for a club who saw the 41 year as the long term choice to take the club forward. As it is the experienced, Huub Stevens who when last in Germany was managing Schalke, has been handed the reins.
The only reason why Stuttgart did not drop into the bottom three was down to the continued travails of Hamburger SV. After that astonishing win against Dortmund two weeks ago, HSV lost the 100th Northern Derby against the hated Werder Bremen last week and this week they could only manage a 1-1 draw against a troublesome yet beatable Eintracht Frankfurt.
In the bottom two remain the aforementioned Braunschweig who, despite their ability to get coaches sacked, have been unable to get themselves off the bottom. Immediately above them are Freiburg who couldn’t catch a break against a very average Borussia Dortmund. BVB should have had a man sent off and were separated only by a rare and spectacular long range goal from former Freiburg player , Sebastian Kehl.
At the top of the table, Bayern Munich arrived at Wolfsburg to the sound of Sweet Georgia Brown ready for another exhibition. It didn’t go to plan at first when Naldo put the home side a goal up after 17 minutes. Bayern scrambled an equaliser on 26 but the game was in the balance for much of the match.
Wolfsburg are in fifth place and despite an aberrant 6-2 defeat to Hoffenheim, last week, looked the measure of the runaway leaders. That was until the 63rd minute when the brilliant Thomas Müller slotted home Bayern’s second. Seventeen minutes later, Bayern were 6-1 up and Wolfsburg were left scratching their heads wondering how on Earth that happened.
Elsewhere, Bayer Leverkusen finally managed to find a point from somewhere, Hannover specifically. Schalke went from abused to abuser with a 4-0 win over Hoffenheim (Klaas-Jan Huntelaar bagged a brace with a couple of uber-crisp finishes but missed out on a hat trick after the worst ever penalty). Europa League hopefuls, Mainz and Hertha, drew 1-1.
Finally, it was yet another landmark win for Augsburg who took full advantage of Borussia Mönchengladbach’s dismal form since the season restarted in January. Raffael, opened the scoring with one of a host of spectacular long range goals in the Bundesliga this weekend (which makes you wonder where the defensive midfielders have gone). Not to be out-spectaculared, Augsburg equalised by an overhead kick from Halil Altintop. The game was won by André Hahn’s lovel cross field diagonal to Tobias Werner who made it 2-1.
After being tipped by almost everyone at the start of the season to be in for another relegation battle, Augsburg are now sixth in the Bundesliga table and in a Europa League spot. All this has been achieved with financial prudence, excellent recruitment and in Marcus Weinzierl, an outstanding coach. Both Augsburg and FSV Mainz, who are a place below them, are showing Hamburg and Stuttgart how it’s done and putting them to shame.
Results and table here (pdf)