Darmstadt, against all the odds, led at the Allianz Arena for the best part of 20 minutes. But their resolve was broken in the second half as Bayern turned the screw. Again, the German champions relied on their superb front-two players to do the damage. Lewandowski and Müller both have 56 goals this season – in all competitions. Lewandowski’s third was more of a poacher’s finish than anything else, while Müller’s brace was spectacular. First, there was a chest-volley finish and followed by a great overhead kick. Ahead of Juventus this week, any signs of fragility wouldn’t have gone down well in the camp. Pep Guardiola’s reign perhaps rests on these forthcoming ties – and he has guys he can trust in attack. But are Bayern just a bit too reliant on Lewandowski and Müller?
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More transparency, please:
Felix Zwayer isn’t going to get a lot of Christmas cards from Bayer Leverkusen. The fans, players and coaches were riled at the decision to allow Dortmund to take a quick freekick, but this was followed by his call to take both teams down the tunnel and suspend the game for nine minutes. According to the German FA, he did everything correctly. Yet this is where interpretation of the rules are different: he added a needless spice to the game, arguably dangerous. To his credit, Zwayer gave interviews to the media post-match to explain his decision. Referees are usually never allowed to talk to the outside world. We need more of this: more analysis, more technology and even recorded audio between officials like in Rugby. More transparency would lead us to more respect for the match officials.
The football might have been second-best to most, but for Christian Pulisic, it will go down in memory. The 17-year-old from Hershey, Pennslyvania made his first Bundesliga start at Bayer Leverkusen on Sunday. He was thrown into a physical encounter and didn’t do much wrong. He almost set up a goal for Aubameyang towards the end of the half. Pulisic was subbed at half-time as Dortmund went on to take all three points. In all seriousness, though, how long before we start asking if he’s ready to be in the USA National Team squad? If he’s good enough for Dortmund, in the Bundesliga, then he’s certainly good enough to be part of Klinsmann’s squad. Even just to gather experience. With Dortmund playing regular fixtures now, Pulisic might see himself get more opportunities to impress.
Relegation race wide open
Hoffenheim isn’t one of Germany’s most popular clubs. But we have reasons to be grateful to the club from Sinsheim that propelled through the leagues, backed by tycoon Dietmar Hopp. Under the tutelage of 28-year-old Julian Nagelsmann, the youngest coach in the league’s history, Hoffenheim looked resurgent in the win over Mainz on Saturday. With its third win of the season, Hoffenheim has closed the gap with Werder Bremen to two points, while Eintracht Frankfurt is two points further off. Nagelsmann managed a draw last week in his debut at Werder Bremen, but might be getting a bounce from his players at the right time. If they do, half of the league is in serious trouble. Hopefully, for the sake of the neutral, Hoffenheim is able to gather momentum in the coming weeks.
Mahmoud Dahoud of Borussia Moenchengladbach.
Dahoud for Dortmund?
It was reported this week that Borussia Dortmund was prepared to spend around $10million to sign Borussia Mönchengladbach midfielder Mo Dahoud. The 20-year-old, born in Syria, has been one of the breakthrough talents of the season, helping Gladbach recover from five straight losses at the start of the season. Dahoud has a superb mastery of the ball, his confidence shining through, helping to make those high-risk, high-reward passes. With Dortmund prepared for a possible change in midfield, should Gundogan leave the club, then Dahoud could be one of the targets. He doesn’t quite have the thrust to be a direct replacement, but Thomas Tuchel would be thrilled to have someone with such great talent. If not Dortmund, then expect Dahoud to attract the interest from many clubs.