On paper, Matchday 29 was supposed to lack entertainment compared to the previous two weeks, but it ended up generating several headlines.
The big takeaway for Canadian Bundesliga fans surrounds Alphonso Davies. The 19-year-old Bayern Munich phenom capped off a busy week the same way he started it as Bayern maintained its winning run.
Elsewhere, the battles to avoid relegation and to qualify for next season’s Champions League are hotter than ever.
Here are our musings from Matchday 29 in the Bundesliga.
Alphonso Davies strikes again for Bayern Munich
Davies might be a left-back for Bayern Munich but he’s been showing off his attacking instincts over the past week.
After scoring against Eintracht Frankfurt, Davies followed that up by dancing his way through three defenders before finishing with aplomb in Bayern’s 5-0 rout of Fortuna Düsseldorf on Saturday.
Sure, both goals exhibited poor defending, but they still required composure under pressure. It was a trademark Davies sequence, too, with the close control and pace of the dribble. The finish – with his weaker right foot, no less – was the coup de grâce.
Even though he wasn’t as involved offensively in the first half, the Canadian had additional freedom to push forward. Fortuna overloaded Davies’ side of the pitch in an effort to nullify his threat to no avail. Most of Davies’ 38 touches in the first half were recorded in the attacking half of the pitch.
Due to Fortuna focusing their defensive efforts on Davies, it opened up the opposite wing and Bayern repeatedly exploited it. All three goals in the opening 45 minutes were produced on the Bavarians’ right flank.
Once the second half began, Bayern was unstoppable. Davies’ involvement grew in the final third and he was very active defensively.
The 19-year-old broke up a potential Fortuna counter-attack that eventually led to Bayern’s opening goal.
He followed that up by recovering possession in the final third to stop a potential counter.
Davies’ most important intervention, though, was this block on Fortuna’s Kenan Karaman, who surely thought he had scored.
Overall, it was a productive day for the Canadian international in a straightforward win, which should now be the expectation for Davies in these non-marquee matches.
— Peter Galindo (@GalindoPW) May 30, 2020
Top-four hopefuls return to form
After a dismal week for the top-four challengers, they all recovered with routine victories.
The matchday began with Kai Havertz bagging the winner for Bayer Leverkusen in their 1-0 win over pesky Freiburg on Friday. In doing so, Havertz became the highest-scoring Bundesliga player ever before his 21st birthday with 35 goals.
Leverkusen’s boy wonder now has nine goals and three assists in the league since the turn of the year, and if it wasn’t for the COVID-19 pandemic, Havertz would be heavily linked to every big club in Europe. Former Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness even admitted that the Bavarians “would certainly like to have” the youngster join the club if the conditions were ideal.
It’s apparent why the Bundesliga leaders are enticed by Havertz. He occupies a false nine role for Leverkusen where he roams across the pitch, presses defenders, combines in the team’s build-up play and is a presence in the penalty area.
The statistical radar below highlights all of those attributes.
Borussia Mönchengladbach managed to keep pace with Leverkusen by cruising past Union Berlin 4-1 on Sunday, thanks largely to its French connection up front in Marcus Thuram and Alassane Plea.
The dynamic duo combined for ‘Gladbach’s final three goals, with Plea – who scored ‘Gladbach’s fourth – assisting both of Thuram’s strikes.
If ‘Gladbach manage to qualify for next season’s Champions League, it will have Thuram and Plea to thank. Both players cost a combined €37 million ($56.5 million), a paltry sum given their output on the pitch.
Shearer and Sutton
Yorke and Cole
Sturridge and Suarez
The footballing world has been waiting…
— Gladbach (@borussia_en) June 1, 2020
Not to be outdone, Borussia Dortmund pounded bottom-of-the-table Paderborn 6-1 Sunday afternoon after a tepid first half. The match was scoreless at halftime, then Jadon Sancho took over.
The 20-year-old bagged his first senior hat trick and joined some elite company in the process. The young Englishman has now recorded 17 goals and 16 assists in the Bundesliga this season.
To cap off the week, RB Leipzig earned a wild 4-2 win over FC Köln to catapult past ‘Gladbach and Leverkusen into third place. Timo Werner was among the scorers for Leipzig and became the third player in Europe’s top-five leagues to reach 25 goals this season.
Five clubs are now separated by six points towards the bottom of the table, adding more craziness to an already hectic relegation battle.
Werder Bremen defeated hapless Schalke a couple of hours before Fortuna Düsseldorf was spanked by Bayern Munich 5-0, which brings Bremen within two points of Fortuna for the relegation playoff place.
Luckily for Düsseldorf, Mainz remains one point ahead following its narrow loss to Hoffenheim. Union Berlin also lost to Borussia Mönchengladbach, which has pulled them and Augsburg into the relegation picture.
Eintracht Frankfurt appeared to be in trouble heading into the weekend, too, but beating Wolfsburg temporarily separates itself from 16th-place Fortuna. A pivotal clash with Werder Bremen awaits on Wednesday.
Bundesliga players honour George Floyd
With mass protests across the U.S. in the wake of George Floyd’s death on May 25, a handful of Bundesliga players honoured Floyd on the pitch this weekend.
U.S. international Weston McKennie was the first player to do so during Schalke’s 1-0 loss to Werder Bremen on Saturday, donning a “Justice for George” armband.
The next day, Marcus Thuram kneeled in an apparent tribute for Floyd after his first goal for Borussia Mönchengladbach against Union Berlin. Borussia Dortmund teammates Jadon Sancho and Achraf Hakimi paid their respects as well.
Those four players deserve plaudits for using their platforms to raise awareness, especially with the German federation potentially sanctioning the quartet for those actions.
Player of the Week
It had been a difficult few weeks for Sancho. He nursed a calf injury when the Bundesliga returned and he appeared very sluggish in his limited minutes off the bench. Perhaps his hat-trick performance against Paderborn is the start of his return to form.
Goal of the Week
Leonardo Bittencourt vs. Schalke
The only goal scored between Werder Bremen and Schalke was the pick of the lot. It might also prove to be the strike that saved Bremen’s season as they fight to avoid relegation.