The Bundesliga is back after a two-month hiatus, and it did not disappoint this past weekend.
While it was bizarre watching the new normal in Germany, it was a pleasure to have live soccer on our televisions again.
A total of 27 goals were scored, some of which will be goal-of-the-season candidates, across nine matches with the results adding more intrigue across the table.
Here are our musings from Matchday 26 in the Bundesliga.
Borussia Dortmund in top form as Leipzig slip up
The performance of the weekend belonged to Borussia Dortmund, who demolished Schalke 4-0 in the Revierderby on Saturday.
Erling Haaland continued his hot streak by opening the scoring, notching his 10th goal in nine league matches since joining Dortmund in January.
The other European top-five leagues are still on hold, but Haaland joined elite company with that strike.
There’s no doubt Haaland has been in sensational form, but the odds of him maintaining this conversion rate are low. He’s attempted 21 shots and scored 10 goals. However, the Norwegian’s expected goals (xG), via Understat.com, show that he is due for a regression. Regardless, the 19-year-old is clearly a special talent.
Elsewhere for Dortmund, wingbacks Raphael Guerreiro and Achraf Hakimi were devastating going forward in coach Lucien Favre’s 3-4-3 system. Guerreiro pitched in with a brace and led all players in the match with four shots.
Schalke, on the other hand, was woeful. It appeared as if they were nowhere near ready to return to action. Coach David Wagner replicated Dortmund’s 3-4-3 but used a high line on defence, which was tactical suicide against BVB’s rapid front three.
At Red Bull Arena, RB Leipzig entered Saturday five points adrift of Bayern, but they’re ending the weekend down in fourth place and seven points back of Bayern Munich after a 1-1 draw with Freiburg.
In reality, this was a complete domination from Leipzig. Freiburg’s goal was the result of an unfortunate deflection via a corner, which led to an onslaught from the hosts.
Leipzig attempted 19 shots, many of which were high-quality chances, and the xG chart from the match exemplifies as much.
xG map for RB Leipzig – Freiburg
football is really back huh pic.twitter.com/nBIFbir7RA
— Caley Graphics (@Caley_graphics) May 16, 2020
Saturday’s draw may end up ruining Leipzig’s title chances, unless other results atop the table fall in their favour.
Bayern Munich grinds out win over Union Berlin
The defending champions got the job done in Berlin, but it was a grind.
Bayern Munich defeated plucky Union Berlin 2-0 thanks to a 40th-minute penalty from Robert Lewandowski and a Benjamin Pavard header off a corner late in the second half.
The Bavarians may have won, but they looked out of rhythm. Union deserve immense credit for frustrating the champions for as long as they managed. The 5-4-1 deployed off the ball held Bayern to just 10 shots and 0.7 xG (not counting the penalty).
xG map for Union Berlin – Bayern
Union executed a strategy pretty well overall, didn't matter pic.twitter.com/jvD8Kltka3
— Caley Graphics (@Caley_graphics) May 18, 2020
Unfortunately for Union, Neven Subotic’s needless foul on Leon Goretzka undid the team’s efforts. Top scorer Sebastian Andersson was only available off the bench as well, so the host’s comeback attempt was limited.
A couple of Bayern players still stood out despite the frustrations. Thiago was sublime in midfield with his distribution in crowded areas, which helped against Union’s pressure.
Canadian Alphonso Davies also had some bright moments, creating three chances over the 90 minutes. Davies was getting forward often and he clearly took advantage.
Of course, when a player like Davies is blessed with that devastating pace, it’s easier to make an impact offensively.
That being said, Davies – like his teammates – still wasn’t completely in sync. That’s to be expected for every player, though. Overall, it was a solid outing for the 19-year-old.
Alphonso Davies vs. Union:
36/47 passes (76%)
3 chances created
— Peter Galindo (@GalindoPW) May 17, 2020
‘Gladbach, Leverkusen keep pace in Champions League race
The fight to finish in the top four and claim a Champions League berth is even more compact after the weekend thanks to RB Leipzig’s draw.
In the late match on Saturday, Borussia Monchengladbach took care of Eintracht Frankfurt to win 3-1, backed by two goals in the opening seven minutes from its red-hot French forwards in Alassane Plea and Marcus Thuram.
That was practically enough for ‘Gladbach, who defended resolutely and didn’t concede any clear-cut chances until Andre Silva scored an 81st-minute consolation.
xG map for Frankfurt – Gladbach
up 2-0 in eight minutes and the game kept rolling, Gladbach football is pretty fun pic.twitter.com/It2Edo2Sic
— Caley Graphics (@Caley_graphics) May 16, 2020
‘Gladbach’s win meant Bayer Leverkusen had to defeat Werder Bremen on Monday to pull closer to the top four, which did happen with a 4-1 victory and Kai Havertz bagging a brace.
Havertz wasn’t the only youngster who impressed for Leverkusen, either. Moussa Diaby provided two assists, including the opener for Havertz, and troubled Bremen’s full-backs with his dribbling. Diaby switched flanks throughout the game and this seemed to confuse the Werder defence.
But it was Edmond Tapsoba who was the most consistent during the 90 minutes. The 21-year-old looked tidy on the ball and read the game very well. He completed nine recoveries and four tackles, stymying several Bremen counter-attacks in the process.
Seventeen-year-old Florian Wirtz also made club history and looked impressive early, but eventually faded as the game continued. That’s no surprise as he appeared to be overawed by the speed and intensity of the match. But he should become more comfortable with time.
Honours even in relegation battle
The only 0-0 draw on the weekend was contested between Paderborn and Fortuna Dusseldorf, who are both fighting for survival in the Bundesliga.
Fortuna remains four points adrift of Augsburg and Mainz for complete safety. As it stands, they are set for a relegation playoff against the third-place finishers in the second division.
Even more important for Fortuna was Paderborn failing to gain any ground. Werder Bremen’s defeat to Bayer Leverkusen also keeps Bremen at bay.
Player of the Week
Raphael Guerreiro, Borussia Dortmund
Guerreiro was everywhere on Saturday. The Portuguese scored two brilliant goals and was vital in the build-up for several dangerous chances. He also contributed defensively with four recoveries, five tackles and two interceptions. He was arguably the most active player on the pitch.
Goal of the Week
Matheus Cunha, Hertha Berlin
Cunha scored an incredible solo effort Saturday against Hoffenheim.
The 20-year-old Brazilian has three goals in five league matches for Hertha Berlin since joining the club in January.