The good, the bad and the ugly were on display in the German capital.
1. The good, the bad and the ugly in Berlin.
Not altogether unsurprisingly, Schalke found it difficult to readjust to the Bundesliga grind following their memorable but ultimately futile 4-3 Champions League triumph at Real Madrid in midweek, only scraping a 2-2 draw away to struggling Hertha Berlin when Cameroon international centre-back, Joel Matip headed home in the final minute.
It was a Saturday afternoon of good guys and miscreants at the Olympiastadion: home team winger Anis Ben-Hatira celebrating his goal by donning a Spiderman mask and pointing in the direction of a young fan currently fighting cancer; rookie Schalke keeper Timon Wellenreuther badly at fault for both Hertha goals and 71 Hertha supporters arrested for public order offences before the game.
2. Bayern successfully face-off at Bremen.
Now 11 points clear at the top of the table, Bayern took another step towards yet another league title with a regulation 4-0 win at Werder Bremen, the Bavarian masters’ sixth straight win.
Fair to say, this was a North-South encounter infused with a shot of poison, the build-up to the game featuring the claims of Bremen chief-executive Thomas Eichin that the Allianz-Arena hot-shots consistently receive preferential treatment from referees and Bayern director of sport, Matthias Sammer immediately hitting back at Eichin, who once used to manage an ice hockey team in Köln.
“At some point he must have been struck on the head by a puck and it’s caused caused long-term consequences,” spat Sammer.
3. Paderborn: slip, sliding away.
After watching the ‘Ostwestfalen’ essentially going through the motions in Saturday’s 4-0 thumping at Eintracht Frankfurt, one would be tempted to conclude they already have given up the Bundesliga survival ghost.
Boasting only one win since September (a sequence of 15 games) and losing their last four to the horrendous goal-difference tune of 0:15, the bell is tolling ever louder and the only consolation is that several other teams in the league (Stuttgart, Freiburg, Hannover and Hamburg) have major deficiencies too.
Hard lines on Paderborn coach Andre Breitenreiter, one of the most gracious, honest and candid characters around.
4. Second division RB Leipzig look to make a top-drawer coaching appointment.
Ever since the nakedly ambitious eastern German branch of the Red Bull empire, fired coach Alexander Zorniger last month, it’s been widely-assumed that when caretaker Achim Beirlorzer steps aside at the end of the season, the job will go to the highly-rated ex-Mainz boss, Thomas Tuchel.
But now we have another name in the frame, with ‘Leipziger’ technical director, Ralf Rangnick revealing in an interview in Bild that current Hoffenheim team leader, Markus Gisdol also would fit the bill.
Gisdol used to work under Rangnick at Hoffenheim and Schalke and certainly would love the cash on offer in the Saxon city, but would he really contemplate quitting the elite ? Probably not.
5. At Hannover and Stuttgart, the axeman waits in the wings.
With both clubs suffering away defeats this weekend – Hannover losing 2-0 at third-placed Gladbach and Stuttgart almost comatose in a 4-0 loss at Leverkusen – and both without a win in nine, the pressure is close to becoming intolerable on their relegation-threatened coaches, Tayfun Korkut and Huub Stevens.
Tellingly Hannover director of sport, Dirk Dufner, admitted that he could not guarantee that Tayfun would be in the saddle at the end of the season, while judging by his body language, Stevens looks ready to throw in the towel.