Bayern Munich’s league form continues to make a mockery of their poor Champion’s League showing earlier this season, as they opened up a 6-point advantage at the top of the Bundesliga.
Investing heavilypre-season in an effort to build a squad good enough to reclaim Europe’s premier trophy, their early exit from the competition has proved the undoing of the rest of the Bundesliga.
Able to now concentrate solely on their domestic programme, Bayern are proving too strong for their opponents in all departments, as was shown this weekend. One of their new signings, Michael Ballack, so impressive in the World Cup and a leading coontender to become European Footballer of the Year, scored twice as Bayern recorded their eleventh league victory in beating Hertha Berlin 2-0 at the Olympic Stadium.
Their nearest challengers are still Werder Bremen and Borussia Dortmund, although it looks increasingly like a one-horse race.
Bremen reclaimed second place in defeating Stuttgart 3-1 in a top-of-the-table clash, although it required two late goals from Mladen Krstajic and Ailton, his second of the match, to finish off the visitors.
Dortmund meanwhile, had to come from behind to snatch victory over FC Nurnberg thanks to second half goals from Lars Ricken and Brazilian Ewerthon, having conceded after only three minutes.
Schalke currently occupy the final Champion’s League place, completing a 2-0 away win over struggling Hannover, who remain in the relegation zone. Joerg Bohme and Emile Mpenza were the scorers for the 1996 UEFA Cup winners.
There remains a cluster of teams outside the top four within a few points of each other. 1860 Munich almost threw away a four-goal lead at Energie Cottbus, eventually coming out ontop 4-3 in a rollercoaster game. Three goals in the last ten minutes were not enough to save Cottbus, who go bottom with meagre total of 9 points from 15 games.
Hamburg and Wolfsburg are the other teams competing for the UEFA Cup spots. Hamburg condemned Bayer Leverkusen to yet another defeat, winning 3-2 in thrilling style at the BayArena, whilst Wolfsburg were surprisingly beaten 2-0 by Kaiserslautern, who had started the weekend at the bottom of the table.
In the basement battle at the Ruhrstadion, Arminia Bielefeld claimed an impressive 3-0 away win over VFL Bochum, whilst Borussia Monchengladbach are now loitering just aboce the relegation zone following a dismal showing at Hansa Rostock. Rade Prica continued his recent goalscoring form by bagging a brace to put Rostock – who had gone nine games without a win – back inthe relative security of midtable.