Leipzig Fight Back To Lead Bundesliga

Leipzig’s Danish forward Yussuf Poulsen (2nd R) celebrates after scoring the 3-1 lead with French defender Nordi Mukiele (L), German defender Marcel Halstenberg (2nd L) and French midfielder Christopher Nkunku (R) during the German first division Bundesliga football match against FC Augsburg in Leipzig, eastern Germany, on December 21, 2019. Ronny Hartmann / AFP

 

 

RB Leipzig will go into the Bundesliga winter break in first place after coming from behind to claim a 3-1 home win against Augsburg on Saturday.

The German league starts a four-week winter break on Sunday and Leipzig’s hard-fight home win left them three points clear.

Borussia Moenchengladbach can draw level on 37 points if they beat Hertha Berlin, who are chasing a third straight win under Jurgen Klinsmann, on Saturday night.

Leipzig fell behind at home after just eight minutes when Augsburg’s top-scoring forward Florian Niederlechner stabbed home a cross.

However, Leipzig battered the visitors’ goal and their 16th attempt finally went in when midfielder Konrad Laimer curled his shot inside the top corner on 68 minutes.

The hosts took the lead with ten minutes to go when Czech forward Patrik Schick headed home his third goal in as many games after he was left unmarked at the far post.

Danish striker Yussuf Poulsen grabbed Leipzig’s third goal in the 89th minute when he converted a pass from Timo Werner.

– Teen nets for Bayern –

Elsewhere, Dutch teenager Joshua Zirkzee continued his dream scoring run for Bayern Munich by giving the defending champions a late lead in their 2-0 win at home to Wolfsburg.

Having scored on his Bundesliga debut in their 3-1 midweek win at Freiburg, Zirkee, 18, fired home a Thomas Mueller pass with his first touch after coming off the bench at the Allianz Arena.

Germany winger Serge Gnabry then added a second goal just before the final whistle to seal the three points which leave Bayern third.

The win came at a price, however, as defender Javi Martinez had to be helped off and will be “out for six weeks,” confirmed interim coach Hansi Flick.

Bayern already have fellow centre-backs Niklas Suele and Lucas Hernandez sidelined by long-term injuries.

Having won his last three league games and steered Bayern to the last 16 of the Champions League with six straight wins, a decision about Flick’s future is expected in the coming days.

“We’re very happy with his work, we’ll sit and talk it over,” said Bayern’s sports director Hasan Salihamidzic.

Schalke are fifth after their 2-2 draw at home to Freiburg, who converted two second-half penalties.

The Royal Blues took the lead in Gelsenkirchen when Turkey midfielder Suat Serdar showed great finishing.

Freiburg equalised early in the second half when Germany striker Nils Petersen converted a penalty.

Their South Korean midfielder Kwon Chang-Hoon then hit the post just before Freiburg winger Vincenzo Grifo chipped home a penalty attempt to put them 2-1 up with 23 minutes left.

However, Schalke claimed a point when substitute forward Ahmed Kutucu hit a brilliant shot from the edge of the area.

The result leaves Schalke level on 30 points with Borussia Dortmund, who crashed 2-1 defeat at Hoffenheim on Friday.

Cologne left the relegation places with a 1-0 win at home to Werder Bremen, who drop into the bottom three, thanks to a first-half goal by Colombia striker Jhon Cordoba from close range.

After three straight defeats, 10-man Leverkusen are now sixth after their 1-0 win at Mainz as Argentina striker Lucas Alario scored a 90th-minute winner.

Leverkusen played the last 20 minutes with ten-man after Brazilian defender Wendell was sent off for a second yellow card.

AFP

Stuttgart Sack Coach Weinzierl After Six-Goal Thrashing

Relegation-threatened Bundesliga club VfB Stuttgart have sacked coach Markus Weinzierl following a 6-0 humiliation at the hands of fellow strugglers Augsburg on Saturday.

Weinzierl had lost 15 of his 23 games in charge of Stuttgart since taking the reins in October last year.

Stuttgart have been locked in the relegation play-off place for a number of weeks, and have not won since March.

They are now six points adrift of safety, and ten points behind Augsburg, who inflicted a sobering defeat on them on Saturday.

“After the highly disappointing game in Augsburg, we have come to the conclusion that we need a clean break,” said Stuttgart’s head of sport Thomas Hitzlsperger in a statement.

“We did not take this decision lightly, but the success of the club comes before everything else.”

Weinzierl appeared to be aware of his impending fate after the heavy defeat.

“I didn’t make a good case for myself today,” he admitted.

Under-19 boss Nico Willig will now be charged with guiding the team to survival as interim coach.

With a bottom-three finish now more likely than ever, Willig will be primarily concerned with ensuring that Stuttgart do not drop from the play-off spot into the automatic relegation places.

They are currently just three points ahead of second-from-bottom Nuremberg, with four games still to play.

AFP

Dortmund Too ‘Immature’ To Win Bundesliga Title Race – Sammer

Dortmund’s German forward Marco Reus (R) and Augsburg’s German midfielder Rani Khedira vie for the ball during the German first division Bundesliga football match between FC Augsburg and Borussia Dortmund in Augsburg, southern Germany on March 1, 2019. Christof STACHE / AFP

 

Dortmund have been branded too “immature” to win the Bundesliga title race with Bayern Munich after mistakes by youngsters Dan-Axel Zagadou and Achraf Hakimi contributed to their shock defeat at Augsburg.

Dortmund’s title ambitions were dented by Friday’s 2-1 away defeat after a slip by Zagadou, 19, led to Ji Dong-won scoring Augsburg’s first goal before the South Korean striker pounced on a lazy pass by Hakimi, 20, to score his second.

“They are immature, just immature,” Eurosport pundit and ex-Dortmund coach Matthias Sammer said of the leaders’ defence, which has an average age of 21.

“The game was decided in the head.”

Sammer believes the lack of experience, among the likes of Zagadou, Hakimi and England winger Jadon Sancho, 18, is a contributing factor in Dortmund winning just one of their last seven games in all competitions.

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It’s poor preparation for hosting Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday in the Champions League last 16, return leg tie needing to overturn a 3-0 first-leg defeat.

Zagadou and Hakimi’s mistakes in Augsburg could “prevent” Dortmund being champions this season — “and you can’t be a champion at just 19 or 20,” insisted Sammer, 51, an external advisor for Dortmund since August.

Paco Alcacer scored Dortmund’s late consolation goal, but the leaders could finish the weekend level on 54 points with defending champions Bayern if Niko Kovac’s side win at Borussia Moenchengladbach on Saturday.

Having so far surrendered 10 league points to struggling teams Hanover 96, Fortuna Duesseldorf, bottom side Nuremberg and now Augsburg, Sammer says Dortmund played “not like champions, but like an average team” in each case.

Following Friday’s defeat, Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Burki said he showed great restraint “not to rip anyone’s head off” while captain Marco Reus said Dortmund effectively scored Augsburg’s goals “ourselves after two individual mistakes”.

Head coach Lucien Favre refused to recognise a growing pattern of defensive lapses “we always have our chances”, but Sammer slammed the Swiss boss for his approach as poor recent results have cut Dortmund’s lead down from nine points.

“If you want to achieve something big, but do not publicly point to the problem, then things can get difficult,” said Sammer “that gets on my nerves”.

AFP

German Football Academy To Investigate Baier Over Obscene Gesture

Augsburg captain Daniel Baier could face a heavy German Football Association (DFB) fine after being investigated for making an obscene gesture during a Bundesliga match.

When Baier was tackled near the RB Leipzig bench late in Augsburg’s 1-0 victory during Tuesday’s bad-tempered match, the 33-year-old spat in the direction of RB coach Ralph Hasenhuettl.

The television camera caught Baier also making an obscene gesture.

The DFB confirmed Wednesday they will investigate, referee Daniel Siebert not having seen the incident.

Baier claims he twice tried to apologise, both after the final whistle on the pitch and again in the dressing room, but that Hasenhuettl rejected the apology.

“He should have been shown a red. It was a pity that the fourth official didn’t see it. He (Baier) did not apologise,” fumed Hasenhuettl.

Immediately after the match, Augsburg’s skipper saw no reason to say ‘sorry’.

“What should I apologise for?” he told Sky.

“My god, it’s a football match and emotions are involved. I made a gesture, what more can I say?”

However, he apologised in a statement posted on social media channel Instagram on Wednesday.

“Out of the emotion, I let myself be swept into making a gesture that I don’t know how I got to,” Baier wrote.

“I apologise to all those who interpreted it as offensive. I apologised to the team before training, because the senseless gesture pushed our great performance into the background. I hope that those at RB Leipzig will also think differently following last night, when I tried to apologise on the pitch and later in their dressing room to clean up the misunderstanding.”

There is a history of bad-blood between the pair after Hasenhuettl previously commented on Baier’s behaviour.

Augsburg are having a stellar start to the season with 10 points from their first five league games to go third in Germany’s top flight.

In contrast, Champions League side RB Leipzig are struggling to recapture last season’s form, which saw them finish second to reigning champions Bayern Munich.

They are eighth having lost twice in the league so far this season after starting the 2016/17 campaign with a record 13-game unbeaten run on their Bundesliga debut.

AFP