Five things we learned from the Bundesliga at the weekend
Berlin (AFP) –
Leaders Borussia Dortmund and second-placed Bayern Munich both posted thumping wins over struggling opponents to leave the six points gap at the top of the Bundesliga table unchanged.
Club captain and playmaker Marco Reus proved again why his fitness is essential to Dortmund's chances of winning the title for the first time since 2012 by orchestrating Saturday's 5-1 rout of Hanover 96.
Bayern's attacking midfielder Leon Goretzka is also shining with three goals in his last two games to keep the defending champions on Dortmund's heels after Sunday's 4-1 home win over Stuttgart on Sunday.
Here are five things we learned after the 19th round of Bundesliga matches:
Dortmund need Reus fit
Injury-prone playmaker Reus is crucial to Dortmund's chances of beating Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League's last 16 with the first leg rapidly approaching on February 13 in London.
A twisted ankle saw Reus miss last weekend's 1-0 win at RB Leipzig as Dortmund struggled to create chances after Axel Witsel's first-half goal.
However, Dortmund were a different side with Reus back to his best, ripping apart Hanover's defence and scoring Dortmund's second which led to a flurry of three goals in seven minutes to turn the win into a rout.
It is not just his 12 league goals and nine assists which make the difference - Reus creates space, leaving the likes of England winger Jadon Sancho more room to terrify defences.
Bayern stars rue lapses
Bayern earned their seventh straight league win against Stuttgart, but the defending champions were far from happy.
With the score 1-1 just after the break, Stuttgart squandered a great chance at the Allianz Arena when Stuttgart's Nico Gonzalez hit the post, just before Munich star Robert Lewandowski cannoned a penalty off the post.
Bayern pulled away with three more goals, but Goretzka knows a better side would have punished them with Liverpool looming in the Champions League, last 16 away tie at Anfield on February 19.
"We have to improve, because completely different opponents are coming in the next few weeks," said Goretzka.
And Joshua Kimmich said Bayern can ill afford more lapses in concentration, "we have to win every game at the moment, if we drop any more points that it (the league title race) is as good as over."
Schalke's injury woes
As if facing Pep Guardiola's Manchester City in the Champions League's last 16 was not enough, Schalke must deal with an injury crisis after three players went off in Friday's 2-2 draw at Hertha Berlin.
New captain Benjamin Stambouli fractured a cheekbone colliding with Arne Maier, Alexander Schoepf damaged knee ligaments in a badly-timed tackle and Steven Skrzybski went off after the break with a thigh strain.
Schalke reportedly hope to sign Welsh teenage wing Rabbi Matondo, ironically from Manchester City, and Atletico Madrid centre forward Nikola Kalinic before Thursday's deadline.
Grandpa's goal tip
Third-placed Borussia Moenchgladbach stayed in the title chase with a 2-0 win at home to Augsburg as Patrick Herrmann scored the final goal in the 93rd minute - thanks to some elderly advice.
The 27-year-old smashed the ball into the left corner and reacted with a joyous celebration to put Gladbach second in the table for the 24 hours before Bayern saw off Stuttgart.
"My grandfather Rudolf always said, 'boy, if you don't know where to put the ball, just smash it in' - sadly, he died two years ago, but his tips still help me," revealed Herrmann.
Buoyant RB Leipzig
Fourth-placed Leipzig had plenty of good news after bouncing back from their home defeat to Dortmund by romping to a 4-0 win on Sunday at Fortuna Duesseldorf, who had their six-game unbeaten run emphatically ended.
Moreover, 19-year-old US international Tyler Adams impressed in midfield on his debut after signing from sister club New York Red Bulls - "he looks like he has played for us forever", said coach Ralf Rangnick.
Plus playmaker Emil Forsberg came on for the final 20 minutes after three months out with a persistent pelvic injury.
Hanover 96, who have lost their last eight games and named Thomas Doll as head coach after sacking Andre Breitenreiter on Sunday, are Leipzig's next opponents away on Friday.
© 2019 AFP