It was a weekend filled with surprise results in the Bundesliga, with the bottom six all taking at least a point from their matches – but the biggest shock of all was in Gelsenkirchen, where a controversial late winner for bottom side Greuther Fürth plunged Jens Keller’s Schalke side into full-blown crisis, at least as far as the media and fans were concerned. Midfielder Jermaine Jones hit back at those in the stands, who booed their own coach and team but gave opposition striker Gerald Asamoah (who spent 11 years at Schalke) a standing ovation, complaining, “I don’t understand it … we can’thave a home match that feels like an away fixture. It does no good; that much was clear.”
Having promoted former youth-team coach Keller until the end of the season, general manager Horst Heldt’s reputation is on the line – he backed both the appointment and the fans’ right to protest, but admitted the situation had become “uncomfortable” after a run of just one league win in nine. Although new signing Michel Bastos did get on the scoresheet, the combination of losing Lewis Holtby to Tottenham last week and the transfer window activity of their upcoming Champions League opponents, Galatasaray - who signed Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder - has done nothing to brighten 04’s prospects.
Hoffenheim also shocked, by downing Freiburg 2-1. New signing Heurelho Gomes started in place of the out-of-form Tim Wiese, while the Bild newspaper again showed its capacity to match the English tabloids in terms of mixed messages. On Thursday it quoted manager Marco Kurz explaining how the pressure on his number one had grown too much and it was “essential to take him out of the spotlight”. On Saturday it printed 'exclusive' pictures of Wiese leaving a service station on his enforced day off.
Back on the pitch, there was drama at the top of the table, too, with third vs second living up to all expectations. It was a Polish party in the BayArena, where Borussia Dortmund overtook Bayer Leverkusen as the closest challengers to champions-elect Bayern Munich with a 3-2 win, which was Leverkusen’s first home defeat of the season. Jakub “Kuba” Blaszczykowski scored one penalty and missed another, with both spot kicks won by his compatriot Robert Lewandowski, who also got a goal and an assist. Stefan Reinartz got his first goals of the season for Leverkusen, but ended up frustrated. “By their standards, Dortmund’s defending was appalling – it’s gutting to go home with nothing,” Reinartz said afterwards. In terms of the title race, Bayern CEO and club legend Karl-Heinz Rummenigge had already called it right shortly after another routine victory, 3-0 over Mainz, he stated: “We can relax on the sofa and watch things unravel in Leverkusen. Whatever happens, we are sure to be the winners.”