“We’ve tried everything and made an exceptional offer, but when it’s not accepted, you develop a feeling it won’t be …” – judging by the words of general manager Hans-Joachim Watzke, Borussia Dortmund have given up hope of preventing their star striker Robert Lewandowski from making a summer move to rivals Bayern Munich.
Meanwhile, in an unusual twist, World Cup-winning Casanova Lothar Matthäus offered to donate €10,000 to charity and apologise publicly to Uli Hoeness if Lewandowski does not make the switch, having angered the Bayern supremo by suggesting while on punditry duty that it was a done deal.
Lewandowski was suspended at the weekend in any case, which gave Julian Schieber a chance to prove his worth up front. He literally jumped at the chance, but unfortunately did so with his elbow swinging and saw red after 30 minutes. Fortunately for Schieber, Marco Reus had put the champions 2-0 up at home to Eintracht Frankfurt long before, and completed his hat-trick after 65 minutes to keep Dortmund on course for second and suggest there will be life after €30 million man Lewandowski.
Boss Jürgen Klopp also did nothing to quell the transfer rumours, saying: “If Robert goes, we are prepared.” He probably wasn’t referring to the presence of Schieber – there are suggestions in Germany of a summer musical chairs that would see Lewandowski replaced with Man City’s Edin Dzeko, whose place at Eastlands could be filled by Mario Gomez. Last season’s top scorer has struggled to oust Mario Mandzukic from the Bayern line-up since returning from injury and would not welcome further competition in the shape of Lewandowski.
After a disappointing midweek in Europe where none of the five Bundesliga sides in action managed a win, Dortmund, Leverkusen and Stuttgart all came back strong with victories, while Hannover picked up a point in Nürnberg. Borussia Mönchengladbach continued their unspectacular run however, going down to a Rafael van der Vaart wonder strike in Hamburg. It was only the former Spur’s second goal of the season, the other being, err, a wonder strike against Gladbach, who must be sick of the sight of the diminutive Dutchman.
That keeps Hamburg very much in the race for Europa League places (a bit like the Eurovision Song Contest, they take it much more seriously in Germany), which may well prove to be the most exciting part of the business end of the season, with things fairly cut and dried at the top and bottom. Bundesliga barnacles Greuther Fürth lost their latest must-win match, 1-0 at Fortuna Düsseldorf, and their delightfully named president, Helmut Hack, effectively summarised the Franconians’ season with his comments on the game: “There was nothing Bundesliga about that. We don’t meet the minimum standard of quality for this league.”