This weekend was another dramatic one in the German Bundesliga as Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig continued their two-horse race to see which club could claim the old, chrome salad bowl in May.
Since the whole world seemingly watched the highly anticipated “Der Klassiker” between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern that’s probably the perfect place to start.
Reus was a huge disappointment in “Der Klassiker”
Two things stood out for all to see in Saturday night’s clash between Bayern and Dortmund. The first was that Hansi Flick’s team are undoubtedly far too strong for Dortmund to match over the course of a season or even just 90 minutes of football. The second was that Erling Haaland is already head and shoulders above his Dortmund team mates and sorely missed Jadon Sancho for support against Bayern.
With injury ruling Sancho and Raphael Guerreiro out of the match, responsibility fell on Marco Reus and Thorgan Hazard to support Dortmund’s emphatic talisman. And while Hazard provided the assist for Haaland’s second goal, Reus didn’t really do much at all over the course of the game.
According to FootballCritic’s stats Reus failed to register a single shot over the course of the game, touched the ball in the Bayern box on just two occasions and made just seven passes into the final third. Worst of all, the Dortmund forward registered an xG value of 0.
While much of Dortmund’s squad have struggled for form this season, Reus has perhaps been the most notable with just three goals in 23 Bundesliga appearances for the club. Last season he clocked 11 in 19 games. He hasn’t been good enough for Dortmund for some time and Saturday was yet another example of that.
RB Leipzig don’t need a Timo Werner replacement
Although RB Leipzig’s 3-0 win over Freiburg may not have been the biggest game of the weekend across Europe’s top leagues, it did a great job of showcasing what it is that Julian Nagelsmann’s side do so well.
The first goal came a few minutes before halftime when Yussuf Poulsen made the most of some terrible defending to lay the ball off to Christopher Nkunku. The second goal came midway through the second half when Nkunku then repaid the favour by sprinting through on goal and tapping the ball aside to let Alexander Sorloth knock it home. Then, as if to complete some bizarre round of tricks, Sorloth then assisted the third goal by laying the ball off to Emil Forsberg.
Aside from all three goals coming from the tenacity of Kevin Kampl in midfield, they also involved three players that at one point or another this season have had to take on the role of being Leipzig’s main goalscorer.
Last season Timo Werner accounted for a massive 34% of Leipzig’s league goals before moving to Chelsea, yet this time around Nagelsmann has tried to replace his star striker with five or six decent forwards rather than put all of the pressure on one, particular individual. As you can see from the pie graph above, Leipzig have a number of goal scorers in the Bundesliga sharing the load, rather than one, stand-out striker.
As such, it means the team pushing Bayern all the way to the Bundesliga title don’t in fact have a single player in the top 20 goal scorers in the league this season. Perhaps that’s just odd but I think there’s a degree of genius to it and Nagelsmann should be applauded for somehow managing to replace Werner without actually replacing him.
Tapsoba and Leverkusen look back to their best
Away from the bright lights of “Der Klassiker” and RB Leipzig’s dash for the Bundesliga title, another intriguing thing that happened this weekend was that Bayer Leverkusen won an actual game of football.
It was the first win from the last five games in all competitions for Peter Bosz’s side but, perhaps just as importantly, it was Leverkusen’s first clean sheet since December 16. And suggests the Pharmaceutical club may have finally stopped the rot.
For Bosz’s side, defensive structure and good results have gone hand in hand this season. Prior to the defeat to Bayern Munich in late December that seemingly destroyed Leverkusen’s season, the club had conceded just 10 goals in their opening 12 games - all of which they had either won or drawn.
At the heart of that impressive start to the season and indeed Leverkusen’s 1-0 win over Borussia Moenchengladbach was Edmond Tapsoba. The 22-year-old defender has coupled strong defensive attributes with smart and impressive technical skills to emerge as an exciting, ball-playing central defender.
So far this season Tapsoba averages as many passes to the final third as Mats Hummels per game but is 3% more accurate with his passes. And both players are currently joint top of FootballCritic’s average ratings for Bundesliga central defenders. Which may explain why Manchester United are apparently so desperate to sign the young talent.
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