BERLIN (Reuters) – Bayern Munich’s 5-0 thrashing of Borussia Dortmund in their top-of-the-table clash left the Bavarians one point clear with six games left and a huge psychological advantage.
Here are five talking points from the Bundesliga weekend:
VARBITESBACK AT SCHALKE
Schalke 04 were given a video assistant referee (VAR) let-off which surprised even themselves but were not so lucky the second time as a stoppage-time penalty handed them a 2-1 home defeat by Eintracht Frankfurt.
Eintracht forward Ante Rebic went down in the area in the first half and, although most observers felt it was a clear penalty, the referee decided otherwise after consulting the pitchside screen.
“VAR doesn’t give Frankfurt a penalty. We’re not sure why not,” conceded Schalke’s Twitter feed.
But there was a different outcome in stoppage time when Daniel Caligiuri was judged to have handled in the box and Luca Jovic converted to give Eintracht a 2-1 win.
“Caligiuri was pushed, then the ball bounced off his shoulder and against his hand,” said Schalke coach Huub Stevens.
The defeat left Schalke in 14th, five points clear of VfB Stuttgart who are in the relegation playoff spot. Eintracht, unbeaten since the winter break, are fourth and on course to qualify for the Champions League next season.
JOVICSTEPS UP IN HALLER’S ABSENCE
Eintracht’s regular penalty taker Sebastien Haller was missing through injury but, despite never having taken a penalty in the Bundesliga before, 21-year-old Jovic had no hesitation in stepping up to accept the responsibility
The Serb coolly converted for his 17th league goal of the season and made a small slice of history in the process — officially timed as being scored in the 99th minute, it was the latest-ever penalty in Bundesliga history.
Soccer coaches rarely single out individual weakness in the opposition but Bayern Munich’s Nico Kovac broke with convention and pointed the finger at Borussia Dortmund’s Dan-Axel Zagadou after their 5-0 win.
Zagadou set up the second goal when his back pass fell to Roberto Lewandowski — something Kovac said he saw coming.
“We discussed it before the game and we knew that Zagadou was liable to make a mistake,” said Kovac.
REUSNOTGIVING UP DESPITEBAYERNMAULING
Borussia Dortmund captain Marco Reus refused to throw in the towel after the defeat at Bayern, although he accepted that the Bavarians now hold all the cards.
“Bayern have the clear psychological advantage, but they also have two or three tough games to come,” he said.
“There’s no point in us talking about the title if we play like that again, but there’s only one point in it and things can change very quickly in the Bundesliga.
“We have to show a completely different side to ourselves next Saturday. We’ve fought back before.”
Dortmund may have the slightly easier run-in with games at home to Mainz 05, Schalke 04 and Fortuna Duesseldorf and away to Freiburg, Werder Bremen and Borussia Moenchengladbach.
Bayern’s matches include two against teams in the top four — Eintracht Frankfurt at home and RB Leipzig away. They also host Werder Bremen and Hanover 96 and visit Fortuna Duesseldorf and Nuremberg.
Favourites for relegation before the season started, promoted Fortuna Duesseldorf are in tenth place after their 2-1 win at Hertha Berlin lifted them above their opponents.
Their huge contingent of travelling fans celebrated as if their team had won the title, as the win effectively sealed Fortuna’s Bundesliga status for another season.
“Now, I can say with certainty that we will play in the Bundesliga next season,” said coach Friedhelm Funkel.
(Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Christian Radnedge)