Matchday 12 Takeaways – Kruse Control

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This weekend we saw Bayern extend their lead at the top of the table as both Dortmund and Leipzig dropped points. Meanwhile there was more VAR woe for Köln and Werder worked out their issues on Hannover. Here’s Terry and Nik with their takes from the latest Bundesliga Matchday.

Nik’s Take – Bartels and Kruse give Werder something to cheer for

So far this season there hasn’t been an awful lot to be cheerful about for Werder Bremen and their supporters. The club has managed to stumble into the same trap for the third time in a row. This time around the officials at the Weserstadion were forced to kick out Alexander Nouri due to the poor results at the start of the season and when it came time to name a successor Frank Baumann ended up using an in house solution once again. Despite Sunday’s uplifting 4-0 win over Hannover one is tempted to ask whether or not this makes actual sense. Under Skripnik the team managed to get out of its rot for a few months before dropping down the table. The same has happened under Nouri. Now Baumann has decided to employ the third coach from the same school of coaching. Yes, this might give the team a bump under the current circumstances and yes, it might move Werder up the table ever so slightly, but what is going to happen four or five months from now?

It seems rather short sighted to do the same thing over and over again and to expect different a different result every time. It’s commendable that Werder tried to reach out to Thomas Tuchel, but the lack of second plan if a coach still in contention for the gig at Bayern München was going to say no is somewhat scary. The current situation at the club can be attributed to a lack of spending on the transfer market and a lack of foresight when it comes to finding the right coach. This has happened far to often now over the last few years at the Weserstadion and Frank Baumann and the officials at the club seem to be happy to go by their old model. If this gamble doesn’t have the short term effect that the club is looking for it might get even harder to find a suitable coach to take over this mess of a team.

The match against Hannover on Sunday showed that there is considerable amount of potential in the current squad(even though the lack of depth and the somewhat uneven quality of the players at the back are continuing to be problems). Werder might not have the sort of squad that could compete for a European finish at best, but given their roster they shouldn’t be anywhere near the relegation places. However, continuing down the same road time and time again might prove costly in that regard. On Sunday the magic combination of Max Kruse and Fin Bartels showed what they can produce at their best and given the current state of the team, Werder might have to rely heavily on those two players to get out of their current situation. The fact that these two players are so vital to that team should scare any coach and sporting director. For the casual observer it might seem like the move towards Florian Kohfeldt had freed the team, but what this win actually showed is the fact that Werder are playing with fire by continuing down the same road.

Terry’s Take – Bosz on borrowed time

There can be no hiding from Dortmund’s abject defending against Stuttgart on Friday. The individual mistakes point to a complete lack f confidence exemplified by the terrible breakdown in communication between Marc Bartra and Roman Bürki which presented an early Christmas present for Chadrac Akolo. It is easy to point to these mistakes as the reason behind BVB’s alarming decline. However, when enough of them are made one has to ask if this is a systemic problem. If so then it is time to avert the gaze to the coach.

Much has been reported on Peter Bosz’s approach and its potential for defensive vulnerability. There has also been criticism from some quarters of a perceived over reliance on the full backs leading to very little midfield play (although this is mitigated by the dreadful form of Julian Weigl). If the Dutchman is unwilling to address the failings in the team’s play then it is likely that they will keep losing.

At least top scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will be back in the side after his internal one match suspension. Their next match is against Tottenham and then the Revierderby against Schalke. Losing to Spurs is almost expected but defeat to the old rival will only intensify the pressure on him. In fact it may already be too late and CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke, may have lost confidence in his coach by now.

Talking Points

1. There were more VAR shenanigans this weekend. This time during Mainz’ 1-0 win at home to FC Köln. Before the match the home supporters protested against the VAR. However, it was the home team that benefited from the VAR after it reinforced a penalty decision when the replay seemed to show that Pablo De Blasis had dived to win the spot kick. Later in the match, Mainz fans complained that Giulio Donati was sent off unjustly and without the intervention from the VAR. It is still very early days for VAR but there seems to be an issue with many fans who do not know when it is being used and why. More communication is required.

2. How good a signing was Guido Burgstaller for Schalke? A winter signing from FC Nürnberg which had you wondering about the scale of Schalke’s ambitions. Yet the 28 year old has proven to be an ideal off-the-peg signing. The Austrian international helped his club out of a tough spot last season with nine goals and has another 4 so far this season. His latest was Schalke’s second in and impressive 2-0 win at home the HSV. The Gelsenkirchen club are up to second in the table and must be favourites to win the Revierderby next Saturday.

3. Borussia Mönchengladbach’s Raffael might just present the perfect picture of the current ups and downs at the club. So far this season the Foals have been somewhat uneven in their performances – at times losing by big numbers and at other times playing some rather decent football. So far this season Raffael has been off the pace at times, but when it came time to play against his former club Hertha BSC the Brazilian found his form once again and scored twice. This was his second brace of the season, bringing his goal tally to 4(he had another brace against VfB Stuttgart).

4. After 7 draws on the bounce Wolfsburg managed to pull off their first win since match day 2. Ever since Martin Schmidt took over the Wolves haven’t lost a single match and now they found their ways back to winning ways. The next three matches against Augsburg, Gladbach and HSV are seemingly all winnable matches and could see the team from Germany’s car capital take another leap up the table.

5. Bayer Leverkusen managed to pull off a respectable 2-2 draw against RB Leipzig despite Benjamin Heinrich’s red card. The fact that Heiko Herlich’s team managed to get back into the match despite being a man down is somewhat astonishing given the quality at hand in the Leipzig squad. One of the key’s to the current success has been the fact that the goal production has come from all over the pitch. So far this season 14 of the goals scored by Die Werkself have come from midfielders – no other team in the Bundesliga has a midfield this dangerous.