Five talking-points from the Bundesliga weekend
While Bayern Munich stayed three points behind leaders Borussia Dortmund with a 1-0 win over Hertha Berlin, their club president Uli Hoeness made a surprising declaration during a television programme.
Here are five talking points from the weekend’s action:
BAYERN HAPPY TO SACRIFICE TITLE FOR VETERAN TRIO
Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness has said that he was happy to sacrifice winning a seventh successive Bundesliga title to give veteran trio Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben and Rafinha a final season in the team.
All three players have contracts which run until the end of the season although media reports have suggested that Ribery wants an extension.
“We have three players to who we must be incredibly grateful,” said Hoeness during the television programme Doppelpass.
“We were prepared to sacrifice the league for a year to give the players a sensible farewell. I’ve won more than fifty titles in my life. One title more or less isn’t so important.”
He added: “We are hoping to give them a Super Farewell Match. Players like those must leave Bayern through the front door.”
Bayern are second in the table following their 1-0 win over Hertha Berlin, three points behind leaders Borussia Dortmund. Ribery and Robben are both 35, while Rafinha is 33.
RAFINHA NOT HAPPY
Rafinha, however, has not had much of a look-in recently and, unusually in an age when players try to avoid publicly criticising their coach, he has made his dissatisfaction public.
Although Joshua Kimmich’s suspension from the second leg of the Champions League last 16 tie against Liverpool should open the door, Rafinha was not convinced after being left out of the squad for five of their last six Bundesliga matches.
“It’s difficult to prepare when you don’t play,” he said. “I do my job and train well. But the coach does not count on me.
“I’ve never kicked up much of a fuss at Bayern and I don’t want to. But it is sad.”
The Brazilian was then asked if coach Nico Kovac had mentioned the Liverpool game to him. “He hasn’t told me and I haven’t asked,” he said. “I just do my job.”
PEREIRA SETS UNWANTED CLUB RECORD
Nuremberg defender Matheus Pereira set an unwanted club record when he was sent off after only four minutes of the table-propping side’s match against Fortuna Duesseldorf, the fastest red card in the team’s history.
The 22-year-old, on loan from Sporting, was dismissed for elbowing an opponent in an off-the-ball incident which was unseen by the referee until he was alerted by the video assistant referee (VAR).
Nuremburg still took the lead but again pressed the self-destruct button in the 62nd minute when Ewerton headed a cross into his own net and Duesseldorf went on to win 2-1.
The defeat left Nuremburg five points adrift of 15th place, where they need to finish to avoid relegation.
ONISIWO TAKES LONG ROAD TO SUCCESS
Mainz 05’s Austrian winger Karim Onisiwo’s brace in the 3-0 win over Schalke 04 was the high point in the career of a player whose career has suffered numerous ups and downs.
After trails at various Austrian clubs, he suddenly found himself in the fourth tier of Austrian football as a 20-year-old and working as a car mechanic to make ends meet.
But he persisted with the football and his career began to take off when his 18 goals helped SV Mattersburg win promotion to the Austrian top flight in 2014-15.
He moved to Mainz in 2016 but suffered another low when a back injury kept him out of the team for most of last season.
REUS READY FOR DORTMUND RETURN
Borussia Dortmund captain Marco Reus is expected to be fit for their next match away to Augsburg and his return cannot come quickly enough for the Bundesliga leaders.
Reus has missed three Bundesliga games and Dortmund have dropped four points in that period, seeing their lead over Bayern slashed from seven points to four.
REUTERS/Writing by Brian Homewood Editing by Christian Radnedge