As Hamburg took to the Imtech Arena pitch against Hertha Berlin this weekend, it was with yet another different manager, as Christian Fitz became the third man in charge of Die Rothosen this season. Fitz came in in midweek to replace Bernd Hollerbach, who was dismissed without so much as a win in his tenure, and the new regime began with Douglas giving Hamburg a halftime lead at home to the team from the capital.
But fans of this club this season haven’t had any cause for optimism, any flicker of hope turns out to be a false dawn, and it was no different here, as the second half was barely 10 minutes when Hertha equalised, Valentino Lazaro finding the bottom corner from Marvin Plattenhardt’s cross to restore parity. And the turnaround was complete seven minutes after, as substitute Salomon Kalou, two minutes after replacing Max Mittelstadt, tucked home his 10th goal of the campaign, and that proved to be the winner. That result leaves Hamburg now bottom of the standings, seven points from safety with as many games left to play. They’ve never been relegated before; surely now they will be.
At the other end of the table, Bayern Munich began this weekend with a fair chance of ending it as champions, all Die Roten needed was for them to win and Schalke to fail to secure victory at Wolfsburg, and a sixth straight Bundesliga crown would be in the bag. The league title is still only a matter of time, but it wasn’t this weekend, as a late Robin Knoche own goal in favour of Schalke saw the Miners leave the Volkswagen arena with three points.
Now, no matter what happened in Bayern’s game at Leipzig, they’d have to wait until at least after the International Break to be mathematically uncatchable. But, despite taking the lead away at last year’s runners-ups, courtesy of a third goal in as many games for Sandro Wagner, Jupp Heynckes’ would suffer their first defeat of 2018, as goals from Naby Keita and Timo Werner gave Die Roten Bullen victory, and kept their own Champions League hopes alive.
One team whose Champions League chances took a hit was Bayer Leverkusen, who suffered defeat to Koln in the Rhein Derby on Sunday. A ninth-minute goal from Yuya Osako and one in the 69th from Simon Zoller gave Koln the spoils, and lifts the off the foot of the table. Now five points behind Wolfsburg and Mainz (in 15th and 16th place respectively), survival might just be back on the cards.
Elsewhere, Michy Batshuayi’s goal was enough for Dortmund to see off Hannover and remain in third place, Ishak Belfodil bagged a double as Werder Bremen won at Augbsurg, while Frankfurt climb back to fourth following a comfortable victory over Mainz. Borussia Monchengladbach and Hoffenheim shared the spoils in six-goal thriller, and Mario Gomez scored twice as Stuttgart saw off Freiburg and move to eighth place.
Hamburg 1-2 Hertha BSC
RB Leipzig 2-1 Bayern Munich
Monchengladbach 3-3 Hoffenheim
Augsburg 1-3 Werder Bremen
Freiburg 1-2 Stuttgart
Dortmund 1-0 Hannover
Koln 2-0 Leverkusen
Frankfurt 3-0 Mainz
Wolfsburg 0-1 Schalke