Livescore Tuesday, April 23
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It’s happening, isn’t it? As Borussia Dortmund and their supporters were celebrating the recapture of first spot at WWK Arena on Sunday, Edin Terzic knew that eternity was within their grasp.

“In seven days, the season is finished, then the boys can buy anything they want — the next car, the next house, the next holiday,” the 40-year-old said. “But you can’t buy this moment. We have worked very hard for it, we suffered for it. Now we need to take the last step, together with our fans, in our stadium and our city, to bring back the championship trophy to Dortmund at last.”

We’ll hear plenty of warnings from BVB officials in the next few days to keep focus, that it’s not over yet and so forth, but in the aftermath of an utterly convincing 3-0 win away to bogey team FC Augsburg — whom they hadn’t beaten in Bavaria in three years — it felt very much as if the party had already started.

As much as sporting director Sebastian Kehl had criticised a fixture list that always had Dortmund playing after Bayern Munich in recent weeks, the schedule worked nicely in their favour this time. The whole BVB team had enjoyed watching the German record champions collapse at home to RB Leipzig on Saturday and could then prepare for the pressure point game at Augsburg in full knowledge of the job at hand. Win against the Fuggerstadter, coached by former BVB II manager Enrico Maassen, and the title was theirs to lose.

And win they did, in some style. Bar a short shaky spell after Sebastien Haller had given them the lead, the Black and Yellows didn’t betray any fears of failure. Scoring goals against a side that lost Felix Udokhai for denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity before the break was a matter of when, not if. Haller’s second put the result beyond doubt before Julian Brandt added a bit of polish to make the three points sparkle even more.

For Haller in particular, it all felt like a dream. Diagnosed with testicular cancer last summer, the French-Ivorian striker recovered to become a key part of a fantastic second-half-of-the-season comeback, going from sixth to first.

“I would have never believed it six months ago,” the 28-year-old said. But they all believe it now. One more step to the promised land: Borsigplatz, Dortmund’s central square and designated trophy celebration spot, awaits.

Marienplatz town hall in Munich could yet see a championship celebration, too, but more probably by FC Bayern’s women’s team: they’re two points clear of Wolfsburg with one game to go.

The men, by contrast, look set to end up empty-handed for the first time since 2011. Saturday’s 3-1 defeat by Leipzig, who had never won at Allianz Arena before, bore all the hallmarks of the enduring mystery of this campaign. Thomas Tuchel’s men played well enough for most of the first half, took a deserved lead but then made ridiculous mistakes to concede from their own corner and two penalties.

Not for the first time in his eight-week reign, Tuchel seemed at a loss to explain why Bayern, a byword for confidence and mental resilience in recent years, had once again crumbled at the first sign of resistance. “We trained really well. There was a good atmosphere. This all came out of nothing,” the 49-year-old said.

Tuchel was especially incensed by the failure of Kingsley Coman and Jamal Musiala to prevent the counter-attack that led to Konrad Laimer’s equaliser. “You have to adapt to the situation and recognise the danger,” he said. “There’s a difference between crossing the street in (leafy Munich borough) Bogenhausen and New York. If you cross the street there without looking you’ll get run over.”

Is that it, perhaps? A deeply ingrained sense of complacency after 10 years at the top, in the knowledge that a bit of carelessness is unlikely to matter due to the genteel traffic in the Bundesliga? Nine conceded penalties, the highest number in their history, hint at such a lack of seriousness.

With a possible points total of 73, Dortmund haven’t improved all that much; such numbers would have been nowhere near good enough to trouble any Bayern side in the previous decade. But the serial winners from Sabenerstrasse have regressed not one but two levels to let Dortmund in and plunder the trophy cabinet.

The latest theory put forward for the mysterious malaise is that fitness levels aren’t high enough after plenty of time off during the winter break. Pointing at another Julian Nagelsmann problem feels like a very convenient excuse at this point, which is not to say it might not have a kernel of truth.

Last season, Bayern also badly faltered after the winter break. But there’ll be a clamour for more grandiose explanations, if not for blood. The Bavarian inquisition is coming in eight days’ time when the supervisory board convene. Tuchel, that much is certain, will escape unscathed. His position is in fact bound to strengthen as his direct superiors Oliver Kahn and Hasan Salihamidzic will do well to survive the onslaught. Club insiders are bracing themselves for a day of long knives.

Hertha BSC, the longtime temporarily inconvenienced superpower of German football, can for once rival Bayern when it comes to the amount of blame there is to sift through. But that’s their only lasting achievement in 2022-23.

Their seventh relegation, cast in stone the moment VfL Bochum’s Keven Schlotterbeck headed in a 94th-minute 1-1 equaliser on Saturday, feels like it’s been a good decade in the making. You’d need to write a (non-bestselling) book to list all the poor decisions by those who were and are in charge in Charlottenburg, but unfortunately, the worst might yet be to come. Hertha’s well-reported financial troubles will only grow in 2.Bundesliga. Forget aspirations of Europe, it’ll be a good while before they can even reclaim Union’s spot as the best team in the capital.

Speaking of Union Berlin, they suffered a worrying setback in their attempts to make the Champions League. Silly mistakes saw them go down 4-2 at TSG Hoffenheim, who’ll be with us in the top flight for another season. SC Freiburg’s 2-0 win over VfL Wolfsburg on Friday pulled the Breisgau side level with Union on goal difference and ensured that every single game of the final matchday will have something riding on it.

Freiburg making it to the European elite competition would be as much of a fairytale as Union getting there, but that wasn’t the reason SC coach Christian Streich had another one of those “eye problems” that curiously seem to affect him in moments of high emotionality. Streich was moved by a piece of Bundesliga romance: 34-year-old club icon Nils Petersen, famous for his ability to score as a substitute, was brought on for his last home game before retirement… and duly scored twice to extend his goalscoring record from the bench to 34 goals. Cue tears of joy and sadness and a banner by the Freiburg supporters that spoke volumes of the German Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s enduring popularity in the city. “No one is bigger than the club,” it read. “But you came mighty close.”

Whether Thomas Reis will one day receive such adulation at Schalke 04 isn’t for sure yet. He’s undoubtedly done extremely well to revive a side that looked destined for demotion in the autumn, but a springtime happy ending still hangs in the balance. The Royal Blues’ dramatic 2-2 draw with Eintracht Frankfurt — featuring an early and a late goal for the home side, a bit of VAR trouble and a bad mistake from S04 goalkeeper Alexander Schwolow — has left them with one more shot at saving themselves when they travel to Leipzig next week. They’ll need to win and hope neither Bochum (at home to Leverkusen) nor VfB Stuttgart (at home to Hoffenheim) do the same.

Dortmund aside, the Swabians were the biggest winners of the weekend. After going 1-0 down at Mainz, Sebastian Hoeness’ men rallied in impressive fashion to win 4-1 and control their own destiny once more. For Mainz though, a fourth successive defeat put paid to all hopes for European competition next season. They won’t have anything to play for in Dortmund next week but neither have 10th-placed Koln at home to Bayern. Come visit us again here next week to find out if BVB will indeed paint the town yellow.

(Top photo: Sebastien Haller of Borussia Dortmund celebrates scoring against FC Augsburg; Alex Grimm via Getty Images)



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