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Five things we learned from the Bundesliga

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Dortmund’s Michy Batshuayi controls the ball the German first division Bundesliga football match FC Cologne versus Borussia Dortmund in Cologne, western Germany, on February 2, 2018. Patrik STOLLARZ / AFP

Arjen Robben missed his first penalty in six years, but that didn’t stop Bayern Munich from snatching victory against Wolfsburg and taking their lead to 19 points.

Borussia Dortmund moved up to second after Marco Reus fired them to victory over Borussia Moenchengladbach, but RB Leipzig could yet overtake them with a win against Eintracht Frankfurt on Monday.

Elsewhere, Mario Gomez lifted Stuttgart away from the relegation zone with a winner against Augsburg.

Here are five talking points from this weekend’s Bundesliga action.

– Robben’s penalty pain –

Arjen Robben stirred unhappy memories in Bayern Munich’s 2-1 win against Wolfsburg, missing a penalty for the first time since the 2012 Champions League Final. Robben’s penalty misery six years ago marked a low point in his career, as opponents Chelsea went on to win the title.

The Dutchman had not missed a spot-kick since for Bayern until he failed to beat Koen Casteels from 12 yards on Saturday. He would quickly make amends, however, providing the assist for Bayern’s equaliser and winning the penalty for Robert Lewandowski’s injury-time winner. “If you pick up an assist and win a penalty after having missed one earlier in the game, I think you can be happy,” said Robben.

– Pitch problems –

Marco Reus marked his return to fitness with a fine goal on Sunday, but it was the playing surface which made the headlines as Borussia Dortmund beat Borussia Moenchengladbach.

Ravaged by both cold and wet weather in recent weeks, the pitch at the Borussia Park was in a dreadful condition, and became steadily worse as the game progressed. Referee Bastian Dankert chose to let the game go ahead, however, and bobbling balls and a slippy surface were not enough to stop Reus from lashing in a brilliant first-half winner for Dortmund.

– Embolo’s video assistant –

Breel Embolo netted what would be the decisive goal in Schalke’s 2-1 victory over Hoffenheim on Saturday, and immediately dedicated his winner to the team’s video analyst. The Swiss international took advantage of a mistake by Hoffenheim’s Kevin Vogt, intercepting a pass across the defensive line and sliding the ball effortlessly past goalkeeper Oliver Baumann. “At least 80 per cent of the goal belongs to our video analyst,” admitted Embolo. “We knew in advance that Vogt has a tendency to play brave passes, and that sometimes he is too brave.”

– Gomez eyeing Russia –

Mario Gomez will be hoping that his winner for Stuttgart on Sunday will have caught the eye of Germany coach Joachim Loew. The 32-year-old has his sights set on a return to the national team set-up for this summer’s World Cup in Russia.

“Joachim Loew knows that he can rely on me,” he told Welt. “The important thing is that he sees I am fit, that I have energy and self-confidence. At the moment, I have all those things, 100 per cent.” Gomez certainly showed that on Sunday, as his first-half strike inspired Stuttgart to a first away win of the season.

– VAR controversy –

The video assistant referee was once again the subject of controversy. Cologne were left furious when Claudio Pizarro’s late winner against Hanover was ruled out with the help of VAR, and there was confusion in Augsburg after Michael Gregoritsch’s equaliser was disallowed after a full two minutes of discussion.

“It’s not about whether the decision is right or not, it’s that it seems arbitrary when the referee chooses to use VAR,” said Cologne goalkeeper Timo Horn. “Anyone who loves football has lost something this season.”


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