Bundesliga: 1. FC Nürnberg
Hertha BSC 1-3 1. FC Nürnberg
1-0 Ramos (4')
1-1 Feulner (20')
1-2 Drmic (68')
1-3 Drmic (90+4')
When Adrian Ramos opened the scoring for Hertha BSC in the 4th minute, beating Marvin Plattenhardt to the near post on a corner, it looked like the beginning of a long day in Berlin for der Rühmreiche. Nürnberg held tough, controlling a lot of possession despite leaving the midfield so wide open it was as if a stink bomb went off. All of their shots came outside the area in the first half, including the goal Markus Feulner unleashed, but the second brought more chances in the penalty area, including Josep Drmic's goal (he also scored on a penalty in extra time). When Nürnberg went ahead, the side sat back and crowded the channels, a strategy it will likely utilize against FC Bayern next Saturday.
UEFA Champions League: the Gunners
The Gunners let the Saints take the match to them, although the North Londoners were still able to use their pace to create a few chances down the flanks. They folded rather quickly after going ahead, allowing Adam Lallana to equalize with two minutes. Arsenal went down a man when Mathieu Flamini put in a two-footed challenge, and the Gunners stayed organized enough defensively to not concede again. The match might have been the best preview of what to expect when FC Bayern come to town in two and a half weeks.
Arsenal 2-0 Crystal Palace
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain made his first league start in four months count, scoring twice in the second half. Although he supposedly lined up in a holding midfield position, that is not where he did all his work, exchanging with Santi Cazorla and Mesut Özil on the right flank. Mikel Arteta did most of the deep midfield work, without his partner Flamini to red card suspension. Arsenal only have two deep midfield options in Arteta and Flamini, so it will be interesting to see who steps up on defense when pressed against FC Bayern's high line, or who even wants to.
DFB Pokal: Hamburger SV
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim 3-0 Hamburger SV
1-0 Firmino (4')
2-0 Süle (44')
3-0 Beck (61')
The second consecutive 3-0 defeat for the Rothosen means that they are now in the relegation zone, increasing the probability of the end of their survival streak. Ouasim Bouy and Ola John did not impress in their debuts in the starting XI, and the best scoring chances came when Rafael van der Vaart was standing over the ball on a free kick. Roberto Firmino shot one through the wickets of Jaroslav Drobný to give Hoffenheim the early advantage, and Niklas Süle doubled it when he beat Heiko Westermann on the far post off of a corner kick. Firmino then served up a streaking Andreas Beck, who beat Ivo Ilicevic on the far post while the rest of the Hamburg defense was napping in the penalty area. Bert van Marwjik's side is in serious trouble, and a quarterfinal match against the Rekordmeister will not help matters.
Players of Interest
Robert Lewandowski did what he does best against Eintracht Braunschweig on Friday, doing damage with his back to goal. His passing and movement were crucial to both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang goals, although Deniz Dogan beating him to a short corner did not look so good... Eintracht Frankfurt Manager Armin Veh elected to not start Sebastian Rode, who is one yellow card away from suspension, against FC Bayern in order to preserve his service for a critical relegation match against Eintracht Braunschweig... While still injured, Jan Kirchhoff may have a more direct path to playing time now that Jermaine Jones is now sporting a Beşiktaş shirt...