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Daily Schmankerl: Aftermath of Bayern vs Union Berlin, Bundesliga action, Pulisic hat-trick! Rakitic to Napoli, Real after Fabian Ruiz

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It was an action-packed matchday in the Bundesliga, unless you’re a fan of Borussia Dortmund. In transfer news, the big story is Napoli’s pursuit of Rakitic and Real’s of Fabian Ruiz.

FC Schalke 04 v Borussia Dortmund - Bundesliga
Mats Hummels deals with an uncomfortable wedgie.
Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images

Die Folgen: Bayern takes the top of the table after beating Union Berlin

Niko Kovac rolled out a surprise lineup featuring both Thomas Müller and Phillipe Coutinho in a 4-1-4-1, giving Alphonso Davies his first Bundesliga start in the process, at left-back. Bayern thoroughly dominated Union, but struggled to convert the many chances they created. Benjamin Pavard scored a rocket from the edge of the box early in the first half. Robert Lewandowski added on early in the second half, but the game ended in hectic fashion. Pavard fouled Sebastian Polter in the penalty area with ten minutes to play, and, unlike the striker he replaced, he beat Neuer to make the score 2-1. That’s how it stayed, although Union fought to the bitter end.

Some quick hitters on the game:

  • Don’t get used to seeing Coutinho and Müller playing together. Although Union barely saw the ball, the “too attacking” formation yesterday would be foolhardy against a team that could hold its own in the midfield and even attack. Union was pinned in their half for most of this match.
  • That said, Bayern somehow conceded two penalties! The first was really unfortunate. Ivan Perisic was helpless not to touch a ball kicked directly into his arms as he fell. So it goes. The penalty caused by Pavard was yet another case of an individual blunder spoiling a good result.
  • Yet another disappointing performance from Coutinho. The little magician created no magic yesterday. Coutinho has been given every opportunity to play this season, but he still seems dramatically out of sync with his Bavarian teammates.
  • Thiago really was that good. The one-man midfield passed to the tune of 93% accuracy (game high!), made 4 tackles (out of 4), and completed 5 of 6 dribbles. Man of the match by a long shot.
  • Speaking of dribbles, Davies completed 4 out of 5 and played excellently in his first Bundesliga start. Aw yeah!

Around the Liga: a Revierderby to forget

Borussia Dortmund’s visit to Gelsenkirchen went at least a little better than some gloomy fans predicted. They didn’t lose. They didn’t do much of anything, though. The game ended in a scoreless draw. Our friend Sean Keyser’s headline at Fear the Wall tells it all:

“Plucky Europa League Hopefuls Borussia Dortmund Steal Point from Title Challengers Schalke 04”

The run-and-gun band of misfits in black and yellow came to an imposing away environment and fought for a point that will serve them well in the race for that coveted 7th place finish.

And from the match recap:

Most analysts would argue that 0.09 xG through 45 minutes is a bit on the low side. I’ll admit that it could be a bit higher, but as economists say, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Sometimes, if you want to keep a clean sheet, you have to stifle your own offense as well.

Fortunately, BVB’s strategy of letting Schalke run roughshod over them for eighty minutes meant that the Smurfs gradually tired themselves out. Favre even made a positive substitution...

Just in time to hold that 0-0 when the clock ran out! Yay!

So what else happened today? Well, SC Freiburg jumped into 2nd place by beating RB Leipzig 2-1. Nicolas Höfler scored in stoppage time after the first half, and Nils Petersen made it 2 in the 90th minute. Lukas Klostermann clawed one goal back, but the 2-1 result stood. Thanks to Freiburg, Bayern’s path to the top of the table was cleared. Christian Streich, people, the guy is amazing.

Bayer Leverkusen and Werder Bremen battled it out to part ways with a 2-2 draw. That is the fifth game in a row that Leverkusen has not won, largely on account of defensive problems. Hoffenheim overcame Hertha Berlin 3-2 in a goal-packed match. Hübner won the match for the home team off a corner kick by Sebastian Rudy.

Paderborn won its first game of the season by beating Fortuna Düsseldorf 2-0, and Mainz beat FC Köln 3-1.

Wolfsburg hosts Augsburg today at 10:30 ET, and Gladbach hosts Eintracht Frankfurt at 1:00 pm ET.

Inter Milan trying to bring Ivan Rakitic to Italy (Daily Mail)

Inter Milan are trying to buy Ivan Rakitic from Barcelona to bolster their squad in January. Barca want €30 million for the Croatian, but Inter are balking at the price, apparently. If the Italians end up playing European football in the spring, Rakitic would be a huge boost to their midfield.

The midfielder, 31, has struggled to force his way into Ernesto Valverde’s plans this season and now Inter are looking to make a move.

Inter are looking to strenghten their squad in the January transfer window and the Croatian midfielder matches the exact profile of experience and quality they are after.

With Rakitic’s current contract set to expire in June 2021, Barcelona are tempted to maximise his transfer value by cashing in now.

Real Madrid trying to dump Isco and cash for Napoli’s Fabian Ruiz (Mundo Deportivo)

Real Madrid are looking to ship Isco and €20 million to Napoli for 23 year old Fabian Ruiz. Madrid are trying to beat fellow Spanish giants Barcelona for Ruiz's signature; however, Napoli are looking for a much bigger transfer fee for the Spanish international.

How much more? A whopping €180m according to Mundo Deportivo. Isco and a bag of soccer balls ain’t gonna cut it.

Alphonso Davies describes the Robert Lewandowski experience

Christian Pulisic: Captain America becomes Chelsea’s youngest ever hat-trick hero

Christian Pulisic is enjoying a wonderful turnaround at Chelsea. After initially spending most of his time on the bench, the American star has enjoyed increased playing time and yesterday repaid Frank Lampard the favor with a man-of-the-match performance and three goals against Burnley.

I just can’t help but be glad for the young man, even if he is dazzling for Chelsea.

Klara Lewandowska is also a fan of daddy