Kai Havertz grabbed another double as Bayer Leverkusen leapfrogged Borussia Monchengladbach to go third in the Bundesliga with a 3-1 win at Borussia-Park.

Havertz enhanced his reputation further amid talk over a big-money move to the Premier League by scoring twice in a 4-1 thumping of Werder Bremen last weekend when the Bundesliga resumed.

The 20-year-old starred again on Saturday, helping himself to a goal in each half as Leverkusen stretched their unbeaten run to 12 matches in all competitions.

Forward Havertz opened the scoring early on and struck again with a contentious penalty to take his tally for the season to 14 after Marcus Thuram equalised early in the second half.

Sven Bender's header made sure of the points for Peter Bosz's impressive side in a game played behind closed doors, with Gladbach supporters probably glad to it was cardboard cutouts rather than actual fans watching on in the stands.

 

Borussia Monchengladbach fans might have spotted familiar faces in the stands during Saturday's Bundesliga clash with Bayer Leverkusen.

Although all Bundesliga matches are being played behind closed doors, Gladbach unveiled thousands of cardboard cutouts that were ordered by supporters.

It was a move that brought much-needed colour to the otherwise empty stands, even if the fans could not contribute to the atmosphere.

Gladbach gave supporters the chance to buy a 'cardboard you' for €19, with profits going to local charities, and said over 12,000 had been ordered.

The cutouts occupied large areas behind each goal, with some swaying in the wind and none raising the slightest complaint over a VAR penalty decision that went against Gladbach in the second half.

Similarly, there were also no groans at full-time as Leverkusen finished 3-1 winners, moving above Gladbach in the table.

Borussia Dortmund kept the heat on Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich ahead of Der Klassiker with a 2-0 win at 10-man Wolfsburg on Saturday.

A sixth straight league victory for Dortmund was not nearly as impressive as last weekend's crushing of rivals Schalke but again moved Lucien Favre's challengers to within a point of Bayern prior to the late kick-off between the defending champions and Eintracht Frankfurt.

Raphael Guerreiro struck twice in the Revierderby and was on target once more, breaking the deadlock with his eighth Bundesliga goal of the season – his best return in a single league campaign.

Wolfsburg – who saw substitute Felix Klaus controversially dismissed with eight minutes remaining – stayed in the game and Dortmund toiled, but Achraf Hakimi's counter-attacking second clinched a precious triumph before Bayern visit Signal Iduna Park for a mammoth meeting on Tuesday.

With that distraction looming on the horizon, unchanged Dortmund scarcely troubled their hosts here before the 32nd-minute opener came courtesy of Guerreiro's clinical left boot.

Wolfsburg were picked apart by neat work down the right that freed Thorgan Hazard at the byline, with a low centre just evading a tumbling Erling Haaland and instead reaching Guerreiro at the far post for a simple tap-in.

Hazard miscued from the edge of the area as the visitors pushed for a second before the break, yet they might have been pegged back within three minutes of the restart.

Mats Hummels - reportedly nursing a foot injury - made way for Emre Can at half-time, and Dortmund's reshuffled defence failed to halt Renato Steffen's run onto a smart Wout Weghorst pass, only for his powerful finish to clip the top of the crossbar.

Roman Burki swatted away a thumping Steffen volley as Wolfsburg maintained an improved second period, although Guerreiro drilled across the face of goal at the other end.

Dortmund soon settled the match as substitute Jadon Sancho raced into the final third and fed Hakimi for a simple second.

A VAR review saw Felix Klaus dismissed for a challenge on Manuel Akanji, bringing an end to any faint hopes of a Wolfsburg comeback.


What does it mean? Six in a row, Bayern next

Only the result really mattered for Dortmund, and the three points were duly delivered. BVB will have to be better against Bayern in midweek, yet Sancho should be back in the XI for that game, while minutes for Can represented another boost here. Favre's men must now back themselves to attack their title rivals.

Guerreiro the goal-getter

Two superb finishes helped Dortmund embarrass Schalke last time out, and Guerreiro was soon at it again. This vital opener was a far simpler effort but illustrated the threat BVB possess across the field. Wing-back Hakimi was involved in the build-up before Guerreiro, on the opposite side, provided the telling touch.

Wolfsburg cannot wield Wout

Sixth-placed Wolfsburg might have sensed an opportunity to upset a Dortmund outfit still not risking Sancho from the start. But 11-goal Weghorst was dominated by Akanji, aside from the second-half passage that resulted in Steffen's miss. With the striker starved of quality service, that was Wolfsburg's one big chance.

What's next?

No Dortmund supporter needs reminding of their next test at home on Tuesday. Wolfsburg are in action the same day with a similarly challenging encounter at Bayer Leverkusen.

Kai Havertz showed again why he is drawing attention from many of Europe's top clubs when he continued his purple patch with Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga on Saturday.

The 20-year-old Germany forward put the finishing touch to a swift counter-attack in the seventh minute at Borussia Monchengladbach.

It meant that Havertz played his part in a Leverkusen goal for the sixth successive game, achieving such a streak for the first time in his career.

Havertz then scored his second goal of the game from the penalty spot in the 58th minute, restoring visitors Leverkusen's lead after Gladbach had pulled level.

That meant he had scored six times and claimed three assists across his past half a dozen appearances.

The brace boosted Havertz's figures for 2020 to 18 goal involvements - 11 goals and seven assists - a higher combined total than any other player in the Bundesliga since the turn of the year.

Havertz has been linked with English giants Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool in recent weeks.

Mario Gotze will leave Borussia Dortmund at the end of the season, sporting director Michael Zorc has confirmed.

The midfielder confirmed in April that he was planning to leave Signal Iduna Park as he sought a new direction for his career, although CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke later suggested Gotze could decide to sign a new contract.

Head coach Lucien Favre placed Gotze's future back in doubt this week when he admitted the player was not suited to their preferred system.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's Bundesliga clash with Wolfsburg, Zorc confirmed Gotze will leave on a free transfer at the end of 2019-20.

"We will finish our work with Mario this summer," Zorc told Sky. "It's a decision made by mutual consent after a good conversation. Mario is a great guy."

Gotze returned to Dortmund in 2016 having left his boyhood club to join Bayern Munich three years earlier.

The 2014 World Cup winner, who scored the decisive goal in the final against Argentina, has struggled for regular form and fitness in recent years partly due to a debilitating metabolic condition.

Hertha Berlin are reported to be interested in keeping him in the Bundesliga, but Serie A clubs including Milan, Roma and Lazio have also been linked.

 

Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge revealed the Bundesliga champions have not activated their purchase option for Philippe Coutinho and the clause has now expired.

Coutinho joined Bayern on a season-long loan deal from LaLiga holders Barcelona at the start of the 2019-20 campaign but he has struggled to establish himself in Munich.

The Brazil international arrived with the option to buy for €120million but Bayern have opted not to exercise the deal, though Rummenigge did not close the door on Coutinho.

"The option expired and we haven't activated it," Rummenigge told German magazine Der Spiegel.

"We're going to plan our squad for next season and we'll see if he still has a role to play with us or not."

Coutinho has failed to live up to the hype since swapping Liverpool for Barca in a blockbuster transfer in 2018.

The 27-year-old has scored eight goals and set up another six goals in 22 Bundesliga matches for Bayern this season, which has been disrupted by coronavirus.

As Bayern reportedly eye Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz and Manchester City's Leroy Sane, Coutinho does not appear to be at the top of the club's list.

Quickfire goals from Vedad Ibisevic and Dodi Lukebakio sparked a second-half rout as Hertha Berlin earned the derby bragging rights in a 4-0 win over Union Berlin in Friday's Bundesliga clash.

After a forgettable goalless first half at the Olympiastadion, which was once again without fans in attendance as Germany's top flight began its second weekend back following the enforced hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, captain Ibisevic emphatically headed home Marvin Plattenhardt's left-wing cross in the 51st minute.

Hertha came under fire for their close-proximity celebrations in last week's 3-0 win at Hoffenheim and Ibisevic told his team-mates to mark his goal with socially-distant congratulations, though he did plant a playful headbutt on the chest of Dedryck Boyota, who denied he kissed Marko Grujic on the cheek in the Hoffenheim win.

Just 69 seconds after his goal, Ibisevic played in Lukebakio and he coolly rounded the on-rushing Rafal Gikiewicz before sliding into the empty goal.

A fine outing for Ibisevic continued when he teed up Matheus Cunha, scorer for a fourth Bundesliga game in succession, to brilliantly side-foot into the bottom-right corner from the edge of the box.

Union's misery was compounded when Boyata headed home Plattenhard's corner with 13 minutes to go.

The win saw Hertha move up to 10th, while Union were two places and four points back.

Manuel Neuer wants to captain Bayern Munich until 2023 and is hoping to lead them out in a home Champions League final at the Allianz Arena in 2022.

The Bayern goalkeeper and skipper on Wednesday signed an extension to a contract that was due to expire at the end of the 2020-21 campaign.

He is now tied to Bayern until 2023, though he will have added competition from next season, when Alexander Nubel will join from Neuer's former club Schalke.

However, Neuer clearly has designs on retaining his place as number one between the posts and wants to keep the armband for the duration of his deal.

"I am convinced by our team and the whole club and I am sure we will be playing successful football throughout the coming years," he told club media. 

"Of course, we have some goals we can reach within this current season. We have a good team for the next few years and it is a lot of fun working for FC Bayern, also as captain. This is also my job and I want to continue until 2023."

Bayern lead the Bundesliga - which resumed last weekend having been suspended since March because of the coronavirus pandemic - by four points.

They are also in the DFB-Pokal semi-finals and hold a 3-0 lead over Chelsea from the first leg in the Champions League last 16.

Neuer is hopeful Bayern can complete the treble and has an eye on May 2022, when the Champions League final comes to his home stadium 10 years after their penalty shoot-out defeat to Chelsea on the same stage at the same venue.

"You start every year from the beginning of course wanting to win it all. There is now the championship to win this year and we are still in every competition," he added.

"But right now it is a different situation for us and everyone has to adjust to the current situation, not only us football players.

"One of our big goals for the next few years is definitely having the chance to play a home Champions League final, like we did in 2012. 2022 will be another European final in Munich, which is a great incentive for me and the whole team.

"It would be a dream for us all to be able to reach this final at home."

Hansi Flick has revealed Thiago Alcantara is struggling with a muscular injury just four days before Bayern Munich visit Borussia Dortmund for Der Klassiker.

Spanish midfielder Thiago completed 90 minutes as leaders Bayern beat Union Berlin 2-0 last weekend, picking up where they left off in their first Bundesliga game since the resumption.

However, Flick has confirmed the 29-year-old has since picked up a muscle problem that puts his availability for Saturday's clash with Eintracht Frankfurt in doubt.

Though Flick has not ruled Thiago out of that match, it is a quick turnaround for Tuesday, when Bayern face their nearest rivals Dortmund in a game which could have a huge say in the eventual destination of the title.

Discussing Bayern's injury problems at his pre-match news conference, Flick told reporters: "With Serge [Gnabry], it looks good.

"With Thiago, we have to wait. We hope that we have both with us. We will catch up.

"Otherwise the situation is like last week."

Thiago has played in all but three of Bayern's 26 Bundesliga matches to date, the Bavarians beginning this round of fixtures four points clear of Dortmund.

They have kept three successive clean sheets too, despite not having centre-back Niklas Sule available since October because of a knee injury.

Germany international Sule is still keen to be involved before the campaign finishes, though Flick is cautious.

"We don't want to rush anything," he added.

"Niklas has expressed the wish to play this season. We have to see how stability in the knee allows."

Eintracht Frankfurt coach Adi Hutter has denied talk of a "crisis" at the club ahead of their trip to Bayern Munich, but is urging his players to begin performing on the pitch like they do in training amid an unsatisfactory season.

Frankfurt resumed their 2019-20 campaign last Saturday with a 3-1 defeat at home to Borussia Monchengladbach, who rarely appeared in any danger of dropping points – Andre Silva's consolation coming nine minutes from time with the visitors 3-0 up.

The result saw them pick up from where they left off before the coronavirus-enforced suspension, as they had lost back-to-back matches against Bayer Leverkusen and Basel, conceding seven goals in the process.

It will not be any easier this weekend when they go to pacesetters Bayern, who were easy 2-0 winners at Union Berlin last time out, but Hutter was keen to steer away from talk of a crisis with Frankfurt five points above the relegation play-off spot.

"We are not satisfied, the game against Gladbach showed us what we have to improve, but it went according to the season," he told reporters on Friday. "I'm not talking about a crisis, I'm talking about a team that trains hard. There are no nuances.

"I don't think about the result, but about the fact that the team does what it showed in training: to be compact. We need the conviction that we can perform well. Then there is a surprise in it.

"Bayern are the measure of all things in football – the benchmark. They're the clear favourite for the championship, the ultimate in German football.

"If our performance isn't right, it could be very uncomfortable. We have to get through the initial phase and remain highly concentrated. This applies especially to the duels, but also the forward game.

"Bayern are tactically flexible, appear homogeneous and variable with good counter-pressing. That was already the case with Niko Kovac, who, like Hansi Flick, did an outstanding job.

"They don't have many weak points. They not only have great individual players, they also harmonise well within the team and are broadly positioned everywhere on the pitch."

Victory for 13th-placed Frankfurt could take them up to 11th, but Bayern's win at Union extended their unbeaten run in the Bundesliga to 12 matches and they are four points clear at the top of the table.

Bayern Munich's record signing Lucas Hernandez will have to wait for his chance because coach Hansi Flick prefers a settled back four.

France international Hernandez was signed from Atletico Madrid for €80million prior to this season, but the World Cup-winning defender has started just seven Bundesliga games.

Knee and ankle injuries have not helped the 24-year-old's cause, though he has been an unused substitute in the previous three Bundesliga games either side of the break enforced by the coronavirus pandemic.

David Alaba, who has been converted to a centre-back because of injuries, and Jerome Boateng have instead been at the heart of Flick's defence, with Niklas Sule also sidelined at the moment.

"David and Jerome have shown excellent performances in central defence," Flick told a news conference. 

"We have the best defence in the league. Of course, Lucas is plagued by injuries. Now it is important that he shows excellent performance in training.

"I am very satisfied with his mentality, he gives always 100 per cent.

"But it is also clear that if a chain of four works well, you as a coach rely on this security. But it is clear that we need every player in our squad."

It had looked like Boateng's days in Bavaria were numbered, but Flick's appointment, initially on an interim basis in November, means he is now very much back in favour.

The 31-year-old has a contract that runs until 2021 and, having stated he believes he will fulfil that deal, Flick has praised the defender.

"He still has a year [left on his] contract, it is his decision," Flick added.

"Jerome was a German international and has now shown that he can show performance at this high level.

"He is physically fitter and has created the conditions that he currently has a regular place here. I like to work with him and he's doing very well right now."

Bayern begin the 27th round of Bundesliga fixtures with a four-point lead over Borussia Dortmund, who they will play next week after hosting Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.

Borussia Dortmund coach Lucien Favre is not giving up on Marco Reus playing again this season despite reports claiming his 2019-20 campaign is already over.

Reus suffered a groin injury during a DFB-Pokal match in February, and although he was only thought to be facing a month out, the 30-year-old still has not been able to return to full training.

It was reported earlier in the week that Reus will definitely miss next Tuesday's Klassiker against Bayern Munich, and an absence until the end of the season is likely.

Favre, speaking ahead of Saturday's trip to Wolfsburg, refused to openly confirm or contradict those claims, though he did appear hopeful that Reus would be able to feature again this term as Dortmund challenge Bayern for the Bundesliga title.

"He hasn't trained with the team yet," Favre told reporters.

"We hope that he will come back as soon as possible and can help us until the end of the season."

There was positive news with respect to Emre Can and Giovanni Reyna. The midfield pair missed the 4-0 win over Schalke as Dortmund resumed their season last Saturday, and they are due to be involved in team training on Friday.

Dortmund have had to contend with numerous injuries of late, with Axel Witsel still out with a muscular problem and Dan-Axel Zagadou set for a long absence due to a knee ligament injury, but Favre feels such issues were to be expected following the coronavirus-enforced pause.

"We trained first in groups of two, then in groups of four. There is a certain danger," he said. "We all did not train normally and then had to train properly four or five days before a championship game, duels. This is not a big surprise for me."

Erling Haaland has a chance to create more Bundesliga history when Borussia Dortmund take on Wolfsburg on Saturday.

Cologne's Mark Uth is another striker on a strong run who will be hoping to help his team pick up a victory over relegation-threatened Fortuna Dusseldorf, while Kai Havertz will be out to maintain his impressive second half of the season.

Bayern remained four points clear at the summit following a victory over Union Berlin on the league's return from a two-month coronavirus stoppage last weekend and are up against Eintracht Frankfurt.

RB Leipzig fell further off the pace and would no doubt welcome a repeat of their Timo Werner-inspired 8-0 thrashing of Mainz from earlier this season when the pair meet again on Sunday.

Ahead of the next round of Bundesliga fixtures, we bring you the best Opta Facts.

FRIDAY
Hertha Berlin v Union Berlin
- Hertha lost 1-0 in the previous meeting in November 2019, which was the first time the two clubs faced each other in the Bundesliga. Hertha have never lost two Berlin derbies in a row in professional football.
- Union have won two of their past three Bundesliga away games (2-0 against Werder Bremen and 2-1 against Eintracht Frankfurt), picking up more wins and points than in their first 10 top-flight away matches this season (one win, five points).

SATURDAY
Borussia Monchengladbach v Bayer Leverkusen
- Leverkusen have lost each of their last three Bundesliga games against Gladbach – they only ever lost four in a row against the Foals across 1980 and 1981.
- Havertz has recorded 10 of his 13 Bundesliga goal involvements this season in the Ruckrunde. He has had a hand in at least one goal in each of his last five top-flight games (four goals, three assists).

Wolfsburg v Borussia Dortmund
- Wolfsburg have only taken one point from their past nine Bundesliga games against Dortmund – a goalless draw at Signal Iduna Park in January 2018.
- Haaland needed just nine games for his first 10 Bundesliga goals – only Paco Alcacer and Gert Dorfel required fewer matches (both eight). Haaland will equal the top-flight's record with an 11th goal in his 10th outing.

Freiburg v Werder Bremen
- Bremen have a higher winning percentage (56 per cent) and average more goals per game (2.2) against Freiburg than they do against any other current Bundesliga side.
- Werder's 18 points from 25 games represents their worst Bundesliga season. In league history, all of the 37 teams that have had 18 points or fewer after 25 games have been relegated.

Paderborn v Hoffenheim
- Paderborn have failed to score in all five of their competitive matches against Hoffenheim – they have only ever endured a longer barren streak in professional football against Kaiserslautern (six games between 2006 and 2010).
- Paderborn are six points behind 16th-place Fortuna Dusseldorf. Since the introduction of the three-points-per-win rule in 1995-96, no Bundesliga team has made up such a deficit after 26 games.

Bayern Munich v Eintracht Frankfurt
- Bayern have won each of their last 10 Bundesliga home games against Frankfurt – their longest winning run at home to any current top-flight side.
- Frankfurt are the weakest team away from home in the Bundesliga this season, picking up just seven points. They have lost nine of their 12 away games this term and have yet to keep a clean sheet on the road.

SUNDAY
Schalke v Augsburg

- Schalke have scored just two goals in their past eight Bundesliga games, fewer than any other side in this time frame. They have equalled a negative club record from 1965-66 with just four goals in nine Ruckrunde games.
- Augsburg's Florian Niederlechner has scored four goals in six Bundesliga games against Schalke – more than he has netted against any other top-flight team.

Mainz v RB Leipzig
- At least three goals have been scored in each of the seven Bundesliga meetings between Mainz and Leipzig.
- Mainz have 27 points and a goal difference of -19, which represents their second-worst Bundesliga campaign at this stage – they were only worse off after 26 games in 2017-18 (25 points).

Cologne v Fortuna Dusseldorf
- It has been nearly 31 years since Dusseldorf's last win away to Cologne in the Bundesliga - they celebrated a 3-1 victory in October 1989.
- Uth has had a hand in a goal in each of his eight Bundesliga games for Cologne (five goals, four assists); his longest such run in the competition.

Achraf Hakimi is set to return to Real Madrid after his agent denied Inter have made an offer for the Borussia Dortmund loanee.

Achraf's two-year loan deal at Dortmund from LaLiga giants Madrid is coming to an end and the Morocco international's future has made headlines following his exploits in the Bundesliga.

The 21-year-old full-back, who emerged from Madrid's youth team in 2017, has been linked to the likes of Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Chelsea.

Serie A side Inter have reportedly emerged as serious admirers of Achraf, however, his agent poured cold water over the speculation.

"There is no such offer [from Inter], we will return to Madrid at the end of the season," Alejandro Camano told Assahifa.

"Achraf will be the best player of the world at his position."

During the coronavirus-hit season, Achraf has scored seven goals for Dortmund across all competitions.

Achraf has netted three Bundesliga goals this term, which resumed last week behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Rivaldo believes Erling Haaland is destined for a big transfer and can prosper in LaLiga as Real Madrid eye the Borussia Dortmund sensation.

Haaland only joined Dortmund from Salzburg in January but the 19-year-old has already been linked to LaLiga giants Madrid.

The Norwegian forward has scored 10 Bundesliga goals in just nine appearances, and 13 across all competitions for Dortmund.

Former Barcelona star Rivaldo wrote for Betfair: "He is already a great player, but at 19 he could be even better in the future and become one of the best attackers in the world.

"He has a lot of personality, plays without fear and looks very calm on the pitch, so he is a world-class player that still has a lot to learn and it's normal that so many clubs are chasing him.

"Some people are already comparing Haaland's style to Ronaldo Nazario and there might be some similarities as Haaland, as he's quick, fearless and scores a lot, but it's too early to start thinking he will be Ronaldo's successor.

"Ronaldo won two World Cups and participated in four. He also dazzled the world with his runs and goals, so we need time to see if Haaland can reach Ronaldo's level. But Haaland does seem to have the qualities to at least get close to my brilliant team-mate.

"Real Madrid seems to be Haaland's preferred destination in the summer and he is showing enough quality to prosper in Spanish football. His ruthlessness in front of goal is putting him in a privileged situation and Barcelona could be a good alternative option for him. He will be a great signing for the club that manages to complete his transfer.

"It will also be outstanding business for Dortmund who signed him for €20million in January and now may receive almost four times that at the end of season. Perhaps Barcelona and Real Madrid were distracted in January, but no one would have guessed that Haaland would make such an immediate impact at Dortmund.

"I do not think it was a mistake for Barca not to sign him in January. We never know how a player will adapt by moving from the Austrian league into a top European league. If he had signed for Real Madrid he could be just a substitute, and now he will arrive as a star player who has to be a starter."

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