Füllkrug tops the charts and gets tongues wagging as World Cup nears Bundesliga

Trust Florentino Pérez to mistime a Super League-based intervention. On a weekend by which Real Madrid’s dogged president talked about “our beloved sport” being “sick” – though his notion of its malaise may be very totally different type than what many people would deem are the residual issues – Germany had a lot to thrill and shock fairly aside from Bayern Munich steadying themselves from their latest stumble.

It’s finest advised by a story of two centre-forwards. Niclas Füllkrug awoke on Monday as the Bundesliga’s prime scorer whereas Anthony Modeste – keep in mind solely Robert Lewandowski, Patrik Schick and Erling Haaland bettered the French striker’s tally for Köln in the final marketing campaign – is beneath stress from all sides. Of course, Bayern resumed regular service on Friday night time in opposition to Bayer Leverkusen, however there was little else following reasoned prediction.

You would stroll a protracted strategy to discover somebody not pleased for Füllkrug as he enjoys his purple patch. If Werder Bremen is one in every of the revelations from the season’s opening weeks (collectively, solely Bayern on the again of their early-season purpose rampages have scored extra Bundesliga objectives than Werder), their man at the sharp finish is simply that in particular person kind. It’s not that no one thought he may do it. It’s that we by no means thought he’d have the ability to.

The typical towering, bustling No. 9, Füllkrug has proven potential for years, however his path to success has not been simple, and it has usually appeared like luck has conspired in opposition to him. After coming by Werder’s youth academy, he made his means by Greuther Fürth, Nürnberg and Hannover earlier than establishing himself as a succesful top-flight goalscorer at the latter, his hometown membership, in his mid-20s. Then, he was struck down by one other knee harm. It occurred once more after his return to Bremen in 2019, forcing a fourth main knee surgical procedure of his profession. Such was the membership’s religion in his expertise and presence, Füllkrug was rushed again for the 2021 run-in with the crew in freefall beneath Florian Kohfeldt, however his objectives weren’t sufficient to forestall relegation.

His 19 final season had been sufficient to return Werder to the Bundesliga at the first try and now 29, Füllkrug has barely damaged stride. Borussia Mönchengladbach had been the final to be knocked off beam by him. After a very good begin to the marketing campaign Daniel Farke’s crew had been submerged at the Weser, crushed 5-1 to double their objectives conceded for the season.

Although he scored twice, it wasn’t all Füllkrug; Marvin Duckschbroke his Bundesliga duck for the season in between his accomplice’s double. The pair clicked brilliantly and when Ducksch’s sensible play laid Füllkrug’s second on a plate for him, Werder had been 3-0 up after solely 13 minutes.

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That help and goodwill may even push Füllkrug on to the subsequent stage of fulfilling his goals. It has not gone unnoticed in the wake of Germany’s two most up-to-date outings – extra the failure to attain in opposition to Hungary in Leipzig than the erraticism of the six-goal thriller with England at Wembley, in fact – that one in every of the nationwide crew’s lingering shortcomings is maybe the absence of a goal man center-forward. Or an enormous, Füllkrug-shaped gap, when you like.

He is in form and he has an entire dressing room of cheerleaders behind him. “The boy can do every part,” gushed Ducksch. “For me he’s the finest German striker on the market at the second. I’d like him to go to the World Cup.” It was a viewpoint endorsed by Niklas Stark. “If you wish to play with a basic center-forward,” stated the defender, “you’ll be able to’t look previous him.” The Werder followers made their emotions clear, with a lot of chants of “Füllkrug für Deutschland”. Lothar Matthäus summed it up relatively extra bluntly on Sky. “Hansi Flick is not blind,” he stated.

If it seems to be like the worm is lastly turning for a participant so accident-prone that he as soon as was taken to hospital to have a teammate’s tooth faraway from his brow after a freak collision in the Werder academy, Modeste would possibly look north-eastwards with some wistfulness . He was final season’s shock bundle, bagging 20 Bundesliga objectives to remodel struggling Köln’s fortunes and to return them to European competitors.

The subsequent chapter was sadly the place the two events diverged; Effzeh hoped for extra of the identical from their reborn striker, whereas Modeste himself noticed the probability of a primary style of Champions League soccer at 34 when Borussia Dortmund hit the marketplace for a short-term substitute for Sébastien Haller. He appeared to tick all the bins for BVB; huge, robust, already tailored to German tradition on and off the pitch, and sufficiently old that the membership did not should shell out on a protracted contract with Haller coming again (Modeste was given a one-year deal, albeit on a beneficiant wage bundle).

He returned to Köln with Dortmund for the first time this weekend already on the defensive after a difficult begin to his profession in Westfalen. Only one purpose up to now – albeit a really helpful winner at Hertha – paled compared to what seems to be a nasty stylistic match. Haller was signed not only for his objectives, however his potential to hyperlink play, one thing that Dortmund badly needed. Modeste is extra binary and direct, needing the ball in entrance of him and crosses into the field, with lots of his objectives being prompt, one-touch finishes. With Youssoufa Moukoko, half his age, respiratory down his neck for the beginning place, Modeste wanted to return out of the worldwide break with a bang.

Anthony Modeste seems to be dejected after failing to attain throughout Dortmund’s 3-2 defeat at Köln. Photograph: Ina Fassbender/AFP/Getty Images

He could not. It did not seem to matter in the first half, when Julian Brandt gave the guests the lead after a slick transfer and captain-for-the-day Jude Bellingham angered the dwelling followers – who booed Modeste relentlessly all through – by doing Modeste’s glasses celebration in entrance of them. After the break it was totally different, with BVB caught in treacle as Köln roared again, scoring twice in 153 seconds with Stefan Tigges, the eventual Modeste substitute signed from Dortmund, getting his first purpose for the membership. His predecessor by no means received that shut. BVB’s 3-2 loss noticed them miss the probability to enter subsequent week’s Klassiker as league leaders.

Füllkrug would possibly replicate, then, that if the name comes then it comes – however having fun with the second is simply as vital as leaping on to the subsequent stage.

Werder Bremen 5-1 Mönchengladbach, Wolfsburg 3-2 Stuttgart, Freiburg 2-1 Mainz, RB Leipzig 4-0 Bochum, Eintracht Frankfurt 2-0 Union Berlin, Cologne 3-2 Borussia Dortmund, Schalke 2-3 Augsburg, Hertha Berlin 1-1 Hoffenheim

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Bundesliga outcomes

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Werder Bremen 5-1 Mönchengladbach, Wolfsburg 3-2 Stuttgart, Freiburg 2-1 Mainz, RB Leipzig 4-0 Bochum, Eintracht Frankfurt 2-0 Union Berlin, Cologne 3-2 Borussia Dortmund, Schalke 2-3 Augsburg, Hertha Berlin 1 -1 Hoffenheim

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Talking factors

Julian Nagelsmann relieved a few of the stress on himself with Bayern’s 4-0 demolition of Leverkusen, and spoke candidly afterwards to ESPN about his shock at the private nature of a few of the brickbats. His reverse quantity Gerardo Seoane is in the same spot after his facet’s meek give up (“we did not have the crucial aggression”) after Sadio Mané’s first dwelling Bayern purpose, which leaves Die Werkself second-bottom.

After Dortmund’s loss Union Berlin keep prime, regardless of being nicely crushed at Eintracht Frankfurt. Tottenham’s subsequent opponents performed excellently, with the blossoming link-up between Randal Kolo Muani and Mario Götze (the former brilliantly arrange a purpose for the latter earlier than gathering a second reserving in a while) one thing for Antonio Conte to ponder.

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