April 29, 2019 / 1:45 PM / 3 months ago

Soccer: Five talking-points from the Bundesliga weekend

BERLIN (Reuters) - The handball rule was again under the spotlight following a penalty awarded to Schalke 04 during the 4-2 derby win at Borussia Dortmund.

Soccer Football - Bundesliga - Borussia Dortmund v Schalke 04 - Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund, Germany - April 27, 2019 Borussia Dortmund's Marco Reus and Mario Goetze argue with referee Felix Zwayer following a red card against Reus. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

Here are five talking-points from the Bundesliga weekend:

REFEREE DEFENDS PENALTY DECISION

Referee Felix Zwayer has defended his decision to award Schalke a penalty for handball in the Ruhr derby against Borussia Dortmund, saying his interpretation was correct under current rules.

Dortmund coach Lucien Favre said the decision was “ridiculous” and even Schalke coach Huub Stevens said the penalty, which led to Schalke levelling the score at 1-1, should not have been given.

Breel Embolo’s shot hit Julian Weigl’s arm at close range and Zwayer pointed the spot after a video assistant referee (VAR) review. Daniel Caligiuri converted.

“The arm was stretched out at shoulder level and he blocked the ball, so the decision was relatively easy for me to make,” said Zwayer.

“It’s a penalty, according to the current interpretation, internationally and in Germany. I do not make the rules and if the football experts disagree, it’s their right.”

Favre said such decisions turned the sport into a laughing-stock. “This was so ridiculous. Whoever invented that rule had no clue,” he said. “They want that players stop using their arms. How is that possible? You need them for balance.”

HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL FOR DORTMUND

The defeat appeared to end Dortmund’s hopes of winning the Bundesliga but Bayern Munich’s 1-1 draw at lowly Nuremberg on Sunday gave them new hope.

With three games each left to play, Bayern are only two points clear and with a slightly more difficult run-in.

Although the Bavarians host lowly Hanover 96 in their next game, they must then visit third-placed RB Leipzig and host fourth-placed Eintracht Frankfurt in their final two games.

Dortmund, on the other hand, visit Werder Bremen (ninth) and fading Borussia Moenchengladbach (fifth) and host Fortuna Duesseldorf (tenth).

STRANGER THINGS HAVE HAPPENED

Dortmund have made up a bigger gap before. Back in 2001-02, they found themselves five points behind Bayer Leverkusen with three games left.

But Leverkusen — who later become known as “Neverkusen” after a string of near misses in the hunt for silverware — lost successive games to Nuremberg and Werder Bremen while Dortmund won twice.

Although Leverkusen beat Hertha Berlin in their final match, Dortmund took the title with a win over Werder.

HOFFENHEIM COACH TELLS FANS TO GO TO THE OPERA

Hoffenheim coach Julian Nagelsmann lost his patience with the club’s fans after they jeered the team in the 4-1 home defeat by VfL Wolfsburg.

“If I had been coming here for the last three years as a fan, I would be happy to see this type of football in this part of the world,” he said. “Maybe, they would be better off going to the opera.”

It was an unhappy afternoon for Hoffenheim’s usually reliable goalkeeper Oliver Baumann who was at fault for two of the Wolfsburg goals.

He gifted Wolfsburg a 2-1 lead when he let Wout Weghorst’s header to slip through his fingers and was then beaten as his near post by Maximilian Arnold’s shot for the third.

Soccer Football - Bundesliga - 1. FC Nurnberg v Bayern Munich - Max-Morlock-Stadion, Nuremberg, Germany - April 28, 2019 1. FC Nurnberg's Tim Leibold looks dejected after missing a penalty while Bayern Munich's Joshua Kimmich celebrates REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski

WAGNER, HECKING FOR SCHALKE COACH?

Borussia Moenchengladbach coach Dieter Hecking and former Huddersfield Town manager David Wagner are among the favourites to take over as new coach of Schalke 04, according to Kicker magazine.

Current coach Huub Stevens, who is in his third stint the club after replacing Domenico Tedesco in March, is an interim appointment and will leave at the end of the season.

After flirting with relegation this season, the Royal Blues — 15th in the 18-team table — are close to ensuring their survival after their win at Dortmund.

Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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