Borussia Dortmund's (fortunate) 2-1 win against Mainz temporarily returned them to the summit, but Bayern Munich reclaimed top spot the next day with a 4-1 victory in Düsseldorf. That means the Bundesliga table looks much like it did before, with the Black & Yellows trailing by a point heading into the final five matches.
It appeared at half-time as though BVB would not only return to winning ways following their heavy defeat in Munich a week ago, but also boost their self-confidence ahead of the remaining games of the season against Freiburg (A), Schalke (H), Bremen (A), Düsseldorf (H) and Mönchengladbach (A). "The team showed a reaction to the match in Munich. The first half was good. We could've scored more than two goals," said Lucien Favre.
But in the end, the hosts had Roman Bürki to thank for the victory. The goalkeeper, who even before the match had the best kicker rating of any player in the division this term, had fans chanting his name in the stands following a world-class display in which he made eight saves (only once has he made more saves − in the 1-0 win in Gladbach last term).
"We need to accept that we sometimes need to defend"
"I was relieved when the referee blew the final whistle. We got almost everything wrong in the final few minutes," said the shot-stopper. His coach partly attributed the difficulties his team experienced in the second period to a change in system by the opposition. "They switched to a 4-4-2 with a diamond in midfield, and we had problems. We didn't defend brilliantly. I'm not talking about the defence. Wolf and Diallo were too often left to face one-on-two situations. It was very dangerous from us. We need to remain calmer" – when there are fewer phases of possession – "and to accept that we sometimes need to defend. Otherwise, we suffer too much."
For Favre, who admitted that "they could've easily equalised at 2-2", what matters externally is "only the result". But the Swiss tactician did state: "We need to conduct analysis; we need to speak about it." His team have proven on several occasions this season that they can come up with better solutions to deal with such twists and turns in matches. "We let ourselves sit too deep and stopped pressing them," said Marco Reus. "It cannot be allowed to happen that we're hanging on for the last 15 minutes. We need to thank Roman." Sporting director Michael Zorc spoke equally highly of the match-winner. "As the match progressed, we lost control and we were really on the ropes after they pulled it back to 2-1. Roman Bürki helped us hold on to the win."
Record in Freiburg a source of encouragement
The team will learn their lessons from the way the match panned out and remain very much in the title race after claiming their 13th win in 15 games at Signal Iduna Park. While Bayern will face a Bremen side yet to lose a game in 2019 on Easter Saturday, the Black & Yellows face a trip to the Breisgau the following day. However, Freiburg has tended to be a happy hunting ground for BVB, who have only lost one fixture there in the last 18 years. Indeed, the past 14 meetings (home and away) against Christian Streich's charges have yielded 13 victories and a draw.
"There are still five games to go. Now it'll depend on who gets the most points," declared Reus, while Zorc added: "At this stage, it's not about shining; it's about winning games."