Paderborn's relegation from the Bundesliga was confirmed when they were beaten 1-0 at Union Berlin on Tuesday.

The bottom side have won just four times all season and their fate was sealed with two matches remaining after Ben Zolinski's first-half own goal.

Just Paderborn's second season in the Bundesliga has ended the same way as their first, having similarly struggled and finished bottom in their previous top-flight tilt in 2014-15.

Union had themselves been sinking towards trouble prior to a crucial win at Cologne on Saturday and now moved 10 points clear of Fortuna Dusseldorf in the relegation play-off spot, clinching their safety.

Paderborn's place in the top tier will be taken by Arminia Bielefeld, who were promoted earlier on Tuesday thanks to results elsewhere in the 2. Bundesliga.

Schalke did little to ease the pressure on head coach David Wagner as they drew 1-1 at Union Berlin on Sunday, in the process equalling a club-record winless run.

It looked as though Schalke's fate in Berlin would be even worse when they fell behind to Robert Andrich's well-taken strike in the 11th minute.

Jonjoe Kenny restored parity just before the half-hour mark with a fine effort of his own, but Schalke struggled to create clear-cut opportunities thereafter.

A crucial save from Alexander Nubel prevented Union from grabbing a late winner as Schalke's Bundesliga streak without a victory extended to 12 games.

They were last victorious in the league on January 17, their first match after Germany's winter break, beating Borussia Monchengladbach 2-0 in Gelsenkirchen.

Schalke's form has been particularly poor since the season resumed after the coronavirus-enforced suspension, suffering four straight defeats prior to facing Union as they lost to Borussia Dortmund, Augsburg, Fortuna Dusseldorf and Werder Bremen, conceding 10 goals and scoring just one.

The club previously endured a spell of 12 league matches without a win back in 1993.

Marco Rose was proud of Marcus Thuram taking a knee in celebration after scoring against Union Berlin, with the Borussia Monchengladbach coach adding the striker has "set an example".

Thuram scored twice as Gladbach boosted their Champions League hopes with a convincing 4-1 victory on Sunday, with Florian Neuhaus and Alassane Plea also finding the net.

However, it was Thuram's celebration after his first goal - Gladbach's second - that grabbed the headlines, as the 22-year-old took a knee, seemingly in relation to ongoing civil unrest in the United States following the death of George Floyd while being arrested in Minnesota this week.

Asked for his opinion on the celebration, Gladbach coach Rose gave Thuram his full backing.

"Marcus has made the point. He has set an example against racism that we all support," Rose told reporters.

Rose was not the only one to offer their support, with Real Betis' Marc Bartra sharing an image of Thuram's celebration on his official Twitter account with the caption "#BlackLivesMatter" and "#NoToRacism".

Reflecting on a fine display from his side, which saw the Foals move up to third place, Rose, speaking to the club's official website, added: "We implemented what we set out to do very well.

"Union Berlin fought back and kept going. With the ball we exuded a certain dominance, even if we may have made one or two simple mistakes. 

"Nevertheless, we scored four beautiful goals and so I am very happy with the performance and of course with the result."

Borussia Monchengladbach propelled themselves into third place in the Bundesliga as Marcus Thuram struck twice, taking a knee in celebration, in a 4-1 demolition of Union Berlin.

Needing a victory to move above RB Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen, Gladbach produced a dominant performance at Borussia-Park on Sunday - aside from one lapse in concentration.

Some shoddy marking from a set-piece gifted Sebastian Andersson a goal five minutes into the second half, as Union hauled themselves into contention following Florian Neuhaus' opener and a Thuram header.

Union's fightback was short-lived, though, with Thuram helping himself to a second before the hour and Alassane Plea on target late on as Gladbach moved back into the Champions League places.

Neuhaus tried his luck with an ambitious effort from inside his own half 13 minutes in, forcing Rafal Gikiewicz into a full-stretch stop, with Union's goalkeeper then denying Thuram.

Yet Gikiewicz was beaten in the 17th minute, Neuhaus shrugging off Marvin Friedrich before slotting a low finish in off the left-hand upright.

And Gladbach had their second four minutes before the break - Thuram heading in from Plea's precise cross and subsequently celebrating by taking a knee, likely in relation to tensions over perceived racism in the United States.

But Gladbach's lead was reduced in the 50th minute, Andersson on hand to nod home from Marcus Ingvartsen's fortuitous knockdown.

Patrick Herrmann looked set to restore the two-goal cushion a few moments later, only to drill an effort into the side netting under pressure from Keven Schlotterbeck.

Ramy Bensebaini went close with a free-kick, but Gladbach did not pass up their next opportunity - Plea again teeing up Thuram.

Plea turned from provider to scorer with nine minutes left, coolly finishing from Bensebaini's cross to add further gloss.

 

What does it mean? Pressure on RB Leipzig

It is incredibly tight in the race for the Champions League, and with Gladbach and Leverkusen both winning their matches this weekend, the onus will now be on Leipzig to defeat Cologne on Monday and get themselves back into pole position.

Dream team strike for Gladbach

While Neuhaus was a standout performer in midfield, it was the double-act of Thuram and Plea which did the most damage, with the latter twice teeing up his strike partner before getting in on the act himself. With the duo firing on all cylinders, Gladbach stand a great chance of sealing a Champions League berth.

Gladbach's defensive lapses could prove costly

While Gladbach's attacking talents excelled at times, Marco Rose will be furious with the goal his side conceded early in the second half, with slack marking enabling Union to pull themselves back into the game.

What's next?

A trip to Freiburg comes next for Gladbach, who are in action on Friday. Union do not play until two days later, when they face Schalke.

Robert Lewandowski is out to end his disappointing goals return against Fortuna Dusseldorf as Bayern Munich look to close in on an eighth successive Bundesliga title.

The prolific Poland striker has scored 229 goals in the German top flight over the past decade, but he has never previously netted against Dusseldorf in five attempts.

Bayern head into this weekend's fixture sitting seven points clear of Borussia Dortmund, who need to quickly respond from their Klassiker defeat when they head to Paderborn.

Elsewhere, third-place RB Leipzig host Cologne on Monday in what will be the first Bundesliga match played in the month of June for 25 years.


FREIBURG V BAYER LEVERKUSEN

- Leverkusen have lost just one of their last nine league encounters with Freiburg and are unbeaten in each of the last five.

- However, Freiburg have not lost any of their last six home Bundesliga meetings with Leverkusen on home soil, with four of the last six finishing goalless.

- Freiburg have won only one of their last seven league games and could go four successive games without a win for the first time this season.


MAINZ V HOFFENHEIM

- Mainz have lost just one of their last seven Bundesliga home games against Hoffenheim, with three of those games ending all square.

- Four or more goals have been scored in eight of the last nine Bundesliga matches between these sides.

- Mainz have conceded a league-high 61 goals this season at a rate of 2.2 per game. They had never previously let in more than 57 across an entire Bundesliga campaign.


SCHALKE V WERDER BREMEN

- Bremen have won more Bundesliga games against Schalke than they have versus any other opponent, claiming victory in 43 of the previous 101 encounters.

- Schalke are winless in 10 Bundesliga games - not since the end of 1996-97, when going 11 games without victory, have they been on a longer-such run.

- Maximilian Eggestein has had a hand in five goals in six league games against Schalke. He has not been directly involved in more than two against any other Bundesliga side.


HERTHA BERLIN V AUGSBURG

- Hertha had gone nine games without defeat against Augsburg prior to their 4-0 loss in the reverse fixture earlier this season.

- However, the capital club are unbeaten in their seven Bundesliga home games with Augsburg - their longest unbeaten run at home in the top flight against one side.

- Hertha's Marvin Plattenhardt has assisted four goals in his last four league outings, which is more than he accumulated in his previous 31 matches combined (three).


WOLFSBURG V EINTRACHT FRANKFURT

- Wolfsburg have won five of their last seven Bundesliga games against Frankfurt, with the only defeat in that run coming in January 2018.

- Frankfurt average 0.83 points-per-game against Wolfsburg in the German top flight - only against Blau-Weiss 90 Berlin (0.5 after two games) do they have a lower return.

- Maximilian Arnold had a hand in three goals for Wolfsburg against Leverkusen in midweek. His 11 goal involvements this term is a personal best for him in a Bundesliga season.

 

A touch of class #Kimmich #BVBFCB #MiaSanMia pic.twitter.com/Xdgk5CHLSF

— FC Bayern English (@FCBayernEN) May 29, 2020 BAYERN MUNICH V FORTUNA DUSSELDORF

- Dusseldorf are winless in each of their last 11 Bundesliga meetings with Bayern - only against Hamburg (12 matches) have they endured a longer winless run in the division.

- Bayern have scored at least three goals in each of their last six league games against Dusseldorf, netting 24 in total at an average of four per game.

- Lewandowski has scored against 17 of the 18 current Bundesliga sides, the exception being Dusseldorf, having failed to score in his previous 381 minutes against them.


BORUSSIA MONCHENGLADBACH V UNION BERLIN

- Gladbach have yet to beat Union, losing both previous competitive encounters, including a 2-0 loss in the reverse fixture earlier this season.

- Marco Rose's side have tasted defeat in two of their last three league home games - twice as many losses as their previous 11 top-flight matches combined.

- Gladbach have lost only one of their last 19 top-flight home games against promoted sides - 2-1 versus Leipzig in 2016-17 - which is also their only home loss against a Bundesliga debutant this millennium.

 

PADERBORN V BORUSSIA DORTMUND

- Paderborn have failed to win any of their five previous competitive games against Dortmund, a run that includes a 7-1 away loss in the DFB-Pokal four seasons ago.

- However, Dortmund only have a lower win percentage against Bayern (25 per cent) in the entire Bundesliga than they do versus Paderborn (33 per cent).

- Dortmund fired a blank against Bayern are aiming to avoid going back-to-back matches without scoring a Bundesliga goal since March 2015.

 

COLOGNE V RB LEIPZIG

- Out of all the teams Cologne have faced at least twice in the Bundesliga, their loss percentage against Leipzig (60 per cent) is higher than against any other side.

- Cologne are without a win in their last four Bundesliga games - their longest wait for a victory under Markus Gisdol, with all four matches played behind closed doors.

- Leipzig are unbeaten in nine league matches either side of the two-month shutdown, though six of those games have ended in draws.

Union Berlin have announced striker Sebastian Polter will not play for the club again this season due to "unsupportive behaviour".

The Bundesliga side released a statement on Thursday saying the 29-year-old, whose contract expires this year, has played his final match for the club.

He will, however, continue to train with the team.

Club president Dirk Zingler said: "It is one of the fundamental values of 1. FC Union Berlin that we, as Unioner, form a solid, tight-knit community in which we stand up for each other and for our club.

"Sebastian, the only player in the first-team squad, coaching and backroom team, does not do this, unfortunately.

"This is not understandable for us and extremely disappointing. It's my immediate task, during difficult times, to protect the cohesion of the club's employees and squad, so we do not jeopardise the goals on the park.

"We have therefore decided that Sebastian will no longer be part of our matchday squad with immediate effect."

Polter, who joined Union from QPR in 2017, has started only two Bundesliga matches this season.

He has scored twice in 13 appearances in the top flight in 2019-20, in a 2-1 loss to Bayern Munich in October and a 1-0 win over rivals Hertha Berlin in November.

After Borussia Dortmund saw their Bundesliga title hopes seemingly end with defeat to Bayern Munich in the Klassiker, Lucien Favre's side could slide to third place on Wednesday.

A victory for RB Leipzig over Hertha Berlin would take Julian Nagelsmann's team up to second spot in the table.

There are some growing winless runs in the German top flight, with worrying times for the likes of Union Berlin and Hoffenheim.

Alarm bells will be ringing at Schalke, however, if their fruitless streak stretches to 10 games. David Wagner's side tackle third-bottom Fortuna Dusseldorf.

RB LEIPZIG V HERTHA BERLIN

- Leipzig usually enjoy this fixture, having won six of their previous seven Bundesliga matches against Hertha – losing the other 3-2 at home in December 2017. They have won more Bundesliga games against Hertha than against any other side, and have scored 26 goals in those seven previous clashes.

- Leipzig have taken 54 points from 27 matches this Bundesliga season, just shy of the 55 they had at this stage of their debut top-flight campaign in 2016-17.

- Striker Timo Werner has had a hand in 31 Bundesliga goals for Leipzig this season, with 24 goals and seven assists, including a hat-trick against Mainz at the weekend. Since detailed data collection began in 2004-05, no other player has been involved in as many goals at this stage of a season.

- Hertha have been rejuvenated under new boss Bruno Labbadia, with a 3-0 win over Hoffenheim followed by a 4-0 victory against city rivals Union Berlin last Friday. Curiously, every goal in those two games came between the 51st and 77th minutes.

UNION BERLIN V MAINZ

- Mainz parted company with head coach Sandro Schwarz after losing 3-2 when these two teams met in November. It was just Union's second win in seven competitive matches against Mainz.

- Union sit 13th in the Bundesliga but have not won in their past four Bundesliga matches, losing their past three, including a 4-0 derby loss to Hertha. It is their longest winless run in the Bundesliga, albeit this is their first season in the league.

- Mainz must set aside their latest Leipzig humiliation. Their 5-0 loss at the weekend followed an 8-0 defeat to the same opposition earlier in the season. The last Bundesliga team to concede 13 goals in a single season against one team were Ulm in 1999-2000 against Bayer Leverkusen.

- Mainz sit 15th and have conceded a league-high 60 goals this season, more than in any previous season in their existence.

AUGSBURG V PADERBORN

- Augsburg have won four of their past six competitive matches against Paderborn (D1 L1), including a 1-0 success earlier this season when Philipp Max's goal made the difference.

- A 3-0 win at Schalke last time out ended Augsburg's run of four Bundesliga defeats in a row and gave them a first clean sheet in 2020.

- Augsburg have a rocky recent record at home against promoted teams, winning five and losing five of their past 10 such fixtures. The last promoted team they beat at home were Paderborn – 3-0 in November 2014.

- Paderborn sit bottom of the Bundesliga with 18 points from 27 matches. No team with 18 points or fewer at this stage of a season have ever avoided relegation from the league.

HOFFENHEIM V COLOGNE

- Rather a favourite fixture for Hoffenheim, they have won each of their past three Bundesliga games against Cologne and are unbeaten in the past seven in their rivalry. They have only managed to string together a longer sequence of Bundesliga wins against one team – winning five in succession against Hannover from 2013 to 2015.

- Hoffenheim will need to buck the trend of their recent 2019-20 season results, however, having not won in their past seven Bundesliga matches (D3 L4), their longest winless run since going eight games without a victory from October to December in 2015.

- Cologne's Jhon Cordoba scored his 11th goal of the season on matchday 27, a late equaliser against Fortuna Dusseldorf on Sunday. He has now netted more goals in his 23 appearances this term than in his previous three Bundesliga campaigns combined (10 goals in 69 games).

FORTUNA DUSSELDORF V SCHALKE

- Schalke have lost only one of their past six competitive matches against Fortuna (W3 D2), but that 4-0 home setback in March 2019 will be fresh in the memory.

- Fortuna sit precariously in 16th place but are unbeaten in their past five games (W1 D4) under Uwe Rosler. They have drawn six of eight games under Rosler – the only other coach in Bundesliga history to draw six of his first eight matches was Thorsten Fink with Hamburg in 2011.

- If Fortuna go ahead, they might not stay ahead, having thrown away a league-high 22 points from winning positions this season. However, they face a slumping Schalke side who have gone nine games without a Bundesliga win, scoring just twice in that dismal run.

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.

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.

Robert Lewandowski is being backed to challenge Gerd Muller's record of scoring 40 goals in a single Bundesliga season.

The powerful Pole took his season's tally to 26 goals in 24 league games with a penalty that set Bayern on course for a 2-0 win at Union Berlin on Sunday.

In their first game back after the coronavirus suspension, Bayern were the dominant side without being at their very best.

Lewandowski's influence fluctuated, but he remains the man to whom Bayern look for goals, and head coach Hansi Flick is confident there are plenty more to come in this campaign.

Bayern have just eight games remaining in the league, so it would take a supreme effort for Lewandowski to match or pass Muller, who set the record while playing for Bayern in the 1971-72 season.

But providing Bayern can offer him the right service, Flick does not discount it happening.

"Lewy makes a good impression, I think he is in top form," said Flick.

"Today we failed to incorporate him into our game as much and we have to do that better in general in our offensive game.

"He scored again, is at 26 goals, and has eight games left to break Gerd Muller's record. That is not going to be easy but he has the quality.

"If someone can do it, it's him."

Lewandowski has 40 for the season already, when domestic cup goals and those in the Champions League are taken into account, reaching that mark for a fifth successive season.

While he continues to be feted, Sunday saw Bayern leave room for improvement, as Flick acknowledged.

Their lead over second-placed Borussia Dortmund is back up to four points, however the teams go head to head later this month in a game that could yet threaten Bayern's momentum.

Flick said: "We had several opportunities to score, especially in the second half, but we didn't take advantage of them.

"Like for example on counter-attacks when we had some space. That's what we have to do better.

"Of course, we knew that at first not everything would go as planned. But the important thing was that we continued to resist and kept being concentrated and in the end won the game."

Thomas Muller said Bayern Munich's first Bundesliga game since the coronavirus stoppage felt similar to the start of a new season.

After the COVID-19 pandemic led to the suspension of most sport across the globe in March, the Bundesliga became the first major league to return behind closed doors this weekend.

Leaders Bayern triumphed 2-0 at Union Berlin on Sunday, with Robert Lewandowski slotting home a first-half penalty and Benjamin Pavard sealing the victory 10 minutes from time.

For Muller, who had a goal ruled out for offside following a VAR check in the opening period, the occasion led to feelings more akin to the excitement of a new campaign.

"We came with the aim of taking the three points back with us and we've done it," said Muller, quoted on Bayern's official website.

"At certain points there was room for improvement, especially in the first 25 minutes when we had too many long balls.

"That got a little better. With the first goal we had a little more security and should have had more before the break. The game was okay, but it could have been better.

"There was a tingling sensation, like before the first Bundesliga matchday in August.

"We are four points clear and have moved one step closer to our main goal."

Robert Lewandowski had been away longer than the Bundesliga.

But in a world where uncertainty surrounds us, there was still a certain inevitability the Pole would make the difference for Bayern Munich at Union Berlin.

A penalty got him there, after Neven Subotic carelessly booted Leon Goretzka, and Benjamin Pavard's late header made the points safe.

And so that's 40 goals again for Lewandowski, reaching that dizzying mark for a fifth season in succession, with eight Bundesliga games remaining and Champions League and DFB Pokal campaigns to complete.

The striker missed Bayern's three games immediately prior to the German season being suspended in March, after hurting his knee in Bayern's 3-0 hush-hushing of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

But Lewandowski is back in time for Bayern to renew their assault on success at home and in Europe, and given his first 40 goals of the campaign came in just 34 games, what price him making it to the half-century before the season's end?

The penalty, calmly slotted to the bottom right corner after a twitchy run-up, rewarded Bayern for a strong enough first-half showing, one in which they had already seen a Thomas Muller tap-in disallowed after a VAR check.

That had been a classic marginal call - the sort for which we almost became nostalgic during football's grim hiatus.

And of course the goal, when it arrived in the 40th minute, was met by near silence, which is going to take some getting used to.

This is a centenary year for Union's old-school ground, the Stadion An der Alten Forsterei (Stadium of the Old Forestry), and the flag-flying and scarf-waving that is usually such a feature was replaced by the barest of backdrops.

Banks of empty seats can provide colour, but empty terraces speak of bleak times, and there are three major standing areas at Union - one at each end and another running the length of the pitch.

Taking into account the fact each terrace would benefit from a lick of paint, or a truckful, there was a majorly austere vibe to this occasion, and the once-familiar energy and noise isn't returning any time soon.

But Germany could take a bow after an apparently successful weekend. Its decision to bring back the Bundesliga - the first of Europe's major leagues to return - came on the back of the country's seemingly effective steps to control the COVID-19 spread.

The reproduction - or R - rate is reported to be around a manageable 0.75, and while the country is close to reaching 8,000 deaths from the pandemic, that figure is tragically dwarfed elsewhere in Western Europe. The United Kingdom and Italy have passed 30,000 and Spain and France are not far away from that grim mark.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and her team have left governments elsewhere pondering their own handling of the crisis, and the Bundesliga has struck a similarly effective tone.

The return of football in South Korea had a sense of the shambolic about it, but in Germany there has been impressive social distancing, substitutes sitting several seats away from each other in the stands, leaving the pitchside dugouts to coaching staff.

Face masks, too, were on show. Besides the players on the field and the head coaches roaming the touchlines, it was difficult to spot anybody not masked up.

It is such small things, however sobering, that seep back into society. It's about setting an example, and given Bayern's trip to the German capital was being broadcast worldwide, it was not a small audience that was witnessing the German way of operating.

Bayern weren't great, incidentally, but their lead is back up to four points after being trimmed by Borussia Dortmund on Saturday.

And head coach Hansi Flick has now seen his team plunder 50 goals in his 16 Bundesliga matches since taking charge – a record quick time for reaching the landmark.

An eighth successive Bundesliga title is likely but not inevitable, given Dortmund, with the likes of Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho, are such an exciting proposition.

Bayern and Dortmund must still meet in Der Klassiker. Fans or no fans, that should still amount to a great occasion.

But Bayern are now unbeaten in their last 16 matches, interim coach Flick has become permanent coach Flick, and Lewandowski is at it again. The rust will surely fall away.

Beyond Germany, Bayern's great goal-getter might not have the starry cachet of a Messi or a Ronaldo. Within Germany, the last two months have changed nothing: here, they still bow at the feet of king Lewy.

Bayern Munich's 2-0 win over Union Berlin on Sunday saw them reach the 50-goals mark under Hansi Flick in just 16 matches - a new Bundesliga record.

Germany's top division made its return on Saturday after a break of more than two months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But some things just do not seem to change - Bayern were as slick and effective as before the hiatus, easing past a Union side who rarely back down from a tussle.

Robert Lewandowski - who took his individual tally to 40 for the season in all competitions - and Benjamin Pavard got the goals, as Bayern continued where they left off and restored their four-point cushion at the summit.

Flick took over from Niko Kovac in November last year and has overseen an impressive improvement, earning a three-year contract in April.

Robert Lewandowski reached 40 goals for the fifth successive season when he put Bayern Munich 1-0 ahead at Union Berlin on Sunday.

The Bundesliga's most prolific striker made no mistake with a penalty late in the first half, after Leon Goretzka was hacked down in the 39th minute by Neven Subotic.

It took him to 40 goals from just 34 appearances in 2019-20, with Lewandowski again proving his value to the reigning German champions.

Since netting a relatively modest 25 goals in his first season at Bayern in 2014-15, the Poland star has notched successive hauls of 42, 43, 41, 40 and Sunday's spot-kick took him to another 40, with the promise of more to come in 2019-20.

Bayern Munich welcomed back Robert Lewandowski as Hansi Flick's side resumed their Bundesliga title push at Union Berlin.

Almost two-and-a-half months since their last league outing, a 2-0 home win over Augsburg, Flick's men were back on duty in the capital on Sunday.

The break in action, caused by the coronavirus pandemic, has allowed Lewandowski to recover from a knee injury.

And the prolific Polish striker was in the starting XI for Sunday's behind-closed-doors clash against mid-table Union, leading the attack with support from Serge Gnabry and Thomas Muller.

Head coach Flick, handed that post on a permanent basis since Bayern last played, was missing injured quartet Philippe Coutinho, Corentin Tolisso, Niklas Sule and Javi Martinez.

Union were without their head coach, Urs Fischer, who travelled to Switzerland during the week after the death of his father-in-law. He has since returned to Germany but must pass a coronavirus test early next week before re-joining his squad.

Bayern headed into the game with a one-point lead over Borussia Dortmund, who returned to action with a 4-0 win over Schalke on Saturday.

Page 1 of 2
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.