The drama in the Bundesliga came at the bottom of the table, where Serbian forward Filip Kostic scored two goals for Hamburg, the second with 86 minutes gone, to beat Wolfsburg 2-1, ensure survival and send the Wolves into the relegation playoff places. Close to the top, Borussia Dortmund beat Werder Bremen 4-3 to clinch third place and a spot in the Champions League group stage.
But there was barely a dry eye in the house at Bayern Munich when, with six minutes left to play, Xabi Alonso’s No. 14 was signaled by the assistant referee to draw time on the Spaniard’s playing career. The game stopped for over a minute as Alonso was embraced by teammates, Arutro Vidal, Arjen Robben, Philipp Lahm, Joshua Kimmich, Robert Lewandowski and Franck Ribery before a huge hug from coach Carlo Ancelotti.
Alonso took it all; a playing career spanning 18 years, he has played under Rafa Benitez, Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola and Ancelotti; not a bad grounding in becoming a successful future coach one day.
Bayern also said goodbye to Lahm the player, after 517 games, eight titles and six cups with the club; though he will be joining the club on the executive side.
There was still a sense of what might have been in the post-match celebrations. Lewandowski, who was pipped to top goalscorer by one as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored twice to reach 31 goals, had his shoulders slumped during the lap of honor and initially refused to give interviews. As Suddeutsche Zeitung put it: “With his personal disappointment, Lewandowski was also a symbol for Bayern’s entire season–the conclusion for the year is ‘incomplete.’”
Yes, Bayern won a fifth straight Bundesliga title, but elimination from the cup competitions–quarterfinals of the Champions League and semifinal in the German Cup–left a bitter taste.
Bayern will now turn its attention to the transfer market, with Hoffenheim pair Sebastian Rudy and Niklas Sule already confirmed to join next month.