The weekend was all about Nipplegate at the House of Hanover, Part II. If the storyline seems familiar, there were just enough twists and changes to keep the insalubrious masses interested. Unlike the earlier instalment, the sequel was not set in the lush surroundings of a Provence villa but at the slightly draftier AWD Arena. And major offence was taken at the topless frolicking itself, not its subsequent depiction in the media.
But let's start from the top. The derby between Hannover 96 and Werder Bremen on Saturday had not only promised goals but also an answer to the question of who's number one in the north – Hamburger SV, who could rightfully claim this unofficial title a while a go, are sadly no longer in the running after they lost 3-2 to Frankfurt on Sunday night, a defeat that sucked Mary Arnesen's Frank-enstein of a team further into the relegation struggle.
Hannover were determined to settle this matter quickly. Inside 11 minutes, Mirko Slomka's men were 2-0 up thanks to goals from Szabolcs Huszti and Leon Andreasen. But Werder's formidable front-line kept probing away until Aaron Hunt (penalty) and the Chelsea loanee Kevin de Bruyne had equalised 15 minutes from the end. A thoroughly spectacular game then took a turn for the controversial.
Twice Werder thought they had scored a winner, twice the referee Deniz Ayetkin thought otherwise. Thomas Schaaf accepted that Sokratis had strayed offside in the first incident but angrily "shuddered" when he saw a repeat of the second situation: Sokratis was adjudged to have impeded Karim Haggui before Assani Lukimya's header. "We are still looking for the mistake," Schaaf commented acidly.
The moustachioed manager's afternoon was ruined altogether when the irrepressible Huszti saw that a last-minute cross was coming down behind him. The Hungarian playmaker adjusted himself, took to the air and smashed an overhead kick via Clemens Fritz's back into the Werder goal to win the derby in the most thrilling fashion. And then IT happened.
The 29-year-old Hungarian jumped over the advertising hoarding, mounted a fence and took of his shirt in jubilation and the crowd went mad. His team-mate Jan Schlaudraff had tried to stop him but was too late. When Huszti got back on to the pitch, Ayetkin showed him a yellow card for the fence-climbing and another for exposing his breasts. Huszti was sent-packing, then Ayetkin blew the final whistle.
The referee admitted that the decision had troubled him – "It hurt me" – but added that he rulebook left him little choice: "As the executive, I need to do this. I don't have any other option".
"It was a little stupid on my behalf," admitted Huszti. "I didn't know this rule but now I have learned something new".
Ayetkin and the referees' chief instructor Lutz Wagner were quick to point out that Fifa is to blame for the overkill. But was there perhaps something specifically German in the law's stringent application? After all, the relevant passage explicitly demands the officials to apply "common sense" when it comes to punishing over-exuberant jubilations. "It's the most non-sensical sending-off in the history of the Bundesliga," declared Welt.
That silly piece of jobsworthiness aside, it felt like a momentous win for Hannover. Their stealthy ascent to the top of the Bundesliga tree in recent years is set to continue; they have quietly established themselves not only as the best side in the north of the country but they have left plenty of more illustrious and/or wealthier names behind to be become the fourth power after Dortmund, Bayern and Schalke.
It is a remarkable achievement made all the more remarkable since the smooth Slomka and the gruff sporting director Hans-Jörg Schmadtke are about as compatible as an iPad and a C64 tape drive – there's simply no common wavelength. A public dispute between the president Martin Kind and naughty ultras, who had been hoisting up a banner displaying the face of the Hannover-born serial killer Fritz Haarmann (27 murders from 1918-24), wasn't exactly helpful either.
Never mind, though – Slomka's men keep growing collectively and individually where others are faltering. The inspired €750,000 return of Huszti after his three less-than-successful years at Zenit St Petersburg looks like another masterstroke. He had already provided the assists for all four goals in the 4-0 win at Wolfsburg the week before. "Szabi is of the best creative players in the league," said Slomka.
A few hundred Hannover fans camped outside the stadium to buy tickets for the Europa League game at Twente Enschede, such is the euphoria about a side who have developed their slightly dour counter-attacking from a couple of seasons ago into an expansive, entertaining attacking style. No wonder Schmadtke has been – somewhat reluctantly – forced into opening new contract talks with Slomka. The 45-year-old's deal expires at the end of the season and there are envious glances from a certain Bavaria-based club who are unhappy that they've been little more than "number one in the south" in recent years.
He likes the smell of Wurstsemmel (sausage bun) in the early evening: Henry Kissinger came to see Fürth's 2-0 home defeat against Schalke at the Trolli Arena. The 89-year-old American had been a fan of his hometown club before his family fled Nazi Germany in 1938 and had long promised to see a game if they were promoted. "The German government used to send me their results [in the 70s]," he recalled. "And when they were unhappy with me, I'd only get the score on a Tuesday."
The former US secretary of state was introduced to the team by the manager Mike Büskens and soon spread plenty of optimism. "I now wish them for championship title," he said. An interesting take on Fussball Realpolitik.
Talking of dark, conspiratorial forces, there's a delicious – if slightly implausible – theory about Hoffenheim's descent to hell doing the rounds. Are the bad results in fact engineered by parties interested in moving Mario Basler into the managerial job? The former Bayern midfielder is the son in law of the agent Roger Wittmann, who has been able to get a fair number of his players signed up at the club. One of them, the goalkeeper Tim Wiese, had a veritable stinker in the 5-3 defeat at SC Freiburg, where the defensive half of the team were constantly undermining useful efforts by the other half.
As a consequence, the manager Markus Babbel has told the board he wants to concentrate on coaching and give up his duties as general manager. Kicker magazine has linked the former Schalke supremo Andreas Müller with the vacant post. He used to get on pretty well with Wittmann, too.
Augsburg 0-0 Wolfsburg
Bayern Munich 3-1 Mainz 05
Greuther Fürth 0-2 Schalke 04
Dortmund 3-0 Leverkusen
Hannover 3-2 Werder Bremen
VfB Stuttgart 0-0 F Düsseldorf
Mönchengladbach 2-3 Nürnberg
Feiburg 5-3 Hoffenheim
Eintracht Frankfurt 3-2 Hamburger SV