Africa’s stars in the German Bundesliga endured a tough round of midweek fixtures, as Achraf Hakimi‘s Borussia Dortmund came up short in Der Klassiker while a momentary misjudgment from Ademola Lookman cost RB Leipzig dearly as they were held by Cologne.
All eyes were on Hakimi after an encouraging restart to the season — and a goal against Wolfsburg at the weekend — but his performance as Dortmund were defeated 1-0 by Bayern Munich in the biggest fixture of the German football calendar may have cast some doubt over his ability at the pinnacle of European competition.
The question of Hakimi’s future has been firmly on the agenda in recent weeks, with his two-year loan deal from Real Madrid set to end on June 30, and the likes of Internazionale, Arsenal and even Bayern themselves have been linked to his signature.
On Tuesday, he found himself up against Bayern’s highly rated left-back Alphonso Davies, another of the division’s bright young wide defenders, and the Ghana-born Canada international stole the show.
Davies tore forward with reckless abandon — completing a game-high five dribbles — while Hakimi struggled to link effectively with Thorgan Hazard and the off-colour Erling Haaland, and the Moroccan occasionally found himself struggling to cope with his opposite number’s electric pace and dynamic movement.
Both Dortmund full-backs saw a lot of the ball, as BVB sought to switch play to forge an opening, but, under pressure, Hakimi’s choice of pass sometimes left much to be desired.
He weighed in with three tackles, two interceptions and three clearances, helping to break down opposition attacks and nullify the threat of Serge Gnabry, in particular, but his chief contribution in the second half was a teasing cross that was cleared by David Alaba at the near post.
This isn’t the first game this season against one of the Bundesliga’s top five in which Hakimi hasn’t been at his scintillating best, and it’s a trend that may ensure the biggest clubs think twice.
While Joshua Kimmich’s fine chip over Roman Burki settled the contest and put considerable distance between these two, Hakimi should have ample opportunity between now and late June to prove why is one of Africa’s brightest talents.
Joshua Zirkzee was again an unused substitute for Bayern.
When Anglo-Nigerian wideman Lookman left Everton for RB Leipzig for £22.5 million in July, the move promised a fresh start for the youngster, as he returned to the club where he’d made such a sparkling impact on loan during the 2017-18 season.
Yet despite Leipzig’s fine campaign under Julian Nagelsmann, and the excellent form of several young African talents, Lookman has so far wholly failed to recapture that previous magic.
He was given 32 minutes to impress after coming on as a substitute against Hertha Berlin on Wednesday — only the second time he’s been given more than half-an-hour in a Bundesliga game since October — but his key contribution was giving away the penalty from which Krzysztof Piatek scored the visitors’ 82nd-minute equaliser.
By this point, Marko Grujic’s opener for Hertha had been cancelled out by goals from Lukas Klostermann, from a Christopher Nkunku corner, and Patrik Schnick, although Leipzig did lose Marcel Halstenberg to a second yellow card.
Leipzig were ultimately forced to settle for a 2-2 draw that leaves them nine points behind the leaders after Lookman clumsily brought down Matheus Cunha, darting in from the right flank, eight minutes from time.
Dayot Upamecano featured in the heart of Leipzig’s defence, while Hertha’s Jordan Torunarigha — who was racially abused in the February fixture between the teams — was booked as he and Dedryck Boyata silenced the exciting Timo Werner.
Leipzig are next in action on Monday, away at Cologne, who were outclassed 3-1 by Diadie Samassekou‘s Hoffenheim on Wednesday.
The 21-year-old is the first Egyptian to play in the German top flight in eight years, having been promoted to the Wolfsburg first team after netting nine for their reserve side in the Regionalliga Nord.
He signed for Wolfsburg from Wadi Degla — former employers of Essam El-Hadary and Florent Malouda — back in 2017, but got his first taste of Bundesliga life only on Wednesday, when he was introduced as a 76th-minute substitute for Renato Steffen.
By this point, an aggressive Wolfsburg were 4-0 up and cruising, as Leverkusen — so impressive against Borussia Monchengladbach at the weekend — were thoroughly eclipsed.
Moussa Diaby struggled to impress on the left flank, where he was well negotiated by Steffen and Kevin Mbabu, while Bayer centre-back Edmond Tapsoba revealed how much he still has to learn with one of his most uncertain displays of the season.
Leverkusen, who enter the weekend in fifth on 53 points, are away at Freiburg on Friday, when they could climb to third with a win.
Elsewhere, Congolese right-back Ridle Baku scored his first Bundesliga goal of the season as Mainz drew 1-1 away at Union Berlin, although Pierre Kunde Malong and Taiwo Awoniyi were ineffectual for the visitors.
Schalke remain the most out-of-form side in the division after extending their winless run to 10 matches with a 2-1 defeat at relegation-threatened Fortuna Dusseldorf on Wednesday.
The Royal Blues have now lost five of their past six matches, heaping more pressure on David Wagner as they have slipped five points off European qualification.
Powerful Senegal centre-back Salif Sane was one of their better performers against 16th-placed Fortuna — now unbeaten in six league games — but he was helpless as the hosts scored two goals in five second-half minutes.
The West African struggled when attempting to defend the channels, and he was thrown up front late on as an increasingly desperate Wagner encouraged his team to play directly.
Finally, Ramy Bensebaini was introduced from the bench as fourth-placed Gladbach’s underwhelming return to action continued with a 0-0 draw at Werder Bremen, as they missed the chance to capitalise on dropped points from the teams around them.