Babbel gets boot from Berlin
Hertha Berlin sacked coach Markus Babbel on Sunday, amidst an acrimonious war of words, while Hanover were held to a 1-1 draw by strugglers Kaiserslautern on the last German league weekend of 2011.
Hertha announced Babbel had been sacked, six months before his contract expires, with former Eintracht Frankfurt coach Michael Skibbe, currently in charge of Turkish side Eskisehirspor, tipped to replace him.
Having guided Berlin back to the Bundesliga last season, former Liverpool player Babbel had said he would not be extending his contract which expires in June.
Things turned ugly over the weekend when Babbel, 39, insisted he told the club in November that he would be leaving, but Berlin manager Michael Preetz was adamant Babbel only informed him last Tuesday of his plans to leave.
The feud played out in the German media on Sunday with Babbel accused of lying before Berlin finally announced they had parted company with the former Bayern Munich defender.
On the pitch, Hanover are seventh, just outside the European places, while Kaiserslautern are third from bottom and drop into the relegation places after they shared a point in Sunday's draw.
Hanover took the lead when Norway striker Mohammed Abdellaoue slipped his marker and powered home with only 13 minutes gone, but Kaiserslautern hit back through Slovakia striker Adam Nemec in the 68th minute.
On Saturday, Spanish veteran Raul issued third-placed Schalke 04 with a timely reminder of his considerable talent with a hat-trick in the 5-0 rout of Werder Bremen to boost his hopes of a new deal with the club.
The 34-year-old is out of contract in June and Schalke are set to discuss his future in the Bundesliga's winter break, which lasts four weeks.
The Royal Blues have already said they are interested in signing Cologne's Germany striker Lukas Podolski as a possible replacement, but Raul was sublime as Schalke dismantled Bremen's defence in spectacular style.
The result leaves Schalke level with defending champions Borussia Dortmund on 34 points while both teams three points behind leaders Bayern Munich, who beat Cologne 3-0 on Friday.
Japan's Shinji Kagawa played a starring role as Dortmund enjoyed a 4-1 win at Freiburg.
Goals by Poland striker Robert Lewandowski, who netted twice, plus Germany midfielders Ilkay Guendogan and Kevin Grosskreutz sealed Dortmund's victory.
A day after drawing defending champions Barcelona in the Champions League last 16, Bayer Leverkusen crashed to a 3-0 defeat at home to Nuremberg.
Just eight minutes after coming off the bench, Wolfsburg's 20-year-old striker Sebastian Polter netted his first Bundesliga goal on only his second appearance to seal a 1-0 win over Stuttgart.
It was only Wolves' fourth win in their last 10 league games.
Hamburg remain unbeaten under new coach Thorsten Fink after they came from behind to draw 1-1 with Augsburg.
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