Bundesliga returns after the untimely international break, with its share of goals and shocks. THT takes a look at what all to expect from this week’s games.
Augsburg vs Wolfsburg
The first match of the weekend sees Augsburg host Wolfsburg in a tie that sees two teams desperate for points already with just 2 weeks gone. Bookies are already priming Augsburg as the first team relegated this season. Home form will be extremely crucial and this kind of a game will be crucial.
Felix Magath’s side suffered a humiliating loss at the hands of Hannover 96 at the Volkswagen arena, having 2 players sent off too. The team would be looking to put behind a forgettable start to the season with a positive result, and the international break couldn’t have come at a better time for Magath and company.
Augsburg seem to lack the bite in attack, as stats would testify. They had the most number of crosses and cross-field balls in Gameweek 2 and yet ended up scoring just 1 goal. This should be a tightly contested affair with neither team wanting to lose and yet secure the best possible result. A strong performance from the Wolfs could unsettle the home side, though that doesn’t look very likely. A draw is on the cards.
Borussia Dortmund vs Bayer Leverkusen
The champions of Germany haven’t had the easiest of starts to the campaign having negotiated a win in the first week and drawing in the second. The third installment of the BuLi sees Leverkusen visit the Signal Iduna Park after a confident 2-0 win against Freiburg. Away trips haven’t been kind to Leverkusen in the recent past, but they would be fancying their chances as Dortmund would have half an eye on the Ajax game in midweek.
Sami Hyppia isn’t the most conservative of managers and might be tempted to go all out attack against a Dortmund side that have looked far from comfortable in the first two games. To add to that, the Dortmund defenders’ flaws were on display in Tuesday’s Austria-Germay game where first Schmelzer was beaten for pace for the umpteenth time on the night, followed by a static Mats Hummels which led to Austria’s goal. Ilkay Gundogan has looked a shadow of himself so far and the absence of Bender is not helping the manager.
Despite this, the return to fitness of Gotze and Kehl will delight Klopp. The match is expected to be one of very fine margins. Leverkusen had numerous chances against Freiburg but couldn’t convert a majority off them. On Saturday night, chances will be far and few and finishing will decide the fate of the match. The home side should just be able to nick this one, just because of their flair and attacking potential.
Bayern Munich vs Mainz 05
Sitting top of the table, 9 goals scored, 1 conceded. Bayern have been the quickest out of the blocks and would like to build on their brilliant start with an equally punishing display this weekend. Javi Martinez may start against Mainz and Robben looks a slight doubt for the game. Apart from that Heynckes has the entire roster to pick his team from. Last week’s demolition job against Stuttgart might be a sign of things to come for Mainz on Saturday who themselves lost at home to Furth.
After an international break that sees almost both teams’ players return unscathed, normal business should resume. Champions League commitments may force Heynckes’ hand and see him rotate a few players and thus the Bayern faithful could get a closer look at some of the new signings. Anything other than a regulation win will be extremely surprising irrespective of the starting lineup.
Greuther Furth vs Schalke
Champions League aspirants Schalke started slowly with a 2-2 draw but a win last week against a beleaguered Augsburg side must have upped their morale. To add to that, last season’s top scorer Klaas Jan Huntelaar also got off the mark for the campaign and Lewis Holtby has been extremely impressive in both the matches so far. Ibrahim Affelay would be looking to impress after a small cameo last gameweek.
Furth on the other hand must be on a high after a hard fought win away to Mainz 05. They would look to build on that and would be hoping to contain an attack minded Schalke side that might be distracted with a game against Olympiakos on Tuesday night. Furth have been given some extremely tough fixtures to start the season and have faired pretty well so far.
Schalke are obvious favourites in this one, but a tame performance from the home side is unlikely and the new boys would give the big boys a close and spirited fight. A victory for Schalke should still attract all the money, but it won’t be straight forward.
Stuttgart vs Fortuna Dusseldorf
Dusseldorf have been good so far. Tight at the back, solid in the middle and just doing enough attacking wise. Sttutgart enter the match having been embarraased at the Allianz Arena against a Bayern team that went out full throttle and Stuttgart never stood a chance. Despite Bayern’s excellent showing, it has to be noted that the Stuttgart defence looked very poor and disjointed.
Picking a winner looks difficult but if insisted upon Dusseldorf could come out with a surprise win in this one.
Freiburg vs Hoffenheim
Two teams already on the wrong side of the table face off on Sunday in a game that is extremely difficult to call. It could be one of those boring draws or another cracking open end game. The former is more likely as neither team have real quality upfront. Freiburg looked disjointed as they lost out to Leverkusen at the BayArena. The cluelessness in attack was palpable and has to be fixed at the earliest if they are to have any success.
Hoffenheim were horrendous in the last gameweek as they were thrashed left right and centre, despite playing at home. Playing away could be a bonus though as the pressure from the crowd will be missing and the players might just find their feet. Doesn’t look bright for them though, and Freiburg should win this. Comfortably? Not very likely.
Borussia Mönchengladbach vs Nuremberg
This should be one of the most interesting matches of the weekend, as two equally balanced teams face off in an encounter that should see some expansive football. Nuremberg performed out of their skins against Dortmund at home and grabbed a well earned point. To be fair to them, Nuremberg dominated proceedings and were perhaps the unluckier of the sides, and perhaps deserved all 3 points.
Gladbach have settled to life without Reus quite well. Losing out on a Champions League berth after putting up a brave fight in Kiev, they have had a decent start to their league campaign. Favre’s Gladbach side will be looking to make home advantage count on Saturday having amassed 4 points with 2 games gone.
A draw looks most likely, but a win for Gladbach won’t be very surprising either. The quality of Arango could be the difference between the two sides.
Hannover vs Werder Bremen
Hannover 96 have started the season with some sharp exciting attacking play. Having scored 2 against Schalke and 5 against Wroclaw, Hannover showed why their performances were no flukes by dismantling Wolfsburg, netting 4 past them. Szabolcs Huszti was the architect of the demolition job as he assisted for all four goals and has proved to be one of the best buys of the transfer window thus far.
Bremen ran out winners against a hapless Hamburg side who only had their keeper to thank for their respectable 2-0 defeat. But they face a team riding a crest and might look to salvage a draw at best. Both teams have no injury concerns and should field an unchanged team. Slomka’s good work has been clearly visible in Hannover’s performances and Bremen need to come up with a good plan to keep the home side at bay.
A home win is clearly the most expected result and should be one of the best bets for the weekend.
Frankfurt vs Hamburger SV
2 emphatic wins and a dream start to the season. Not many had expected such a resounding start from Armin Veh’s men, the same man who was shown the door by Hamburg not so long ago. It has been a sad fall from grace especially when one considers how Hamburg have fallen lower and lower every season and the signs have looked ominous so far. Two defeats to start the campaign, and lying fourth from bottom, Hamburg would be feeling the pressure, having finished at the very same 15th position for the last two seasons running. The return of former crowd favourite Rafael van Der Vaart may paper some cracks but displays on the pitch have to improve, and the Dutchman could act as a motivation.
Frankfurt on the other hand are loving life in the top tier of German football, sitting in second place only on goal difference. With Bayern playing on Saturday, Frankfurt might get added incentive to keep up their high flying start to the season. Armin Veh has given the team a strong structure and built a balanced force. How ironic that the man who was fired by Hamburg may come back to haunt them if all goes to plan.
Not really a tough game to call considering the recent form, but the arrival of van Der Vaart may just pump Hamburg enough to produce a good display, though a smart man won’t bet on that happening.