The Bundesliga round 4 marks a continuation of a busy week. After negotiating with the continental cup competitions, the German clubs are ready to entertain their fans with the familiar taste of the Bundesliga. TheHardTackle previews all the games to be played this weekend.
FC Nürnberg v Eintracht Frankfurt
The Bavarians have started off strongly, placed sixth in the table with an unbeaten three match streak. Dieter Hecking’s men did reasonably well against Dortmund when they held the reigning champions at home and followed it up with an emphatic victory over Gladbach last week. All eyes will be on the partnership between attacking midfielder Hiroshi Kiyotake, who has already scored once and raked up three assists in three games, and Robert Mak.
Armin Veh’s side has had a terrific start to their promoted season so far. The Moody Divas have kept a 100% record in the first three games and only goal difference separates them from pace-setters Bayern Munich. Frankfurt have so far scored 9 goals and conceded only three. A confdence-boosting victory over Hamburg gives Veh’s men the belief to upset Nürnberg at the Easy-Credit Stadion.
Expect this to be a close and intense match with the home side having a better chance to improve their Bundesliga points tally.
FC Schalke 04 v Bayern München
This has to be the biggest game of the weekend. Both teams have slogged to win their midweek Champions League fixture. Schalke had it difficult as they had to travel to Greece to open their account in the continental tournament. Schalke are so far unbeaten in the league and are placed at fourth spot. Huub Steven’s side is expected to attack right from the word go to unsettle the table toppers.
League leaders Bayern will have a few tired legs as the players will have one less day than Schalke to rest from their midweek excursion. Good news for Bayern is that Schweinsteiger is not only back, he is back amongst the goals as well, having scored in back to back games. Mandžukić, who did not start against Valencia in Champions League, will look forward to keep his 100% Bundesliga scoring record with Bayern intact.
Both teams are likely to field a 4-2-3-1 formation. Both teams have prolific strikers and have stellar attacking midfielders. The team that shows better defensive discipline and better application in front of the goal will walk away as winners.
Hamburger SV v Borussia Dortmund
Hamburg enjoyed its dalliance with relegation last year. This season started almost in the same flavor with Thorsten Fink’s men yet to open their Bundesliga account in three games. They showed some resilience in the last game against Frankfurt where they came back from 2-0 down to draw level but eventually lost the game. Jiracek will miss this game as a consequence of the red card shown in the game against Frankfurt.
Jürgen Klopp must be a relieved man as Dortmund started this season’s Champions League account with a victory. Had Hummels not missed the penalty against Ajax, the victory would have appeared less dramatic and less painstaking. All in all, two back to back victories after a bland stalemate against Nürnberg gives the defending champions the belief to go for the jugular against a side which is only ahead of bottom placed Hoffenheim because of a healthier goal difference.
A tricky fixture for the defending champions. With their talisman Van der Vaart back, Hamburgers are likely to draw their teeth and claws to snatch at least a point in a feat of desperation.
VfL Wolfsburg v SpVgg Greuther Fürth
Felix Magath’s men must be desperate to pull this one off at home. This will be their second home game of the season. The previous home game does not boast of happy memories as the Wolfs were put to the sword by the travelling Hannover side who put 4 past a hapless Diego Benaglio. Wolfsburg have so far scored only a single goal and sitting out Bas Dost last week proved fatal. A lot will depend on how a midfield led by Diego and probably Pilař help create chances for the attackers.
Fürth haven’t yet set their status alight with less than par performances at a consistent rate. Already out of DFB-Pokal, in which they lost against third division side Offenbach, Fürth started the campaign with an expected walloping at the hands of Bayern. A shocking away victory against Mainz did earn them smattering accolades. But yet another home defeat to Schalke put an end to their one-week long winning streak.
Though Magath’s men haven’t been scoring much, they are likely to run amok against the Cloverleaves.
Fortuna Düsseldorf v SC Freiburg
The Flingeraners have been the surprise package of the season so far. The newly promoted side is in seventh spot in the table. The team is yet to be beaten in the league and more importantly, they are the only team which is yet to concede a goal in this season’s Bundesliga. F95 have failed to score in their last two Bundesliga outings, but their defense has successfully negated Gladbach’s attack at home and Stuttgart’s attack away from home.
Freiburg does not have a good record against Düsseldorf. Out of the four previous meetings, Freiburg have lost two and drawn two games. Esprit Arena hasn’t been their happy hunting ground either. But last week’s emphatic 5-3 victory over Hoffenheim will surely give them the required boost.
This could be a good game considering Freiburg’s newly found attacking ability and the firmness of Düsseldorf at the back.
FSV Mainz 05 v FC Augsburg
Mainz are not playing particularly well at the moment. A stalemate against Freiburg away from home might have depicted a decent start to their campaign. But a shocking home defeat to Fürth followed by an expected rout against a resurrected Bayern side has left the Oh Five’s in a quandary.
Augsburg haven’t been playing well either. After losing their first two Bundesliga games by healthy margins, Augsburg did its best to register its first clean sheet, against Wolfsburg, at home.
Both sides are yet to pick up a win and both sides have lost two games. The only differentiating factor is the goal difference so far. Good thing for Augsburg is that in six previous games, they have won against Mainz thrice and lost only once. So advantage Augsburg.
Bayer Leverkusen v Borussia Mönchengladbach
Leverkusen have not gone off to a good start this campaign. With three points from as many matches, Leverkusen have lost twice already. Out of the last five games, the Werkself have played at home only once and that was their only victory. Out of the rest of their four away games they lost three. A 3-0 drubbing at the hands of Dortmund a week back does not really indicate good times for the new managers at B04.
Their opponents had a heart-break of failing to qualify for the Champions League. But compared to their upcoming rivals, Gladbach are better placed. A crackerjack game against Nürnberg went against them last week but the team has shown character in that 2-3 defeat.
This could be another intensive game of the week with very little to choose between two sides, both of which are desperate to make the most of the next match. Another contender for the game of the week.
1899 Hoffenheim v Hannover 96
Hoffenheim’s domestic campaign has so far been disastrous to say the least. Three defeats in as many as three games; if that is not enough, Hoffenheim have let 11 goals in the process which includes 5 goals that they conceded against Freibrug in a 5 -3 thriller, a game in which they took the lead and later came back twice from behind to draw level. In the mean time Sporting Director Markus Babbel made way for Andreas Müller to concentrate more on coaching duties to help the team get over the situation they have been in.
Hannover’s cinderella story has only got better with each game this season. Unbeaten as yet, Slomka’s men have climbed up to third spot. Last week saw them win yet another derby against Werder Bremen. Huszti and Andreasen gave the Reds a 2-0 lead in 11 minutes but somehow Bremen got back into the game. It was Huszti again who scored the winner with an overhead kick to seal the deal for Hannover.
The Hoffenheim test could be difficult for Hannover. More so, as their saviour, the ex-Zenit man Huszti, who created four and scored three of Hannover’s last seven goals, will be missing this game thanks to the Nipplegate incident following his over-the-top celebration which earned him a couple of yellow cards in the process.
Werder Bremen v VfB Stuttgart
Thomas Schaaf’s men must be gutted by the result of their derby game against Hannover. The team started off well with an unfortunate loss against Dortmund, followed it up with a victory over Hamburg. In the derby, they came close twice to take the lead after 2-2 against Hannover, but they were denied twice by the official, once for a valid offside call against Sokratis and once for a phantom foul by Sokratis on Karim Haggui. And then Huszti took away a single point Schaaf’s men derserved from this game.
Stuttgart’s first game of the season was well summarized by Vedad Ibisevic’s disastrous penalty in the dying minutes of the game. Their second game was a thrashing at the hands of Bayern. The confidence of the team went for a toss after the first two games and Stuttgart could only manage to hold Düsseldorf to a goalless draw at home.
Bremen have been playing good football without much luck unlike Stuttgart, who hardly showed any signs of improvement. From the outset, this one is in the bag for Schaaf’s men.