It was a week full of firsts. From Bayern’s first dropped points to Schalke, Hamburg, and Stuttgart’s first wins of the season, THT reviews Matchday 4 in the Bundesliga.
Bayern slip up, Dortmund remain undefeated at top
Bayern’s European schedule this week saw them kick off Matchday 4 on Tuesday at Freiburg. Thinking ahead to the UEFA Supercup against Chelsea on Friday, Pep Guardiola fielded a heavily-rotated squad with Lahm, Robben, Ribery, and Mandzukic all on the bench. Freiburg had not beaten Bayern in 22 years, and their streak was not fated to end on this week.
The visitors got off to a shaky start, but Xherdan Shaqiri got the first goal for Bayern after 33 minutes. Bayern came close to extending their lead multiple times over the course of the match, with chances falling to Götze, Müller, and Kroos, but couldn’t convert. Finally, Freiburg capitalized on Bayern’s wastefulness with a goal of their own — a smooth 86th minute equalizer courtesy of Nicolas Höfler.
With this draw, Bayern are now two points behind Borussia Dortmund who got their fourth win in a row against Eintracht Frankfurt. The Eagles put in a strong display, pressing hard to stay toe-to-toe with Dortmund. But a brace from magic newbie Henrikh Mkhitaryan was enough for Dortmund to take all three points, despite Vaclav Kadlec’s 36th minute goal. This is Dortmund’s best season start in over a decade, and will be hugely inspiring to a side that many had written off after the summer transfer window.
But despite a shining record in August, Jürgen Klopp insists that his team can do better. “We didn’t press [Frankfurt] hard enough after conceding and gave them far too many chances from set pieces,” said Dortmund’s head coach.
Schalke back on track with 2-0 win over Leverkusen
Bayer Leverkusen’s chance to go top of the league table went begging as they lost 2-0 to Schalke at the Veltins Arena on Saturday. The match started off cautiously, with both sides testing the waters. Leverkusen were caught out first, as Ömer Toprak conceded a handball under pressure. Jefferson Farfan’s resulting free-kick found Marco Höger and, consequently, the back of Hildebrand’s net.
Schalke started the second half with some good pressing that let Leverkusen hapless in midfield. New signing Kevin-Prince Boateng joined Draxler and Farfan in terrorizing Leverkusen’s back line, and Boateng went close just after the hour mark, but was denied Bernd Leno at full stretch. Leverkusen pressed hard for the equalizer, but it was Schalke who got the second and final goal of the night. In the 82nd minute, Farfan won a penalty off Spahic, then cooly converted from the spot to put the match to bed.
This marked Leverkusen’s first loss since March, when they succumbed 2-1 to Bayern. Meanwhile Schalke — and especially Jens Keller — can breathe a sigh of relief. The Royal Blues have lived far below expectation so far, but the season is young yet, and if Saturday’s display is anything to go by they are well capable of turning it around.
Big first wins for Stuttgart and Hamburg
None of Stuttgart’s last four coaches had lost their first game. On Sunday, Thomas Schneider made it five for five. It seems hardly possible that this was the same team of mediocre weekends past. Schneider’s first Bundesliga match at the Mercedez-Benz Arena saw a rampant Stuttgart knock in 6 goals to Hoffenheim’s 2.
Antonio Rüdiger got things underway with a 12th minute goal. What followed was a rout. Vedad Ibisevic scored the third hat-trick of the campaign, Alexandru Maxim got two goals and two assists, and 17-year-old Timo Werner made a name for himself as another hot prospect from Stuttgart’s youth academy. Hoffenheim managed a goal in each half, courtesy of Kevin Volland and Roberto Firmino, but nothing could stop the flood that day.
Stuttgart have found their tempo again, and the joy is palpable. “It was sensational, absolutely crazy,” said Thomas Schneider after the match. “The players put the plan into practice. We were alert from the beginning, remained compact and attacked quickly. There were so many things which were incredibly enjoyable.”
And Stuttgart were not the only team celebrating on matchday 4. After Hertha Berlin spoiled Hamburg’s 50th anniversary last weekend, HSV were out for vindication this week against another newly-promoted side: Eintracht Braunschweig. And vindication they got. HSV dominated the match from start to finish, ending the day with a 4-0 win and the biggest margin of victory yet under Thorsten Fink.
19-year-old Hakan Calhanoglu especially delivered a sensational performance. A 79th minute substitute, the youngster scored within a minute of taking the pitch, before doubling his account during added time with a delightful free-kick. HSV were already up 2-0 thanks to goals from Van der Vaar and Zoua in the first half; Calhangolu’s brace was just the cherry on top.
Bundesliga Matchday 4 Results:
Gladbach 4-1 Werder Bremen, Hannover 4-1 Mainz, Wolfsburg 2-0 Hertha Berlin, Nuremberg 0-1 Augsburg
- Freiburg have now gone 23 Bundesliga matches without a win against Bayern.
- Stuttgart’s Timo Werner, at age 17 years and 5 months, is the youngest player to ever get an assist in the Bundesliga.
- Hannover 96 began the season by winning 3 of their first 4 games — the first time in 48 years.
- Hertha Berlin’s 0-2 loss at Wolfsburg was their first league defeat in 13 games.
- Eintracht Braunschweig are the third newly-promoted side in Bundesliga history to go 0 for 4 in their opening matches.
Goal of the Week:
Henrikh Mkhitaryan 2-1 (Borussia Dortmund)