The 2013-2014 season started with a bang last week as the 18 top flight clubs in the German Bunedesliga thoroughly entertained viewers all over the world. 37 goals were scored and sides like Hamburg , Schalke , Dortmund and Mainz put up a thrilling display of the beautiful game to give fans some respite from the summer heat. The midweek international fixture of Germany-Paraguay has forced the Bundesliga to abandon its traditional Friday kick-off by playing 7 games on Saturday while maintaining its usual 2 on Sunday. The Hard Tackle looks into matchday 2 of the Bundesliga.
Dortmund v Braunschweig (Sunday)
The founding members of the Bundesliga and returning Braunschweig got a rather harsh welcome as they went down 1-0 to 82nd minute Junuzovic goal against Werder Bremen. Torsten Lieberknecht will consider his side to be unfortunate as they had put up a spirited display in front of their homes fans, being denied from going in front by the woodwork, a goal line clearance and goal keeper Sebastian Mielitz. None the less they will be quite keen to put that disappointment behind them as they travel south-west to take on Jurgen Klopp’s Dortmund.
Gotze-who was the message last week when Dortmund took to the field against Augsburg, thrashing them by 4-0 with new boy and debutant Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang notching up a hat trick. Nicknamed the ‘ Spiderman’ for his incredible speed and agility, the attacker showed just why Dortmund and Klopp put money and faith on him as he blasted his way past a shell shocked Augsburg backline. It will be a little premature to label the Gabon international a success, but his versatility and dribbling skills not just gives Klopp the option to place him anywhere in the frontline but also gives the side a focal point other than Lewandowski. Aubameyang’s ability to play anywhere will be put to another test as Klopp will look to reshuffle his side in the light of the injury key midfielder İlkay Gündoğan might be carrying. Gündoğan was substituted during Germany’s midweek international against Paraguay and reports suggest he might be carrying a back injury. Dortmund’s other new signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan is still unavailable, as will be Roman Weidenfeller and right back Lukasz Piszczek.
Braunschweig only have defender Matthias Henn and striker Domi Kumbela not fit to be travelling but Lieberknecht will know he has a daunting task on his hands come Sunday. Braunschweig despite a spirited showing against Bremen did have areas of concern especially in ball control and pocession in the middle of the pitch and against Dortmund they really need to fix that.
Borussia Dortmund: Langerak – Großkreutz, Subotic, Hummels, Schmelzer – Sahin, Bender – Blaszczykowski, Aubameyang, Reus – Lewandowski
Eintracht Braunschweig: Petkovic – Reichel, Doğan, Bičakčić, Correia – Hochscheidt, Kratz, Caligiuri, Elabdellaoui – Jackson, Kruppke
When you have a front four of Blaszczykowski, Aubameyang, Reus and Lewandowski, it’s hard to see how the Bundesliga new boys Eintracht Braunschweig can pull off anything. Another goal fest awaits with Dortmund 4 – 0 Braunschweig.
Frankfurt v Bayern Munich (Saturday)
Armin Veh’s Eagles justified the unpredictability of the Bundesliga finishing sixth after gaining promotion in the 2012-2013 season. They thrilled their audience with some breath taking play, moving the ball across the pitch quickly and displaying dogged defense. This season, they seem to be keen to carry along the aura of unpredictability as they crashed to a surprise 6-1 loss to the boys from the capital, Hertha Berlin. Veh will definitely be hoping his real side turn up for the visit of reigning champions Bayern Munich, a task which is difficult in itself even if your side was on form.
Pep Guardiola’s men beat Gladbach in the season opener, winning by a margin of 3-1. But it can be argued that it was far from the dominance and flair the treble winning side displayed last season. They did have their customary start by hammering in 2 goals courtesy Robben and Mandzukic inside the first 20 minutes but then failed to stamp their authority later on. Gladbach to their credit kept up the pressure on the hosts and it was Neuer’s acrobatic efforts in front of the goal that kept the Bavarians in the game for much of the first half. But it did look as though Bayern were struggling to dominate midfield using a single pivot in Bastian Schweinsteiger. Last season, the midfield duo of Schweinsteiger and Martinez formed a lethal partnership in the middle of park, propagating attacks and forming an effective shield in front of the back four.
The Bayern camp though will be delighted to welcome their star signing of the summer Mario Götze who seems to have shaken off the hamstring injury that kept him out of the Champions League final. Götze looked to be in fine form as he helped himself to a brace in Bayern’s 4-1 friendly win over Hungarian champions Győr last weekend. The German international should feature in Saturday’s starting line-up in central midfield. Bayern don’t have any new major injury concerns ahead of the game. Out of favour Brazilian midfielder Luis Gustavo has moved to fellow Bundesliga side Wolfsburg for a reported £17m on a five year deal.
Eintracht Frankfurt: Trapp – Jung, Zambrano, Russ, Oczipka – Flum/ Aigner, Meier – Schwegler, Rode, Inui – Rosenthal
Bayern Munich: Neuer – Alaba, Dante, Boateng, Lahm – Schweinsteiger/Martinez – Muller, Götze, Ribery, Robben – Mandzukic
Eintracht Frankfurt 0 – 3 Bayern Munich
Stuttgart v Leverkusen (Saturday)
Sami Hyypiä’s men made a fine start on matchday 1 as they overcame a resilient Freiburg side by 3-1. Leverkusen took to the field with a 3 pronged attack consisting of Kießling, Sam and new boy Son with all three scoring to give Werkself a vital win to kick start their campaign. The win sees them placed third in the table, a position they held onto at the end of last season. New signing Son Heung-Min was in blistering form along the left flank and his performance looks to have already erased the image of the departed André Schürrle. Defensive lynchpin Philipp Wollscheid failed to start last game and should make a comeback in place of Sebastian Boenisch. Full backs Emir Spahić and young Italian Giulio Donati put in impressive shifts for the side and were clearly the standout performers at the back against Freiburg. Hyypiä will be travelling without the services of midfielder Dominik Kohr and goal keeper Niklas Lomb, but should otherwise have a full roster at his disposal.
Hosts Stuttgart played out a thriller against Mainz 05 on matchday 1, the final score being at 3-2 with wide man Nicolai Muller scoring a brace and old boy Shinji Okazaki opening his account against his former employers for Mainz. Bruno Labbadia was left to rue the injuries to first choice center back pair Serdar Tasci and Georg Niedermeier as Mainz’s attackers ran circles around Stuttgart’s backline. With the duo still out, Stuttgart will look for a better showing from their backline sheppard by Daniel Schwaab and Konstantin Rausch. Midfielders Johan Audel, Daniel Didavi and new signing Marco Rojas are all on the treatment table and will be unavailable for selection.
VfB Stuttgart: Ulreich – Röcker, Schwaab, Rausch/ Rüdiger, Sakai – Leitner, Gentner – Traoré, Boka, Harnik – Ibišević
Bayer Leverkusen: Leno – Spahić, Toprak, Wollscheid, Donati/Reinartz, Bender, Castro – Son, Sam, Kießling
Stuttgart have upgraded their squad for this season, but the loss of defensive stalwarts Niedermeier and Tasci will hurt especially against the trio of Son, Sam and Kießling. Stuttgart 1 – 3 Bayer Leverkusen
Elsewhere in the Bundesliga (Predictions)
- VfL Wolfsburg vs Schalke 04 (1-2)
- Werder Bremen vs FC Augsburg (0-2)
- SC Freiburg vs Mainz 05 (1-2)
- Hamburger SV vs Hoffenheim (3-1)
- Borussia Mönchengladbach vs Hannover 96 (2-2)
- FC Nürnberg vs Hertha BSC ( 1-2)