The Bundesliga sides return to league football after a hectic midweek that saw them involved in the round 2 of the DFB Pokal. Keeping up with the tradition of giant killing, Bundesliga sides Mainz and Hertha Berlin were knocked out by 2nd tier FC Köln and FC Kaiserslautern while the traditional big boys cruised through to the third round. Matchday 7 brings to his fans enthralling fixtures with crucial matchups at the top and bottom of the table.
Impressive Leverkusen entertain unpredictable Hannover (Saturday)
It’s 3rd vs 4th as Bayer Leverkusen entertain Hannover on Saturday evening at the Bay Arena. 3 points separate the two sides, both having made impressive starts to their respective campaigns. Mirko Slomka’s men were on the wrong side of a 4-1 scoreline midweek against Bayern Munich, but he will definitely want his side to continue their league form that has seen them notch up 4 wins in their first 6 games. Slomka will be travelling without the services of defensive trio of Christian Pander, Steve Cherundolo and Felipe while front man Mame Biram Diouf will also miss out on the game. Hannover have won only thrice in their last 13 meetings with Leverkusen and the last time they won at the Bay Arena was back in the 2006-2007 season.
On current form, Leverkusen look like the only Bundesliga side capable of breaking into the top two in the table having displayed some brilliant football in the league. The only loss they have incurred is the league so far is the shock one to Schalke while they lost to Manchester United in the Champions league. The loss of André Schürrle during the summer has hardly mattered as the trio of Sam, Son and Kießling have ensured that the goals keeping flowing with Leverkusen currently sitting second in the goals scored statistics. Australian international Robbie Kruse was their star man on matchday 6 has his brace inspired his side to a 4-1 win over Mainz and in the absence of the injured Castro will be expected to show similar form against Hannover. Injuries to Klose and Gomez have given national side boss Löw a striker selection problem and Leverkusen frontman Stefen Kießling would be quite keen to impress him. Gaffer Sami Hyypiä will be delighted to have Philipp Wollscheid back in the mix after the defender was overlooked at the beginning of the season due to injury and lack of form. Wollscheid was one of Leverkusen’s best defenders last season and Hyypiä will be hoping him and Toprak reestablish the air tight backline.
Bayer Leverkusen(4-3-3) : Leno – Spahic, Wollscheid, Toprak, Donati – Sam, Bender, Reinartz – Kruse, Son, Kiessling
Hannover 96(4-2-3-1): Zieler – Sakai, Marcelo, Sane, Pocognoli – Stindl, Andreasen – Bittencourt, Prib, Huszti – Ya Konan
One would want their most experienced and best backline to face one of the most feared attacks in the league and unfortunately in the case of Hannover they will be without Christian Pander and Steve Cherundolo.
Bayer Leverkusen 3 – 1 Hannover 96
Bayern look to build on their recent success (Saturday)
2-0, 3-0, 4-0 and 4-1 read Bayern’s last four exploits and Pep Guardiola will be quite to keep this going as his side play host to Dieter Hecking’s Wolves. After a difficult start on the back of a trebling winning campaign, Bayern finally seem to be hitting the right notes as their displays on the pitch is slowly getting back to the levels they set last term. Bayern’s attacking flair was on show in the DFB Pokal tie as they kept up a relentless pressure on the Hannover backline despite being 2-0 up. Bayern currently sit second in the table level on points and also equal on goal difference with rivals Borussia Dortmund. A welcome news for the hosts will be the return of their biggest signing of the summer Mario Götze who started training after his ankle injury. The German international was expected to feature in the midweek game and there is a good chance that he will make it to the starting 11 or atleast make an appearance from the bench against Wolfsburg. Javi Martinez, Thiago and Badstuber are still on the treatment tables.
A feature that is much on debate over the last few weeks is Guardiola’s use of skipper Philipp Lahm in midfield with Rafinha playing at right back. With injuries hitting the midfield department over the last few weeks, Lahm has featured alongside the likes of Kroos, Muller and Schweinsteiger in midfield for Bayern and as always has given in a brilliant performance at his new role. But with the return of Götze and Martinez in the next week or so, it will be interesting to see if Guardiola continues to use Lahm in the defensive midfield role.
Luis Gustavo and Ivica Olic were on Bayern’s payrolls and feature for Wolfsburg this season and the duo will undoubtedly want to show their ex-employers that they were wrong to let them go. Gustavo will be missing out the visit to the Allianz Arena on account of a red card suspension while Olic’s striker partner Bas Dost remains a doubt for the game. Key midfielder Vieirinha is ruled out for a month due to injury. Wolfsburg currently sit sixth in the table with 9 points from 6 games.
Bayern Munich(4-1-4-1) : Neuer – Rafinha, Boateng, Dante, Alaba – Lahm, Schweinsteiger, Muller/Kroos, Ribery, Robben – Mandzukic
Wolfsburg(4-2-3-1) : Benaglio – Ricardo Rodríguez, Naldo, Knoche/Klose, Schäfer – Polák, Träsch – Koo, Diego, Perišić – Olić
Bayern Munich 3 -0 Wolfsburg
Augsburg looking to be this season’s surprise package (Friday)
Every season, the Bundesliga comes out with a side who surprise most with their game play and manage to completely mess up the odds given by pundits and bookmakers. Two seasons back it was the game’s visitors Borussia Mönchengladbach and last season the duo of SC Freiburg and Eintracht Frankfurt took everyone by surprise with their enthralling game play and high finish.FC Augusburg on the other hand have been living by the skin of their teeth in the Bundesliga over the last couple of seasons. In the 2012-2013 campaign, they were housed right at the bottom of the table before a late run in form helped them stave off relegation. This season though, they seem to be keen to shred the image of a relegation fighting club to atleast a midtable one and have made a good start to achieve that. They are currently placed 8th from the top, with 9 points from 6 games, the same amount as their visitors Borussia Mönchengladbach. A win for Augsburg at home can see them jump to the Europa League spots. Raúl Bobadilla’s absence is the only major injury concern Markus Weinzierl has to deal with and the Bavarians should be in full force to take on their visitors.
Gladbach came out with a strong statement with a 4-1 mauling of bottom dwellers Eintracht Braunschweig on matchday 6. New boy Raffael and Max Kruse were amongst the goals as Gladbach dominated the game right from the word go. The Foals will be looking for a similar performance late on Friday evening as a win will take them to the Champions League positions. Kruse, Raffael, Herrmann and Arango are fast establishing a good understanding upfront while Xhaka and on loan Kramer have done quite well in the middle of the park. The visitors have no major injury concern.
FC Augsburg(4-2-3-1) : Manninger – Verhaegh, Callsen-Bracker, Ostrzolek, Klavan – Baier, Hahn – Altıntop , Morávek , Holzhauser – Mölders
Borussia Mönchengladbach(4-2-3-1) : Ter Stegen – Daems, Domínguez, Stranzl, Jantschke – Xhaka, Kramer– Arango, Raffael, Herrmann – Kruse
FC Augsburg 1 – 2 Borussia Mönchengladbach
Elsewhere in the Bundesliga (Predictions)
- Borussia Dortmund vs SC Freiburg (3 -0)
- Hoffenheim vs Schalke 04 ( 1 -2 )
- Hertha BSC vs Mainz 05 ( 0 -1)
- Eintracht Frankfurt vs Hamburger SV (2-1)
- Werder Bremen vs Nürnberg (1-1)
- Eintracht Braunschweig vs VFB Stuttgart (0 – 2)