The top four maintained their 100% record, while Schalke and Stuttgart suffered further humiliation. From Leverkusen’s 4-2 romp over Gladbach to Dortmund’s narrow win over Bremen, THT reviews matchday 3 in the Bundesliga.
Leverkusen notch up another impressive win
The 2013-2014 season has started off promising a tight race at the top as 5 teams finished matchday 2 on all points that was on offer. After the latest round, 4 still remain with a 100% record. But there is no denying that Hyypiä’s Bayer Leverkusen have been the most impressive of the pack and even though they remain second in the table, their recent exploits against Rhineland rivals Gladbach have added more credibility to their incredible start.
Leverkusen started the season with an almost possessed sense of playing attacking football. A 3-1 win over Freiburg on matchday 1 was followed by a tough away win over Stuttgart. With Gladbach expected to test their resolve to keep winning, Leverkusen had their last season top scorer Stefan Kießling and in form winger Sidney Sam to thank on matchday 3. Last season, Sam struggled to hold on to a starting spot as Kießling, Castro and André Schürrle formed the front 3 for Leverkusen leading them to a third place finish. Hyypiä may have moved Castro to right midfield to provide more cover for new signee Spahić, but Sam’s current suggests he could remain there for some time.
Sam wrapped up the game with 2 goals and an assist as his side ran out 4-2 winners over the Foals. The visitors will feel hard done as they started the game well, like they did against Bayern Munich on match day one. They dominated possession and had quite a few infringements into Leverkusen’s box early on. After absorbing pressure, the hosts settled down into their rhythm and won a decisive penalty via an Arango handball. Kießling, a master goal poacher, converted from the spot and five minutes later he turned provider for winger Sidney Sam.
Gladbach to their credit hit back after the break with skipper Stranzl right footing the ball from a corner, and then 3 minutes later Arango’s brilliant left foot found the back of the net on the 57th minute. But those 3 minutes of joy was it for the visitors, as Stefan Kießling found Sam once again just outside the box. A left footed shot aimed at the bottom left corner beat the diving Ter Stegan. The 72nd minute saw Sam assist Castro who struck from long range to give Leverkusen a two goal lead. The lead lasted for the rest of the match with Leverkusen registering their third consecutive win that sees them sitting second in the table a goal difference of +1 separating them from the top position.
Dortmund and Bayern grind out hard fought wins
Klopp rested his newest star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and midfield linchpin Sven Bender as his side took to the field against Robin Dutt’s Bremen at the Signal Iduna Park. Dutt, in his only fourth game in charge, surprisingly dropped main striker Nils Petersen from the lineup as Austrian Marko Arnautovic led the attack.
As expected Dortmund controlled most of the game launching a series of attacks on the Bremen goal. Polish winger Jakub Blaszczykowski saw his brilliant effort hit the crossbar, while Reus saw his effort fly wide. Sahin had his long distance shot go high and wide, while Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s effort went just above after playing out a brilliant one-two with Lewandowski. Bremen had kept two clean sheets in their previous games and they were out to prove that was no fluke as they resolutely kept the men in Yellow and Black at bay. The star was their 1.94m center back Sebastian Prodl who marshaled the young defense well making last ditch tackles and clearances.
Dortmund finally opened the scoring in the 55th minute as Lewandowski tapped in a Reus cross. Bremen had to come out of their comfort zone in light of the goal, but the lack of a quality finisher up front hurt them as Hunt, Arnautovic and Ekici failed to convert the limited chances they could conjure. Franco Do Santo was thrown late in to add some bite to the attack but the Dortmund back four held on to see out a 1-0 win that have them sitting on top of the table.
Meanwhile, Bayern Munich etched out a tough 1-0 win over Frankfurt last week and they were made to work again this week against Bavarian rivals Nürnberg. Pep Guardiola started with his new signings Thiago and Götze in the middle of the park with Schweinsteiger manning the lone holding role as his side took control of the game from the word go. But it was the visitors who came close to scoring as forward Daniel Ginczek stormed towards the goal and unleashed a stunner that beat a diving Neuer and rattled the crossbar. Bayern continued their search of goal as Robben and Ribery came close to opening the scoring. A 33rd-minute David Alaba effort from the spot was saved by Raphael Schäfer after a rather harsh penalty was given against the visitors. Nürnberg’s determined defending coupled with some wasteful efforts by Bayern’s attackers kept the score at 0-0 for about 70 minutes of the game.
The introduction of Thomas Müller and Toni Kroos brightened things for Bayern as they went close to opening the scoring. A pin-point cross across the box from Lahm found the unlikely head of Frank Ribery and the Frenchman made no mistake in heading it home to give the hosts the lead. 9 minutes later the patrons at the Allianz Arena were treated to a spectacular solo effort from mercurial Dutchman Robben has he jinxed past 3 defenders to slot in to make the score 2-0.
Stuttgart succumb to yet another defeat
Bruno Labbadia’s Stuttgart tasted yet another defeat, this time against neighbouring Augsburg as they fell to a 2-1 defeat in Bavaria. The defeat, Stuttgart’s fourth in a row, seems to be the last straw for the Stuttgart board as Labbadia was sacked today. The gaffer took over at Stuttgart in December 2010, and despite their DFB Pokal final appearance, endured what can be described as a dreadful last season. Fans of the Baden-Württemberg club have had to watch another miserable start to this season that has seen the club lose all their league games and their progress in the Europa League hangs in the balance after their first leg loss.
Nonetheless they would have felt confident travelling to Augsburg as they took on a side who like themselves had lost the first two games. But what Labbadia and his men didn’t anticipate was the onslaught they have to endure in the first half as Augsburg looked determined to register a first win. Turkish and Bundesliga veteran Halil Altintop opened the scoring in the 6th minute for the hosts with a neat left foot finish. Stuttgart tried to take control of the game thereafter with some inspired moves, but the Augsburg backline held firm. A series of midfield battles resulted in a 36th minute free kick for the hosts. Ex-Gladbach man Jan-Ingwer Callsen-Bracker headed in the resulting set-piece to give the Augsburg a 2-0 lead. 3 minutes before the break, Stuttgart were offered a lifeline as Paul Verhaegh fouled Maxim in the box. Reliable Vedad Ibisevic converted from the spot to take his side only a goal down into the break and some hope.
Augsburg started the second period with the same intensity as Raphael Holzhauser was unlucky to find the right post. With attempts being missed by both sides, Labbadia threw in Ibrahima Traoré only for the Guinea international to see red 6 minutes later. Reduced to 10 men, Stuttgart’s hopes of revival seemed to fade and even though Harnik came close to levelling things on the 90th minute, the Bavarians held on for their first victory. The visitors who have now lost their coach will tread back home hoping for better fortunes next time around.
Bundesliga Matchday 2 Results:
Hannover 96 2–1 Schalke 04, Hoffenheim 3–3 SC Freiburg, Mainz 05 2–0 VfL Wolfsburg, Hertha BSC 1–0 Hamburger SV, Eintracht Braunschweig 0–2 Eintracht Frankfurt
- With 3 wins in their first 3 games, Mainz have made their best start to a Bundesliga campaign.
- Hoffenheim, after scoring only 42 goals in 34 games last season, have already scored 10 in their 3 games.
- Schalke are the first side to see two red cards in the same game this season.
- Augsburg don’t seem to be afraid in taking shots at goals this season as they managed 17 shots on target that led to 2 goals. They managed a total of 31 with no goals on matchdays 1 and 2.
- Bruno Labbadia becomes the first and fastest managerial causality of this season.