Matchday 8 of the Bundesliga sees table toppers Bayern Munich face a winless Werder Bremen in Munich, the debut of Champions League winning manager Roberto Di Matteo in the Bundesliga, and the return of Ilkay Gündogan and Marco Reus.
Beleaguered Bayern vs weak Werder:
Bremen coach Robin Dutt feels that “It is as likely for us to get a point at the Allianz as it is for Poland and Ireland to grab points against the World Champions”, showing his intentions clearly that the Northerners will put up a fight against a tired Bayern. They certainly have the firepower to do so in the form of the pacy, although indecisive Eljero Elia, powerful Franco di Santo, and ex-Bayern Nils Petersen. Despite having scored 10 goals this season, they have shipped in 16 already, indicating that the problems are in the defensive region.
With players still recovering from the International hangover and after another injury to Thiago Alcantara, morale will be low at Munich. Familiar weaknesses still persist in the form of the high defensive line, and lack of something concrete in the final third. Boosted by Franck Ribery’s return, the attacking efficiency would certainly improve, but the scare provided by a fast counter attack could unnerve them.
Expect this to be a routine victory for the Bavarians to ensure Bremen look elsewhere for their first win in this historically important clash that has seen trophies won and lost by both sides.
Bayern (3-4-3): Neuer-Boateng-Benatia-Dante-Rafinha-Lahm-Alonso-Alaba-Robben-Müller- Lewandowski
Bremen(4-5-1): Wolf-Busch-Prödl-Lukimya-Garcia-Galvez-Makiadi-Bartels-Junuzovic-Elia-di Santo
Prediction: Bayern Munich 2-0 Werder Bremen
Dortmund’s season begins now:
After 427 days out injured, Ilkay Gundogan is deemed fit to take his place on the Dortmund bench, and perhaps even make an appearance. Marco Reus, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Sven Bender have also passed the fitness test after various spells out injured. Now, the team can begin the ascent to the top. The first task is to take on the defensively impressive FC Köln at the RheinEnergieStadion on Saturday. After the shock defeat to Hamburg, a well needed recuperation period in the form of the international break could prove to be important.
Although 10 points adrift of Bayern, moral boosting returns of the aforementioned players can see them forge a new beginning. Yet to keep a domestic clean sheet, Dortmund would be wise to shut out attacks in the midfield itself. Köln need to take advantage of the defensive frailties and pressurize from the start.
A Dortmund win is likely, but it may not be a stroll in the park for them.
Prediction: FC Köln 1-2 Borussia Dortmund
Di Matteo’s debut and other matches:
The long overdue sacking of Jens Keller has finally happened, and the man to replace him is Champions League winning coach, Roberto Di Matteo. The ex-Chelsea man has to rebuild the inconsistent Schalke into a force to be reckoned with. It begins with the game vs. Hertha Berlin in Gelsenkirchen. The return of World Cup winner Benedikt Höwedes will add to the team spirit to beat the Berlin outfit, who are level with Schalke on 8 points.
Relegation candidates Stuttgart take on high-flyers Bayer Leverkusen; this year’s surprise package Mainz take on last year’s surprise package Augsburg; silent-but-efficient Wolfsburg face clueless Freiburg and Lucien Favre’s ‘Gladbach will look to consolidate hopes of a strong finish when they meet Hannover 96 to round up Saturday’s fixtures.
On Sunday, second place Hoffenheim meet Hamburg in what seems to be an intriguing matchup, and finally new boys Paderborn take on Eintracht in hopes of maintaining a distance with the relegation zone.
Schalke 04 3-2 Hertha BSC
Hannover 96 0-1 Borussia Monchengladbach
VfB Stuttgart 1-2 Bayer Leverkusen
SC Freiburg 0-2 VfL Wolfsburg
Mainz 05 1-1 FC Augsburg
Hamburger SV 2-2 Hoffenheim
SC Paderborn 0-2 Eintracht Frankfurt