Its matchday 4 and still the Bundesliga table hasn’t seen either Bayern or Dortmund at its summit. Bundesliga’s new boy SC Paderborn 07 top the table as last week’s topper Leverkusen fell to an embarrassing defeat. Elsewhere Schalke continue to struggle while Augsburg moved themselves of the basement with a thumping of Bremen. This and more in The Hard Tackle’s matchday 4 review of the Bundesliga.

Fixture congestion or over confidence?

‘Fixture congestion taking its toll’ was Pep Guardiola’s comment post the game against Hamburg. The reigning champions could come out only with a 0-0 from their trip to the north and surprising enousgh the result seemed to justify the display from the Bavarians. Having literally humiliated Hamburg over the last few seasons that included the 9-2 scoreline at the Allianz Arena, Guardiola’s side were expected to cruise through this one as well.

Call it over-confidence or fixture congestion, Pep made a number of changes to the side that beat Manchester City midweek. Alonso, Benatia, Lewandowski, Gotze all started on the bench with Højbjerg,Dante, Pizarro and Shaqiri taking the places. Bayern seem to start with a 3-4-3 but often looked more like drifting to a 4-1-4-1 as the game progressed. Lahm,Alaba and Højbjerg playing centrally with Rafinha,Dante, Boateng and Bernat forming the backline.

From the onset it was quite clear that Bayern lacked creativity from the middle of the park. Though workhorses Lahm and Alaba kept Bayern ticking with ball possession, they couldn’t get the ball through a tight Hamburg defense. Højbjerg getting his first start of the season in the middle of the park found himself constantly surrounded by the hosts leading him to making crucial mistakes. But when chances came, Bayern failed to capitalize. Pizarro missed his chance in the 20 minute and a stinging effort from Bernat was kept out.

Hamburg came into the second period with a spring in their steps. Nicolai Muller who had an excellent time at Mainz last season came close to opening the scoring when both Neuer and Boateng misjudged a through ball while Lahm spurned the visitor’s best chance at the other end. Tottenham loanee Lewis Holtby almost won it for the hosts at the very end when he lashed his shot wide off target.

Guardiola’s team selection might come under scrutiny post the game. His midfield was admittedly weak and lacked ideas. In light of their midfield injury list, Sebastian Rode who has quite a bit of Bundesliga experience could have been a better option than the young Højbjerg. On the other hand great start for HSV’s new boss Joe Zinnbauer

The other Shinji shines

The ‘lost son’ he was called and he made an instrumental return to the Bundesliga and Borussia Dortmund on matchday 3 leading his side to a 3-1 win over a stubborn Friburg side. But it was his namesake Shinji Okazaki who grabbed the headlines on matchday 4. The 28 year old Japanese International scored 15 goals for Mainz after his move from Stuttgart in the last campaign and has already scored 4 in 4 games for his side this season. His 4th gave Mainz a surprising but impressive win over high flying Borussia Dortmund at the Coface Arena late on Saturday.

Fresh from their 2-0 win over Arsenal in the midweek, Klopp chose to field much of the same attacking prowess that troubled the London side. During the midweek clash they were clinical and took their chances well. Against Mainz they were completely the opposite. Adrian Ramos missed three guilt edged chances while Ciro Immobile missed one from the penalty spot. In between Dortmund woeful finishing was a Jairo Samperio cross that met Okazaki. The striker made no mistake in giving his side the lead.

What would hurt Klopp and Dortmund even more is the foot injury Henrikh Mkhitaryan sustained during the game that could potentially rule him out for a month. Mkhitaryan amidst all the injuries has been Dortmund’s key player thus far in his new found role of a wide player. With Reus, Kuba and Mkhitaryan missing, Klopp might be forced to move Aubameyang to the wings.

The 2-0 win sees Mainz occupy 2nd spot while Dortmund languish at 10th.

Hoffenheim carry on while Wolfsburg reverse scoreline

Having conceded 67 and 70 goals in the last two Bundesliga campaigns, Hoffenheim have done themselves well by conceding just 2 in the first 4 games. 19 year old Niklas Süle is certainly blossoming into Germany’s next generation of defenders and in the Oliver Baumann they have one of the best custodians of the league. Their 2-0 win over struggling Stuttgart sees them move-up to 3rd, their highest ever position in the Bundesliga.

Wolfsburg were humbled 4-1 at Goodison Park on Thursday and they promptly reversed the result against Leverkusen to win their first game of the league season. Regarded as a skilled side and equally known for their inconsistency, Wolfsburg post their opening day defeat to Bayern have managed to only draw their other two games and the 4-1 mauling in the hands of Everton seemed to be the final straw.

Yet at home to a good Leverkusen side, they showed everyone what they have always been capable of and did it in fine style. Like on Thursday, Ricardo Rodríguez scored two on the night with both coming at the right end of the park. Rodiguez’s early strike was accompanied by a period of dominance for the home side and they rightfully went ahead at the stroke of half time. Roger Schmidt’s panicked changes early into the second period did little to hold back Wolfsburg and Rodrigeuz’s strike post the hour and a late Aaron Hunt goal was enough to give Hecking his first win.

ElseWhere in the Bundesliga

  • SC Freiburg  2-2  Hertha Berlin
  • Schalke 04  2-2  Eintracht Frankfurt
  •  FC Augsburg  4-2  Werder Bremen
  • SC Paderborn 07  2- 0  Hannover 96
  • FC Koln 0 -0 Borussia Mönchengladbach

Random Four

  • 6 of the 18 sides still remain winless post matchday 4.
  • Paderborn in their first ever season in the Bundesliga top the table.
  • Sticking with the league’s new boys, Paderborn’s Moritz Stoppelkamp created a Bundesliga record by scoring from 83 meters. The previous record was held by Georgios Tzavellas of Frankfurt who scored a 73 meter ripper against Manual Neuer (Schalke) 3 seasons back.
  •  Shinji Okazaki tops the goal scorers table with 4 and is followed by Hertha’s Schieber and Paderborn’s Kachunga, both having 3.

Goal of the Week

Hertha’s Ronny scored two delightful free kicks while Augsburg and Wolfsburg both scored. GOTW though goes to Stoppelkamp’s 83 meter screamer for table topping Paderborn.