It has certainly been an exciting week for Bundesliga clubs in Europe. The Uefa Champions League, the continent’s premier competition saw all four Bundesliga clubs register impressive wins to top their respective group tables while Wolfsburg and Gladbach pumped in goals at will to ensure an excellent week. With 26 goals scored and only 6 conceded by the six sides, fans will be hoping they bring this form into the Bundesliga as well.
The likes of Mainz and Hoffenheim have increased the entertainment value of the league with some enterprising football and they alongside the league’s top sides should promise an exciting matchday 9 of the German Bundesliga. The Hard Tackle takes a look at the key actions.
First vs Second
At the beginning of the league season, it was widely expected that the battle for top two will be between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich. Come matchday 9 and Bayern make the trip to another Borussia, in the form of Gladbach who sit 4 points behind the table toppers. The Fouls have continued their excellent form from last season to sit 2nd in the table with 3 wins and 2 draws in their last 5 games.
Last season it was the Fab four of Max Kruse, Raffael,Hermann and Arango that did bulk of the scoring for Lucien Favre’s side. Though long serving winger Arango has left the side, the addition of André Hahn from Augsburg and Ibrahima Traoré from Stuttgart has certainly strengthened the side in midfield and given the attacking prowess additional armoury.
The hosts are yet to lose a game in the Bundesliga or in Europe, but this spell will be put to serious test by Bayern Munich. The visitors after an indifferent start are back to their lethal self, hammering Roma in the midweek 7-1 and putting 6 past Werder Bremen on matchday 8. Mercurial duo of Robben and Ribery seem to be getting better with age and the presence of an agile goal poacher in form of Robert Lewandowski makes the duo even more dangerous. The midfield though remains the most impressive part of Pep’s plan. In the absence of key midfielder’s in Schweinsteiger, Martinez and Thiago, Pep’s game tactics revolves around veteran Xabi Alonso’s vision and ball control ability. This coupled with playing two full backs as agile ball winners has kept the clockwork ticking.
Bayern have scored 21 goals so far in the league that includes 12 in the last 3 games and haven’t conceded in their last 5 games. They finally seemed to have settled down into the 2-3-3-2/3-4-3 and have looked more devastating than ever. Can in form Gladbach stop the Bavarian juggernaut?
Bayern (2-3-3-2): Neuer-Boateng,Benatia- Lahm- Alonso-Alaba- Müller,Gotze,Ribery- Robben,Lewandowski
Gladbach (4-2-3-1): Sommer – Jantschke,Dominguez, Stranzl,Wendt – Xhaka, Nordtveit – Hermann , Raffael, Traoré – Kruse
Borussia Mönchengladbach 0-2 Bayern Munich
A case of two slipping sides
Marco Reus, Mkhitaryan and Gündoğan featured in Dortmund’s impressive 4-0 win over Galatasaray that brought about some respite to Klopp and his side. The Yellow and Blacks from the Ruhr valley have been in freefall losing to new boys Koln, bottom side Hamburg and their most hated rivals Schalke in the last 3 games. 14th position and just one point above the drop zone does not do justice to a very talented squad and manager. Then again that win against Galatasaray midweek coupled with return of the above mentioned trio should provide that much needed catalyst for Klopp’s side. The movement and understanding between Reus, Mkhitaryan, Kagawa and Aubameyang was magical at times and reminded many why BVB is most people’s second favourite side.
With much of the starting eleven at his disposal Klopp faces another side who seem unable to stop themselves from slipping. Hannover started the season quite well but have lost 4 of their last 5 games that seen them slip to 10th, 4 points better than their hosts.
Hannover’s issues have been both at the front and back. They have conceded 10 and scored only 1 in their last 5 games. Only their northern neighbours Hamburg have scored fewer goals with a tally of 3 in 8 games. Adding to their misery is the injury list amongst the backline. Hannover will travel without Sakai, Pander, Anderson,Sane, Ballas and Teichgraber while midfielder Lars Stindl is also out injured.
Borussia Dortmund (4-2-3-1) : Weidenfeller – Piszczek,Subotic,Hummels, Papastathopoulos – Gündoğan,Bender – Mkhitaryan,Kagawa,Reus – Aubameyang
Hannover 96 (4-2-3-1) : Zieler – Albornoz, Thesker, Felipe,Marcelo – Schmeidebach, Gülselam – Kiyotake,Bittencourt,Joselu – Briand
Borussia Dortmund 3-0 Hannover 96
Schalke look to ride on Di Matteo revolution and fight for midtable supremacy
Despite struggling to a 4-3 win over Sporting Lisbon midweek, Schalke under ex-Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo look to be much more of an organised side. Taking over the realms from sacked Jens Keller, Di Matteo got off to a great start with a win over Hertha Berlin. His system certainly seems to suit ‘Hunter’ Huntelaar who looks to be rediscovering his scoring touch.
Schalke’ best player this season has been new signee Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting with the attacking player carrying on his form from last season. It will be interesting to see if Schalke can continue their revival under their Italian boss when they face a stiff challenge from neighbours Bayer Leverkusen. Leverkusen after a strong start have fallen behind due to 3 draws in their last 3 games against Stuttgart, Paderborn and Freiburg.
Matchday 9 sees an intriguing battle for midtable supremacy as two in-form sides Wolfsburg and Mainz face of each other. Mainz who find themselves 3rd in the table are only better off than their hosts by a goal difference of +1 who sit 5th. Wolfsburg haven’t lost at home this season while Mainz have drawn three of their 4 away games.
Elsewhere in the Bundesliga (Prediction)
Werder Bremen 0-1 Koln (Friday game result)
FC Augsburg vs SC Freiburg (1-0)
Eintracht Frankfurt vs VfB Stuttgart ( 2-2)
Hertha BCS vs Hamburger SV ( 2-1)
Hoffenheim vs Paderborn (2-0)