The 2018/19 Bundesliga campaign kicked off in a fascinating way as relegation playoff winner Wolfsburg upset Schalke while Dortmund & Bayern start off with a win.
After making a late return, the Bundesliga didn’t disappoint thanks to an exciting opening matchday that witnessed a host of interesting results across the weekend.
Defending champions Bayern Munich started off with a nervy win over Hoffenheim while arch-rivals Borussia Dortmund splurged an even bigger victory by pounding Leipzig 4-1. But, things weren’t as smooth for Schalke and Leverkusen, both of whom started their campaign with disappointing defeats over Wolfsburg and Gladbach respectively.
On the flip side, Eintracht Frankfurt pulled off a convincing 2-0 win over SC Freiburg along with their rivals FSV Mainz, who registered a narrow 1-0 win over VfB Stuttgart. However, both the newly promoted teams in Nurnberg and Dusseldorf had to suffer opening day defeats against Hertha and Augsburg respectively.
Here is a complete summary of the first matchday of the 2018-19 Bundesliga campaign.
Friday: Bayern struggle against a competent TSG Hoffenheim side.
Bayern Munich were given a run for their money by Julian Nagelsmann’s Hoffenheim in their opening day fixture, though the scoreline might suggest otherwise. In what was Niko Kovac’s first league game in charge of Bayern since taking charge earlier this summer, the Croatian mastermind was initially expected to end his drought against Nagelsmann.
He had recorded three draws and two defeats in the last five matches against the young German prior to the game. But, with a much stronger Bayern team, it was needless to say that the former Eintracht manager had the upper hand going into this clash.
That being said, Hoffenheim looked fairly dangerous throughout the game despite being pegged back early on through a goal from Thomas Muller. Die Kraichgauer defended with caution for the rest of the first half before capitalizing on a lack of concentration by the home side to snatch an equalizer in the 57th minute.
Adam Szalai’s amazing solo effort coupled with Hoffenheim’s diligence and solidity at the back felt like a breath of fresh air for non-Bayern fans, exhausted of seeing the Bavarians destroy their opponents in the opening fixture, at least for the past couple of years. But, a couple of awful errors from both of Hoffenheim’s substitutes in Havard Nordtveit (remember him, Hammers?) and Kevin Agpoguma saw TSG concede two goals in quick successions.
However, the game showed that perhaps Bayern’s sheer dominance in German football is gradually deteriorating and if the Bavarians aren’t careful enough, we could see witness a much more interesting title race.
Saturday: Wolfsburg pulls off an upset, VAR showdown, Haller masterclass and much more.
Saturday’s topspiel saw Borussia Monchengladbach splurge a huge surprise by beating Bayer Leverkusen 2-0 at the Borussia Park, thanks to a Jonas Hofmann masterclass. The former Dortmund star converted the penalty for Gladbach’s opener and amassed a total of five shots on goal – most by any other player in the game.
Another former Dortmund star Matthias Ginter also put in a valiant effort winning 83% of his aerials duels whilst making seven clearances and four tackles. But, the blame should be given to Leverkusen for not making the most of their chances, which ultimately cost them in the end.
In the earlier set of matches, it was Wolfsburg who arguably recorded the biggest surprise of the week by beating last season’s runner-up Schalke at the Volkswagen Arena. The Royal Blues looked uncharacteristically out of shape, which was coupled with their horrific defence. Ignacio Camacho was definitely the star of the game, who won four aerials duels, four tackles and made five interceptions.
But, credit should also be given to the new signings in Wout Weghorst and Daniel Ginczek, both of whom looked sharp in their league debuts for their new club. Ginczek’s goal in the dying embers of the game secured all three points for the Wolves.
However, VAR was highly involved in this fixture as it played a key role in overturning two bookings. Firstly, Matija Nastasic’s yellow was converted into a straight red after the replay showed that his rash tackle was indeed worthy of a sending off. Minutes later, it was the other way around as Weghorst, initially sent off following a headed push to Guido Burgstaller, was given a yellow.
Elsewhere, Frankfurt recorded a much needed 2-0 win over SC Freiburg following an early exit from the DFB Pokal. Star striker Sebastien Haller was by far the best player of the match and arguably the best striker of the weekend, as he not only scored the second goal but also assisted Nico Muller’s opener in the 10th minute.
Nurnberg, on the other hand, were dealt with a defeat to Hertha, after being promoted to the top flight for the first time in four years. Valentino Lazaro was the only Hertha attacker who stood out as he assisted Vedad Ibisevic’s winner in the first half. But, Der Klub had a glorious chance of leveling the score but unfortunately, star striker Mikael Ishak failed to convert the penalty in the 83rd minute.
Another newly promoted club in Fortuna Dusseldorf were much more impressive in their opening fixture against FC Augsburg. But, an Andre Hahn masterclass also saw them dropping all three points despite taking a lead through Benito Raman in the first half. And finally, Bremen and Hannover recorded the only draw of the weekend as both sides failed to outdo each other in a tightly-fought contest.
Sunday: Dortmund the “Spitzenreiter”; Ujah score
Before we get into this week’s Topspiel, let’s discuss a bit about Mainz’s win over Stuttgart in the afternoon game on Sunday.
Anthony Ujah scored on the first league game of his first full season with the 05-ers but it was goalkeeper Florian Muller, who made three saves to his keep his in the contest. But, it was a timid performance from Stuttgart, who lacked attacking potency in the final third. Though we got the opportunity to see former Dortmund midfielder Gonzalo Castro in his new colors this weekend.
Speaking of Dortmund, the black and yellows were simply unstoppable in their opening game against RB Leipzig. After initially falling behind through an early goal from Jean-Kevin Augustin, the hosts hit back in emphatic fashion. They found the equalizer in the 21st minute before going 3-1 up at the end of the first half.
New signing Axel Witsel continued his impressive form after joining Dortmund earlier this summer. The Belgian has now already netted two goals for his new club, both of which have been incredibly important in their own respect. Another new signing Thomas Delaney showed tremendous work-ethic throughout the game while Mahmoud Dahoud seems like a rejuvenated figure under Lucien Favre.
New captain Marco Reus also scored the fourth goal to cap off a convincing display from the Ruhrpott giants. And, it seems that new coach Favre has managed to bring the best of these highly talented players. Though it remains to be seen if they can maintain their form throughout the course of the season.