Can Hertha Berlin go top of the table?
Three points for Hertha Berlin at home to Eintracht Frankfurt would see them ensconced at the top of the Bundesliga table for a few hours at least, but would also go a long way in confirming that the project to propel the capital club upwards is on the right track.
A poor run of defeats in pre-season and their embarrassing first round exit from the DFB Pokal had the doubters raising their heads and water being poured on the fires of optimism at the Olympiastadion. Last weekend’s opening win away at Werder Bremen has brought back the positivity and gives the club the chance to add a further three points on Friday when they get matchday 2 underway with the first return of fans to the stadium.
“The good start to the season in Bremen has definitely given us a good feeling going into this game” trainer Bruno Labbadia said at Thursday’s press conference. “Frankfurt are a team we’re looking to beat, but they’ll demand a lot from us.
“Frankfurt have performed very consistently over the past few years and have developed a framework that is further ahead of what we have here. We want to be flexible and find a system that best exploits the weaknesses of the opposition.”
Will Schalke or Werder Bremen emerge with any joy?
After dreadful campaigns last season, what both Schalke and Werder Bremen needed more than anything was a positive start to the new season. What they both got though was more of the same and further pressure heaped on their shoulders.
Schalke had the unenviable task of facing treble winners Bayern in their opener and were duly thrashed 8-0 at the Allianz Arena. Defensively they were torn apart at will by the Bavarians and it is hard to imagine them playing any worse. Yes, Bayern were good going forward, but there was nothing from the Königsblauen to suggest that this season is going to offer much in the way of respite from their woes. With their next two away games coming at Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig, the need for points at the home this weekend is immense.
Opponents Werder Bremen also wanted to put their near-miss with relegation behind them and Florian Kohfeldt wanted to show that the club’s faith in him was not misplaced, but they too reverted to type and slumped to a 4-1 home defeat to Hertha, which saw the defensive lapses and lack of imagination that marred their season last year.
A second defeat for either side would not spell disaster but would be a serious blow to their ambitions to put the nightmare of 2019-20 behind them. It is only matchday 2, but the pressure is already ratcheting up on both David Wagner and Florian Kohfeldt.
Can the Bayern machine keep rolling after Super Cup glory?
Beginning the season with an 8-0 win and then adding the European Super Cup in midweek amounts to a very good start to the season for Bayern, whose form in the new campaign looks to be just a continuation of last season.
Squad-wise Bayern are unmatched in the Bundesliga, but the question is whether their congested fixture list could be their biggest enemy. Travelling to Hungary to face Sevilla and then having to go to extra-time to win the Super Cup will have an effect and the Bavarians face a potentially tricky trip to Hoffenheim on Sunday.
Over recent seasons the Sinsheim club have managed to beat the perennial German champions on a few occasions and they will be hoping to catch Hansi Flick’s side cold when they meet at the PreZero Arena this weekend. The added advantage for TSG is that their new coach Sebastian Hoeneß know Bayern incredibly well and will possibly have an insight how best to neutralise them.
Hoffenheim also have an in-form Andrej Kramarić, who scored a hat-trick last weekend against Köln to add to the double he scored in the DFB Pokal and the quadruple he scored on the final matchday of last season versus Dortmund.
Has the fire at Mainz been put out?
If you were to list the ideal ways to prepare for your first home game of the new Bundesliga season, having your first team squad going on strike and refusing to train would probably be at the bottom of the list. That however was the situation at Mainz this week and visitors VfB Stuttgart must be itching to see if they can take advantage of the turmoil at the Opel Arena.
The club’s decision to demote striker Adam Szalai to the U-23 squad was the spark that set off the player’s protest, and their declaration of solidarity for their team mate has plunged Achim Beierlorzer’s season into a mini-crisis after just one match (a defeat to Leipzig).
“The fact that the team didn’t show up for training is a very unpleasant situation,” sporting director Rouwen Schröder explained on Thursday. “This definitely constitutes an escalation. There’s no need for us to sugarcoat anything.
“Life does not always follow a straightforward and positive course” he added. “What happened did not build up overnight. It is clear that what transpired will not be resolved immediately. We must continue to work intensively on these issues. It will be a longer process.”
How long that process takes could have a serious impact on the number of points the Nullfünfer pick up in the opening weeks of the season. Stuttgart will be ready to use any discord to their full advantage on Saturday.
Can Borussia Dortmund’s away form continue?
BVB are currently on their best run of away form under Lucien Favre after winning their last six games on the road (including the end of last season). An opening weekend win over fellow Champions League participants Borussia Mönchengladbach would have given them confidence, as would the early goals from Erling Haaland.
It was last season away at Augsburg that the Norwegian striker made his Schwarzgelben debut as a substitute and he duly scored a hat trick. More of the same would be very welcome at the WWK Arena from the Dortmund faithful.
“Augsburg are an opponent against whom the physical side of the game is important” keeper Roman Bürki has said this week. “They will be extremely motivated to get a win against us. They’ll be fully aware of what happened last season. We have to be prepared for anything and be able to replicate our performance against Gladbach. I mean physically, but we’ll need to show fighting spirit too.”