With both Bayern Munich and Dortmund losing last weekend, there have already been a few surprises this season and we’ve also had the first coaching casualties of the new campaign. What will matchday 3 throw up? Here are five talking points ahead of the weekend action…
Can new Schalke trainer Manuel Baum stop the rot?
Schalke’s decision to sack coach David Wagner after their home defeat to Werder Bremen had a sense of the inevitable about it. After the disastrous Rückrunde last season there was a lack of any evidence that things were going to change following a poor pre-season and successive losses to Bayern and Bremen.
Despite early speculation that perhaps Ralf Rangnick was going to return for a third spell at the helm in Gelsenkirchen, the Schalke hierarchy opted for former Augsburg trainer Manuel Baum to fill Wagner’s shoes.
The issue is that all of the problems that swamped Wagner are still there and it is going to be an uphill struggle for the 41-year-old coach to sort things out. Starting with an away trip to RB Leipzig is also not the easiest of debuts.
“We’re all aware of the current situation” Baum said at his first press conference. “My approach will be to put the past behind us and to look ahead. We need to find solutions to our problems to get back on track. The team has a lot more potential than they have shown recently.
“We need to focus on small successes at the moment and not start dreaming of things way down the line. Our confidence will grow with the more success we have. For me, it’s important that we put the problems behind us and find solutions.”
Will we see a reaction from Bayern and Dortmund?
Defeats for both champions Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund last weekend showed that the top two are not necessarily going to have an easy ride this season. After winning the European Supercup against Sevilla in midweek Bayern were unable to stop a rampant Hoffenheim at the PreZero Arena and went down to a 4-1 defeat.
Hansi Flick’s side were once again in midweek action winning the German Supercup against Dortmund and visitors on Sunday Hertha Berlin will be hoping to take advantage just as Hoffenheim did.
Dortmund’s 2-0 loss at Augsburg highlighted defensive issues at the back and despite dominating in terms of possession and territory, there was a lack of cutting edge upfront which in terms of the personnel at their disposal was a worry.
Lucien Favre’s side face Freiburg this weekend at the Signal Iduna Park and the Breisgauer will certainly make life more than a little uncomfortable for the Schwarzgelben and BVB will need a top performance to get back to winning ways.
Can Augsburg and Hoffenheim keep flying high?
Of course, the season is still in the very early stages, but both Hoffenheim and Augsburg will be more than a little delighted with being the only sides with maximum points thus far. Augsburg’s season goal is the same as every season and that is Bundesliga survival first and foremost. Beating Dortmund last weekend will have given them huge confidence following their opening weekend win over Union Berlin.
It is the first time Augsburg have won back to back games at the start of a Bundesliga season and they travel to Wolfsburg this weekend looking to make it three. Felix Uduokhai, scorer of the first goal against Dortmund will face his former club and is looking forward to the challenge.
“I’m really looking forward to it and I’m ready for the fight. It will be a hard-fought game and we will need to give 100%.”
Will new Mainz coach Jan-Moritz Lichte be able to unite the squad and secure the first points of the season?
Just hours after David Wagner became the first coaching casualty of the season, Mainz made Achim Beierlorzer the second when they sacked him. Two losses at the start of the season were not the primary reason, but rather the disintegration of the squad’s cohesion and morale following the Adam Szalai incident.
Having the first team squad literally going on strike and refusing to train under the coach meant there was really no way back for Beierlorzer and the 4-1 home defeat to VfB Stuttgart just made the decision for the club bosses even easier.
The Nullfünfer would dearly have loved for Jürgen Klopp to have thrown in the towel at Liverpool and return to the club on a rescue mission, but alas the club have instead turned to former assistant Jan-Moritz Lichte. The question now is whether the 40-year-old can get the club back on track. Mainz open the weekend action on Friday night with a trip to Berlin to face Union.
“I want to succeed through hard work” the new coach said. “I’m surrounded by people with great quality who I can rely on. We know what we need to do with the team. That’s how we’ll get back to doing the basics on the pitch that the club, fans and members all want to see.
“I think that the team have made themselves appear to be difficult to handle. I expect them all to do their best for the team and for each other. That is their task. They’ve made their own pressure.”
Which face of Hertha Berlin will we see?
The season opening 4-1 win over Werder Bremen saw the optimism rise at Hertha only for last week’s 3-1 home defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt to lead to a reality check. This weekend sees the biggest challenge thus far as they travel to the Allianz Arena to face Bayern.
Which Hertha will we see? The exciting attacking side with Matheus Cunha and Dodi Lukebakio in full flight or the one that lapsed defensively and leaked goals too easily? Hoffenheim showed last weekend that the champions can be beaten, but Hertha should be very content if they take a point.
More than the result, the manner of the performance will be what Bruno Labbadia will be looking at.
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