Following the international break in which the Bundesliga’s finest travelled to all four corners of the globe to represent their countries, the action returns to the league this weekend with matchday 4 of the new season. To preview the weekend action let’s take a look at five talking points.
Can Hoffenheim spring a second upset against Dortmund?
New Hoffenheim trainer Sebastian Hoeneß has really hit the ground running in Sinsheim with six points from his first three matches. Matchday 3 saw a disappointing loss to Eintracht Frankfurt, but the opening two matches saw impressive wins. The standout victory was the 4-1 triumph over Bayern Munich and Hoffenheim will be looking to spring another surprise against a major title aspirant this weekend when they entertain Borussia Dortmund.
The hosts have fond recent memories of facing the Schwarzgelben following their 4-0 win at the Signal Iduna Park on the final matchday of last season when Andrej Kramarić bagged all four goals. The striker has also begun the new season in fine form with six Bundesliga goals already.
“It’s a top match against a team with very good quality” trainer Hoeneß explained this week. “It’ll be a big challenge for us but one we want to overcome. We’re looking forward to it. We want to make the most of our strengths and exploit Dortmund’s weaknesses. We want to defend aggressively and give away very little with our defensive approach. Furthermore, we want to be dangerous in front of goal again in this game.”
Who will win the top of the table clash between Augsburg and RB Leipzig?
Normally at completely different ends of the table, Augsburg host RB Leipzig on Saturday in a clash which sees first going up against second in the nascent Bundesliga table.
The Fuggerstädter are unbeaten after wins against Union Berlin and Borussia Dortmund, while they gained a point last time out with a goalless draw against VfL Wolfsburg. That point was gained without coach Heiko Herrlich who suffered a collapsed lung and had to undergo surgery. The trainer is ready to return to the technical area this weekend, which will provide a boost to their chances of getting a result against Leipzig.
Julian Nagelsmann’s side have also started the season with two wins (Mainz and Schalke) and a draw (Bayer Leverkusen) and are thus far not showing any hangover from their Champions League achievements from the tail end of last season.
Coming off the back of the international break and with one eye on their Champions League fixture in midweek, this could be the ideal time for Augsburg to meet their fellow high-flyers and keep up their excellent start to the season.
“We have a lot of confidence and we know it’ll be a tough game” Andre Hahn said this week. “We want to give our all so that we can keep the points here. We know it’s possible to win and we are working on our plan for the weekend.”
Will Leverkusen get their first win?
After missing out on Champions League qualification, losing in the final of the DFB Pokal and also losing star man Kai Havertz to Chelsea, Bayer Leverkusen fans were looking for a little cheer at the start of the new season, but thus far the Werkself have registered just three draws. A first three points is very much needed this weekend to get their campaign underway.
After failing to take all three points against either VfL Wolfsburg, RB Leipzig or VfB Stuttgart, Peter Bosz takes his team to struggling Mainz on Saturday. “Mainz have a lot of quality in their squad. It’s down to us to see that it takes another week before that is evident on the pitch,” the Dutchman declared this week.
Personnel-wise the Leverkusen coach will have to do without new signing Santiago Arias, who unfortunately suffered a broken leg and complex ligament damage to his ankle in a World Cup qualifier with Colombia and is set to be out of action for around six months. Patrik Schick is also potentially out with muscle injury, while Florian Wirtz also suffered a stomach injury while on U-21 duty and won’t be risked.
Do Bielefeld have a hope against Bayern?
Promotion to the Bundesliga brings its challenges, but nothing compares to pitting yourself against the Bundesliga and reigning European champions when it comes to tests. Bielefeld have equipped themselves well in the early weeks of the season with a win against Köln and a point against Eintracht Frankfurt. This however is a whole different ball game for the 2. Bundesliga champions.
Unfortunately no fans will be permitted to enjoy the clash with the Bavarians with Corona virus rates in the city too high to meet the strict health requirements, but the fans and players will be pumped ahead of the arrival of FC Bayern.
Do they have a hope? On paper no, but then football is played on grass not paper. “We’ll probably lose nine out of ten games against Bayern” coach Uwe Neuhaus conceded this week. “But we don’t want to wait until these nine games are over. I dare to predict that Bayern will have more possession on Saturday, but we will not surrender without a fight. We also have to look for ways forward and remain dangerous.”
Can any of the Zero Club grab their first points?
The longer you go without a point, the bigger the gap grows between the bottom three and those above and the greater the pressure grows on the players to somehow carve out a result. As the pressure mounts, players don’t perform to the optimal and a vicious cycle ensues.
Mainz, Schalke, and Köln all find themselves pointless after three games with the Nullfünfer and the Königsblauen having already sacked their coaches this season (Markus Gisdol must be more than a little worried).
Mainz have tough game at home to Bayer Leverkusen as they seek their first points while Köln host Eintracht Frankfurt without the injured captain Jonas Hector on Sunday. Schalke, whose winless run now extends to 19 matches are at home to Union Berlin in the late game on Sunday.
A fourth game without a point this weekend will spell trouble for any of the current members of the Zero Club. Will the membership still stand at three at the end of the weekend’s action.