In Shakespeare’s Richard III, the eponymous villain of the play utters the famous line: “A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse” as he struggles on the battlefield. The idea of a king wanting a horse so badly that he would give his whole kingdom for one is an overstatement, and it’s meaning refers to being prepared to give anything for some small thing one needs above all else.
They may not be prepared to give their kingdom, but RB Leipzig, VfL Wolfsburg, Hertha Berlin, Eintracht Frankfurt, and Bayer Leverkusen are five Bundesliga sides surprisingly still winless after three matches and getting a little twitchy about their first three points.
The fact that two of last season’s Champions League qualifiers remain without a win after the opening three matchdays is more than surprising. Domenico Tedesco saw his RB Leipzig side play well at the start and at the end against VfB Stuttgart on matchday 1, only to be disappointed with the passivity shown in between. They were held to a second stalemate at home to Köln with Dominik Szoboszlai’s red card just before half-time a real blow.
Die Roten Bullen were then blown away by an impressive Union Berlin on matchday 3 (the fourth time in a row the Eisernen had taken all three points). The fightback when it came was too late and the first win still eludes them.
“Our points return is obviously disappointing” captain Willi Orban explained after the Union defeat. “We have to make sure that we get everyone to a top level. At the moment we’re lacking a little bit of power and physicality. If we can manage that, I’m sure that the points will come.”
They host Wolfsburg on Saturday.
Perhaps more worrying is the situation over at Bayer Leverkusen. The Werkself were tipped by many to emerge as genuine title contenders this season after impressing so much last year. An early exit from the Pokal and three defeats on the trot has however burst that particular bubble. Consecutive losses to Borussia Dortmund, FC Augsburg and Hoffenheim have heaped early pressure on coach Gerardo Seoane.
It is hard to explain what is going wrong at the club as the stats show they are getting forward, getting shots in, and controlling possession. There is an element of luck involved with blocked shots and near misses costing them in their long run. The difference against Hoffenheim at the weekend was simply that TSG took their chances.
Club CEO Fernando Caro has backed Seoane to turn things around, but they face two in-form sides (Mainz away and Freiburg at home) in their next two matches. They will desperately want to see an improved situation before the group stage draw for the Champions League is made.
Eintracht Frankfurt’s hangover from winning the UEFA Cup in Seville has seemingly stretched into August. The Adler were thrashed by Bayern on the opening night of the season but recovered somewhat to take points against Hertha and Köln. VAR denied them a late penalty against Berlin, while the Video Assistant also played his part in allowing Köln’s equaliser to stand despite Kevin Trapp’s insistence that Florian Dietz was offside and blocking his view.
Losing Filip Kostic to Juventus was a blow and with speculation now linking Kevin Trapp with a move to Manchester Unites, the squad situation is far from ideal. The hunt for the first win however goes on as they travel north to take on Werder Bremen on Sunday.
Nico Kovac would have wanted to hit the ground running with VfL Wolfsburg but a home draw against newcomers Werder, a loss to Bayern and a goalless draw with Schalke leaves the former Bayern and Frankfurt boss still looking for a first win. Next up is a trip to Leipzig (another winless side).
The soap opera that is Hertha Berlin also continues. The Old Lady took a point from Frankfurt on matchday 2 after being dispatched by Union in the Berlin derby. Their loss to Borussia Mönchengladbach did contain some positives- such as Chidera Ejuke, but they gave themselves an even harder task going down to ten men. This weekend sees them hosting an injured Borussia Dortmund, so a first win looks a difficult prospect.
Bochum, Stuttgart, and Schalke also remain winless.