There have been plenty of talking points over the past three matchdays of the new Bundesliga season and a full weekend of fixtures awaits with Bayern looking imperious while their so-called challengers falter already. Here are five questions to ponder ahead of matchday 4.
1. Can Mönchengladbach continue to be Bayern’s bogey team?
While not a derby, in terms of history and prestige clashes between Bayern Munich and Borussia Mönchengladbach are something special with those of memories of the 1970’s particularly aroused by the meeting.
Despite Bayern’s dominance of the Bundesliga for the past decade, if ever there was a bogey team for the Bavarians, then it would be the Foals. Of their last nine meetings Gladbach have won five and drawn one. Last season saw them beat dump Bayern out of the DFB Pokal with a sensational 5-0 win at the Borussia Park. They held them to a 1-1 draw on the opening night of the season and then opened the Rückrunde with a 2-1 win at the Allianz Arena.
Bayern have started the new season in imperious form however blitzing both Eintracht Frankfurt and Bochum, while comfortably easing past VfL Wolfsburg. There seems to be no post-Robert Lewandowski hangover and the new signings are bedding in well.
Gladbach have also started well under new coach Daniel Farke, but how his possession-based philosophy will fare against this Bayern side remains to be seen. They have the players to hurt Bayern in Alassane Plea, Marcus Thuram, Florian Neuhaus and Jonas Hofmann and the defence looks well marshalled by new signing Ko Itakura. The question is whether they have a psychological advantage over Julian Nagelsmann’s side after the last three meetings, or whether this Bayern side is a different beast.
2. Will we see a reaction from Borussia Dortmund?
After the debacle that was the finish to the Werder Bremen match last weekend, Dortmund has to show a positive reaction this weekend as they travel to the capital to face Hertha Berlin.
Edin Terzic will not have enjoyed watching his side capitulate and give up a 2-0 lead with minutes to go and he could be set to make radical(ish) changes with a switch to a back three. There were worrying signs against Freiburg that were papered over by the win and the fact that Werder bossed them at the Signal Iduna Park was concerning for the BVB leadership. Which side of the Schwarzgelben will we see this weekend?
Hertha won’t roll over and play the role of the sacrificial lamb having not won any of their opening three games and they will be very aware of the dangers of a negative series after their dalliance with relegation last season.
3. Are Leverkusen going to finally get going?
This wasn’t the way it was supposed to go for the Werkself. Many people had them down as potential title challengers this season, but with an early Pokal exit and three defeats on the trot in the league, Gerardo Seoane’s side are looking more like relegation fodder.
Okay, it’s only three games, but the pressure to get a positive (winning) result on matchday 4 is mounting. They travel to Mainz on Saturday with the Nullfünfer having made a more than respectable start to the season. Wins over Bochum and Augsburg combined with a point against Union Berlin has given them seven points from nine- a record Bayer would love to have.
There are no panic buttons being pressed right now at Leverkusen, but another poor result this weekend might make the fingers at the Bay Arena a little twitchier.
4. Can Freiburg, Mainz and Union maintain their positive starts?
The trio emerged as surprise teams last season out-performing so-called ‘bigger’ clubs with their league positions. All three have begun the season in fine form. Union have beaten both Hertha Berlin and RB Leipzig at the Stadion an der alten Försterei with their new look strike force of Sheraldo Becker and Jordan Pefok hitting it off instantly. They travel to Schalke this weekend.
Mainz have also taken seven points from a possible nine after wins over Bochum and Augsburg. They face a potentially tough task this weekend when they host a Bayer Leverkusen desperate for their first points of the season.
If Freiburg hadn’t succumbed to Dortmund’s late recovery on matchday 2, Christian Streich’s side would be on nine points alongside Bayern Munich. The Breisgauer will be confident of continuing their positive start as they host a Bochum side trounced 7-0 by Bayern last weekend.
5. Surely Leipzig are in trouble without a win against Wolfsburg?
The word ‘crisis’ is not being uttered at the Red Bull Arena just yet, but RB Leipzig’s failure to win any of their opening three matches is upping the pressure on coach Domenico Tedesco to get things going.
CEO Oliver Mintzlaff has already made his displeasure clear saying it had been a “shitty start to the season” following Leipzig’s 2-2 draw with Köln on Matchday 2. His frustration after last weeks 2-1 loss at Union Berlin must have grown and reports claim that he has ‘visited’ the players this week in the dressing room.
Die Roten Bullen host VfL Wolfsburg on Saturday with both clubs desperate for their first three points of the campaign.