Hot on the heels of the first midweek Champions League action of the new seasons comes the sixth Bundesliga matchday and there are plenty of talking points with coaching changes occurring and threatening to occur, an unusual constellation at the top of the table and a number of teams needing a top performance this weekend. Here we take a look at five questions going into the weekend.
1. What can we expect from Marco Rose’s return at Leipzig?
RB Leipzig’s midweek upset in the Champions League proved to be Domenico Tedesco’s last game in charge with the club deciding a change at the helm was required after a poor start to the season.
In comes Marco Rose and as fate would have it his first opponents in his new job are none other than his former employers Borussia Dortmund. The Schwarzgelben have won their last two Bundesliga outings and had an impressive 3-0 win over FC Copenhagen in the Champions League.
What we can expect from Leipzig is anyone’s guess. Will we see the usual ‘new coach’ upswing? Or does the malaise at the Red Bull Arena run a little deeper? Rose will want to prove a point against his former club, but with just two days to prepare it remains to be seen what impact he can have.
2. Can Thomas Reis afford to lose the Ruhrderby?
With Bochum still bottom of the table and pointless after five matches the knives were starting to come out for coach Thomas Reis and many were predicting he would become the first coaching casualty of the season. Now that Domenico Tedesco has beaten him to that unwanted achievement, he can focus on the Ruhrderby against Schalke. Despite backing this week from the board however, is it a game he can afford to lose?
“At the moment, the scenario of a dismissal is not being considered,” VfL Bochum chairman of the supervisory board Hans-Peter Villis explained in an interview with Bild this week. “I didn’t see that the team didn’t stand by the coach against Bremen. The reaction of the fans was positive too.”
Whether that player reaction or fan support will still be as strong with another defeat remains a big talking point. The fact that a training ground bust-up between goalkeeper Manuel Riemann and Gerrit Holtmann became public knowledge hasn’t helped matters. The Bochum keeper is said to have verbally insulted his teammates (calling them ‘freaks’) leading to a later apology.
Schalke themselves are under pressure to win at home after their heavy defeat to Union Berlin last time out. Frank Kramer’s side have only taken three points thus far and are yet to win a game.
3. Can Freiburg maintain top spot in the table?
The top of the Bundesliga table has an unusual look right now with Freiburg sitting top ahead of both Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. They’ve won four out their five matches and really should not have lost the clash with Dortmund on matchday 2.
The summer signings (Ginter, Gregoritsch, Doan) have clicked and the form that took them to European qualification at the end of last season has simply carried over to the new campaign and the Freiburg machine is purring along nicely.
What effect the added burden of midweek European action will have on the team remains to be seen, but it is not beyond the realms of belief that the Breisgauer will notch up another three points this weekend when they host a injury and suspension-affected Borussia Mönchengladbach.
4. Will the Union dream start continue?
Like Freiburg, Union Berlin have also brought the form they enjoyed at the tail end of last season into this new one and are enjoying themselves at the top end of the table. It is not as if they have only picked up ‘easy’ points so far with a derby win over Hertha, a comfortable win over RB Leipzig achieved and then last weekend they matched Bayern Munich at the Stadion an der Alten Försterei in a 1-1 draw.
Like Freiburg, Union have also been involved in European action in midweek hosting Belgian side Union Saint-Gilloise so a bit of squad rotation may be on the cards for Urs Fischer. The Union squad however does look well equipped to cope so there will be confidence going into the weekend trip to Köln.
The Billy Goats have themselves made a decent start to the season, but Union are the side grabbing everyone’s attention and long may the dream start continue as the underdogs from Köpenick continue to surprise.
5. Will it be a ‘ladder’ or a ‘snake’ for Leverkusen this weekend?
I’m not sure if Bayer Leverkusen coach Gerardo Seoane is a fan of ‘Snakes and Ladders’, but that seems to be how the Werkself’s season is panning out. One week the slide down a snake comes with a loss (Hoffenheim) and then they climb a ladder with a win (Mainz). Another dice roll however brings another snake (Freiburg) and the game continues. What will this weekend’s clash with Hertha Berlin bring?
To be fair the Freiburg defeat last weekend could as easily have ended as a 4-3 win for Leverkusen such were the chances both sides allowed each other. Their midweek Champions League opener away at Club Brugge ended in defeat with a howler from keeper Lukas Hradecky helping the Belgians to victory. A controversial VAR decision then denied Jonathan Tah a second half equaliser.