The matches are coming thick and fast for the Bundesliga’s European contenders after the internationals and a return to domestic action. Important Champions League points are on offer as the group stage starts to take shape.
Tuesday 4th October
Bayern Munich v Viktoria Plzeň
After wins against both Inter and Barcelona in the so-called ‘Group of Death’ Bayern face a double header against Czech minnows Viktoria Plzeň, which gives them a real opportunity to book their place in the next knock-out stage.
With a mini crisis in the Bundesliga seemingly averted with an impressive 4-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen, Bayern can continue their improvement in form and hopefully add a few goals at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday.
Julian Nagelsmann might take the opportunity to rotate his squad a little, although that might me forced upon him with the positive Corona virus tests to both Joshua Kimmich and Thomas Müller.
Plzeň have predictably lost both their Champions League outing so far (5-1 at the Nou Camp and 2-0 at home to Inter) although they do lead their domestic league after 10 rounds (they have a game in hand). A 1-1 draw at Bohemians at the weekend however brought to end their seven-match winning streak.
The two side did meet in the Champions League group stage back in 2013-14 when Pep Guardiola’s Bayern won 5-0 at the Allianz Arena thanks to a Frank Ribéry double and further goals from David Alaba, Bastian Schweinsteiger, and Mario Götze.
Player to watch:
28-year-old midfielder Jan Sykora has made a good start to the season after making his loan spell from Lech Poznan last season into a permanent transfer. He has been operating on the left-hand side of Michal Bílek’s 3-4-1-2 formation.
Porto v Bayer Leverkusen
Bayer trainer Gerardo Seoane enters what is a make-or-break week for him as his Leverkusen side try to save his job. Following a poor start to the season and Friday’s abject defeat to Bayern Munich, CEO Fernando Carro has basically said that the results this week against Porto and Schalke will decide Seoane’s fate.
The Schalke game on Saturday is the key, but all eyes will bon the Champions League on Tuesday to see if the team can show a reaction to the beating they received at the Allianz Arena. Important group B points are up for grabs with the Werkself having made up for defeat to Brugge on matchday one by impressively beating Atletico Madrid on the second matchday.
The Portuguese giants find themselves in a spot of bother in the group and desperate for points after losing their opening two fixtures (2-1 versus Atletico and shockingly 4-0 at home to the Belgians Brugge).
Having won six, drawn one and lost one, the Dragões currently sit third in the Portuguese league behind Benfica and Braga, but did get a morale-boosting 4-1 win over Braga on Friday.
The two clubs last met in the 2019-20 UEFA Europa League round of 32; Leverkusen won 2-1 at home and then 3-1 at the Estádio do Dragão. A repeat would do under-fire trainer Gerardo Seoane a world of good.
Player to watch: Mehdi Taremi
Iranian forward Mehdi Taremi has hit five goals in the league already this season to joint lead the scoring charts. He has also contributed three assists so will be a player the Leverkusen back line need to be aware of. If he can convert his league form into Champions League goals, Bayer will be in trouble.
Eintracht Frankfurt v Tottenham
After the disappointment of their opening night of Champions League football Eintracht Frankfurt bounced back on matchday 2 with 1-0 win away to Olympique Marseille. Group D is wide open with Tottenham also having lost to Sporting and tied on three points with the Adler. A win for either side on Tuesday would give them an advantage going into this double-header.
Oliver Glasner’s side became the first team to beat Bundesliga pacesetters Union Berlin at the weekend so confidence will be high at the Deutsche Bank Park as they host Tottenham. Daichi Kamada, Randal Kolo Muani and Jesper Lindstrom are in good form and will want to show that on Europe’s biggest stage.
Spurs’ confidence would have taken a hit at the weekend losing the North London derby 3-1 to rivals Arsenal on Saturday and their capitulation to Sporting last time out in the Champions League will also be playing on the mind of manager Antonio Conte.
That said, the squad the Italian brings to Germany is packed full of quality and Eintracht know they are in for a real test, but then Spurs know that an incredible atmosphere awaits them as the Europa League champions look for more glory in Europe.
Player to watch:
If Hasan Salihamidzic gets his way Eintracht will be seeing a lot more of Harry Kane in the future, but first things first, they have to stop him scoring on Tuesday. He may have mis-fired against Sporting, but he has already scored seven goals in eight league games this season and would be leading the scoring charts if it wasn’t for a certain Erling Haaland.
Wednesday 5th October
RB Leipzig v Celtic
With two defeats in Group F to start, RB Leipzig really need a performance and three points as they face Scottish side Celtic at the Red Bull Arena on Wednesday. They have bad memories of the last time they faced a side from Glasgow with Rangers knocking them out of the Europa League semi-final last season, so have an extra motivation to win.
A pleasing performance at the weekend saw them breeze past bottom side VfL Bochum, but a sterner test awaits in midweek when Ange Postecoglu brings his Hoops to Saxony. Leipzig will be buoyed by the performance they produced at the Bernabeu last time round and even though Real Madrid ended up winning 2-0, the level of performance produced by die Roten Bullen was pleasing.
Celtic top the Premier League this season in Scotland having won seven and lost one of their opening eight matches. The weekend saw them beat Motherwell 2-1 to maintain their lead over city rivals Rangers at the top of the table.
Marco Rose can expect a ferocious atmosphere at Parkhead in the return fixture on matchday 4 so three points this week could prove potentially vital as the race to finish as runners-up to Real Madrid in the group hots up.
Player to watch:
João Pedro Neves Filipe- or simply Jota for short, is Celtic’s top performer this season. The Portuguese attacker has four league goals and five assists already in the league and the 23-year-old is definitely one that RB Leipzig need to get under wraps on Wednesday.
Sevilla v Borussia Dortmund
Dortmund’s performance last time out against Manchester City grabbed a lot of compliments, but at the end of the day they still left the Etihad Stadium with no points thanks to their former striker Erling Haaland’s goalscoring exploits.
A win over FC Copenhagen on matchday one also brought praise, but then a weekend loss to Köln in the Bundesliga lay open some of BVB’s weaknesses and will have knocked their confidence going into their midweek trip to Andalusia.
Injuries are playing a part in Edin Terzic’s team selection, but the mentality and tactical awareness of his side is still something that is under scrutiny.
Sevilla have only taken one point in the Champions League thus far with a goalless draw achieved in Copenhagen. Manchester City thumped them 4-0 at the Estadio Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán on matchday one, so Julen Lopetegui’s side are under pressure to get a result at home to Dortmund this week.
In La Liga they are having a tough time of it and currently sit a lowly 17th and one point above the relegation zone having won just once, lost four and drawn two. At the weekend they lost 2-0 at home to Atletico Madrid so the pressure is really mounting on the coach. A reunion with ex-Dortmund midfielder Thomas Delaney could be on the cards with the Dane now plying his trade with Seviila.
Player to watch:
Midfielder Oliver Torres plays behind the central striker in Sevilla’s 4-2-3-1 formation and has been one of the few bright sparks this season so far. He has two league goals and might be the one to kick-start their European campaign.