It’s been another ‘Englische Woche’ of European action, and hot on its heels comes another round of exciting Bundesliga matches. Union wobbled last week, Bayern surged, while Gladbach took the day off. Here we take a look at five questions ahead of the weekend.
1. Will Xabi Alonso get an instant reaction at Leverkusen?
So, Gerardo Seoane didn’t in the end make it as far as the Schalke match this weekend before Leverkusen pulled the panic cord and sacked him as Bayer Leverkusen coach. Tuesday’s loss to Porto was the straw that broke the camel’s back, and Xabi Alonso has been parachuted into the Werkself hotseat.
Inexperienced as a top-level coach, but bursting with top-level experience as a player, Alonso will be thrown in at the deep end this weekend with a debut against Schalke at the Bay Arena.
He will not have had much time with the players and their mental state must be fragile after the two recent losses to Bayern and Porto, so it remains to be seen whether he can get an instant reaction in his new post. With Leverkusen currently 17th in the table the club definitely need one against the Königsblauen.
2. Has the Union bubble burst?
It had to happen at some point, and Union Berlin duly suffered their first defeat of the season last weekend at Eintracht Frankfurt. Results elsewhere meant die Eisernen however maintained their position as Bundesliga leaders, but that will be tested this weekend as they travel to VfB Stuttgart on Sunday.
Urs Fischer admitted that his side deserved to lose as they didn’t get the basics right. Fischer missed the midweek trip to Sweden in Europa League due to a positive Covid test but will hope to be back in the technical area at the weekend.
On paper the clash with the Swabians looks winnable, but Stuttgart themselves are desperate for a win having not won at home yet this season. Union have enjoyed a fantastic start to the season, but after their first loss comes the test of their character.
3. Who will triumph in ‘der Klassiker’?
Two weeks ago, Borussia Dortmund would have perhaps relished the prospect of hosting an under-performing Bayern Munich in the Klassiker but after the recent upturn in the Bavarians’ form, they may be a lot more reticent about this weekend’s game at the Signal Iduna Park.
Bayern have been very impressive in successive wins over Bayer Leverkusen and Viktoria Plzeň, while BVB were downed by Köln in their last Bundesliga outing but responded very well in midweek with a 4-1 away win at Sevilla.
In recent meetings Bayern have very much had the upper hand having won the last seven Bundesliga meetings and having scored at least three goals in six of those encounters. Dortmund’s last win came back in November 2018.
Much will depend on which face BVB show on Saturday and whether Bayern can keep up the furious form they’ve shown in recent games. Let’s hope for a classic Klassiker.
4. Can Gladbach recover in the Rhinederby?
This is the ‘big one’ for both Borussia Mönchengladbach and Köln in terms of derby rivalry (even if Gladbach officially aren’t actually on the Rhine). The atmosphere at the Borussia Park is sure to be red hot for the visit of the Geißböcke and the home side have some making up to do to their fans following last weekend’s debacle at Werder Bremen.
A 5-1 spanking at the Weser Stadion was in stark contrast to the form they had been showing in the previous weeks and coach Daniel Farke will want to see a reaction. A derby win would go a long way to appeasing the fans for the thrashing from last week.
The Foals will however be really tested by a Köln side full of confidence after their win last week against Borussia Dortmund and a win could mathematically see Steffen Baumgart’s side break into the top four.
5. Can Stuttgart stop that sinking feeling?
When you’re down, nothing seems to go right and last weekend’s injury time loss to VFL Wolfsburg was a case in point for Stuttgart. They left the Volkswagen Arena with nothing to show for their efforts and slumped to 16th in the table.
A relegation dogfight is going to be on the cards for the Swabians if they don’t start putting some positive results together soon and trainer Pellegrino Matarazzo will himself come under increasing pressure. Stuttgart haven’t won at home this season and with just five points on the board thus far, the writing is on the wall.
The visit of league leaders Union Berlin looking to make amends for their first loss last week isn’t the easiest of fixtures. Do you get that sinking feeling VfB fans?