Another action-packed week of Champions League, Europa League and Conference League football came hot on the heels of matchday 11 in the Bundesliga. Union Berlin are looking to maintain their pole position, whereas Schalke under a new trainer are looking to scrape themselves off the bottom of the pile. There are plenty of talking points ahead of the weekend action. Here are just a few….
1. Can Bayern take top spot in the table?
Mission one: Go to Nou Camp and beat Barcelona-done. Mission 2: Reclaim top spot in the Bundesliga- to do. The talk of crisis that four games without a win in September has well and truly dissipated with Bayern seemingly back to their old selves. The task now is for the Rekordmeister to stop all this nonsense with Union Berlin at the top of the table and reclaim their rightful spot. Such will be the thinking at the Sabener Straße and amongst countless Bayern fans.
The 1-1 draw with Union on matchday 4 saw the Bavarians drop from top spot in the table and they haven’t been back since. This weekend could see them return to pre-eminence with the visit of Mainz to the Allianz Arena on Saturday. Union don’t play until Sunday and even then, have a tough looking game with Mönchengladbach.
2. Will Thomas Reis lift Schalke off the bottom?
It seems that Thomas Reis can’t get enough…. of being bottom of the Bundesliga table. Sacked as Bochum coach after an abysmal start to the season, he is now back in gainful employment at Schalke and goes into his new job with the Königsblauen…..you’ve guessed it, bottom of the table.
Schalke don’t play until Sunday and face high-flying Freiburg so it will be no easy task to get the club off the bottom and moving in the right direction. It really is a case of ‘out of the frying pan and into the fire’ for Thomas Reis. Is he a glutton for punishment? Or does he genuinely feel that he can lift the Ruhr club out of their pit?
Neuer Trainer, neues Glück? We shall see.
3. After Real, can Leipzig inflict more pain on Leverkusen?
After the fantastic result in midweek where Leipzig beat reigning European champions and Champions League royalty Real Madrid, anything less than a win at home to Bayer Leverkusen will feel like an anti-climax to a great week.
Marco Rose has to manage the players physically and mentally as they still need to garner the Bundesliga points to rise themselves up the table. A team that beat Madrid on the Tuesday was the same team that found themselves 3-0 down to Augsburg on the previous Saturday.
The individual quality RB Leipzig possesses needs to be harnessed into consistency in order to return to the top four. Leverkusen’s point against Atletico Madrid sees them keep their European dreams alive, but they were one spot kick away from elimination. Xabi Alonso has them moving in the right direction, but there is still plenty of work to be done.
4. Have Dortmund sorted their demons?
If Mats Hummels isn’t letting rip, then BVB know things are going well. As far as goalless draw go, Tuesday’s stalemate with Manchester City contained plenty of positives for Borussia Dortmund as not many teams this season will keep Pep Guardiola’s side quiet. BVB proved Erling Haaland is human after all by keeping their former hero off the scoresheet for the 45 minutes he was on the pitch.
If Tuesday showed their defensive improvement, then last Saturday’s 5-0 win over VfB Stuttgart showed an upturn in their attack. There have reportedly been some frank exchanges amongst the Dortmund players and staff. Could they have finally begun to sort out their issues and be ready to contend consistently at the top?
5. Have Hertha turned a corner?
If Dortmund are a team slowly turning a corner, then Hertha Berlin are in a need of a full screeching handbrake turn around the corner. Their performances this season have merited more points than they have on the board with too many games drawn when wins were on the cards.
Last week saw Wilfried Kanga finally break his own scoring duck to hand die Alte Dame a much-needed win over Schalke. The hope now is that Sandro Schwarz can see his side repeat the act against Werder on Friday. This will be Bremen’s third outing on a Friday night this season with one defeat (Augsburg) and one win (Hoffenheim) to speak of with both involving last-minute penalties (just to tempt fate).