After a highly eventful first international break of the season and before the start of the European campaigns, we return to Bundesliga action this weekend. It’s a case of first versus second as Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen put their 100% records on the line, while at the other end of the table, Darmstadt go looking for their first point.
Here’s what the weekend has in store…
Bayern Munich v Bayer Leverkusen
The Friday match sees Bayer Leverkusen travelling to take on Bayern at the Allianz Arena in a top of the table clash between the only two sides with three wins from three so far.
Xabi Alonso’s Werkself have certainly lived up to their pre-season billing, but their real test comes against the Rekordmeister. Last season’s 4-0 mauling in Bavaria spelt the end of Gerardo Seoane’s tenure as Leverkusen coach, and revenge was exacted in the return fixture at the Bay Arena as Xabi Alonso got one over his former side. Can he do the same on his first return to his former stomping ground?
Bayern’s start has all been about the Harry Kane effect and he has started well with three goals. Leroy Sané also has three while Mathys Tel has scored twice from the bench already. Coming off the back of the international break means that there are a number of variables in play with the players returning to their clubs just days before such a big game. It should however prove to be an intriguing encounter to start the weekend.
RB Leipzig v Augsburg
The Supercup win over Bayern seemed to confirm RB Leipzig’s place as one of the main contenders for Bayern’s Bundesliga crown this season after a very strong finish to last season. However, the opening day loss at Bayer Leverkusen put a stop to anyone getting too carried away with the hyperbole.
A 5-1 reaction against VfB Stuttgart at the Red Bull Arena was just the ticket and the 3-0 win away at Union Berlin seemed to confirm that things were back on track. Not many teams come away from the Alten Försterei with all three points making the win all the more special.
They face Augsburg at home this weekend in a match they will be fully confident of winning. They will however be without the services of key men Dani Olmo and Willi Orban. Olmo suffered an injury on international duty with Spain and looks set to be sidelined for at least a couple of matches, while captain Orban looks set to be out for even longer following a knee injury playing for Hungary.
Augsburg’s start has so far seen entertaining draws with both Gladbach and Bochum and defeat to Bayern, They won’t be expected to beat Leipzig on Saturday, but a point from the Red Bull Arena would be a success.
Freiburg v Borussia Dortmund
This was not the way it was supposed to be for the Schwarzgelben. After going agonisingly close to finally dethroning Bayern as champions last season, the hope was that a renewed bid would be launched this season. The first three games, while undefeated, have been very underwhelming and the draw last time out against Heidenheim kind of felt like a defeat for BVB.
They face a tricky trip this Saturday to face Freiburg. Christian Streich’s side opened with back-to-back wins over Hoffenheim and Werder Bremen, but were thrashed 5-0 by Stuttgart on matchday 3. The Breisgauer will want to bounce back from that shock result and what better way than by inflicting further woe on Edin Terzic’s stuttering side.
VfL Wolfsburg v Union Berlin
Niko Kovac will be pleased with the overall start his side have made to the season, but their real test comes this weekend when they entertain Union Berlin at the Volkswagen Arena. Having won their opening two games, a poor second half saw them lose at Hoffenheim last time out so they will be looking for a response.
Union suffered a rare home defeat to Leipzig on matchday three (the first time in 24 matches) and will themselves be looking for a response before they embark on their debut Champions League campaign with a little trip to the Bernabeu to face Real Madrid. Die Eisernen have had two players sent off already this season, so keeping their discipline will need to be in focus.
Mainz v VfB Stuttgart
The Nullfünfer are still waiting for their season to get going and with just one point so far (v Frankfurt) they are currently in the unwanted position of 17th in the table. The problems they were experiencing at the back end of last season seem to still be an issue and Bo Svensson is going to need to see an improvement sooner rather than later.
The arrival of VfB Stuttgart will make things tricky as the Swabians have started the season in fine goalscoring form hitting five in both their home fixtures thus far. They did lose their one away game at Leipzig and Mainz are going to have to hope that VfB’s famous away day blues continue.
Köln v Hoffenheim
Köln are another side who can be said to have endured a ‘Fehlstart’ (false start) this season and are looking to turn things around at home this weekend. One point from their opening three games is disappointing, but on another day they might actually have had six.
They were unlucky not to emerge with anything from their opener with Dortmund and only lost out on the full three points last week away at Frankfurt thanks to a late equaliser. Steffen Baumgart’s side need to make the step up to start getting wins and using their home advantage of the Rhein-Energie Stadion could be key.
Visitors Hoffenheim grabbed a good win against Wolfsburg before the international break and are looking to achieve a third consecutive win. Their new signings are looking good (Florian Grillitsch, Wout Weghorst) while youngsters Maximilian Beier and Tom Bischoff have started well too.
VfL Bochum v Eintracht Frankfurt
The late game on Saturday will see Bochum hosting Eintracht Frankfurt. The Ruhr side were hammered by Stuttgart on the opening day, but recovered well to hold Dortmund at home. A second draw followed at Augsburg so they will looking to use home advantage this weekend to secure a first win. They raised their game against BVB, now they have to repeat that against the Adler.
Frankfurt’s rebuild under Dino Toppmöller is a slow burner and the main task is to replace the goals of Randal Kolo Muani. Niels Nkounkou had a dream scoring debut as a sub last time out against Köln, but it remains to be seen who will take up the scoring mantle on a regular basis.
Heidenheim v Werder Bremen
Heidenheim should take a lot of confidence from their 2-2 draw at the Signal Iduna Park on matchday three, which gave them their first Bundesliga point. They are now on the hunt for their first win and need to avoid what happened against Hoffenheim in their last home fixture.
Werder also finally broke their points duck before the international break with an impressive 4-0 win over Mainz. The post-Niclas Füllkrug age began with a victory and plenty of goals showing that life does indeed go on. They now need to build on that against the Bundesliga newcomers.
Darmstadt v Borussia Mönchengladbach
The final game of the matchday 4 weekend sees Darmstadt entertaining Borussia Mönchengladbach at the Böllenfalltor. The promoted side are the only side as yet to not gain a single point. After a narrow defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt on the opening weekend, the last two games have seen heavier defeats with a 4-1 loss to Union Berlin and a 5-1 thrashing at Leverkusen.
They have a second home game this week against Borussia Mönchengladbach. The Foals have themselves not had the best of starts and will be looking to take advantage of any weakness Torsten Lieberknecht’s side shows. Once the first points are on the board, things can move forward. Should that not happen, then the game of catch-up begins in earnest.