This weekend saw RB Leipzig’s season get underway with a 4-1 win over SC Freiburg that was the very definition of emphatic. It’s still early days but we can confidently say that Bayern and Dortmund will be strong, in spite of their relative problems. Moreover, commentators who tipped Hamburg for the top are reviewing their notes as the Bundesliga dinosaur, temporarily went top of the league.
Terry’s reflections on the weekend… Following the losses to ‘Gladbach and HSV it is clear that FC Köln are in for a tough season and the sooner everyone at the club come to terms with this the easier it will be to manage the campaign. Since their promotion into the 1. Bundesliga Effzeh have been on an upward trajectory, culminating in a superb fifth placed finish in the league and qualification for the Europa League.
However, this season see them lose a key player in Anthony Modeste. Between goals and assists the French striker contributed 30 goals in all competitions last season. Even the top clubs with the most money would struggle to replace that amount of productivity in the transfer market straight away. Add to that the additional six European fixtures in the Hinründe and coach Peter Stöger has a job improving his team in between matches. These factors combined mean that a repeat of last season’s achievement are unlikely and that Effzeh’s upward mobility will come to an end.
A key player for Köln will, of course, be Jhon Córboba signed from Mainz to effectively replace Modeste. The Columbian striker is not a like-for-like replacement and the sooner his team mates work to his strengths the sooner he will score the goals Köln need. I say their season will be tough but it need not be disastrous. They can still enjoy a memorable season both at home and abroad.
Nik’s take – Badstuber’s return the story of the match day
It’s still early days to judged the table after two match days. Some teams have played well at times, but have very little to show for it. Other teams, like Hannover, have gotten the maximum result out of two uneven performances. However, one thing that everybody can agree upon is the fact that Holger Badstuber’s goal was the goosebumps moment of the match day. The former Bayern player hadn’t scored in 115 matches. His first and only Bundesliga goal came during Bayern’s 2-1 win over Gladbach back in 2009.
The fact that the 28-year-old only has 131 Bundesliga matches to his name stems from the fact that his injury list reads like a never ending nightmare. Badstuber has been injured a total of 1115 days during his career – that is more than 3 years in a career that has been 10 years long. The determination and grit shown by the defender to fight his way back into contention time and time again has certainly been admirable. Many players would have retired and given up, but the former Germany international has managed to fight his way back every time.
For newly promoted Stuttgart this season represents a chance to build up something new and exciting after a one year stint away from the Bundesliga. With Badstuber in their side they do have a player who wants to prove himself and to show the world that he still is a very capable footballer. Alongside him there are also Dennis Aogo and Ron Robert Zieler, two other former German internationals. Both of these players bring a wealth of experience and the ability to lead the team from the back. It might turn out that the trios desire for redemption and to prove themselves might give Stuttgart the needed stability at the back and a group of players that can dish it out when the going gets tough. It is early days, but maybe – just maybe – we do have one the stories of the season on our hands here.
1. Sahin’s comeback? “I have the trust of the coach” said Nuri Shan after his man of the match performance for Borussia Dortmund against Hertha BSC “and I’m trying to show that on the pitch.” The 28 year old scored his first goal in two and a half years for Dortmund and it was a strike that evoked memories of his pre Real Madrid days. It’s no secret that the Turkish international did not see eye-to-eye with Thomas Tuchel toward the end of stint as head coach and he seems to be responding well under Peter Bosz. This is just as well since the new Dortmund boss will need his senior professionals to step up in the wake of Ousmane Dembélé’s departure if they want to challenge Bayern for the championship.
2. Müller’s unhappiness at Bayern According to Bayern Munich boss Carlo Ancelotti, Thomas Müller was not included in the staring line-up for the champions’ win against Werder Bremen for “technical reasons”. That’s as maybe but Müller himself as publicly stated that he is uncertain of his position in the team under the Ancelotti. It is true to say that, last season, the German international was not as effective as we have come to expect from a player who in the recent passed would have won a Ballon D’or were it not for Messi and Ronaldo. But how much of that loss of form is down to the player or the coach? And if the situation continues can we contemplate the hither to impossible prospect of Müller deuting his raums at another club?
3. Not since 2009 have HSV topped the table. It may only have been one night, but the fact that HSV have bounced back from their DFB Pokal disaster and after the harsh words of sugar daddy Kühne shows that Markus Gisdol undoubtedly has managed to instill some character within the group of players at his disposal. Knowing Hamburg, it might not last for a very long time, however, given the club’s roster and Gisdol’s knowhow as a coach, one might start to wonder if this bunch of players actually could pull off a positive surprise.
4. Mainz’s Robin Quaison was fouled in the box 7 minutes into the match against Stuttgart. The ref didn’t spot it, but after a few moments the video referee had given his all clear, stating that the scene had been judged on the screens and that there wasn’t any wrongdoing. For sporting director Rouven Schröder this represented a clear cut indication that the video referee doesn’t solve all problems. Whilst the new system might absolve the refs on the pitch from all blame, it turns out that the complaints are now going to be lodged against the man following the match on the TV screen.
5. Hannover coach Andre Breitenreiter found the right words when he was asked if the club just re-adjust its targets for the season. “We aren’t at Schalke, we stay realistic”, the former Schalke and Paderborn coach muttered into the mics of the press after this question. Many pundits have picked Hannover as a favorite to go down, but so far they seem to be proving their critics wrong.