This week saw Bayern experience rotational issues, a Finbogasson hattrick, Freiburg hold Dortmund and Leipzig warm up for their Champions League debut with a handy win at Hamburg. Here is Terry and Nik with their takes on the last match-day.
Nik’s take: A brutal return for Rudy and Süle
It’s a well known fact that Bayern always are keen to secure the services of their opponents best players. In the past the Bavarian juggernauts have managed to break up the golden generations of many a team by simply buying the best talents off of their harshest opponents for the championship. Ahead of this season the officials at the Säbener Strasse took a closer look at Hoffenheim’s squad and ended up getting their hands on two Germany internationals playing for Hoffe. Both Niklas Süle and Sebastian Rudy were key players in Julian Nagelsmann’s side last year and one might have imagined that loosing them might cause the team to drop off from the fight for the Champions League places.
However, after three match days it looks like the magic continues in Sinnsheim despite the departure of two key players. In the match against Bayern München – a clash that truly deserved the label Topspiel – Nagelsmann’s side was both good, effective and lucky when they needed to be. It was the Bavarians who had the most possession and the most shot and chances at goal, but the side of the babyfaced coach were simply great at taking their chances. Mark Uth needed two shots to get his two goals, leading Bayern coach Carlo Ancelotti to the statement that phoning it in with 95% of Bayern’s full capacity simply isn’t enough to win every match in the Bundesliga.
Last season the Bavarians lost only two matches(match day 11 against Borussia Dortmund and match day 27 against Hoffenheim), which meant that they could cruise towards the title without every getting out of second or third gear during the second half of the season. Given the fact that they now have lost their first match fairly early on in the season one might hope that the race for the title might be a little bit closer than in the previous seasons. However, knowing Bayern this might just be the wake up call they needed to go on an endless tare of wins.
Terry’s take: Promising signs in Gelsenkirchen
With Bene Howedes shipped off to Turin the pressure on Schalke coach Domenico Tedesco to deliver success is greater than ever. Should he falter then his critics need only point to the absent former captain for proof of his lack of wisdom. So far however, both Tedesco and his players responded well. In the late Sunday afternoon game they overcame a dogged Stuttgart team at the Veltins Arena.
There are still issues to resolve, such as whether or not Guido Burgstaller is a starter or an impact player but the mere fact that the former Nürnberg striker can change a game in the way he did, speaks to the depth of squad available to the coach. Consider also that Breel Embolo was on the bench and should be back on the pitch soon. Injury robbed the Swiss international of what could have been a successful first season in royal blue. His return is like a new signing.
But it is too soon to say the corner has been turned. The manner in which they lost control of the match later in the first half shows that there is a ways to go. Also, what on Earth is to be done with Max Meyer? If he’s not careful the one-time next big thing will find himself seeking to restore his reputation at Stoke! In any event, six points from three games is by any measure a decent start to the season.
1. The oozing class of Naby Keita and Timo Werner: however much you hate RB Leipzig they have a splendid team and by the end of the season Liverpool will have a bargain in Keita. Leipzig enter the Champions League this week in what promises to be an exciting match against Monaco. Their defeat over Hamburg was fairly straightforward but the real test begins now. Not so much because of the quality of their M’Bappe free opponents but more because of the twice weekly schedule. Something tells me they will relish the challenge.
2. You could tell from the reaction of his teammates when Suat Serda scored his first goal for Mainz on Saturday that the youngster is a popular lad. The 20 year old midfielder has been at the 05ers’ man and boy and prior to this game, had only made 12 first team appearances since his first in 2015. The deflected shot was the icing on the cake after what had been a heartening win for Mainz in which Levin Öztunali shone against his old club with two assists. Relief for coach Sandro Schwarz.
3. Kevin Prince Boateng had a rather turbulent first half at BorussiaPark. At first the former Ghanian international got at the end of a shot by Mijat Gacinovic to claim his first goal of the season. However, Boa was caught offside and pushed a ball that would have crossed the line anyways over the line. But, in the 13th minute the Prince made up for his mistake and got his first Bundesliga goal since February 2014 with a shot from short distance. Despite the Foals trying to push for an equaliser Boa’s goal ended up being the only goal of the match, meaning that the Eagles now are on 4 points from 3 matches.
4. “He can keep that virus”, Augsburg coach Manuel Baum laughed in front of the German press. His goalscoring machine Alfred Finbogasson had a case of the flu ahead of the match against 1. FC Köln, but it turn out that the cool Icelandic striker could be stopped by such a trivial illness. His first goal of the match came after 33 seconds, making it the fastest goal in FCA’s Bundesliga history. Afterwards the striker got on the scoring sheet two more times in his team’s 3-0 demolition of the lackluster Billy Goats.
5. Matthew Leckie has scored all three of Hertha’s goals so far this season. In the match against Bremen both he and his team only needed one shot to get into the lead. However, Thomas Delanay’s equaliser in the 59th minute meant that Werder were the last team of the season to get onto the scoring sheet. Both teams can’t be particularly happy about the one point, however, both sides expressed that they weren’t necessarily unhappy about the one point either.
6. Writing Fussball applauds the DFL’s decision to promote referee Bibiana Steinhaus’ promotion to the 1. Bundesliga list of referees and congratulates her on her first game between Hertha and Werder. We look forward to the day when the inclusion of women referees is a common occurrence and no longer a big deal.