The Bundesliga is back after the international break and already delivered 25 goals with two matches still left to play this weekend. This Saturday saw one of the upsets of the season and the most one sided match yet this campaign. Bayern München, Hoffenheim and Hertha Berlin all recorded big wins. Hertha Berlin upset the odds and gave Dortmund their first home loss in 18 matches. Almost equally as surprising was Mainz shocking 0-4 loss at home while Bayern continued their impressive start to the season with a historic win against Freiburg. Below is a quick recap and analysis of the aforementioned matches.
Bayern München 7 – 0 Freiburg – Bayern dominate in every fashion
Germany’s record champions continued their impressive start to the campaign by steamrolling past Freiburg. It was Freiburg’s worst ever Bundesliga loss and Bayern’s best start to the season since the 1998/99 campaign. Four goals from in form striker Mario Gomez, a brace from Franck Ribery and a late cameo goal from Nils Petersen rounded off the most emphatic performance of the young Bundesliga season so far. Despite Gomez’s goals, Ribery was the star of the show, and apart from scoring two and setting up another, the French winger was at the heart of all Bayern attacks and was his side’s primary creative outlet. Ribery had the second most touches on the ball in the game (105) and ensured that his team’s defenders were rarely ever troubled. Freiburg’s defense on the other hand never matched his pace and trickery and he had the freedom to express himself all match long, his cheeky back heel goal a great example of that.
Freiburg especially struggled down their right side. Right back and center back Nicu and Barth in particular had a difficult time against Ribery, Kroos and Gomez, the former completing only 66% of his passes against Bayern and eventually being replaced at half-time. In central midfield, Gustavo and Schweinsteiger thoroughly outplayed Schuster and Flum, out passing the pair 187 to 66. The two Freiburg midfielders gave the ball away a combined 14 times and Schuster won only 41% of his challenges compared to Gustavo’s 64%. Overall, Bayern outshot Freiburg 26 to 4 and out passed them 602 to 233, glaringly indicative of the one sided nature of this match. Bayern have so far benefited from a relatively easy schedule but their attack was in full gear and against a hapless Freiburg defense it was always going to result in goals.
Mainz 0 – 4 Hoffenheim – Defensive errors sink Mainz
Thomas Tuchel’s side pressed the self-destruct button and gave Hoffenheim their first ever win over Mainz. Tuchel started Ivanschitz instead of Stieber but other than that kept the same side that drew against Hannover two weeks ago. That consistency was not enough though as his team suffered their biggest defeat of the season so far. Hoffenheim meanwhile were still ruing their match day 4 loss against Bremen and were missing their influential midfielder and arguable player of the season in Salihovic. Stanislawski started Kaiser and Obasi for Salihovic and Mlapa and moved Johnson out to the left and Babel up top. The changes paid dividends as Hoffenheim’s front four were an interchangeable, mobile and unpredictable force that wrecked havoc against Mainz’s defense.
Babel and Mlapa continuously switched positions while Firmino always moved up and down and between the lines to draw out defenders and dislodge the backline, running more than any other player on the pitch (11.86 km). The opener may have come from Polanski’s reckless giveaway and Noveski added Hoffenheim’s fourth with an own goal but the pressure was constant and Mainz always felt Hoffenheim’s attackers breathing down their neck. That pressure and pace forced many turnovers and center backs Bungert and Noveski and holding midfielder Polanski misplaced a combined 30 passes. Hoffenheim were content to let Mainz have possession and were even out shot but like their win over Dortmund, they were efficient with their passing (78% completion) and took their chances well. Stanislawski has his side drilled well and more importantly, extremely fit. Hoffenheim outran and outworked their opponents and forced them into committing those errors.
Borussia Dortmund 1 – 2 Hertha Berlin – First home loss in 18 matches
Hertha Berlin pulled the upset of the Match Day and gave the defending champions their second loss of the season and first loss at home in 18 games. Lewandowski pulled a goal back for the hosts after going down 2-0 through Raffael and Niemeyer but it was too late for a Dortmund side that is increasingly looking like a shadow of its former self. Götze’s absence after suspension was clearly felt as Dortmund struggled to play their usual fluid football while the continued absence of first choice striker Barrios is increasingly worrying given their many wasted chances. Hertha Berlin meanwhile continued to improve since their opening match loss and have now collected 8 points from their last four games. Berlin defended valiantly against Dortmund’s scattered yet voracious attacks. Center back Hubnik in particular had a standout performance; winning more tackles than any other player on the pitch (18) and limiting Dortmund playmaker Kagawa to only 36 passes.
The fact that Dortmund’s defensive midfielder Sven Bender had the most goal scoring chances (5) is telling of Dortmund’s troubles in attack as is a single goal from 27 shots. Not only did Dortmund struggle to string passes together consistently, their defensive work in the opponent’s half suffered as well. Last year their first line of defense was the intense pressing of their attackers but this season has seen more languid performances. Against Berlin, Dortmund’s front four lost a combined 51 challenges. Dortmund misplaced 79 passes altogether and also conceded the share of possession to Hertha, a statistic they usually dominate. Dortmund’s midfield, their biggest strength last season, has been their biggest weakness this time around and was outdone by an industrious and well organized Berlin side that squeezed the hosts in the center when necessary and prevented their high tempo game from ever getting into gear.
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