Match Day 5 Round Up and Analysis – Bayern, Hertha and Hoffenheim with big wins

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

Line-ups - courtesy of

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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Cristian Nyari

Cristian is a football writer and analyst living in New York City, fascinated with the history and study of the beautiful game and all it entails. Follow Cristian on twitter @Cnyari


  1. Actually, if you compared Bayern’s recent game to the one against HSV(the hopeless), Bayern dominated more in the previous game. Had Bayern not lifted the throttle and rested their players so early for the Champions League(Thank god they did that), they would have smashed HSV harder than they would have done against Freiburg.

    Even though Bayern often wins by huge margins, I still fear a loss to Man City Mancini & co. because Moneybags City has won by smaller margins but against much better teams like Tottenham. What a pity the team I hate the most is doing so well when they meet the team I love the most…

  2. Well Heynckes was asked about the “in between” role Kroos plays for the NT and his answer was simple, he doesn’t believe in it and likes “fixed positions”. Kroos I don’t think is exactly ideal in a holding role in a 4-2-3-1 that requires dual defensive duties. Doesn’t mean he couldn’t perform or adapt but it functions better with Gustavo/Schweinsteiger in my opinion, esp. against top opponents.

  3. Heynckes has used him in the attacking midfield to great effect in Leverkusen, so it’s not weird to see him try it again.

  4. Nice read as usual Cris 🙂

    I had predicted a scoreline of 3-0 for Bayern but they came out with all guns blazing and look, 7-0! Perhaps that is enough to intimidate Mancini & co.

    Why do you think Herr Heynckes is reluctant to field Toni Kroos in a holding role along side Bastian Schweinsteiger? With Jogi Low adopting a similar structure at the NT, don’t you feel that its a better strategic move?

  5. Real test for Bayern is coming up in the next month and a half, Villarreal, Schalke, Manchester City, Leverkusen, Hoffenheim, Napoli, Hertha and Hannover.

  6. Nice summary, Cris. Good to see the Bayern haters silenced today. Like the saying goes, “when the shoe fits…..”

  7. i’m a ghanaian but i admire germany especially BAYERN munchen so much only not because samuel kuffour played for them but because i was born into it. mia san mia.

  8. Yes, I liked Hertha today. The coach Babbel has a Bayern tatoo on his body as he spent 20 years at Bayern Munich starting age 9. Lell, Ottl and Kraft came out of the Bayern academy, too…

    Dortmund just sees now how difficult it is when you do not surf on a wave and when the opposition plays the way they play against Bayern… And the schedule might sound simple for Bayern, but we often lost to the smaller clubs. Barca tied today in La Liga against the number 16 or 17 of last year and Real had difficulty with their game against a similar team even at home before scoring the 2:1 in the 60th minute with a penalty.

    But even when it looks easy and 7:0 sounds so special a game can go the opposite direction if you do not shoot the first goal or you make mistakes so the opponent can score.

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