Five Talking Points from MatchDay Eight

Another exciting Bundesliga weekend saw some surprise results and impressive away performances. On Friday, Ronny beautifully struck a direct free-kick in his first touch of the match, after coming on as a substitute, to salvage a deserved point for Hertha Berlin at Hannover. Niclos Holfer did the same for Freiburg, albeit a little while after introduced to the pitch, in the final match of the weekend to share the spoils against Eintracht Frankfurt, who surrendered a lead for the 3rd week in a row. Meanwhile, Mönchengladbach triumphed in the Borussia derby on Saturday, while Bayern Munich were held to a draw by a stubborn Bayer Leverkusen side in the standout match of the weekend. The big winners of the matchday 8 proved to be Schalke and Hamburg, who both climbed up the table courtesy of comfortable victories against Augsburg and Nuremberg respectively. Finally, Eintracht Braunschweig picked up its first win of the season at VfL Wolfsburg in the most surprising result of the weekend.

Here are my selections for the five notable actions who took place in the weekend.

Dortmund is Borussia-Park Challenged

Borussia Dortmund entered this weekend’s action in spirited style, thanks to their back-to-back win in the league and Champions League, effectively halting talk of a mini-crisis after the Napoli Champions League debacle. However, the worrying stat before the game for the BVB faithfuls’ was the fact that Dortmund have only won two matches from their eleven visits to Borussia-Park and never scored more than a single goal there since August 2004. On top of BVB’s track record, this season Borussia Mönchengladbach has won all three home matches, scoring eleven goals in the process.

Despite the visitors enjoying a majority of the possession, it was Gladbach who broke the deadlock ten minutes from time. In the absence of regular penalty-kick taker, Filip Daems, Max Kruse took the opportunity to strike his 5th goal of the season from a spot-kick after Mats Hummels was penalized for a professional foul on Havard Nordtveit and sent in for an early shower. Raffael put matters beyond a doubt by scoring the second goal of the match after a swift counterattacking sequence from the hosts.

Don’t Concede Corners to Stuttgart!

Thomas Schneider’s start on the Swabians’ (Stuttgart) hot seat has already produced eleven points from his first five league matches after the consecutive three loses at the start of the season – which led to the sacking of Bruno Labbadia. These first three matches are still the only matches have VFB failed to collect points from. A surprising fact for the in-form side is that they’ve scored from set-pieces in all of their last five matches with Romanian Alexandru Maxim delivering all kinds of problems for defending sides, who invite corners.

During the weekend, Martin Harnik opened the scoring against Werder Bremen as the visitors were unable to clear a corner kick in the early minutes of the game. The Green and Whites finally took a point from their tricky trip, but as far as Stuttgart’s concerns goes, the recent flow of goals from the dead-ball situations is one of the improving areas since the managerial change.

Glimpse of Hope for Eintracht Braunschweig

They started the season in an awful form as they only picked up a single point from the first seven league outings and they’re visiting one of the sides with a 100% home record, VFL Wolfsburg. Their chance of coming up with anything is pretty doomed, as far as the pre-match prediction goes. But, they clearly had other ideas. A goal in each half and their first clean-sheet brought the three points for the promoted side in the first ever Lower Saxony derby between the sides in the Bundesliga. Unselfish assists from Mirko Bolland and Marco Caliguri set up the star players Leverkusen-loanee Karim Bellarabi and last season’s second division top scorer Domi Kumbela respectively to finally snatch their first win in the Bundesliga for over two decades.

Pierre-Michel Lasogga Took the Match Ball Home

Just like Braunschweig, Nürnberg’s aim before the weekend action was to get their first win of the season. But, instead, Der Club experienced one of the heavy home defeats in the club’s history as Pierre-Mitchell Lasogga completed a six minute hat-trick in inspiring performance from Hamburg.

Bert van Marwijk’s side started the match brightly courtesy of a spectacular strike from skipper Rafael van der Vaart, assisted by the ex-skipper Heiko Westermann. The Red Shorts enjoyed several good opportunities, but was just one goal to nil at the break. Since 1.FCN have pushed for the equalizing goal after the break in previous matches, it seemed likely they might do it again, especially given HSV’s infamously shaky defense line. But it was not to be.

Instead, it was the boys in white who doubled their advantage as Pierre-Mitchell Lasogga beautifully struck an inviting ball from van der Vaart on the hour mark. The former Hertha Berlin striker doubled his match tally with tucking van der Vaart’s corner kick home from close range. Just six minutes after his first goal, he completed his hat-trick in a sensational manner. This time it wasn’t the HSV skipper who assisted the goal; in fact it was Per Nilsson who carelessly misplaced his pass to the path of the on-rushing Pierre-Mitchell Lasogga. The youngster strikes a screamer from long range to put the daylight between the sides and effectively assured that his going home with the match ball. Goalkeeper and Der Club’s skipper Raffael Schaffer, then, followed the footsteps of his teammate with a dreadful clearance and Tolgay Arslan react quickly and hit the ball first time to make it five goals to the good for the only club to feature in each of the 51 Bundesliga seasons.

Bert van Marwijk celebrated his first win as Hamburg head coach in his second attempt, whereas Nürnberg has had no luck yet in that department and hope that the 9th matchday will be their lucky day when they make a trip to Frankfurt in fortnight time.

Young Goalkeepers in the Spotlight

Manuel Neuer and Rene Adler indisputably lead the way in Joachim Löw’s goalkeeping choice for National team, but the up and rising talent in the country suggests there are plenty of options in store for the number one jersey. And, of course, there are no worries to the question of who’s going to replace one of the best goalkeepers in the world, Manuel Neuer. Numbers of promising shot-stoppers play regularly for their clubs in the league and this weekend’s action produced two of the best heroic goalkeeping performance of the early season.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen, 21, kept an impressive clean-sheet against Dortmund on Saturday as his saves, especially in the first half, lead the way for the Foals to go into the final ten minutes on level terms before finding the way for an impressive win. Bernd Leno, who is just a month older than ter Stegen, did the same for his side Bayer Leverkusen as they held Bayern Munich for a morale boosting draw. The former Stuttgart youth team goalie had to react to wave of the flawless Bavarians attacks and his saves at the end, coupled with the visitors’ wastefulness in front of goal, played a huge role for the invaluable point.

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Eskender born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Despite the geographical differences, he's interested in every detail of German football, if not any kind of football. Wolfsburg's industrious away win at Hamburg started his Bundesliga obsession back in 2005. You can also follow him on Twitter @eskeBMG