The Bundesliga off-season seems to drag on endlessly and even though we had the Confederations Cup triumph and success at the U21 European Championships, it has been a full 89 days since the final matchday of the 2016-17 Bundesliga season.
Finally though it is back and we can all return to our regular routine of following the Bundesliga from whatever corner of the globe we reside and cheering for whatever team we follow.
The opening weekend of the 2017-18 season saw nearly 400,000 attend the games live with millions more watching on TV. We witnessed 15 goals, crazy thunderstorms, comedy injuries, the Rheinderby, VAR teething problems and even a win for HSV!
Gott sei Dank, the Bundesliga is back!
That Bayern Munich opened the 2017-18 Bundesliga season with a win on Friday will not come as a surprise, but the fact that all three of the club’s debutants had a major hand in the victory may have surprised a few.
Niklas Süle, Corentin Tolisso and Sebastian Rudy all started for FCB and all had a major impact. It took the hosts just nine minutes to open the scoring and it was their ex-Hoffenheim duo who were the architects. An exquisitely delivered Rudy free-kick from the left found the head of 6ft 4” Süle to head in.
Nine minutes later it was €41.5 million midfielder Tolisso’s turn to get in on the scoring act as he deftly flicked in a header from Arturo Vidal’s assist. The Frenchman very nearly doubled his tally five minutes later only to see his shot cannon off the post as he tried to finish a fine flowing Bayern move.
Tolisso was the most impressive of the bunch clocking up 11.16km of running (second only to Joshua Kimmich), he made 26 sprints, completed the most passes (80% completion rate), had 82 phases of possession and even had more shots on goal (4) than Robert Lewandowski.
With Jerome Boateng, Javi Martinez and potentially now Mats Hummels injured, Süle will have an important role to play in the coming weeks.
It has been quite a week for Hertha Berlin’s new Australian attacker Mathew Leckie. His scoring double against VfB Stuttgart on Saturday helped die alte Dame to a 2-0 opening weekend win and put the 26-year-old at the top of the (albeit nascent) scoring charts.
Signed from relegated Ingolstadt in the summer, he had actually gone 2178 minutes and 49 shots without a goal, but that has now been forgotten following his brace on his Olympiastadion debut. His first straight after half-time saw him cut in from the right before curling in a left-foot shot from inside the box. His second saw him lash home a left-foot shot from the edge of the six-yard box as he profited from a loose ball following a corner.
Last week in the DFB Pokal victory over Hansa Rostock he provided the assists for both Hertha’s goals and to put the icing on the cake, he also became a father for the first time after his wife Laura gave birth to a baby daughter. Quite a week for the Aussie.
Domenico Tedesco/ Schalke
Wow, who saw that coming? Schalke under rookie trainer Domenico Tedesco pulled off an impressive 2-0 home win over last season’s Vizemeister RB Leipzig and the manner of their victory at the Veltins Arena was quite something.
The Königsblauen lined-up with a 3-4-2-1 formation and quickly showed that they are taking on board their new trainer’s playing philosophy. The 31-year old coach was continually pacing his technical area communicating constantly with his players with a whole variety of animated gestures and signals.
Defensively Schalke were very solid, blunting the Leipzig attack even if they did concede possession to Ralph Hasenhüttl’s men. Thilo Kehrer, Naldo and Matija Nastasic formed an impermeable screen in front of Ralf Fährmann, while Bastian Oczipka more than deputised for the now departed Sead Kolašinac.
The pace and energy of Amine Harit was a breath of fresh air (as well as providing a great assist for the second goal), Leon Goretzka impressed as usual and Yevhen Konoplyanka took his goal well. The early signs are good for Schalke and many observers will be keen to see how they kick-on next week against Hannover.
Mario is back! With all the negative hoo-ha surrounding Ousmane Dembélé, the return to first-team action of Mario Götze was a real fillip to the BVB fans. The World Cup winner made his last appearance way back in December and has been out since then with a metabolic disorder.
He has eased his way back during pre-season, but it came as a bit of a surprise that Peter Bosz handed him a place in the starting line-up against Wolfsburg considering he wasn’t in the squad for either the Super Cup or the DFB Pokal first round win over FC Rielasingen-Arlen.
BVB had a comfortable win over Wolfsburg, and Götze showed signs that he was returning to his best although clearly a little bit rusty. He got into some good advanced positions and had two chances that with more sharpness, he would have expected to score from.
He played 61 minutes, provided the assist for the first goal and came off seemingly unscathed. Welcome back Mario!
Poncho sellers at the Allianz Arena
With Bayern 2-0 up going into the half-time break, the heavens opened above the Allianz Arena on Friday drenching not only the players but also the fans in the front rows of the Osttribune and Westtribune. The torrential downpour sent fans scurrying for the cover of the concourses and led to the second half kick-off being delayed by 15 minutes.
Bayern may have won the game, but the real winners were the poncho sellers at the stadium, who were doing swift business with some Bavarians forced to wring out their sodden shirts and replace them with flimsy plastic coverings.
You’d think that scoring the winning goal in HSV’s Bundesliga opener might count as a good week for Nicolai Müller, but not so. The talk the next day around the football world is not of his rifled shot from a tight angle that got Hamburg’s season off to a flier, but rather what happened next.
Taking off towards the corner flag in celebration at the Volksparkstadion following his 8th minute goal, the winger jumped into the air trying a couple of mid-air pirouettes before crashing into the corner flag and twisting his knee on landing.
Rather than congratulating him, his team mates were calling for the physios and it was game over for the 29-year-old. From cloud nine to the treatment table in 30 seconds. What a *******! (add your own humorous insult here)
The news then got worse for the ex-Mainz and Fürth attacker as medical investigations showed he had torn his anterior cruciate ligament and now faces seven months on the sidelines.
Score a goal
Injure yourself in the celebration
Get subbed off
Nicolai Muller goes from high to low very quickly… pic.twitter.com/osCEM9qFJG
— BT Sport Football (@btsportfootball) 19 August 2017
Judging by their display against Borussia Dortmund on Saturday, the injury absence of John Anthony Brooks is going to hit Wolfsburg harder than expected. The big-money summer signing from Hertha Berlin is out for three months following a torn thigh tendon suffered in their DFB Pokal firs round win over Eintracht Norderstedt.
Wolfsburg’s back line was just awful against Dortmund as they slumped to a 3-0 home loss. Felix Uduokhai and Robin Knoche formed the centre-back pairing with new signing Paul Verhaegh on the right and Yannick Gerhardt on the left.
BVB’s first from Christian Pulisic was a great strike, but neither Uduokhai nor Gerhardt made any effort to close down the shot. The second goal saw them switch off down the right allowing Marc Bartra acres of space inside the box to curl home into the top corner.
For Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s third, the entire back four can be rightly accused of ball-watching as Dortmund sliced through them with relative ease. Coach Andries Jonker has some work to do in the coming weeks and may have to dip into the market before the transfer window closes to compensate for the loss of Brooks.
One of only two Bundesliga sides knocked-out of the DFB Pokal at the 1st round stage thanks to a 2-0 loss against 3.Liga side FC Magdeburg, the start of the season didn’t get off to the best of starts for Augsburg.
Anyone who loses to HSV has to be concerned about their overall chances and so it came to pass that FCA are the only team to have lost both their competitive games thus far. After going behind, the visitors did respond well, but their problem was they didn’t test HSV keeper Christian Mathenia enough. They may have been denied a penalty (VAR technology was unavailable due to technical issues), but the fact that their own keeper Marwin Hitz had perhaps their clearest chance in the 94th minute tells us a lot.
The chain reaction of events following the record-breaking transfer of Neymar from Barcelona to PSG has seen BVB attacker Ousmane Dembélé go from hero to zero in the space of a week or so. Honoured before the Super Cup as Dortmund’s’ best rookie and seen as pivotal to success this season, his future is now clouded in doubt.
On Saturday the Schwarzgelben hardly missed him as Christian Pulisic inspired them to a 3-0 win over Wolfsburg with Dembélé’s location not altogether clear. He is suspended/on strike, but the whole Barcelona saga may come back to bite him where he really doesn’t want to be bitten. Let’s just say the Catalans succeed in signing Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool and drop their pursuit of Dembélé. Where does that leave the young Frenchman?
He has already pissed-off his Dortmund team mates with defender Sokratis slamming him in the press saying “he cannot just do what he likes.”
Both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Naby Keita have been the target of transfers this summer, but unlike Dembélé, conducted themselves correctly. Both continued to train, both continued to give their best to their club/ employer and both ultimately accepted the move wasn’t going to happen.
The one big loser in this whole saga could well be Dembélé, who it seems has burned all his bridges and staked everything on getting his Nou Camp move.
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