Some of the most important games of the Bundesliga season happen right away, as a good or bad start to the year can linger on for a long time. Even though we are only one game into this Bundesliga campaign, there are still plenty of takeaways from all of the action.
Takeaway #1: Bayern’s Depth
Even though Bayern have had better opening games, they still got a somewhat easy win against Leverkusen to begin the season. They did this despite the absence of Jerome Boateng, Thiago Alcántara, Manuel Neuer, Javi Martinez and new man James Rodriguez. The onslaught of injuries is nothing new for Bayern, and part of the reason why Bayern has the depth that they do is because of the injury prone players they possess.
But even if their depth is necessary, it’s still something that should scare the rest of the Bundesliga. For starters, new boys Süle, Rudy and Tolisso were outstanding on the day, with Süle and Tolisso scoring goals. Despite their performances, all three will probably be backups when some of the injured players return. Even the backup goalkeeper Sven Ulreich made some nice saves, and was far better than he has been in the past for Bayern. While Süle, Rudy, Tolisso and Ulreich have track records of success that got them to Bayern, if they can sustain their form Bayern can feel comfortable resting players and be even scarier than usual with a full squad.
Takeaway #2: Pulisic Could Be Key
With Ousmane Dembélé suspended by Dortmund, and potentially on his way to Barcelona, Christian Pulisic got the start this Saturday against Wolfsburg. The American took his first opportunity of the season and ran with it, scoring a great first goal and providing a brilliant assist on the third goal by Aubameyang. With performances like this, Pulisic will continue to start with Dembélé on the outs and Reus injured once again. For Dortmund to sustain a title challenge this season, they will need contributions from others besides Aubameyang, and Pulisic could be one of those contributors given the chance. After all, this is his second full season and third season overall with BVB, which means that Pulisic could be a player who is completely used to the quality of the Bundesliga.
With the track record that Peter Bosz has with giving youngsters a chance—he gave 17-year-olds Justin Kluivert and Matthijs de Ligt and 19-year-old Kasper Dolberg first team chances with Ajax—Pulisic should continue to get a lot of playing time. If he can continue to capitalize on his chances, the American could emerge as a key player for Dortmund.
Takeaway #3: This Could Be a Long Year For Mainz
Even though it’s never easy facing a newly promoted side to start the season, Mainz were unable to overcome Hannover in a 1-0 home defeat to begin the new season, which was certainly not the way that new manager Sandro Schwarz wanted to begin his reign. After all, Mainz were 5 points off of the automatic relegation places last season, and they only avoided the playoff on goal difference. In addition, they lost Jhon Cordoba to Köln which made a sub par team in the second half even worse on paper. Despite the fact that it’s only one game, a loss to a newly promoted side after the futility of Mainz last season is very concerning. New goalkeeper Rene Adler wasn’t impressive on Hannover’s goal, and Mainz couldn’t get a goal of their own against one the new boys. But, while they did buy replacements for Cordoba in Alexandru Maxim and Viktor Fischer, they are new and will take time to integrate into the squad. For Mainz, if they don’t pick up some points in the coming games, the concern will start to grow for a club that already has a lot to be concerned about.
Takeaway #4: Another Fast Start For Hertha
In each of the last two seasons, Hertha Berlin have had very good fortune in the Hinrunde only to fade towards the end of the Rückrunde. With the beginning of the season and the Hinrunde, Hertha once again put in a good performance with a relatively conformable 2-0 win against new boys Stuttgart. While they were certainly expected to beat Stuttgart at the Olympiastadion, to start the season with a clean sheet and see new man Mathew Leckie score twice is something very positive to take away from the first game.
Hertha’s first test of the season will come next week against Dortmund, where we’ll begin to see if they will once again have a lot of success in the early games of the season. With a solid 3 points clinched already, and the intensity with which Dárdai’s men usually play with, expect Hertha to give Dortmund a test next weekend. With all of the positives that the Berliners had from this weekend’s action—even though it’s only one game—Hertha could make a run at the top 6 once again.
Takeaway #5: Schalke and Gladbach Avoid Past Demons
Last season, Schlake didn’t win any of their first 5 games, which essentially ruined their top 4 hopes, and made it almost impossible to recover for the rest of the domestic season. This led to the eventual sacking of Markus Weinzierl, who only lasted one pressure filled season in part because of those first 5 games. That’s why Schalke getting three points against Leipzig could be really important for new boss Domenico Tedesco. Besides beating last season’s runners-up in a very solid showing, Die Königsblauen also got rid of the demons from last seasons start.
Almost the exact same thing can be said for Gladbach, who have had two consecutive seasons that featured poor starts. Two seasons ago, they lost their first 5 games that led to Lucien Favre leaving the club and the eventual run back into the top 4 with Andre Schubert. Last season, Gladbach also got into a bad start, that saw them in the bottom half of the table for most of the Hinrunde and the eventual sacking of Schubert. This history is why the narrow 1-0 win against Köln that they managed was very important, and could be vital going forward. With the recent futile starts of both Mönchengladbach and Schalke, getting victories against good teams in Cologne and Leipzig can certainly allow both clubs to sustain a top 4 challenge for a bit longer then they have in the past.
With all that was on display during the first weekend of the Bundesliga season, there was certainly a lot to take away. Despite the fact that one game has been played, some teams and players already look much better than others. This could lead to more signings or sales, but it was certainly an entertaining weekend to start the new Bundesliga season.
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