It has been another eventful week in the Bundesliga both on and off the pitch with the addition of European football an added bonus. The weekend’s league action saw Hannover maintain their unbeaten run, Bayern find top form and Dortmund score five.
We witnessed comedy defending, great goals, red cards, VAR controversy and a surprise league leader. So who were the hits and misses of Bundesliga matchday 3?
Hannover lead the way
The time: August 30th 1969. The place: The Niedersachsen-Stadion. Hannover have just beaten Werder Bremen 3-2 on matchday 3 of the 1969/70 Bundesliga season and gone top of the league following a previous draw against Eintracht Braunschweig and a victory over Borussia Dortmund. Six weeks earlier Apollo 11 had landed on the moon. Now Hannover 96 had landed at the top of the league.
It was however to be the last time they would sit atop of the Bundesliga for a long while. Well 48 years to be precise. But that is just where Hannover found themselves after their Friday night win over Hamburg. Second half goals from Martin Harnik and Togo substitute Ihlas Bebou secured a third win of the season to maintain their unbeaten start.
The newly promoted side would have wanted to make a good start to life back in the top flight, but they couldn’t have imagined they’d be leading the way. Trainer Andre Breitenreiter won’t be getting carried away though. A look back to 1969 shows their rise to the summit was short-lived and Hannover spent most of the Rückrunde toying with relegation before ultimately finishing 13th.
Hannover fans will however enjoy it while they can.
When is it ever not a good week for Lewandowski? On the occasion of his 100th Bundesliga appearance for Bayern Munich, the striker did what he always does and got on the scoresheet. Not once, but twice to celebrate his landmark appearance in style.
With Arjen Robben scoring twice in the first half, Lewandowski slotted home first in the 50th minute from a delicious Thomas Müller cross, before heading home his second following an inviting cross from Joshua Kimmich.
His raw stats are just incredible. In his 100 games for the Bavarians, he has now scored 82 goals! Prolific just doesn’t do him justice. He may have irked the Bayern management with his comments last week, but all will be forgiven due to what he brings the club.
The Oktoberfest began on Saturday and more than a few Weißbiers will be raised to toast Bayern’s red-hot Polish striker.
Robert Lewandowski will grab a lot of the headlines for his goals, but the real star of the show for Bayern against Mainz was Joshua Kimmich. Grab yourself a thesaurus and pick out any superlative and it will fit the 22-year-old’s performance on Saturday. He was simply phenomenal.
How often do you see a right-back involved in all four of his side’s goals? In a team with Bayern’s immense creative potential, it was Kimmich who provided the key pass on almost every occasion.
1-0, Kimmich provides the perfect lay-off for Thomas Müller to fire in the shot that deflects in off Arjen Robben. 2-0, his pass plays in Robben, who rushes in to chip Rene Adler with his right (!) foot. 3-0, it is Kimmich’s slide rule pass down the right that sends in Müller, whose first-time cross is turned in by Lewandowski. 4-0 the full-back sends in a perfect cross for Lewandowski to head in his second.
Stats show he had 144 touches of the ball- more than any other Bayern player (Thiago was closest with 118), he had an 88% pass rate, created 8 chances and put 17 crosses into the box. A fantastic display summed up nicely by our favorite alumnus, Cristian Nyari’s tweet:
Kimmich is a machine. He has the brain of Lahm, the drive of Marcelo and the eye for goal of Alves. What a gem!
— Cristian Nyari (@Cnyari) 16 September 2017
The Return of the Goat
They may still be rooted to the bottom of the table without a single point from their opening four games this season, but in a strange way, it has been a great week for Köln fans based solely on the experience on Thursday.
An abysmal start to the Bundesliga season was pushed to one side as fans of the Geißböcke invaded London in midweek as they faced Arsenal in their opening Europa League fixture. The coverage of events in the English press has been sadly predictably negative, but that should not take away from the fact that Köln showed just what the word passion actually means.
Who else could take 20,000 fans to an away tie? Who else could bring a major European club to a standstill? Köln had waited decades for this and Thursday’s events showed once again that the oft sterile atmosphere of the Premier League is no match to the devotion and passion of the Bundesliga.
Respect to the goat.
Could this be the season lift-off for Heiko Herrlich’s Bayer Leverkusen? Following an underwhelming start to the new season, which saw the Werkself take just a single point from their opening three games, Leverkusen grabbed their first win with a comprehensive 4-0 victory over SC Freiburg.
Kevin Volland bagged two goals, and if that pesky VAR hadn’t interfered it could have been three. Additional goals from Charles Aranguiz and Julian Brandt secured a first win for Herrlich and it could be just the platform for Bayer to start a run of form that puts them back in the top seven. On the other hand this is Leverkusen so…..
Werder Bremen defence
William Shakespeare’s play ‘The Comedy of Errors’ is about two sets of identical twins and the slapstick and farce that entails when they meet. Well, looking at the Werder defence on Saturday, it would have been easy to confuse both Milos Veljkovic and Lamine Sané with one of those hapless twins.
Two minutes after scoring the opener for Werder, Sané conspired with his central defensive partner to allow Schalke back into the game. When Jiri Pavlenka failed to clear a corner with his punch it seemed that the Grün-Weißen still had the situation under control. Not so. Sané attempted to boot the ball clear only to connect with Veljkovic’s head as the Serb tried to head the same ball clear.
Instead of clearing the ball, Veljkovic headed into his own net and took the full force of Sané’s boot in the side of his head as a bonus. Not content with handing the Königsblauen one goal, the Werder defence gave up all hope of any share of the spoils with more terrible marking seven minutes from the end. A corner from Daniel Caligiuri found Leon Goretzka in acres of room inside the six-yard box and he had the easiest of tasks to prod home the winner.
It doesn’t rain, but it pours for poor Werder Bremen at the moment. Not content with losing at home to Schalke to leave them 17th in the table with a solitary point, they also lost their best source of goals in Max Kruse to injury.
The scorer of 15 goals last season was forced off after just 19 minutes following a heavy challenge from Thilo Kehrer and has since been diagnosed as suffering a broken collarbone. The injury will see Kruse out for up to eight weeks – a serious blow to a Werder side already struggling to garner points at the start of the new campaign.
Having missed Leipzig’s midweek Champions League opener with a groin injury, midfielder Naby Keita was back in the RB starting line-up for the Saturday evening clash with Borussia Mönchengladbach. He showed no ill effects putting in his usual impressive shift and providing the assist for Jean-Kevin Augustin’s goal. Things did however turn sour for Guinean six minutes from time when he shown a straight red card by referee Marco Fritz.
Keita can really have no argument as he went in for the ball with Christoph Kramer with his boot too high catching the Gladbach midfielder straight in the face. It was the Leipzig player’s first red card in the Bundesliga and he will now have to sit out Tuesday’s trip to Augsburg.
Stuttgart may have left the Mercedes-Benz Arena with three valuable points, but captain Christian Gentner was probably totally unaware after being stretchered off in the 84th minute after being clattered by Wolfsburg keeper Coen Casteels.
The visiting goalie’s knee connected with Gentner’s head as they challenged for the ball leaving him splayed out on the turf. Lengthy treatment from the medical staff followed before the Swabians had to see out the final minutes with ten men.
Gentner was taken directly to hospital where it was discovered he had suffered a broken nose, eye socket and jaw. Ouch!
It looks like it might be a long, long season for Freiburg based on their early season showing. Four games played and just two points on the board. Two goalless draws at home have been matched with two defeats on the road, where they conceded four on both occasions. Their goals record shows just one scored and eight conceded.
The loss of both Maximillian Philipp and Vincenzo Grifo was always going to hit Freiburg hard, but it is quickly becoming apparent just how much their presence is missed.
It is still early days in the new season, but with a home match against high-fliers Hannover in midweek, and then a trip to fellow strugglers Werder Bremen up next, things could get worse before they get better for the Breisgauer.
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