Matchday 1 of the new Bundesliga season certainly delivered with goals, thrills, spills (literally in Tomas Koubek’s case) and excitement. With matchday 2 quickly upon us, what does this weekend’s Bundesliga action have in store for us? Here’s five talking points for starters.
1. Should Lucien Favre stick or twist?
Aside from the first 30 seconds, Borussia Dortmund got their season off to the perfect start with their 5-1 home win over Augsburg last Saturday. Five goals, a great return from Mats Hummels, a debut goal for substitute Julian Brandt and generally there were positives all through the side. Having kept the same line-up for both the DFB Pokal 1st round and last weekend’s match with Augsburg, is it time for coach Lucien Favre to switch things up?
There is the saying that you shouldn’t change a winning side, but then Favre has to consider the array of talent at his disposal. Julian Brandt and Mario Götze in particular will be chomping at the bit for a start, while both Achraf Hakimi and Thomas Delaney will be unhappy to be on the bench again for a third successive game. Götze has more reason than most to be confident of a start. In all his previous six games against the Billy Goats, he has won all six.
The squad that Michael Zorc has assembled is an excellent one and the BVB coach has a surplus of luxuries at his disposal. Which luxuries should get a run out against Köln is a dilemma the coach will have to figure out himself. Either way somebody is going to be disappointed.
2. Will Bayern unleash any of their new weapons?
Last weekend’s 2-2 draw with Hertha Berlin wasn’t the ideal start for the defending champions, but they go into their clash with Schalke boosted by the recent signings of Ivan Perisic, Michaël Cuisance and Phiippe Coutinho. With record signing Lucas Hernandez also close to full fitness, coach Niko Kovac (like rival Lucien Favre) has some tough choices to make.
The Saturday evening clash with the Königsblauen possibly comes too soon for Coutinho, who is slightly behind everyone else due to his participation in the Copa America this summer. “We want to get him fit first and not take any risks so he can play to his full potential,” Kovac said about the signing from Barcelona.”He’s a world-class footballer and a very modest young man. We want to integrate him into the team.”
Ivan Perisic however could be an option at the Rhein-Energie Stadion. “Ivan is an option, maybe from the start,” Kovac explained at Friday’s press conference. “He’s at the same fitness level as our other players because he took up training earlier than Philippe. I’m very glad we have him.”
Lucas Hernandez is a potential, although the impressive displays thus far from Benjamin Pavard mean that the €80 million signing from Atletico Madrid need not be rushed following his return from injury.
3. Is it too early to be talking about a ‘must-win’ game for Augsburg/ Mainz?
We are only one match into the season, but already the pressure is mounting on both Augsburg and Mainz. Both were dumped out of the DFB Pokal in the first round and then lost their Bundesliga openers- Augsburg were mauled by Dortmund, whereas three goals in the last ten minutes saw Mainz lose away at Freiburg.
Augsburg have moved to shore up their shaky defence with the signings of Stephan Lichtsteiner and Tin Jedvaj. They face newly promoted Union Berlin this weekend, who themselves will be desperate to notch up their first Bundesliga points.
The Nullfünfer face Borussia Mönchengladbach at the Opel Arena in a match which pits best friends Sandro Schwarz and Marco Rose against each other.
4. Will it be a case of déjà-vu for 1.FC Köln?
The last time Köln were in the Bundesliga, their season got off to an abysmal start with five successive defeats. They began with an close away loss before losing their home opener to Hamburg. Last weekend saw them lose 2-1 away at VfL Wolfsburg, and they face Dortmund at home on Friday.
Of the promoted sides, Köln have the trickiest opening five fixtures as they face Freiburg, Mönchengladbach and Bayern next. A good start is essential as they well know from 2017/18 when they failed to recover from their poor start and the rot set in.
”I’m really looking forward it” Köln trainer Achim Beierlorzer said at Friday’s press conference. “First home game, Friday evening, floodlights, and the opponent. If I look back to the games I loved as a player, it was these ones”.
5. Which debut is more eagerly anticipated: Coutinho or Hennes IX?
With new Bayern signing Philippe Coutinho probably missing out on a starting berth against Schalke, the big debut to look forward to this weekend therefore has to be that of Hennes IX- Köln’s real life goat mascot.
Sadly the club’s long-serving mascot Hennes VIII was forced into retirement due to age-related osteoarthritis, and will see out his days at Köln zoo. The ‘new’ Hennes is hardly discernible from the old Hennes, with only goat enthusiasts (!?) probably able to tell the difference. But for the record Hennes IX is an uncastrated goat of the breed “Bunte Deutsche Edelziege“, a traditional but now endangered domestic animal breed.
A win over Dortmund would certainly be quite the debut.
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