With the first international break done and dusted, we look forward to the return of a full weekend of Bundesliga action with players returning from all four corners of the globe. As a way of previewing the action, let’s take a look at five talking points ahead of matchday 4.
1. Will Peter Bosz return to haunt Borussia Dortmund?
BVB will want to see a reaction and a return to winning ways this weekend following their surprise defeat to Union Berlin on matchday 3. They however face a very tough opponent in the form of Bayer Leverkusen and the prospect of ex-trainer Peter Bosz adding to their woe.
The Dutch coach has rebuilt his reputation at the Werkself after his disappointing spell at the helm of the Schwarzgelben and his attacking side will ask a host of questions of Lucien Favre’s title hopefuls. He did return to the Signal Iduna Park last February when Dortmund ran out 3-2 winners.
Leverkusen have started the season well taking seven points from a possible nine. They should have beaten Hoffenheim last time out based on the chances they created (20 shots on goal) but ended 0-0. BVB’s weakness at set-pieces will be tested as Bayer forced 19 corners against TSG. Maybe time for some extra zonal-marking practise Herr Favre!
Julian Brandt will also come up against his former team mates and it will be interesting to see who comes out on top in the battle of the prodigies- Brandt or Kai Havertz.
2. Can RB Leipzig send out signal of intent against Bayern Munich?
Die Roten Bullen are the only side in the Bundesliga with a 100% record thus far, but that will be sorely tested this weekend when champions Bayern are the visitors to the Red Bull Arena for the late game on Saturday.
Julian Nagelsmann has started his reign at the club in fine fashion, but this will be his first real test and will serve as a good indicator as to whether Leipzig can actually make this year’s Bundesliga a three-horse race.
The RB coach has a pretty decent record against Bayern from his days at Hoffenheim. He won in both April and September 2017 at the Rhein-Neckarstadion using a 3-5-2 formation to beat the Bavarians.
For his part Niko Kovac knows what to expect from the top of the table clash. “Leipzig have made enormous progress over the last few years, but we’ve grown too. It’ll be tight.
“In their early matches there were periods when they pressed high up the field, but also periods when they dropped deep. We must prepare for this combination. Leipzig will push us to our limits. But we’re the reigning champions, and we’ll travel to Leipzig with confidence.”
Will Leipzig send out a message of intent? Or will Bayern assert themselves as the top dogs?
3. Who will triumph in the Rheinderby?
The Rhein-Energie Stadion will be bouncing more so than usual on Saturday as fierce rivals Borussia Mönchengladbach arrive for the 88th Rheinderby.
After a one-season hiatus with the Geißböcke in the 2.Bundesliga the fierce local foes go head-to-head with a heavy 1500 police presence trying to stop the rivalry boiling over. Gladbach are clearly on top historically with 48 wins to Köln’s 24. Effzeh did however win the last outing (at the Rhein-Energie Stadion) in January 2018 2-1 thanks to a 95th minute Simon Terodde winner.
Marco Rose, in his first Rheinderby as Gladbach trainer feels he knows what to expect. “It’s a game unlike any other that we’ll play this season; it has a completely different flavour to it. There’ll be an extraordinary atmosphere in Cologne, and we have to be able to cope with that.
“I expect a very intense game against a highly motivated team that will want to be on the front foot playing at home, so we’ll go there looking to show that we can hold our own, play football and in the end, win the game.”
The Fohlen may be without Matthias Ginter who suffered a rib injury whilst on international duty with Germany in midweek.
4. Will Mainz finally get some points on the board?
Is isn’t just Leipzig, who have a 100% record. Mainz are the only side still yet to gain single point and should they fail to do so against Hertha Berlin this weekend, the word ‘crisis’ will start to be bandied around the club. Successive losses against Freiburg, Gladbach and Bayern have rooted Mainz to the bottom of the table, but at some point, the tide has to turn.
With a negative goal difference of -10 with just two scored and twelve conceded, only two teams have started a Bundesliga season worse than the Nullfünfer after three games (Karlsruhe in 1963/64 with -11 goal difference and Fortuna Düsseldorf in 1986/87 with -13).
“We are not wasting any time thinking about what could happen,” said Sandro Schwarz. “We need to keep a clear head, draw upon our own strength during difficult moments and bring a high-energy performance to the pitch, along with the fans.
“We have to see being put under pressure as a privilege. If you don’t feel the pressure, then you know that not many people are concerned with what you’re doing.
“Together with the fans, we want to deliver a performance that allows those in the stands to recognise: ‘Okay, this is a team that is moving forward.’ The worst possible thing to do is convince yourself beforehand that you don’t have a chance. Others have done that before, and it’s never ended well.”
5. What kind of reception awaits Martin Hinteregger in Augsburg?
It is unlikely that FC Augsburg are going to be rolling out the red carpet for the return of Martin Hinteregger to the AWD Arena. Indeed, the Eintracht Frankfurt defender, already a cult hero at the Commerzbank Arena, might just be public enemy number one down in Swabia.
After being suspended for publicly criticising coach Manuel Baum in last season’s Hinrunde, the Austrian became persona non grata and spent six-months on loan at Frankfurt. He then reportedly went on strike at Augsburg to force through a permanent move to Eintracht this summer.
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