September 23, 2017

Bundesliga Matchday 3 Preview: Return to Action Following International Break

Just as we were getting into the swing of the new season along came the international break, but the Bundesliga returns this weekend with another round of intriguing fixtures. Four teams have a 100% record, but how many will retain it beyond matchday 3?

Hamburger SV – RB Leipzig (Friday 19:30- all times BST)

Hamburg face their second Friday night game in a row, but if their last outing is anything to go by, they will be looking forwards to kicking off the third week of the season. Matchday 2 saw die Rothosen produce somewhat of a surprise win away at Köln to put them temporarily top of the table with two wins from two.

Injuries are already an issue for Markus Gisdol with Aaron Hunt, who came in to replace Nicolai Müller, going down last week with a thigh injury. The HSV trainer will also be without the suspended Mergim Mavraj following his red card at the Rhein-Energie Stadion.

Leipzig bounced back from their opening week loss to Schalke with a convincing win over Freiburg last time out and will provide HSV’s toughest test yet. Timo Werner grabbed two and with three goals for Germany against the Czech Republic and Norway, the young striker is certainly in good early form.

It remains to be seen what role new signing Kevin Kampl will play this weekend following his move from Bayer Leverkusen. Jean-Kevin Augustin will hope to keep his place and winger Bruma will also be pushing for a start following impressive displays last time out against Freiburg. Marcel Sabitzer is a doubt after picking up an injury on international duty for Austria.

SC Freiburg – Borussia Dortmund (Saturday 14:30)

Die Breisgauer with just a solitary point to their name face yet another battle for points as they welcome Dortmund to the Schwarzwald Stadion on Saturday. A home draw with Frankfurt wasn’t a bad start, but then Freiburg were somewhat blown away by a rampant second half display from Leipzig last week (after having taken the lead).

Christian Streich knows that the visitors will provide his side with a stern test. Against Frankfurt and Leipzig he went with 3-4-3 formation, but may be tempted to revert to a back four for the visit of BVB and bearing in mind the loss to Leipzig. New loan signing from Liverpool, Ryan Kent could be put straight into the matchday squad. However, the loss of stalwart defender Marc Oliver Kempf to a muscle injury could further damage an already frail defense.

Dortmund will be dead keen on extending their winning start to the season and put some early pressure on fellow leaders Bayern, who kick-off later in the day. Impressive wins over Wolfsburg and Hertha Berlin have raised the expectation levels for die Schwarzgelben and three points this weekend will be expected.

The squad has seen the additions of highly rated English teenager Jadon Sancho, Jeremy Toljan, as well as Ukrainian Andriy Yarmolenko in the final days of the transfer window, so it will be interesting to see whether trainer Peter Bosz tinkers with a starting XI that has shone thus far. Captain Marcel Schmelzer is fit, so it could be that Dan-Axel Zagadou drops to the bench. Maximilian Philipp will also be eager to appear against his former side as will Freiburg defender Pascal Stenzel.

Borussia Mönchengladbach – Eintracht Frankfurt

Following the opening weekend win over Köln, the Fohlen were disappointed to concede a late goal last time against Augsburg which denied them a second win. Both games between the two sides ended goalless last season, so let’s hope that we see a little more goalmouth action this weekend.

Tony Jantschke is fit again, but will have to contend with a place on the bench, while Patrick Hermann should deputise for the injured Ibrahima Traoré, who might miss a month with a muscle tear.

Frankfurt coach Niko Kovac has some decisions to make regarding both tactics and selection as he seeks a first three points of the new season. The 3-1-4-2 formation against Wolfsburg was a change from the 3-5-2 employed away at Freiburg, but with Gladbach’s attacking threat, a more cautious approach will be taken.

Carlos Salcedo is back in contention and could provide an alternative to Simon Falette, while newly returned Ante Rebic is also an option in attack, which is still scoreless so far…

FC Augsburg – 1.FC Köln

This wasn’t the script that Köln fans were expecting following the success of last season’s European qualification. Consecutive losses see the Rheinlanders one of three teams without any points. That said, Augsburg will be opponents they will feel they should be taking full points from, even though their last win at the WWK arena came back in May 2008 when they met in Bundesliga II.

Peter Stöger could opt to replace left fullback Jannes Horn with Konstantin Rausch. Marcel Risse has returned to fitness, but will have to make do with a role as a substitute.

Last season’s corresponding fixture saw Augsburg run out 2-1 winners even though both Koo and Alfred Finnbogason were both sent off. Manuel Baum’s side did well to leave Mönchengladbach with a point in their last game thanks to goals in the first and the last-minute from Finnbogason and Venezuelan Sergio Cordova.

Mainz – Bayer Leverkusen

Mainz haven’t played badly in their two defeats, but wastefulness in front of goal has cost them dearly and that is something coach Sandro Schwarz will hope to rectify against Leverkusen.

They two sides met at a similar stage last season at the Opel Arena and produced a five-goal thriller. Unfortunately for Mainz it was Chicharito who headed in the 92nd minute winner to secure a 3-2 win for die Werkself.

Leverkusen were busy in the closing stages of the transfer window bringing in both striker Lucas Alario and Greek defender Panagiotis Retsos. The Greek is more likely to feature in the squad this weekend, while Kai Havertz and Leon Bailey are pushing for a berth in the starting XI.

VfL Wolfsburg – Hannover

Andries Jonker will be a much happier man after his side secured their first win of the season against Frankfurt. That followed their horror show against Dortmund and coincidentally was their first Bundesliga three points since beating the same team towards the end of last season.

Divock Origi’s arrival on loan from Liverpool will provide extra options in attack and the Belgian could be set for an immediate debut lining up alongside Daniel Didavi behind Mario Gomez.

Hannover need to make hay while the sun shines. Their 100% start to the season has surprised many, but it is often the case that newly promoted sides begin with a flourish. Andre Breitenreiter will be wanting to garner as many points in this positive phase, ahead of what is sure to be a tough season.

The question is; will the trainer tinker with a winning formula? Jonathas is itching to start following his debut goal against Schalke.

Hoffenheim – Bayern Munich (17:30)

The home side will want to see a repetition of last year’s fixture at the Rhein-Neckar Arena where they inflicted a rare defeat on eventual champions Bayern. Andrej Kramaric’s goal was enough to secure a 1-0 win on Matchday 27 as Hoffenheim pushed towards Champions League qualification.

The loss to Liverpool in the qualifying stage put a dent in the euphoria at the club, but they did well last time out to grab a point in a 2-2 draw against Bayer Leverkusen. They showed character to twice come back and they will need an equal measure of character when the Bavarians arrive.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side have six points, but they have not been firing on all cylinders in either match. Their new signings have bedded in quickly and Robert Lewandowski has hit the goal trail straight away. The tactical battle between the old master Ancelotti, and the new kid on the block Nagelsmann will be intriguing.

There are (enviable) selection headaches for the Bayern boss. Thomas Müller or Thiago? Arturo Vidal or Sebastian Rudy? David Alaba is out injured (and so is Juan Bernat) so Rafinha will come in, while both Jerome Boateng and James are pushing for a place on the bench.

Hertha Berlin – Werder Bremen (Sunday 14:30)

Bibiana Steinhaus will make history as she becomes the first female referee to take charge of a Bundesliga match on Sunday as Hertha host Werder at the Olympiastadion.

The capital club will want to bounce back from their loss to Dortmund and build upon their opening day win over Stuttgart. Two-goal hero from that match Mathew Leckie was a scorer in midweek for Australia against Thailand, but he could be on the bench following his travels.

Starting the season poorly seems to be a recurring theme for Werder, and one which Alexander Nouri will be keen to overcome. If you take in the last three games of last season, the Grün-Weißen have lost five league games in a row.

Despite the 2-0 loss to Bayern Munich, Nouri will have seen enough positives to keep the same formation and the same line-up meaning new signing Ishak Belfodil starts on the bench.

Schalke – VfB Stuttgart (17:00)

What went wrong for the Königsblauen last time out? Optimism was sky-high after matchday one following their impressive victory over RB Leipzig, but they were brought down to earth with a nasty bump by losing rather feebly to Hannover. Which Schalke will we see at the Veltins Arena on Sunday?

Domenico Tedesco will have quickly realised the scrutiny and pressure he is under and the decision to let Benedikt Höwedes join Juventus may be one that comes back to haunt him. Selection wise Guido Burgstaller, scorer of nine goals last season) has recovered fully from his foot injury and could replace Franco Di Santo, who is out with a torn muscle. Benjamin Stambouli is back following suspension (carried over from last season) and should make the bench.

Stuttgart grabbed their first points and win of season thanks to Holger Badstuber’s goal against Mainz and the defender will make a swift return to the club for whom he made ten appearances last season while on loan from Bayern. The Swabians new Argentine midfielder Santiago Ascacibar could be on the bench.

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Mathew Burt

A year spent living in Bremen got Mathew hooked on the Bundesliga with regular visits to the Weser Stadion getting in the way of his studies. Back in the UK now, he still keenly follows the Grün-Weißen and German football in general. Follow him on Twitter @matburt74.

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