November 21, 2017

Bundesliga Matchday 4 Preview: Bayern Look to Bounce Back, Köln Under Pressure

The new season is ramping up nicely with three games played and midweek European action also getting underway. Following last week’s action, no team still has a 100% record after disappointing results for both Bayern and Dortmund. At the other end of the table, only Köln remain without a point.

Matchday 4 is upon us and we bring you all you need to know ahead of the weekend’s Bundesliga action.

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

For the third time already this season Hamburg are in action on the Friday night game. The Hanseaten have won one of those (Köln) and lost the other (Leipzig) so will be looking to get back to positive ways as they visit newcomers Hannover.

They make the short trip down the A7 Autobahn with trainer Markus Gisdol having to make further changes to his line-up due to injuries. Young Dutch defender Rick van Drongelen, who has been impressive since joining from Sparta Rotterdam is out with a knee injury, so Douglas Santos will finally get his chance after a failed move to PSV in the summer. Filip Kostic is also on the treatment table meaning either Luca Waldschmidt or Bakery Jatta could start.

Like HSV, Hannover lost their 100% record last weekend, although they remain unbeaten. Martin Harnik scored (with quite a backheel) for the second time this season and in Hamburg he faces his home town club. The Hamburg-born Austrian also has a knack of scoring against the Rothosen having netted 12 times against them in his career at both Werder Bremen and Stuttgart.

Bayern Munich – Mainz (Saturday 14:30)

Bayern could do with a top display on Saturday to get back to winning ways following their loss at Hoffenheim and to dispel the murmurs of discontent bubbling at the club. Losing last week was a blow, but criticism from Robert Lewandowski (followed by a rebuke from Karl-Heinz Rummenigge), a strop from Franck Ribéry in midweek after being subbed, and the continuing role of Thomas Müller on the bench have all sullied the atmosphere somewhat at the Allianz Arena.

Coach Carlo Ancelotti is likely to rotate his squad again to keep some players happy. The flip side however is that some big names are going to be sitting on the bench. Oh it’s hard at the top!

Mainz grabbed their first win last week against Leverkusen after losing their first two matches. They go into this clash not expecting much from the game, but they will be buoyed slightly by the fact they held Bayern to a 2-2 draw last season at the Allianz Arena on matchday 30 and beat them 2-1 in the 2015/16 corresponding clash.

Werder Bremen – Schalke (14:30)

Alexander Nouri will be relieved to have got the first point on the board last week against Hertha, but won’t be content unless his Werder side can build upon that at home to Schalke and grab the club’s first win. Notoriously slow starters the Grün-Weißen, can’t afford to keep mis-firing if they are to improve on last year’s finish.

Nouri will in all likelihood, keep faith with the side that drew at Hertha with both Zlatko Junuzovic and Nicolas Moisander still both out injured.

Schalke are a side who are showing one face at home, and a different one away from the Veltins Arena this season. Both home games thus far have seen impressive wins, while they were more than a little disappointing losing away at Hannover. They lost 3-0 at the Weser Stadion last season having been unbeaten in their previous eight visits. Which Schalke will we see on Saturday?

Eintracht Frankfurt – Augsburg (14:30)

Two sides with identical records go head-to-head at the Commerzbank Arena as Eintracht Frankfurt host Augsburg. One, win, one draw and one defeat in their opening three games is probably a fair reflection on the starts made by the Adler and the Függerstadter.

Niko Kovac will be delighted with the away win over Mönchengladbach last week (courtesy of Kevin-Prince Boateng’s goal), but will want to see the first points achieved at home this season. They only lost three times on their own turf last season, but face an Augsburg side gaining in confidence.

That confidence comes on the back of a 2-2 draw with Gladbach and last week’s 3-0 demolition of Köln. Icelandic striker Alfred Finnbogason has four goals to his name and will be looking to retain his place at the top of the scoring charts.

VfB Stuttgart – VfL Wolfsburg (14:30)

Only two places separated these two last season with Stuttgart ending as Bundesliga II champions, while Wolfsburg slumped to a low of 16th and the ignominy of the relegation play-off. The Swabians have taken a little time to adjust to life in top flight with two defeats in their opening three games, but they win their only home game so far against Mainz.

Coach Hannes Wolf will hope to have defender Holger Badstuber back from injury, while new Argentine signing Santiago Ascacibar will be hopeful of a first start after impressing as a substitute last week against Schalke.

Wolfsburg have recovered from their opening day horror-show against Dortmund and have picked up four points in their last two games. They created enough chances to take all three points last week against Hannover, but in the end had to settle for just one.

The task of scoring this week will fall on new signing Divock Origi after Mario Gomez suffered an ankle ligament injury that will keep him out for at least a month.

RB Leipzig – Borussia Mönchengladbach (17:30)

The late game on Saturday sees Leipzig hosting a stuttering Mönchengladbach at the Red Bull Arena fresh on the back of their first foray into the Champions League. This weekend will give us the first opportunity to see just how RB are going to cope with the burden of midweek European action as well as the bread and butter of the Bundesliga.

They did themselves proud in their draw with AS Monaco on Wednesday and were equally impressive in downing Hamburg last weekend. The potential continued loss of Naby Keita with a groin injury however, is a real blow to trainer Ralph Hasenhüttl.

The Fohlen began the season well by beating Köln in the Rheinderby, but since then it’s all gone flat for the club. A last-minute equaliser denied them three points at Augsburg and then they slumped to a 1-0 home defeat to Frankfurt last time out.

Dieter Hecking will be hoping to catch a fatigued Leipzig off guard this weekend in order to reignite his side’s season.

Hoffenheim – Hertha Berlin (Sunday 12:30)

Julian Nagelsmann’s stock and that of his Hoffenheim side rose even further last week with their 2-0 victory over champions Bayern. They now sit joint top of the table alongside Dortmund with seven points from three games. The Sinsheim club did the double over the capital club last season winning 1-0 at the Rhein-Neckar Arena and 3-1 at the Olympiastadion.

They were however disappointed on Thursday to lose their opening Europa League fixture at home to Sporting Braga. A failure to convert their chances saw them lose 2-1 to the Portuguese side.

Hertha shared the points last week with Werder with Mathew Leckie scoring his third of the season. With both sides involved in Europa League action, expect a number of changes to the starting XI’s for Sunday. The Old Lady were also involved in the Europa League in midweek and fought out a goalless draw with Athletic Bilbao.

Bayer Leverkusen – SC Freiburg (14:30)

Life as a Bundesliga trainer has not begun well for Heiko Herrlich at Bayer Leverkusen with just a single point on the board after three games. The Werkself came away from their defeat to Bayern with more than a modicum of positivity, and then drew with Hoffenheim. Last week though was very poor losing 3-1 at Mainz.

Freiburg are having an equally difficult start to the season still looking for their first win. They dug deep last week playing an hour against Dortmund with ten men to claim a goalless draw.  The red card for Yoric Ravet last week was the second in a row for the Breisgauer following Nicolas Höfler’s gelb/rot in the 4-1 defeat to RB Leipzig.

A win is terribly needed by both sides, a defeat would just add further pressure to the vanquished.

Borussia Dortmund – 1FC Köln (17:00)

It’s not getting any easier for Köln as they seek to finally get some points on the board. Confidence will be low following three successive losses, but somehow and somewhere Peter Stöger’s side are going to have to dig deep and get those first points.

But the Signal-Iduna Park is not the ideal location for that to happen although they did claim a 0-0 draw there last season. Their midweek European odyssey to London to face Arsenal was a fantastic experience for the fans, but they will now be back on more familiar territory looking for Bundesliga points.

Peter Bosz will want to move quickly on from the midweek Champions League defeat at Tottenham. Despite dominating possession, a counter-attacking Spurs combined with a cruelly disallowed goal for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang saw BVB lose 3-1 at Wembley.

In the league though, the Schwarzgelben had been hugely impressive up until last week’s draw against Freiburg. The trainer rotated for the first time in midweek, so it will be interesting to see the Dortmund line-up against Köln. Mario Götze and Maximilian Philipp could return, but Jeremy Toljan and Mahmoud Dahoud could retain their places.

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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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