The Bundesliga action just keeps coming as we find ourselves at end of the first ‘Englische Woche’ and another round of fixtures has provided the usual mix of energy, entertainment and excitement.
Bayern stuttered, Dortmund hit six, Hoffenheim kept their great home record, while Köln finally got themselves a point. So just who were the hits and misses of matchday 6?
It was a case of whatever you can do, I can do better for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as he hit a hat trick against Borussia Mönchengladbach in the Saturday evening match.
Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski had scored on Friday against Wolfsburg to take his early season tally to seven, but BVB’s Gabon striker has now gone one better following his triple in an emphatic home win over the Föhlen.
Having hit the post twice previously he grabbed his first just before half-time after being set-up by Maximilian Philipp. Three minutes after the restart and the striker was on hand to fire home his own rebound after the post had once again denied his initial header.
The coup de grace was applied just after the hour when he used his pace to get in behind the defence before rounding keeper Sippel and firing in from a tight angle. It was his 7th hat-trick for Dortmund- four of which have come in the Bundesliga.
‘Auba’ won the Torjagerkanone last season to finish as leading scorer on 31 goals and looks in no mood to give up the trophy this year.
In the much-hyped battle of the young coaches at the Rhein-Neckar Arena on Saturday it was the Hoffenheim boss who came out on top as Schalke were beaten 2-0.
A 13th minute goal from Dennis Geiger (his first ever in the Bundesliga) put the Sinsheim club ahead, but Schalke grew into the game to become the dominant force. Yevhen Konoplyanka hit the crossbar and the Königsblauen enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, but a late goal from Lukas Rupp put the icing on the cake for the home side.
Domenico Tedesco, a former Hoffenheim youth team coach and fellow graduate of the DFB’s coaching academy, can be proud of his side’s performance, but it is Nagelsmann who saw his side maintain a 21-game unbeaten run at home to go top of the Bundesliga (albeit for 2 hours).
What must 18-year-old Gian-Luca Itter have been thinking when new Wolfsburg coach Martin Schmidt told him he would be making his Bundesliga debut on Friday at the Allianz Arena, against Bayern and at left-back facing the scourge of full-backs that is Arjen Robben?
Fear? Apprehension? Panic? Well not based on this performance. The youngster coped admirably against the Dutch wing wizard and did not look out of place amongst the world stars he was sharing the pitch with. Itter made 5 tackles and 5 interceptions in the game and had a pass completion rate of 76.7% from his 30 passes.
Despite his inexperience and the size of the challenge he faced, his performance was error-free and he will have given trainer Schmidt every confidence he can cope as Wolfsburg look to get their season back on track following the sacking of Andries Jonker.
Weigl made his 100th senior appearance for Dortmund after finally returning from the broken ankle he suffered against Augsburg in the penultimate game of last season.
He was heavily involved in Dortmund’s first goal with an incisive pass to send Aubameyang down the right. His perfect cross allowed Maximilian Philipp to volley in. Throughout the game, I cannot recall Weigl giving the ball away once and slipped back into the BVB machine with ease.
A great return was capped 12 minutes from time with arguably the best of Dortmund’s six goals. The ball dropped to him off the back of Jonas Hofmann, he took it on his thigh, let it bounce once, before volleying into the top right corner. It was one of those shots you couldn’t place better if you’d picked the ball up and put it there yourself.
“I have always wanted to score in front of the South Stand and I’m overjoyed. The way the ball fell to me meant the only thing I could do was to take it on the volley” he said after the match.
Martin ‘The Mechanic’ Schmidt
No, he’s not an elite assassin à la Jason Statham in the film of the same name, but new Wolfsburg trainer Martin Schmidt did ‘do the business’ on Friday as his side came away from the Allianz Arena with a deserved point.
Usually it is Bayern, who play the role of the assassin having disposed of Wolfsburg in their last 15 games at home with Wolfsburg’s last point coming way back in 2001.
Schmidt handed a debut to left-back Gian-Luca Itter and also brought in William, Josuha Guilavogui and Marcel Tisserand into a formation that changed from 4-5-1 to 4-3-3 depending on whether they had the ball or not.
The 50-year-old Swiss coach is making a bit of a habit of frustrating the Bavarians, having masterminded a 2-2 draw last season with Mainz, while also winning 2-1 in February 2016.
What a dream debut! After Leverkusen finally got their man following a transfer wrangle with River Plate, the striker was handed a first start against Hamburg to become only the second Argentine (after Diego Placente) to appear in the Bundesliga for Leverkusen.
The 24-year-old was involved in the build-up for the Werkself’s opener for Kevin Volland before getting on the score sheet himself in the 23rd minute. He connected perfectly with a precise cross from Leon Bailey, stealing in ahead of Mergim Mavraj to fire home with his first shot in Germany.
In 105 league appearances for both Colon and River Plate, the hit-man found the back of the net 34 times as well as providing 13 assists. Alario then turned provider seven minutes from time as his ball set up Volland for his second of the game.
Have Leverkusen found a ready-made new Chicharito?
German vocabulary lesson #1: Patzer- (noun) a slip, a boob, a goof. Or if you want a footballing definition, look no further that the huge balls-up made by Bayern Munich keeper Sven Ulreich against Wolfsburg on Friday.
2-0 up despite not playing at their top level, the Bavarians conceded an innocuous free-kick some 30 meters from their goal. Maximilian Arnold stepped up for the Wölfe with an ambitious left-foot effort and got it over the wall with some dip on the ball. It however looked a routine save for the keeper deputising for the injured Manuel Neuer, but he made a complete hash of it.
Bizarrely he went to save it with only one hand and a pathetic effort to palm it away saw him embarrassed giving Wolfsburg a way back into the game.
Ulreich has now conceded 10 goals from direct free kicks in the Bundesliga with 4 of those curiously coming against Wolfsburg. The 29-year-old will now be under increased scrutiny a things don’t get any easier for him with a trip to Paris St German in midweek where he will face the combined fire-power of Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappé.
The captain really should set an example, but Hertha’s skipper Vedad Ibisevic was shown a straight red card in the Old Lady’s 1-0 loss at Mainz. The veteran Bosnian striker was dismissed by referee Tobias Stieler in the final minute at the Opel Arena as Hertha chased a late equaliser.
Stieler claims he was verbally abused by Ibisevic, something the Bosnian disputes. The Hertha striker, having suffered a cut to his eye, was asked to leave the field by the official to receive treatment. Ibisevic was not happy with this and claims to have said, “Das ist schlecht” (that’s rubbish). Stieler however heard differently and claims the Berlin captain said, “Du bist scheiße” (you are shit).
Schlecht or Scheiße? That is the question.
Ibisevic is now calling for lip-reading experts to be called in to resolve the dispute as to what he actually said. We have VAR in the Bundesliga, but it seems we now require lip readers to solve disputes.
Twenty minutes into their clash with Borussia Dortmund at the Signal Iduna Park on Saturday evening, and you would have been forgiven for believing that Gladbach were going to get something from the game and prevent BVB’s return to the top of the table.
They were looking good on the counter, were exploiting the space vacated by the attacking full-backs Jeremy Toljan and Lukas Piszczek and Thorgan Hazard went close to scoring on 10 minutes.
Fast-forward 70 minutes and the Föhlen were staring, rather shell-shocked at a 6-1 scoreline in Dortmund’s favour. Giving away possession too easily and providing scant resistance to Dortmund’s rampant attackers, they were 3-0 down at the interval.
Low on confidence, they did have chances themselves but were just nowhere near as cut-throat as their opponents. Lars Stindl did finally breach Roman Bürki’s goal in the 66th minute, but there was hardly any reason to celebrate.
“We were very much second-best today” explained trainer Dieter Hecking after the game. “Dortmund played very well indeed. We defended okay for the opening 25 minutes, but we weren’t able to get any possession. Dortmund’s passing game destabilised us, albeit with some big help from us for a couple of goals. When you have five or six decent chances yourself but fail to take them, you end up with a result like that.
“The way we conceded the goals is unacceptable, and certainly shouldn’t be happening to us at Borussia Dortmund.”
Thank goodness for Borussia Dortmund. Three of the eight games this weekend finished goalless and if it hadn’t been for the goal-fest at the Signal-Iduna Park on Saturday evening the goal average for matchday 6 would have fallen quite dramatically.
Werder versus Freiburg and Stuttgart versus Augsburg on Saturday both finished without a goal, and Hannover versus Köln on Sunday followed suit. The first five matchdays produced just two dead rubbers, whereas this weekend alone produced three.
The effect of the tiring Englische Woche has hopefully run its course.
Thanks to 1FC Köln finally gaining their first league point of the season with a 0-0 draw away to high-flying Hannover, the record for the worst start to a Bundesliga season still belongs to Fortuna Düsseldorf.
The Flingeraner opened with six consecutive losses to a Bundesliga season back in the 1991-92 campaign. They would ultimately finish bottom of the 20 team division with just 24 points and be relegated.
Köln’s first point at the HDI Arena means Düsseldorf’s unwanted 26-year record stands although the Geißböcke have still only found the back of the net once.
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