It’s time to get back to domestic football in the Bundesliga with MD3 ready to roll. RB Leipzig travel to Hamburg in the Friday night fixture but the match of the round is TSG 1899 Hoffenheim vs Bayern Munich. Julian Nagelsmann’s men won the corresponding fixture 1-0 last season on their way to an unbeaten home record, but that victory remains their only win against the champions in 18 attempts.
Can 1. FSV Mainz 05, Eintracht Frankfurt or Werder Bremen score a goal? Will Borussia Dortmund’s dominance against SC Freiburg continue?
Hamburger SV vs RB Leipzig
Hamburg bounced back from a disappointing exit in the first round of the DFB Pokal at Osnabrück with two Bundesliga victories. With many pundits predicting another season of misery for the northerners, Markus Gisdol’s side took care of Augsburg 1-0 at home and came away from 1. FC Köln with a 3-1 win despite being a man down for the final 30 minutes. Central midfielders Albin Ekdal and Walace have started the season well, providing assists and protecting a defence that conceded 61 goals last season.
RB Leipzig began their Bundesliga campaign with a 2-0 loss at Schalke and were 1-0 down at the break against Freiburg. Whatever Ralph Hasenhüttl said to his players at half-time clearly had an effect, Leipzig scored four unanswered goals and looked very much the devastating side we saw last season. Jean-Kévin Augustin was very good in his home debut and could form a devastating partnership up front with Timo Werner.
Last season this fixture was dominated by the away team, Leipzig running out 4-0 winners in Hamburg with the Red Shorts gaining revenge with a 3-0 win at the Red Bull Arena. Leipzig can realistically come away form Hamburg with all three points again. Emil Forsberg and Diego Demme were restored to the starting XI against Schalke, Augustin was sizzling while Werner is on fire with five goals in his last 185 minutes for club and country.
1. FSV Mainz 05 vs Bayer Leverkusen
Mainz started the season with consecutive 1-0 defeats against both sides promoted to the Bundesliga this season, Hannover 96 and VfB Stuttgart. Unlucky against Hannover and denied a late equaliser by Ron-Robert Zieler in Stuttgart, new Mainz manager Sandro Schwarz is already feeling the heat and will want points on the board as soon as possible.
Leverkusen suffered defeat in Munich on opening night but created plenty of opportunities in the 3-1 defeat. Heiko Herrlich recalled Julian Brandt and changed the formation from 4-2-3-1 to 3-5-2 against Hoffenheim, Leverkusen dominant and taking the lead twice in a 2-2 draw that felt like a defeat. Kevin Kampl was sold to Leipzig but the club invested €22m in 19-year-old Greek defender Panagiotis Retsos and €24m for 24-year-old Argentine striker Lucas Alario.
Both these sides will be desperate for all three points, Mainz requiring goals while Leverkusen have had trouble keeping them out. Herrlich needs to integrate Retsos and Alario into the side but it will take time to find his best starting XI and formation. This fixture averages 3.4 goals and ended 3-2 to Leverkusen last season with Javier Hernández scoring a hat-trick. It’s difficult separating them so a score draw could be on the cards.
VfL Wolfsburg vs Hannover 96
Wolfsburg were outclassed by Borussia Dortmund in a 3-0 defeat, Andries Jonker changing his formation and starting XI which paid dividends with a 1-0 win at Frankfurt. The Wolves found chances hard to come by but a fast break Daniel Didavi goal was enough to secure victory. Ignacio Camacho switched to central defence alongside new signing Marcel Tisserand, Josuha Guilavogui and Max Arnold coming into central midfield which were all positive moves that paid off.
Hannover have returned to the Bundesliga with a bang, coming away from Mainz with a 1-0 win and playing well against Schalke to earn another 1-0 victory. Centre-back Salif Sané returned to the team and put in a commanding performance, new signing Jonathas came off the bench to score the winner. André Breitenreiter couldn’t have hoped for a better start, two clean sheets and two wins the best possible start for the Reds.
Jonker’s formation and personnel change certainly did the trick at Freiburg but Wolfsburg are still a work in progress. Hannover’s €8m record signing Jonathas will lead the line and Breitenreiter’s side remain hard to break down, but the Reds were fortunate at Mainz and can’t be trusted away from home. Wolfsburg are a risky proposition but deserve favouritism at home.
Augsburg vs 1. FC Köln
Augsburg were knocked out of the DFB Pokal by third tier Magdeburg and lost their opening Bundesliga game 1-0 at Hamburg. Alfred Finnbogason scored in the first minute against Borussia Mönchengladbach, but Augsburg surrendered two goals and were fortunate not to go into the break 3-1 down after Thorgan Hazard hit the post. Manuel Baum fired up his troops at half-time and they came out all guns blazing, Sergio Córdova eventually getting the equaliser in the 89th minute.
Köln were outclassed in the derby at Mönchengladbach in a 1-0 defeat and were beaten at home by Hamburg 3-1 a week later. Jhon Córdoba has been doing his best to replace Anthony Modeste, but the fears surrounding the French strikers departure appear to be well founded thus far. It’s early days but Peter Stöger needs to turn things around quickly for the Billy Goats.
Augsburg’s second half performance against Borussia Mönchengladbach showed fight and character, two qualities that will be required in abundance as Baum’s side remain relegation candidates. Köln need to climb away from the relegation zone themselves but there has been little to inspire confidence. Córdoba desperately needs a goal, but this game and Córdoba’s chances of scoring are too hard to call.
Borussia Mönchengladbach vs Eintracht Frankfurt
Borussia Mönchengladbach deservedly beat Köln 1-0 at home before an entertaining 2-2 draw at Augsburg. Dieter Hecking’s side came into the season with high expectations and there are certainly enough talent to get the Foals back into Europe. New signing Denis Zakaria has been spectacular after stepping into Mahmoud Dahoud’s vacated central midfield spot, the 20-year-old scored his first goal at Augsburg and looks a very exciting prospect.
Eintracht Frankfurt were unlucky in the 0-0 draw at Freiburg and couldn’t catch a break in the 1-0 defeat against Wolfsburg. Sébastien Haller hit the woodwork in each game and will be wondering what he has to do to score. Niko Kovač has been trying to integrate a host of new players into his side, Haller joined by Jetro Willems, Simon Falette, Gelson Fernandes, Jonathan de Guzmán and Kevin-Prince Boateng. It appears only a matter of time before Frankfurt click into gear.
Mönchengladbach are the more talented and settled side and deserve favouritism at home. These sides have met on 88 occasions with the home side winning 44% of the time, although they met three times last season with two 0-0 draws in the league and a 1-1 draw in the DFB Pokal. Another draw here wouldn’t surprise but Mönchengladbach should be able to get the win.
SC Freiburg vs Borussia Dortmund
Freiburg were probably done a favour by Slovenian side Domžale who knocked the southerners out of the Europa League. Unconvincing in the 0-0 draw against Eintracht Frankfurt, Freiburg went into the break 1-0 up at Leipzig but were blown off the park in the second half in a 4-1 thrashing. Last seasons 7th place finish was a massive over achievement and owed much to the performances of Maximilian Philipp and Vincenzo Grifo who were both sold this summer.
Borussia Dortmund were unlucky not to win the Super Cup against Bayern Munich, but had no problems at Wolfsburg with an easy 3-0 win and produced a dominant performance in a 2-0 win against Hertha Berlin at the Signal Iduna Park. With Ousmane Dembélé’s move to Barcelona finally settled, Peter Bosz can concentrate on trying to mount a title challenge with Christian Pulisic enjoying a fantastic start to the season.
Freiburg are a hard working side but their limitations were exposed against a rampant Leipzig last time out. Christian Streich might be able to extract something from Bartosz Kapustka and Ryan Kent, two 20-year-old’s on loan from Leicester and Liverpool respectively, but Dortmund have won the past 12 games against Freiburg, scoring 38 goals and conceding just five. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang & Co. should be way too much for Freiburg to handle.
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim vs Bayern Munich
Hoffenheim had to contend with the high profile Champions League play-off battle with Liverpool, but Julian Nagelsmann guided his team to four Bundesliga points with a 1-0 win against Werder Bremen and a battling 2-2 draw at Bayer Leverkusen. The 30-year-old manager will be hoping for a strong performance against the reigning champions before their opening Europa League game against Braga on Thursday.
Bayern Munich put a torrid pre-season behind them by defeating Borussia Dortmund in the Super Cup and winning their first two Bundesliga games. Bayer Leverkusen were dispatched 3-1 on opening day before a comprehensive 2-0 win at Werder Bremen courtesy of a Robert Lewandowski brace. Niklas Süle, Corentin Tolisso and Sebastian Rudy have settled seamlessly into Carlo Ancelotti’s squad that seeks revenge against the team that took four points off them last season.
The teams drew 1-1 in Munich, Hoffenheim winning 1-0 at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena where they were undefeated. It was their first win in 18 attempts against the champions but Hoffenheim are up against it here. They were outclassed against Liverpool despite a spirited performance at home, Bayern deserving favouritism but well aware of the task that awaits them.
Hertha BSC vs Werder Bremen
Hertha started the season with a 2-0 win against Stuttgart courtesy of two goals from new recruit Matthew Leckie. Pal Dardai’s hard working side didn’t stand much chance at Dortmund last time out in a 2-0 defeat, but they will eager to get back to winning ways at the Olympiastadion against a side that did the double over them last season.
Werder Bremen battled hard at Hoffenheim before going down 1-0, another tough fixture following with Bayern Munich coming to town and leaving with a 2-0 win. Bremen desperately need to start scoring goals with Max Kruse the most likely, but central midfielder Thomas Delaney was on fire for Denmark during the international break with four goals in two games.
There isn’t too much separating these sides but Hertha hold a slight edge and are favoured at home. The Berlin side are slowly turning the Olympiastadion into a fortress, the only home game they failed to score in last season was the 1-0 defeat against Bremen. The northerners suffered consecutive defeats against top opposition and this is a good opportunity to start scoring and see if their defence can hold up.
Schalke 04 vs Stuttgart
Shalke’s 2-0 win against Leipzig led many to believe that the Gelsenkirchen side were on their way towards a successful season. That still may be the case, but a limp 1-0 defeat at Hannover and the departure of club legend Benedikt Höwedes to Juventus has the sceptics on red alert. Dominico Tedesco’s 3-4-3 formation might take some time for his players to get used to, but the problems up front continue with Franco Di Santo and Guido Burgstaller needing to stand up in the absence of long term casualty Breel Embolo.
Stuttgart returned to the Bundesliga with a 2-0 loss at Hertha Berlin, manager Hannes Wolf commenting after the game that “we have to work on our defending.” Wolf gave recent signing Holger Badstuber a start in a new look defence against Mainz, the central defender heading in Dennis Aogo’s corner and helping his side keep a clean sheet on their way to a 1-0 win. Simon Terrode won a penalty and stepped up to take it, but the striker hit the post and continues to search for his first Bundesliga goal.
Schalke will want to put the disappointing performance and result at Hannover behind them and take all three points from Stuttgart. New signing Amine Harit has shown flashes of quality and has another chance to impress in front of the VELTINS-Arena faithful. Badstuber could prove to be one of the signings of the summer if he can stay injury free, but Shalke are likely to have a little too much in front of their home crowd.
By Matthew Marshall.