The new Bundesliga season is underway, and the first matchday threw up several thrilling encounters. But what awaits us this weekend? Here’s what to look out for!
1 | Fürth must recover from Stuttgart hammering
After guiding Greuther Fürth to the Bundesliga for just the second time in their history, Stefan Leitl will have been hoping for a dream start against Stuttgart last week. Unfortunately, what unfolded was more reminiscent of a nightmare – die Kleeblätter were outclassed from start to finish during a 5-1 defeat. Their opponents racked up a huge 33 shots, 15 of which were on target, and arguably should have had more than the five goals they eventually managed.
The good news for Leitl is things can only get better. On Saturday, they host Arminia Bielefeld, who should also be in and around the relegation zone at the end of the season. Die Arminen started their campaign with a 0-0 draw against Freiburg, displaying the same sturdy defence and toothless attack from the previous term.
Even if Fürth do go behind against Bielefeld, it is unlikely they will be blown away – after all, the latter have found the back of the net just 26 times in their last 35 league outings. This looks like a game that will go down to the wire and, if Fürth want to survive in the top flight, they must not leave empty-handed.
2 | Union’s first post-European test
Union Berlin come into their Bundesliga clash with Hoffenheim riding the crest of a wave. On Thursday, they kicked off just their second ever European campaign with an impressive 4-0 UEFA Europa Conference League play-off win in Finland against KuPS. Barring a disaster in the return leg, they are safely through to the group stages and will be guaranteed at least six more matches in continental competition.
It is a wonderful privilege to play in Europe, but there is a risk it could impact Union’s Bundesliga form. Playing every three or four days is something the Berliners are not used and, while their activity in the transfer market suggests they are well aware of the dangers involved, Urs Fischer still has a job on his hand to prepare his big squad for both their European adventure and their domestic commitments.
The match against Die Kraichgauer will be their first test. Union only returned to Germany from Helsinki on Friday afternoon. Die Kraichgauer, meanwhile, have had the whole week to prepare for their next clash. This is a situation Fischer and co will be regularly faced with for at least the first half of the season – it will be interesting to see how they adapt to the packed schedule.
3 | Frankfurt and Augsburg look to forget opening day
For both Eintracht Frankfurt and Augsburg, the opening day of the Bundesliga campaign is one they will want to forget. Die Adler struggled to compete with Borussia Dortmund as they lost 5-2, and Augsburg were no match for Hoffenheim during their 4-0 defeat.
The start of Oliver Glasner’s Frankfurt reign has been unsatisfactory. The loss to Dortmund came just a week after his side suffered a shock DFB Pokal exit as the hands of SV Waldhof, the second time in three years they have lost in the first round of the competition. New striker Rafael Santos Borré, brought in to replace André Silva and his 29-goal haul from last term, is yet to get off the mark, and the future of several other players remains uncertain.
Fortunately for them, next opponents Augsburg are not in the best of form either. They did reach the second round of the cup thanks to a 4-2 win over fifth-tier Greifwalder FC, but they looked out of sorts against Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga. Markus Weinzierl has conceded 14 goals in his five game as Augsburg boss since returning to the club in April and, with talents such as Filip Kostic and Daichi Kamada, Frankfurt have the ability to cause the 46-year-old plenty of problems.
It remains to be seen who recovers better from their respective humbling.
4 | Seoane and Hütter go for first win
Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Mönchengladbach were involved in the Bundesliga managerial merry-go-round that occurred last season. Hannes Wolf did not secure a permanent role after taking over from Peter Bosz towards the end of the term and has since been replaced by Gerardo Seoane, while Adi Hütter left Frankfurt to take over at Gladbach from Marco Rose, the new Dortmund head coach.
Both bosses started their respective spells with Bundesliga draws. Hütter will be the happier of the two, picking up a point away at champions Bayern – they may have won had they been awarded one of two big penalty shouts – while Leverkusen were held 1-1 at Union Berlin. Die Werkself dominated possession against the side from the German capital, but failed to translate that in to many clear-cut chances.
These two teams are likely to be in the battle for the Champions League spots throughout the season. While it is important to pick up points consistently, matches against their closest rivals could well decide whether Leverkusen or Gladbach eat at the top European table in 12 months. A victory for either this weekend would be the perfect way to kickstart their campaign.