Bundesliga Review – Week 6: Schalke are back and Union Berlin go top as Borussia Dortmund falter

Schalke are back. 483 days after their last win, the Royal Blues secured all three points against their Ruhr neighbours, VfL Bochum in the Bundesliga Topspiel. A debut for Kenan Karaman following his deadline day arrival from Besiktas, a Bundesliga start for Henning Matriciani and a home debut for Sepp van den Berg, Schalke celebrated a 3-1 win at a sold out VELTINS Arena on Saturday.

Chances were scarce in the opening stages, Gerrit Holtmann’s effort was spilled by Alexander Schwolow. Simon Zoller, who scored Bochum’s last goal on matchday two, failed to convert the rebound. It was Marius Bülter who tested Manuel Riemann after 38 minutes, Dominick Drexler on hand to score his first of the season. Schalke’s party atmosphere soon evaporated. Six minutes after the break, Philipp Hofmann equalised after Felix Zwayer consulted VAR after his goal was originally to have been judged as offside.

Schalke made attacking changes and regained the leader after 73 minutes. Tobias Mohr’s free-kick was turned in by Bochum defender Erhan Masovic, sending Schalke’s Nordkurve into a frenzy. After a torrid start to their campaign, despite just two defeats, Sebastian Polter scored his first Schalke goal against his former side, securing their first three points of the season. Polter, Bochum’s top scorer last season with 10 league goals, joined the Royal Blues on a free transfer, moving 13km west to the neighbouring district.

Ultimately, Bochum’s defeat and dismal start to their Bundesliga campaign would see the end of Thomas Reis. He was dismissed by VfL on Monday afternoon despite securing their Bundesliga status last season with impressive wins against Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. It would be Bochum’s shortcomings in the transfer market that would be Reis’ undoing. He and sporting director Sebastian Schindzielorz navigated the market on a shoestring budget, replacing Polter, Armel Bella-Kotchap, Maxim Leitsch, Jürgen Locadia and Elvis Rexhbecaj among others with just €1.5m, despite bringing in just shy of €15m.

After Schalke’s first win of the season, Kramer watched his side’s performance back, in what would have been a rather sleepless night. With impressive draws against Borussia Mönchengladbach, Wolfsburg and Stuttgart, with a first win of the Bundesliga season now under their belt, it well and truly feels that Schalke are back. With a short trip to Dortmund in the Revierderby this weekend against a side that has just shipped three goals at RB Leipzig and have their own injury and creativity problems, there’s a feeling around Gelsenkirchen that they can claim bragging rights as one of the Bundesliga’s greatest fixtures returns after a one-year absence.

1 | A few months ago, an article proclaiming that Bayern Munich should start every match down by one goal was doing the rounds. The piece suggested that Bayern is simply too good for the Bundesliga and the teams in the division. On Saturday, Bayern drew their third consecutive Bundesliga match and sit third in the table. Having drawn to their usual bogey team, Borussia Mönchengladbach, and then away to high-flying Union Berlin, many believed Bayern would get back on track at home to Stuttgart. However, it appears teams are learning from each other and finding ways to frustrate the current champions. Stuttgart were deserving of their result and were awarded a stoppage-time penalty to ensure that the points were shared. Bayern welcome back Robert Lewandowski in the Champions League this week before traveling to Augsburg in search of their first Bundesliga win in four.

2 | Marco Rose got off to a dream start as RB Leipzig coach as his side convincingly beat his former club, Borussia Dortmund. Leipzig looked like a completely different team from the one that had recently lost to Eintracht Frankfurt and Shakhtar Donetsk. Whether it was because the new coach was watching or the mentality of the players, Leipzig stunned everyone with an impressive 3-0 over Edin Terzić’s side. The pick of the goals was Dominik Szoboszlai’s cracking shot from distance which flew into the top corner. It was his first of the campaign and he might not strike a ball better all season. The win leaves BVB in fifth while Leipzig move into 10th with just two wins on the board.

3 | Since their promotion in 2019, Union Berlin has continued to improve on one of the league’s limited budgets. After beating FC Köln 1-0, Union finally reached the summit of the Bundesliga table and have a two-point advantage on second position. For football fans across the world, Union Berlin has captured their imaginations. Head coach Urs Fischer and sporting director Oliver Ruhnert have done an excellent job in terms of managing the club’s affairs and recruitment. With Europa League football this season and only conceding four goals in six games, the future seems bright for the Irons.

Jamie Allen and Daniel Pinder

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