A Look ahead to Bundesliga Match-day 4 which includes a Rhine derby
Two teams from the Rhine desperately in need of three points take on each other on Sunday. In addition, three fixtures are scheduled for Sunday this week due to Europa League fixtures on Thursday.
Three Bundesliga sides participated in the Champions League this week. All three German sides won by as margin of one goal but strangely enough (at-least according to history prior to 2002), each side missed a penalty. All three penalties were poor ones- Mats Hummels missed for Dortmund, Klaas Jan Huntelaar for Schalke and Mario Mandzukic for Bayern.
Two of those sides play each other on Saturday in a clash which is bound to affect the Bundesliga title race. Schalke vs. Bayern promises to be a feast of attacking football. Both sides have their fair share of problems at the back as witnessed in their Champions League matches. Bayern despite having more than 70% possession allowed themselves to concede from a corner while three Schalke players failed to beat one Olympiakos star.
The other side to have featured in Europe, Borussia Dortmund plays points-strapped and confidence-strapped Hamburg. HSV improved with Rafael Van der Vaart in the side against a defensively suspect Frankfurt last week but could not earn any points thanks to the 47th minute dismissal of new recruit Petr Jiracek. The referee sent off Jiracek for the intent it seemed rather than the challenge itself.
HSV might comfort themselves by taking a look at Hoffenheim. Freiburg had been goal-shy coming into the match against Dietmar Hopp’s club. They struck five times to tear Hoffenheim apart. This week actually promises to be worse for Markus Babel’s side- a Hannover side in great form comes visiting on Sunday. Freiburg meanwhile takes on newly promoted Fortuna Düsseldorf. Fortuna has made a good start with five points but does need to score more goals if they are to survive.
Two sides which are fighting it out for the title according to current standings take on each other in what promises to be a hugely entertaining affair on Friday. Frankfurt, on nine points in second, takes on Nürnberg on seven points. Both sides won 3-2 last week. Nürnberg’s win over Gladbach in Borussia Park was a huge surprise considering the amount of talent in this Mönchengladbach side.
Another side which was at the end of a 3-2 loss last week is Bremen. They take on Stuttgart. Stuttgart is not having a great campaign. They lost against Wolfsburg in their opener, a game which they should have won. They played attacking, in other words suicidal, football against Bayern in the Allianz Arena and were torn apart 6-1. They followed that up with a 0-0 draw against Fortuna, again a game they should have won.
Bremen, despite attacking well, has just not defended well. They have lost two matches now due to late goals, matches which they could have won. Stuttgart is a team in a mini-crisis now. At the Weserstadion, Bremen should take the full compliment of points provided they defend properly of-course.
Mainz performed bravely against Bayern last week but came away with nothing. They take on Augsburg who drew 0-0 with Wolfsburg in a forgettable match. Wolfsburg takes on Greuther Fürth. Fürth played well but lost to Schalke 0-2 in a match which was highly emotional for their striker Gerald Asamoah and their coach Mike Büskens.
Finally, a Rhineland derby takes place this week. Gladbach has been extremely leaky at the back this season. They conceded three goals in their Champions League qualifier at home and last week against Nürnberg. Leverkusen has been equally inept if not more. Their players have displayed their quality- however, those moments have been rare. Dortmund hardly had to break into a sweat to send off Leverkusen 3-0 last week.
Gladbach has to work on improving their back-line. Leverkusen has to work on just about everything. This derby will tell us a lot more about these two sides. For Leverkusen, a loss would certainly cast doubts over Sami Hyppia’s coaching abilities. Gladbach because of their offence could take this one if Leverkusen isn’t careful.
Finally, Bayern and Frankfurt continues to lead the Bundesliga. Will Schalke and Nürnberg be able to force them to drop points? Tune in this week to find out the answer to that question. As always, you will be entertained, shocked and amazed in equal measure.