After a rather unfortunate week for German clubs in Europe, the Bundesliga kicks off again today. It all starts with a derby between the little HSV (Hannover 96) and the big HSV (Hamburger SV). Prior to the season, both teams were amongst the favourites for relegation but both have started the season in style. Hannover have won 7 points so far and are still unbeaten and Hamburg could only be taken down by RB Leipzig. It’s unlikely to be a game that is pleasing to the eye but a tough contest is to be expected.
“It’s Saturday afternoon. What game should I watch?”
Because of the European fixtures, there are only four games to pick from this Saturday afternoon. Bayern host Mainz, Schalke visit Bremen while Frankfurt and Augsburg meet in a clash of 4-point teams. Last but not least Wolfsburg are guests at newly-promoted Stuttgart.
After the loss to Hoffenheim and a critical interview by Lewandowski, Bayern have spiraled into some sort of mini crisis and anything but a win against Mainz would see the record champions start the 3-game-week with a very bad feeling. And it doesn’t get easier because they’ll have to play Schalke who want to prove that they can win on the road too. Bremen have found some defensive stability in the first games of the season but the attacking department is still lacking. I would recommend watching either Bayern – Mainz or Bremen – Schalke but similar games are to be expected with Bremen – Schalke holding a much bigger chance for a potential surprise.
On Saturday evening, Leipzig and Gladbach meet in the so called “Topspiel”. This is a big chance for Gladbach to turn a mixed start with 1 win, 1 draw and 1 loss into a good start but playing away at Leipzig is always hard but here are uncertainties regarding the fitness of Naby Keita and his absence would make it much easier for Gladbach to just sit back and let Leipzig run at them.
The Sunday kicks off with the first 1:30pm match in the history of the league when Hoffenheim host Hertha. Despite the troubles in Europe, Hoffenheim have started well in the league with 7 points and after beating Bayern last week everything seems to be possible but games involving Hertha are always hard to predict because the club from the German capital are known for scoring from very few chances compared to other teams.
The next one is a game I would have recommended to everyone who likes something a bit off the beaten track a year ago: Leverkusen vs. Freiburg. But with Freiburg having to sell their two best attackers and with Leverkusen disappointing everyone yet again this game is like buying a pig in a poke because it’s hard to know what to expect from it which is similar to the whole of Leverkusen’s 2016/17 campaign.
Finally, the weekend ends with a match between two teams who lost 1-3 in London this week: Dortmund and Köln. Dortmund are top of the league and they are yet to concede a goal whilst Köln is bottom of the league having only scored a solitary goal so the signs could not be more different. Everything that is not the 4th Bundesliga-loss in a row for Köln would be a surprise but since Dortmund is involved the game should be one worth watching for people who like to watch good football.