A league many believe to be the most exciting in the world made its return this weekend. That’s right, the Bundesliga is back. There are plenty of questions to be answered going into the season too: Can Bayern Munich recover from a poor pre-season to retain their crown as champions? How will Borussia Dortmund fair under the stewardship of new manager, Peter Bosz? Will European football disrupt Julian Nagelsmann’s Hoffenheim, as they embark on their first season in either Europa League or Champions League? How would newly promoted Hannover and VfB Stuttgart adapt to life back in the big time? The next 9 months are sure to provide the answers.
The season kicked off on Friday night with last years’ champions, Bayern Munich, taking on Bayer Leverkusen at home. The home side lined up with Niklas Sule, Corentin Tolisso and Sebastian Rudy all making their debuts, and Sven Ulreich in place of Manuel Neuer in goal. Bayer Leverkusen faced life without Javier Hernandez by replacing him with Kevin Volland up front. It took only 9 minutes for Rudy to set up Sule for his first goal on his debut. 10 minutes later, it was Tolisso’s turn to score a debut goal and put Leverkusen further behind. Beyerns next goal came in the second half. When Charles Aranguiz pulled down Robert Lewandowski in the box, it took the video referee to finally award the penalty. The Polish striker stepped up himself to convert and put Bayern 3-0 up. Admir Mehmedi pulled one back in the 65th minute for the visitors, but it proved only to be a consolation as the holders got off to a winning start.
On Saturday, the league started in earnest as the bulk of the opening round of games were played. Hannover began life back in the top flight with a 1-0 win away at Mainz thanks a strike from Martin Harnik in the 73rd minute. Hamburg were able to start the season with a home win by beating Augsburg 1-0. Nicolai Muller scored early on to seal the points for the home side. Stuttgart were not able to do the same away to Hertha Berlin however, as a Matthew Leckie brace ensured all the points remained in the capital. Andrej Kramaric recovered from his midweek penalty miss in the Champions League to score an 84th-minute winner at home to Werder Bremen. The Peter Bosz era got underway in style as goals from Christian Pulisic, Marc Bartra and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang saw his Borussia Dortmund side run out 3-0 winners away at Wolfsburg. The final game of the day came from Gelsenkirchen, where Schalke took on Red Bull Leipzig.
Schalke were able to hold on to the bulk of their squad during the summer, although Maxim Choupo-Moting was allowed to leave on a free transfer. Leipzig will be happy that they were able to fend off the attentions of Liverpool to hold on to Naby Keita for one more season at least. The away side, who qualified automatically for this seasons Champions League thanks to an impressive performance last term, were not able to ride the crest of any wave though. Nabil Bentaleb scored from the spot just before half time and Yehven Konoplyanka netted midway through the second half to send Leipzig home with their tales between their legs.
Sunday’s games proved not to be as exciting as Saturdays. Freiburg opened their league season by welcoming Frankfurt to the Black Forest. In a match which the visitors slightly had the better of, the points were shared as the game ended goalless. Later that day Borussia Moenchengladbach entertained Cologne. This end-to-end game seemed like it was going to be a goal-fest, but, in the 49th minute, right back Nico Elvedi scored what was ultimately the winner for the home side.
So a fairly quiet opening to the Bundesliga with only 15 goals scored and only one game where both teams managed to breach the score sheet. The second round of games in the Bundesliga kicks off on Friday night, when Cologne host Hamburg. The following day sees Hoffenheim travel to Leverkusen, Wolfsburg visit Frankfurt and Gladbach go to Augsburg. Bayern continue their quest to retain their crown when they play Werder Bremen away. VfB Stuttgart’s welcome Mainz to the Mercedes Benz Arena for the first Bundesliga match there in 15 months. The late kick off sees Borussia Dortmund play Hertha Berlin at Signal Iduna Park. On Sunday, Freiburg travel to Leipzig with both teams looking for their first 3 points of the season, and Schalke play away at Hannover in the late kick of the day.