Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Bundesliga: October Review

The Bundesliga was once again very entertaining throughout October with excellent goals, quality football and the odd moment of controversy. Borussia Dortmund continue to lead the way after another strong month and more importantly they remain unbeaten. Bayer Munich are second but inconsistencies under new boss Niko Kovac mean their start has been extremely slow. While Fortuna Dusseldorf and Stuttgart prop up the table with Hannover lying in the relegation play off place.

Borussia Dortmund’s young guns continue to shine amassing 7 points from their three games in October and scoring a lorry load of goals in the process. 10 goals in their 3 games is a thunderous statistic. The likes of Jadon Sancho, Jacob Brunn Larsen and Achraf Hakimi are glistening under Lucien Favre while Marco Reus has found a new gear while summer additions Axel Witsel and Paco Alcacer are playing at the top of their game. Dortmund are oozing confidence and no doubt Favre will want that positive momentum to continue through November as they face a real test in the Klassiker with Bayern Munich. Speaking of Bayern Munich, it’s not quite been the usual dominant start Bundesliga fans are used too from Bayern. New manager Niko Kovac is taking time to get his ideas across to the players and while they went to October on a winless run and briefly continued that. However, they ended the month with back to back victories and no doubt installed some belief back into the players. But Kovac will be fully aware he needs the right result in the match with Borussia Dortmund otherwise his very short tenure could be cut. The top 4 is made up of Borussia Monchengladbach and RB Leipzig. Dieter Hecking’s Gladbach are firmly enjoying their season and find themselves in 3rd place after a strong October collecting 6 points from their 3 games. Summer signing Alassane Plea has been a terrific signing while the likes of Thorgen Hazard, Jonas Hofmann and Patrick Herrmann have stepped up to show their true abilities and poor campaigns last time out. Gladbach are full of confidence. While they ended October with a disappointing defeat to Freiburg, they are looking confident and no doubt they will want their positive momentum to continue through November. Despite this being a strange season for RB Leipzig whereby they are under a interim manager for the whole season they are delivering on the pitch under sporting director Ralf Rangnick. They are unbeaten since the opening weekend of the season and collected 5 points during October to leave them 4th. Timo Werner is slowing finding form again after a slow start to the season while others around him such as Bruma, Yousef Poulsen and Marcel Sabitzer are reaching their full potential. While Julien Naglesmann is fully concentrating on Hoffenheim, they are no denying he will have an eye on his new team.

Other sides who enjoyed October included Hoffenheim, Eintracht Frankfurt and Werder Bremen. While he may be departing in May, Julien Naglesmann continues to do a magnificent job at Hoffenheim and after an indifferent start to the campaign, his team are slowly adapting to the demands of three games in a week and ended October with real momentum having won back to back matches to charge into 8th place. Reiss Nelson is certainly enjoying his loan in Germany where the highly rated Arsenal youngster is really making a name for himself. While Brazilian striker Joelinton is also growing in confidence and ability after notching 4 goals this season and impressing in Hoffenheim’s European matches. Eintracht Frankfurt are going very well indeed under new boss Adi Hutter. The Austrian started slowly winning just 1 of his first 4 matches. However, 1 defeat in their last 6 including 3 wins and an unbeaten October has got their season fully up and running. They have stormed into 7th place and are full of momentum and confidence. Luka Jovic is in a rich vain of form having notched 5 of their 7 goals in a recent win over Fortuna Dusseldorf. Jovic is forming a strong partnership with French striker Sebastian Haller. Both are into their second seasons at the club and are benefiting from playing regularly together. A strong October has left them just 3 points off the Champions League places. Werder Bremen meanwhile are outside the Champions League places on goal difference after finishing October with a 6-2 defeat against Bayer Leverkusen. Despite that defeat, Bremen won their other two matches and have started the season excellently and losing their tag of usual slow starters. Max Eggestein enjoyed a fruitful October notching 3 goals during the month in key victories over Schalke and Wolfsburg. Bremen sit 5th and no doubt will be determined to get back on the winning track and push towards the Champions League places once again.

In contrast, times are proving tough for the bottom 2 Stuttgart and Fortuna Dusseldorf. Stuttgart lie bottom of the table after losing all 3 of their matches during October. Defeat at the start of the month to Hannover cost Tayfun Korkut his job after a run of 1 win in 7 matches. Former Augsburg and Schalke manager Markus Weinzierl is the man tasked with igniting a strong Stuttgart squad’s season but so far, he hasn’t the desired effect. Losing both his matches so far by an aggregate of 8-0 is the not the ideal start but in Weinzierl’s defence they were against Borussia Dortmund and Hoffenheim. But no doubt moral and confidence is low around the whole football club after a woeful start to the season. Weinzierl needs to hit the ground running in November and fast otherwise it could be a difficult season for the club. Newly promoted Fortuna Dusseldorf are finding life extremely tough so far with just 1 win in their first 10 matches. They have lost 5 on the spin and Friedhelm Funkel is under severe pressure to get their season up and running. It isn’t unusual for promoted sides to struggle but a poor run of form coinciding with a lack of goals and effort is worrying for fans. They lie 17th only on goals scored and they must find a winning formula and could a win against arch rivals Borussia Monchengladbach in their opening November fixture ignite their season? We shall wait and see. However, make no mistake both sides must improve. Hannover are in a similar boat to the bottom 2 with the club placed in the relegation play-off place only a point better off. Andre Breitenreiter’s side are struggling themselves but did manage to secure their first win of the campaign against Stuttgart during October but 1 win in 10 is simply not good enough. Hannover’s star player Nicklas Fullkrug is struggling to capture the form he showed last season and the loss of players like Salif Sane has hit them hard. November is prime time for manager changes and could either Hannover or Fortuna Dusseldorf decide a change is needed? Stuttgart have and so far, things haven’t improved but one thing for sure the pressure is only going to intensify if things don’t improve and fast.

Other sides enduring disappointing Octobers included Hertha Berlin, Mainz and Nuremberg. While they remained unbeaten during October, Hertha Berlin were also winless and consequently they have dropped off the pace in the race for the top 4. Per Dardai will be bitterly disappointed with 3 consecutive draws and an overall run of 1 win in 5. While they lie in 6th place, Dardai will want his side to recapture their early season form and charge back towards the Champions League spot. Meanwhile goal short Mainz are struggling themselves after a winless October including back to back defeats to end the month. Sandro Schwarz struggled for large parts of last season and despite adding attacking players, goals are proving allusive and things must improve to give them a chance of winning matches. They’ve scored just 5 league goals in their 10 matches drawing blanks in 6 of the games. They are desperately short of goals and simply they cannot win if they cannot score. Mainz lie 13th in the table 3 points clear of the bottom three. Schwarz is into his second season since replacing Martin Schmidt, but things must improve having brought in a lot of attacking players during the summer including Jan-Paul Boetius and Jean Mateta. Newly promoted Nuremberg are finding Bundesliga life tough following their promotion. Michael Kollner’s side sit 14th just 3 points clear off the bottom 3. A winless October where they picked up just a point has seen them slide towards the relegation battle. Their home is crucial to their chances of survival having collected 8 of their 9 points at home. Their away form is woeful losing 3 of their first 4 away games and they must find a way to pick points up on their travels. Kollner is confident of survival but things must improve in November.

October delivered excellent football and no doubt November will do the same as the season really gets into gear with the pressures of pre-season expectations beginning to increase the pressure on manager’s shoulders. There are plenty of mouth-watering games in November to enjoy including the derby between Borussia Monchengladbach and Fortuna Dusseldorf, Bayer Leverkusen vs Hoffenheim, Wolfsburg vs Bor. Dortmund, The Klassiker between Dortmund and Bayern Munich, Nuremberg vs Stuttgart, Ein. Frankfurt vs Schalke, RB Leipzig vs Bayer Leverkusen, Hertha Berlin vs Hoffenheim and Wolfsburg vs RB Leipzig. November is a crucial month in the season and no doubt managers will want their teams to collect as many points as possible to achieve their ambitions for the season. But the big question is can anyone stop Borussia Dortmund?

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