Thursday, 4 October 2018

Bundesliga: September Review (Matchday 3 to 6)

After just 2 rounds of games in the Bundesliga in August, we were given a small insight and a toe in the water into how the season could go and how the 18 Bundesliga teams are looking. However, fast forward to the end of September and we’ve had 6 rounds of matches and things are starting to take shape in Germany. However, Bayern Munich are not at the summit after 2 match winless run and Borussia Dortmund have stormed to the top 1 point clear of Bayern. While at the wrong end of the table, Hannover remain the only winless side with last season’s high flyers Schalke and Stuttgart making up the bottom 3.

Borussia Dortmund are absolutely flying after winning 3 of their 4 September games with some flair and style. Dortmund thrashed Eintracht Frankfurt put 7 past Nuremberg and came back from 2-0 down to beat Bayer Leverkusen 4-2. Marco Reus is capturing form of previous seasons gone by notching 4 goals so far while new signings Paco Alcacer and Axel Witsel are making very good impressions. However, Lucien Favre’s trust in the younger players is really winning admirers and excellent performances on the pitch. The likes of Manuel Akanji, Christian Pulisic and Jacob Larsen are having magnificent seasons so far. But one diamond sparkling is English youngster Jadon Sancho who has notched 6 assists in just 125 minutes of Bundesliga football this season. The winger is yet to start in the league this season, but his bench impact is winning Dortmund games and he will only get better having committed his future with the club until 2022. Dortmund are looking good as they did this time 12 months ago when Peter Bosz was in charge, but their season tailed off horrendously. Favre will be aware of Dortmund’s decline and must make sure it doesn’t happen this season.  

Bayern Munich started the season as many expected as they cruised to 4 straight league wins to kick off the season. However, they ended September very disappointingly having not won in their last 2 league games and now find themselves in 2nd place. Augsburg rescued a brilliant point at the Allianz Arena and then Bayern went to the capital and got outplayed and outclassed by a resilient Hertha Berlin team. No doubt Niko Kovac will be extremely disappointed with their form but it is his first blip as the boss of Germany’s biggest team and his ideas are still getting across so there isn’t too much reason to panic. However, Kovac will want a response sooner rather than later and they kick off October with a tricky game against Borussia Monchengladbach. Robert Lewandowski notched just once in September and is struggling for a bit of form at the moment but no doubt he will come good at some stage this season.

Hertha Berlin and Werder Bremen enjoyed an excellent September with both clubs sitting in the top 5. Hertha Berlin and Per Dardai are a brilliant match with the Hungarian having spent much of his career at the club and is approaching almost 4 years in charge of the club. They enjoyed an excellent September winning 2 of their 4 matches having won both their August matches. Victories at home have been crucial with Dardai’s side having a perfect home record with Bayern Munich falling to defeat in the German capital. The form of midfielder Ondrej Duda has caught the eye with the Slovakian notching 5 goals so far this season while veteran striker Vedad Ibisevic is also finding form notching 4 goals of his own. While youngster Javario Dilrosun is also catching the eye with the midfielder notching 2 goals so far in his first season as a professional footballer. He was released by Manchester City in the summer and so far, he has excelled on German soil.  Werder Bremen also enjoyed an excellent September notching 2 wins in 4 league games as well as losing just once against struggling Stuttgart. Florian Kohfeldt has got Bremen going at the start of a season for once after years of slow starts and managerial changes. What is also good to note is that Bremen have goals spread across the side with defenders Milos Veljkovic and Theodore Gabre Selassie scoring while midfielder Max Eggestein is joint top scorer at the club with Max Kruse. Bremen ended September with defeat but no doubt they have made a brilliant start to the new season.

In contrast, September was very mixed for Wolfsburg, Bayer Leverkusen and Schalke. Despite winning their opening 2 league games, Bruno Labbadia’s Wolfsburg had a winless September drawing 3 and losing at home to Freiburg. Labbadia will be disappointed their opening month momentum has faded slightly but they remain in 7th place after a solid start to the season. New signing Wout Weghorst is making a good impression at the club having notched 2 goals so far and he could the striker they have searched after consecutive goal shy campaigns for the Wolves. In contrast to Wolfsburg, it has been a very poor opening to the season for Schalke with the club sat in 17th place after losing their first 5 but crucially bouncing back from those defeats to secure their first win of the season against Mainz. Domenico Tedesco knows Schalke have underperformed so far this season but that win over Mainz could be crucial in reinvigorating their season. Poor defeats to the likes of Freiburg and Borussia Monchengladbach in September has left fans concerned but they will hope the club can build from their opening victory this season starting with Lokomotiv Moscow in the Champions League and then Fortuna Dusseldorf in the Bundesliga. Bayer Leverkusen had a mixed September losing 2 and winning 2 games. Leverkusen lost their opening 4 games of the season however, a crucial home win over Mainz has ignited their campaign as they have won 3 of their last 4 games in all competitions. Heiko Herrlich will be pleased with their response however, throwing away a 2-0 lead at home to Dortmund will no doubt have affected moral and confidence in the squad so Herrlich will quickly want a response starting in the Europa League this week before they face Freiburg in their next league game.

It has been a very tough opening month of the season for Hannover with the club rooted to the bottom of the Bundesliga table. Andre Breitenreiter’s side have collected just 2 points so far in their opening 6 games and the pressure is slowly starting to mount on the manager and players with a win still proving allusive. To make things worse for the club they lost all 4 of their games in September since picking up both their points in August. Goals are dry with just 5 goals so far this campaign with the usually potent Nicklas Fullkrug yet to find his best form so far this season while, their defence is very leaky indeed conceding 13 in their 6 games so far. It’s clear the loss of Salif Sane to Schalke has hit the club hard with Hannover’s strong defence of last season appearing to be a thing of the past. No doubt Breitenreiter is an excellent manager at this level but things must change quickly otherwise things will turn against him. They must win soon starting against Stuttgart at home which is a huge game for both teams with Stuttgart in the bottom 3 themselves so plenty to play for.

September brought us more action and more quality games and excellent goals, and no doubt October will do the same as the pressure begins to increase and season really kicks in. Could we see the first managerial change of the season? Only time will tell. There are some mouth-watering games to come in October including Bayern Munich vs Bor. Monchengladbach, Wolfsburg vs Bayern Munich, Stuttgart vs Dortmund, RB Leipzig vs Schalke, Werder Bremen vs Bayer Leverkusen and Dortmund vs Hertha Berlin. September was entertaining and I’m confident October will be just the same as the Bundesliga begins to take shape.

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