Criticised for being a one team league, the Bundesliga may well be that but there’s no denying it’s one of the most exciting in Europe. With 34 goals across nine league games, round three had it all.
Looking ahead, here’s three important games to keep an eye on this weekend.
Hoffenheim vs Borussia Dortmund
The last time these two clubs played each other it was to decide who would finish third and fourth in the Bundesliga. It was a spectacle then and it’s likely to be another one on Saturday afternoon. Both these two clubs play football that is pleasing on the eye while goals are extremely likely in this fixture. Julian Nagelsmann’s Hoffenheim played in the Champions League proper for the first time in their history, drawing 2-2 with Shakhtar Donetsk while Borussia Dortmund scraped past Club Brugge.
Julian Weigl is expected to make his first Bundesliga start this season should Thomas Delaney not return from injury while Christian Pulisic is expected to start after coming on against Club Brugge in mid-week. For Nagelsmann, Leonardo Bittencourt and Nico Schulz may be rested after impressing against Shakhtar while there could be a start for Kerem Demirbay.
This should be an open but even game for both teams. Expect both to score with their strong firepower while Lucien Favre’s Borussia Dortmund should just edge their opponents on Saturday. That said, Hoffenheim have scored at least three goals in their last five Bundesliga home games, winning their previous six in the Bundesliga at home, while Borussia Dortmund have failed to win their last six away from home.
Schalke vs Bayern Munich
Runners-up to Bayern Munich last season, Domenico Tedesco’s Schalke are yet to get any points on the board with three consecutive defeats. The Royal Blues will feel hard done by in mid-week following their draw against FC Porto following a controversial penalty decision. Bayern Munich have scored at least three goals in nine of their last 10 Bundesliga fixtures while they remain unbeaten against Saturday’s opponents in 17 games in all competitions.
Tedesco could potentially start with four central midfielders to counter the threat of Bayern Munich: Sebastian Rudy, Nabil Bentaleb, Suat Serdar and Weston McKennie which would likely see one of Mark Uth or Guido Burgstaller drop to the bench. For Bayern Munich, injuries to Thiago and Corentin Tolisso could see Renato Sanches keep his place in the starting XI after an outstanding return to SL Benfica in the Champions League. The 21-year-old finally looked like the €35 million signing Bayern Munich splashed out in 2016.
With three wins from their opening three, the Bundesliga champions really should dominate from the first whistle with Niko Kovac expected to pick another three points up against Schalke on Saturday evening. It’s difficult to see where Schalke pose a threat with their opponents stronger in every position.
Bayer Leverkusen vs FSV Mainz 05
Heiko Herrlich will be disappointed with Bayer Leverkusen’s performance against Ludogorets in the Europa League after coming back from 2-0 down. Leverkusen’s Bundesliga form is also dire with Julian Brandt & Co. yet to get any points on the table, much like Schalke. With Julian Brandt, Kai Havertz, Leon Bailey, many had predicted Herrlich’s Leverkusen to at least challenge Bayern Munich – but they look far off that.
And although Mainz may look an easy win on paper, they’ve started well despite losing key players. Sandro Schwarz has got them playing to a standard good enough to finish mid-table while the visitors may fancy their chances against an out of form Leverkusen, especially with the likely return of midfield maestro Jean-Philippe Gbamin.
That said, Mainz have failed to win in 22 of their last 24 away fixtures in the Bundesliga but perhaps Bayer Leverkusen’s porous defence will be an invitation for Jean-Philippe Mateta to continue his fine start to the Bundesliga campaign following his move from Olympique Lyon.
If you’re not already watching the Bundesliga, these three fixtures alone should entice the viewer. All three are expected to contain goals while it’s tough to make a prediction on a result.
Bundesliga fixtures in full
VfB Stuttgart – Fortuna Dusseldorf
Hoffenheim – Borussia Dortmund
Hertha Berlin – Borussia Monchengladbach
Augsburg – Werder Bremen
Wolfsburg – Freiburg
Nuernberg – Hannover 96
Schalke 04 – Bayern Munich
Bayer Leverkusen – Mainz 05
Eintracht Frankfurt – RB Leipzig
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