Rolling with the Rhythm
Bundesliga Week 2 Preview
August 31 – The first match-day didn’t bring the biggest surprises, but the Bundesliga has started off in some style, showing that there could be more than two contestants to the precious trophy. After sorting out the European paths, the teams are ready to embark again in the duties of the league, hoping to continue on the steps that they danced last week. It will be a weekend of test for the ones hoping to take the big battle, one which can bring the first major upset of the season.
Transfers kept the bosses busy and it will remain that way until the first seconds of Saturday, but it’s the players who have the tough job of getting the wanted results. For the players involved in Friday’s opening game, there’s a lot of work to be done in order to get those results. FSV Mainz got only one point in the opening game but their opponents weren’t even close of getting the same result. SpVgg Greuther Fürth simply couldn’t match Bayern München’s star power, being happy in the end that it was only a forfeit score on the board at the end. Both combatants in the opening game of the matchday are in search of a first win in the season, but one which will be hard to get, considering the hard working profiles of both teams, this fixture announcing itself as a very eagerly fought game.
Editor’s Note: Listen to Talking Fussball THE source for everything football from Germany for an indepth look at week 1 of the Bundesliga.
The following day, the things get hot, as the reigning champions are on the pitch again. Borussia Dortmund is heading down to Bavaria to meet 1.FC Nürnberg, an opponent that they have defeated in the last six games straight. Boosted by the win in Hamburg, Dieter Hecking’s men will for sure search for the blood of BVB, hoping that they will take advantage the problems shown by Jurgen Klöpp’s side in their opener against Werder Bremen.
Being drawn in the “Group of Death” in the Champions League, Dortmund knows now that every game will involve preparing for the stellar duels against Real Madrid NS Manchester City, teams that might spark fear but which can be defeated on a good day by the Yellow-Blacks. Nürnberg wants to take advantage of the stars which are surely in the minds of their opponents, having a moral obligation to their fans to end this humiliating losing streak. Another win to their tally and the hopes of European quests will be back in the fans minds, but they should keep in mind, Dortmund is no Hamburg.
Competing to get more screen time with the champions will be teams like Schalke 04, Werder Bremen or Bayer Leverkusen, all involved in games against teams which were in the relegation zone last season. Klass-Jan Huntelaar & Co. will not settle with anything else but the 3 points in stake when they take on FC Augsburg, while Thomas Schaaf’s Werderaner are hoping to take only the good parts from their defeat last week into their Nordderby against Hamburger SV. Moving strong on the transfer market in the last days, Thorsten Fink hopes to liven up things in a team which seemed last week as decomposed as it was in the previous season. It might not be at the same level like in 2009 for example, but this game is still a derby to watch.
For Leverkusen, the transfer activity wasn’t at all that intense despite the defeat in Frankfurt, but the hopes are still very high. Visiting them are SC Freiburg, a team which failed to capitalize in their first game of the season, settling for just one point in the table. Having Max Kruse in top form, the visitor will hope for at least another point, but for Sami Hyypia things are clear, a win being fundamental if they are to start their bid for a place in Europe at the end of the season. Synchronising the time of the first whistle to these games will be also 1899 Hoffenheim’s game against Eintracht Frankfurt, another attempt for Markus Babbel to bandage the wounds of his team after that shocking defeat in the first round of the Cup.
Borussia Mönchengladbach came close to a shock qualification in the Champions League, surprising Dynamo Kiev with a fantastic display, which unfortunately was not enough in the end to heal the errors of the first leg. They will travel on Saturday to the city of the Eurovision contest to meet the newly promoted Fortuna Düsseldorf, a team which also started the season with a win. Renewing a rivalry which saw no fire in the last 15 years, Düsseldorf and Gladbach will for sure get the spirit of a derby from the fans, this being the first home game for Norbert Meier’s side in the Bundesliga since 1997. Having the morale boost of the three points won last week, the two teams should give us an entertaining game which hopes to bring back an old derby to the spotlight.
Hannover 96 defended their home invincibility in the opening game of the season, storming through to the Europa League group stage some days after but on Sunday, they know that they are in for something completely different. VfL Wolfsburg is a team that still is being sculpted by Felix Magath’s transfer mania, but it has shown already from the first matchday that it will be a squad to fear. Sure they could have been 180 degrees different if Vedad Ibisevic wasn’t so uninspired, but the football played by the Wolves last week was one to give a lot of promise. With Bas Dost being so dangerous, every team should be afraid of the attacking potential of Wolfsburg, especially the side of Mirko Slomka.
Their enemy on Sunday, Emmanuel Pogatetz, has left a hole in the defence of The Reds, one which Felipe has struggled to cover in his first games, the Brazilian still needing some time to weld his partnership with Karim Haggui in central defence. It will be a clash to watch closely and it will be a game to test Wolfsburg’s strength against a much disciplined team, a team which will not be shy to attempt to make the most of their offensive intelligence.
Bayern München started the season perfect, claiming already a trophy, qualifying for the next round of the DFB Pokal and winning the first game in the league. Despite this, the run to complete the squad was not abandoned, FCB ensuring a record deal to sign Athletic Bilbao’s pearl, Javi Martinez. Knowing the injury misfortune which has run in the squad in the last years, this move seems to complete a summer in which Bayern’s target was to secure a squad capable of having the same quality both on the pitch and on the bench.
In the finale of this matchday, FCB will face VfB Stuttgart, a team which overcame a strong side in the Europa League play-off, but which failed to get a point in their opener against Wolfsburg. For the Swabians, the six defeats in a row against FCB can be a thing to motivate them, but also one to spark fear in their minds. Bayern is stronger and it wants to build up everything faster than in the previous years, hoping to practically storm through in the league and brush every opponent in their way. It remains to be seen if Stuttgart are coming with a winning attitude or they will come like in their previous games against FCB, like the rabbit who wants a quick death in the hands of the bear.
The rhythm was set last week, and the top teams are hoping to maintain the same levels and without any false steps. It’s still early to think of any potential mistake as being the decisive one, but one simple error can prove very costly when the final calculations are made.
Bundesliga – Week 2
Friday, August 31
Mainz 05 vs. Greuther Fürth, 20:30 CET
Saturday, September 1
Kickoff at 15:30
Schalke 04 vs. FC Augsburg
Bayer Leverkusen vs. SC Freiburg
Werder Bremen vs. Hamburger SV
1.FC Nürnberg vs. Borussia Dortmund
1899 Hoffenheim vs. Eintracht Frankfurt
Kickoff at 18:30
Fortuna Düsseldorf vs. Borussia Monchengladbach
Sunday, September 2
VfL Wolfsburg vs. Hannover 96, 15:30 CET
Bayern Munich vs. VfB Stuttgart, 17:30 CET