Five talking points from Bundesliga Matchday Six

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Another international break is upon us meaning the Bundesliga will shut down for the next two weeks. It has, however, left plenty of intrigue for us to mull over after Matchday Six, which saw Bayern Munich’s first stumble in the league under Carlo Ancelotti.

No win for Oktoberfest
Under Pep Guardiola, Sunday’s traditional Oktoberfest event for Bayern’s players and their families would have had a sour taste. Bayern Munich drew 1-1 at home to surprise-package Cologne on Saturday, a fair result given both sides squandered huge chances to take all three points.

The noise out of the Bayern camp was one of a relaxed group, who weren’t worried about two straight games without a win. “We have no grounds for complaint,” said Mats Hummels. Carlo Ancelotti was reasoned in his post-game response, while Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, the club’s CEO, said it could have been a win on another day.

There’s no talk of crisis-mode, but it’s not unfair to suggest this was coming. Bayern’s season has been slow and reliant on moments from Robert Lewandowski and the team’s new fulcrum Joshua Kimmich. Ingolstadt ought to have left Munich with a point, while the German champions were thoroughly outclassed by Atletico Madrid.

Normal proceedings will likely resume after the international shutdown, but Ancelotti’s side are performing below the levels expected of the Bundesliga champions.


Leverkusen overcome unstable start
Bayer Leverkusen have collected seven points out of the last available nine in the Bundesliga. It’s a sign that Roger Schmidt’s team have turned a corner following a pedestrian start to the campaign in both the league and Champions League. Saturday’s 2-0 win over Borussia Dortmund was the result of a finely executed tactical scheme by Schmidt’s high-pressing side.

In spite of the opposition – who let’s be honest shouldn’t be held to the standards of Bayern – the patterns of the game were encouraging. Jonathan Tah and Omer Toprak were dominant in central defence and rarely afforded the yellow-and-blacks time to play. Javier Hernandez was workmanlike, but was the ever dangerous penalty box option, and he scored the second late on.

The state-of-play at VfL Wolfsburg
Wolfsburg, runner-up two seasons ago, are in a bit of a rut at the moment. The Wolves are without a victory since the 2-0 win at FC Augsburg on the first week of the season. Werder Bremen beat them 2-1 last week, while Dieter Hecking’s team have failed to win more routine games against Cologne, Hoffenheim and Mainz.

One could look at it another way: Hecking’s side have kept three clean sheets from six games. Despite losing Naldo and Dante, their two vastly-experienced defenders this summer, the likes of Robin Knoche and Jeffrey Bruma have adapted well. But scoring goals is clearly the team’s problem – Wolfsburg have scored four in six games. Mario Gomez was a serious investment and the German international has looked ponderous, while starved of genuinely good service from midfield.

The international break perhaps comes at a good time, but Hecking needs results – and fast.

Schalke win – is the league now taking shape?
Six games into the season, Markus Weinzierl’s Schalke have finally earned some points. The Royal Blues concluded the weekend’s schedule with a superb 4-0 win over Borussia Mönchengladbach, to end their worst-ever start to a season in 49 years.

The team shaped up differently too: record signing Breel Embolo was given the responsibility of leading from the front and the Swiss teenager didn’t disappoint. He answered back to criticism with two goals and a performance with real poise and dynamism. Embolo and his team-mates can eat ‘all the food they want now’ according to sporting director Christian Heidel.

Weinzierl and his players can now breathe a sigh of relief ahead of the international break. The comfortable win over Salzburg in the Europa League highlighted the quality and depth in the squad. Their first victory in the league brings them out of the bottom-three for the first time this campaign – and it’s unlikely they will be back there this season.

Freiburg are a bundle of fun at home
Last season’s 2.Bundesliga champions, SC Freiburg, will be delighted with their start to the season. Christian Streich’s side are 10th in the table, floating in the middle of the Bundesliga, but safe from relegation troubles for the moment.

There’s something about Freiburg when they play at their picturesque Schwarzwald-Stadion. Streich’s team are energised by the home surroundings, while attacking with intensity and speed to make it uncomfortable for the opponents. Just like Frankfurt at the Commerzbank Arena, Freiburg are taking full advantage of their games at home.

Directly contributing to 29 2.Bundesliga goals last year, Vincenzo Grifo, the match-winner against Eintracht Frankfurt, is a player to watch. His awareness and technique in the box is already outstanding, and at 23, the sky is the limit. He scored his first Bundesliga goal with a neat finish and there is almost certainly more to come.

Ross Dunbar

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