A nice midweek bunch of fixtures led to an emerging narrative of the title coming down to the battle between BVB and Bayern. Both won their matches convincingly and both are in top form in the league. Quietly, however, we are seeing an emerging second tier of clubs like Hannover and Hoffenheim just a step behind. They lack the starpower of the top two teams, but are playing good enough football to be ready to take advantage of inevitable dropped points.
Not in that second tier currently? Leipzig and Berlin. Yet the season has miles to go before it sleeps.
This weekend features a number of intriguing match-ups and rivalries. As always, we have our three tiers: one (must see live), two (catch on DVR or replay), and three (if nothing else is available or you need to kill time).
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim v. FC Schalke 04
The kids are alright in this one as two clubs seeking to make title challenges square off. The pre-match focus will be on the Bundesliga’s two youngest managers, but on the pitch, the action should be fascinating. For the visitors, a defeat to Bayern may mean a squad rotation to return to their usual shape. Young American Weston McKennie may have to return to the bench, to the dismay of the growing US-Bundesliga fanbase. Despite picking up a club record 11 of 15 points to start the season, the come-from-behind win over Mainz may also prompt some defensive adjustments for the home side.
BVB v. Borussia Monchengladbach
The Borussenderby features two sides that have excelled defensively in recent matches. BVB are unbeatable at home but Gladbach have no losses in their last four road matches.
RB Leipzig v. Eintracht Frankfurt
One man does not make a team as the Energy Drinks are finding out. Timo Werner continues to dazzle every week but midweek Leipzig looked deflated against Augsburg. Expect Emil Forsberg to return to the starting XI in this one. Already in 2017, they’ve lost the same number of matches as they did all last season. Jonathan de Guzman could feature after Ante Rebic picked up a knock in the previous match.
VfB Stuttgart v. FC Augsburg
Stuttgart are night and day on the road versus home, and returning to the Mercedes-Benz Arena will be a major boost. Also, a major boost is the expected return of Chadrac Akolo. Augsburg have started the season on an impressive run but will be missing captain Daniel Baier in this one due to suspension. Fun fact – there has never been a draw in this fixture.
Hannover 96 v. 1. FC Koln
So far for Cologne, all of the best action has been off the pitch. It does not get any easier this week as they travel to Hannover. Jonathas is likely to feature in this match, which will be another boost for the home side.
Bayer 04 Leverkusen v. Hamburger SV
The big news for this match is the probable start of new acquisition Lucas Alario. His addition will add a major goal threat to the home side and they’ll need a boost after dropping points to Hertha midweek. Hamburg have shown signs of promise, but a lack of consistency and a killer instinct have held them back. Also, they have left the past eight matches in BayArena without all three points.
FC Bayern Munich v. VfL Wolfsburg
Robert Lewandowski loves to face Wolves. Two years ago in Matchday 6, the Polish international notched five goals in nine minutes against Wolfsburg. New manager Martin Schmidt has his work cut out for him then, although he did hand Bayern their last home defeat when he was with Mainz in March 2016. Bayern’s home Bundesliga record against Wolfsburg: 19 wins out of 20 matches. This could be ugly.
SV Werder Bremen v. Sport-Club Freiburg
Both sides have yet to win a match this season. The good news is both sides should be at full strength so fans can see both sides put their best foot forward. Recent form for both sides stretching back to last season is not good, so this match may be a springboard to better things for one side.
FSV Mainz 05 v. Hertha BSC
If they want to challenge for a European spot, Hertha need better results on the road. Traveling to Mainz may cure what ails them as the home side have just one win this season. Matthew Leckie and his current form (four of Hertha’s six goals) is a reason to watch.