Finally, the Bundesliga has returned after what feels like an eternity since the last campaign finished; albeit only being three months. The Allianz Arena saw the grand opening, initiating the kick off of the season, with 18 huge balloons representing each club, followed by the German national anthem. Once the ceremony was over, the opening Friday fixture could begin.
Bayern Munich took on Bayer Leverkusen in the opening fixture of the 2017/18 Bundesliga season. It was a game for debuts as a number of Bayern’s new boys made an impact. Things started off well with Bayern on the front foot and it didn’t take long until the deadlock was broken. It was a free kick, swung into the box by new playmaker Sebastian Rudy, which was pinpoint onto the head of Niklas Sule to nod the Bavarians into the lead. It was like a Hoffenheim set piece from last season being replicated, this time in red shirts.
Bayern continued to control the game and by 20 minutes were two up, once again it was a new boy in Corentin Tolisso that finished off a very nice move. Things stayed more or less the same throughout with Bayern in control and Leverkusen not offering much. Bayern cemented the three points when Robert Lewandowski – celebrating his birthday on Monday – tucked home the third goal.
Leverkusen managed to pull one back out of nowhere thanks to a rocket strike from Admir Mehmedi, it took Bayern by surprise but Bayer couldn’t pull off a comeback.
Julian Nagelsmann’s men took the stage following the departure of Niklas Sule and Sebastian Rudy to Bayern. How would Hoffenheim line up, are those two replaceable, what tactical innovation can Naagelsmann come up with? Their opponents, Werder Bremen, who finished last season strongly and will be looking to push on. To be honest, things were very even, Hoffenheim was pushing, Bremen were defensively disciplined but had opportunities themselves. The goal that made the difference finally came when Andrej Kramaric’s shot took a wicked deflection and looped into Bremen’s net; it was enough to see of the game and the three points for Hoffenheim, inspiring confidence ahead of their big Champions League 2nd leg tie.
Hertha BSC took on newly promoted VfB Stuttgart in what looked on paper like it would be a close game. The difference on the day was Hertha were more clinical in front of goal, something that Stuttgart will want to improve on as the weeks go on, otherwise, they may not do as well as I predicted. Debutant Mathew Leckie was the difference-maker in this game scoring a brace, killing the game off for Stuttgart.
HSV and Augsburg, not the most exciting of games on paper with both sides predicted to be in and around relegation this season. It was Hamburg who took the advantage though as Nicolai Müller put the home side ahead in what turned out to be the winner. The disappointment though following the goal is that in the celebration Nicolai Müller injured his knee and scans revealed that he has torn his anterior cruciate ligament and will miss the remainder of the season. For Augsburg, it’s a worrying start for them and if they don’t pick up their first win within the next few weeks, I can see them slipping behind early on.
Mainz took on newly promoted Hannover in a fixture once again between two sides that I believe will be in and around the drop zone. Before the game, I was unsure and called a goalless draw. Worryingly for Mainz, I was correct on their front, but for Hannover, they proved me wrong. They saw this game as an opportunity to get three points on the board early, and that exactly what they did. Martin Harnik got the goal for the away side, starting off the move and continuing his run to arrive late in the box and tuck home what would be the winner. A massive three points for Hannover.
Dortmund gave Wolfsburg a battering at the VW with Christian Pulisic and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on fine form for BVB. The young American got Dortmund off to a flyer and just after 20 minutes, he struck home, continuing his fine form. Marc Bartra scored 5 minutes later with the goal of the weekend, he picked the ball up near the corner of the box and from an audacious angle, bent the ball into the far top corner, it was an exquisite goal. Pulisic was at the heart of the third as he fired a low ball across the six-yard box for Aubameyang to tap home. A routine victory for BVB in Bosz’s first Bundesliga game in charge. Not a great start for Wolfsburg.
Schalke managed to put last seasons woes behind them in perhaps the biggest shock of the weekend as they beat RB Leipzig 2-0 at the VELTINS. The era of Martin Weinzierl has clearly gone as Domenico Tedesco seems to have built confidence back into the side. It is still early days but this performance was very good for the home side. The goals came from Nabil Bentaleb from the penalty spot after Dayot Upamecano made a clumsy challenge. Yevhen Konoplyanka finished the game off and put aside his critics following his public bashing of his former manager. This was exactly the start Schalke need and not the one we expected from Leipzig.
Freiburg and Frankfurt drew the only goalless game of the weekend, I beforehand predicted a score draw, but as the scoreline shows neither side had what it takes to break the other down. Frankfurt became more and more frustrated as Freiburg were stubborn and didn’t give up. Even the influence of new signing Kevin Prince-Boateng could breakdown Freiburg’s backline.
The final game of the weekend saw Borussia Monchengladbach taking on local rivals 1.FC Koln in the Rhine derby. Gladbach looked mightily impressive but Koln defended well until Nico Elvedi managed to break the deadlock for the foals. On another day, Gladbach could have converted a dozen of their opportunities but it wasn’t to be in this fixture. It finished 1-0 and the foals will be happy they managed to get all 3 points and bragging rights this early on in the campaign.
Looking ahead to Matchday 2 and my pick for game of the week has to be Bayer Leverkusen and Hoffenheim. Leverkusen will want a big improvement following their defeat to Bayern, whilst the tactical innovations always make Hoffenheim an intriguing but exciting watch.