The opening weekend of the 2018-19 Bundesliga season served up a few storylines that will keep fans of German football fans engrossed for the rest of the campaign.
Bayern Munich continued to be ruthless in front of goal, but also be the referees’ darlings as VAR decisions went heavily in their favour, while Borussia Dortmund looked like their biggest challengers thanks to a big win over RB Leipzig, having turned things totally around following the concession of a goal after just 30 seconds.
The rest of the table will sort itself out in the coming weeks as teams begin to find their flow, but already the top two looks set to be a battle between Bayern and Dortmund, who scored seven goals between them to start the season in style.
Robert Lewandowski was the lucky beneficiary of the VAR drama, initially missing a penalty before the referee ordered a retake which he slotted home at the second attempt. He travels with Bayern to Stuttgart on Saturday, and should continue to chalk up goals as he chases another top scorer title. He’s been the top scorer in three of the last five seasons, with the other two recipients of the ‘Torjagerkanone’ no longer even playing in the Bundesliga. Counting the Supercup and the DFB-Pokal, the Pole now has five goals in three competitive games so far in 2018-19. Lewandowski just missed out on reaching the 30-goal mark in the league last season, and given the criticism he received in the latter half of 2017-18, will be eager to better that tally this year.
Joshua Kimmich looked sensational in Bayern’s opening game, roving forward at every opportunity, taking set-pieces and putting in a lovely ball for Thomas Muller to score the first goal in the 3-1 win over Hoffenheim. TSG were undone by VAR, and Julian Nagelsmann’s Champions League qualifiers will be hoping to bounce back with a home game against relegation candidates Freiburg. Brazilian forward Joelinton should have opened his account for Hoffenheim against Bayern, but snapped at a brilliant opportunity. He’ll look to make amends against an inconsistent Freiburg side and show the goalscoring form he had out on loan at Rapid Vienna.
Nico Schulz received his first call-up to the Germany squad in midweek, one of three new faces in the selection as Joachim Low aims to put the humiliation of the World Cup in the rearview mirror. Schulz is a surprise inclusion in the squad as Low has plenty of left-sided players to choose from, but is in on merit after starting the season with a goal and two assists in the cup after finishing last year with three assists in his final five games.
Having played the final game last weekend, Borussia Dortmund kick things off this weekend with a Friday night trip to Hannover. H96 have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 20 matches so it is likely that Dortmund will continue their good form after their 4-1 win over Leipzig. New signing Paco Alcacer, although isn’t expected to start tonight, having joined on loan from Barcelona, and is the kind of player Favre loves as he will be busy inside and outside the box, bringing some of Dortmund’s other creative players into the game so keep an eye on him in the coming weeks. This should help Marco Reus and Christian Pulisic get more goals and assists this season, with young Englishman Jadon Sancho the perfect bench option to run riot against tired defences.
Schalke have extra preparation time as they play the late match on Sunday, giving new signing Sebastian Rudy more chance to get used to his new team-mates in Gelsenkirchen. The defensive midfielder joined from Bayern Munich where he found it difficult to get game time, but will be an automatic starter at Schalke, who lost both Leon Goretzka and Max Meyer from their engine room this summer. They take on Hertha Berlin, which should provide a good chance for new striker Mark Uth to get off the mark. The 27-year-old averaged a goal every two games last season with Hoffenheim and should equal or better that tally in 2018-19.
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