• Friday, 1 October 2010

    Bundesliga round 7 previews

    Hannover v St Pauli
    Hamburg v Kaiserslautern
    Mainz v Hoffenheim
    Monchengladbach v Wolfsburg
    Freiburg v Cologne
    Nurnberg v Schalke
    Stuttgart v Eintracht
    Leverkusen v Bremen
    Dortmund v Bayern

    All bow at the altar of Thomas Tuchel. Everyone really needs to stop referring to Mainz's ascendancy to the Bundesliga summit as a surprise and just deal with the reality - they're a bloody good side, a well-drilled unit who know their roles and seem to enjoy each other's company, coached by a burgeoning genius who is clearly having the time of his life. Last week, Bayern were turned over at the Allianz and the contrast between the world-weary Louis van Gaal and the carefree Tuchel could not be clearer. Even when Bayern got back level, it didn't perturb the bowl-cut merchant unduly. He knew what his side could do and had absolute faith in their ability to do the job. And they did. This week, a win over Hoffenheim - early leaders who are on a rocky run at the moment - will set a new record of wins at the start of the season. Nobody has won the first seven of a Bundesliga season before. Typically, Tuchel is downplaying that possibility. And rightly so as opposite him will be Ralf Rangnick, another wily customer. Hoffenheim still have plenty of talent, but are acquiring a knack of turning that into average results. This should be a belter. We're taking Mainz to edge it.

    Bayern face Dortmund and the other manager clearly having a whale of a time, Jurgen Klopp. His team play with a verve and a swagger and no club anywhere has spent a better €350,000 than BvB did on Shinji Kagawa. Sevilla somehow managed to beat Dortmund in midweek despite being very much second best on the night and Bayern are looking a bit sluggish just as the Spaniards have been in La Liga. Without Ribéry and Robben, Bayern struggle to create, those responsibilities falling on the unlikely shoulders of Mark van Bommel, a role that just doesn't sit well. While pretty much everyone is happy for Mainz and what they've done so far, one club must hate them - Hannover. Any other season, them being in third place after six matches would be the story. They kick off the weekend in the Friday night game, at home to St Pauli. It's been an encouraging start for the Hamburg side and their away form is pretty good. Hannover haven't just been knocking over stiffs - the thrashing of Bremen was particularly impressive. Win this, and they go second. It's hard to see them not doing that.

    Leverkusen take on Bremen without Michael Ballack and Stefan Kiessling. Eren Derdiyok has been impressive up front for Bayer in Kiessling's absence and was on target again in midweek away at Atlético Madrid. Bremen can't string two results together at the moment and were thrashed in Milan by Internazionale in the Champions League. Not the first time they've conceded four this season and, while it's unlikely to happen here, probably not the last as Bremen struggle for consistency. Schalke got a morale-boosting win in midweek as their sorry campaign staggers onward. Nurnberg are the opposition this week, but the new-look front line of Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Raul are finally beginning to click for the Royal Blues. Hamburg have lost their last two, as have Lautern. Something has to give here. Wolfsburg's shift back to the trusted diamond formation and two up top - Grafite restored alongside Edin Dzeko - has seen them turn their form around. Steve McClaren had success at Twente by not changing anything. Perhaps he should have done the same here rather than impose a new system. Anyway, the error has been corrected and now they're looking like the challengers we expected them to be. They go to Gladbach this week hot favourites to make it four-in-a-row. Stuttgart remain bottom and were sent straight back to earth last week, shipping four against Leverkusen after beating Gladbach 7-0 the game before. It asks the question just to how bad Gladbach are as Stuttgart were abysmal last week. Eintracht are also struggling, but they're nowhere near as terrible as their league position suggests or as Stuttgart are. Freiburg have had a decent start and will start favourites at home to Cologne.

    No comments: