3 things from the Bundesliga opening day.
1 — Bayer Leverkusen can go only one direction: The swift transition from Sami Hyppia to Roger Schmidt wasn’t really a surprise, as many of the players in the squad took to his methods as fishes to water when their new manager arrived at the end of the 2013/2014 season.
High pressing, incessant running and directness in front of goal are some of the tenets to Schmidt’s game and it has proven really successful so far — at least, relative to their humble ambitions.Schmidt’s man management and game reading came to fore in the game against Hoffenheim as substitutes Admir Mehmedi & Julian Brandt combined to score the winner less than 5 minutes on entry.
Barring injuries, and good performances, Leverkusen bigger and more talented squad might cause plenty to be surprised at this season.
Pretty hard to find a fault in such a start and even more an intent like Bayer’s. I am quite impressed with the no-holds barred detail that has been put in their summer signings. Bayer didn’t hesitate, to make their squad robust, even though they could most probably have managed without reinforcements.
Omer Toprak on return frim injury will probably not get a starting berth in central defence if Jonathan Tah and Kyriakos Papadopoulos find rhythm in their partnership.
Christopher Kramer and Charles Aranguiz sure would be a good selection headache for Schmidt, there just seem to be no area Bayer are short at this season.
Pretty prepared for the haul it seems, still there is a personal record to beat, even if there might not be a top challenge for the title.
Their seven match winning streak last season was one highlight of their season, it should be made a target to beat, as well as improving on scoring.
Overall, Schimdt’s army looked good on the opening day and signs are there to get even better
2 — Patterson — Gladbach need to rearrange quickly:
Lucien Favre was probably as stunned as us all as he saw his team getting sliced through like hot knife through ice cheese. To be fair to the Swiss, they haven’t really dipped into the transfer market to refresh the squad that took them to a 3rd place finish last season. Christoph Kramer has returned to Leverkusen after being a hit in his 2 year loan stint. Naturally, it is unconventional to lose a player of his ilk and quality without smiling to the bank, regardless if the deal was a bargain or not. Except in very few isolated cases like that of Lewandowski, with his move to Bayern.
Lars Stindl was bought to replace him, we’re not sure how that’ll turn out — he looked OK playing along 22 year old Granit Xhaka on Saturday. Max Kruse left to Wolfsburg and Josip Drmic was bought from Leverkusen, a player who has never really hit the heights, even from his days at Nurnberg. With that, except the goals are shared around — with former Augsburg man — Andre Hahn & Patrick Hermann — (both wingers) there might be a problem in that department. Raffael is a streaky player, who isn’t naturally prolific hasn’t really hit the heights, besides he is now 30. In front of the goalkeeper, Martin Stranzl & Alvaro Dominguez must be kept as fit as possible for as long as possible, as Chelsea loanee — Andreas Christensen was swiped aside by the Dortmund attackers. One thing is certain — Mr. Favre wouldn’t be facing Dortmund every weekend, but he needs to rearrange his team as soon as possible, else the Champions league might come too soon and prove a step or two too far for the Foals.
Gladbach’s midfield collapse against Dortmund ensured their inexperienced defence faced a torrid time.
As much as i think Granit Xhaka wasn’t at his best on Saturday, i would like to cut him some slacks. New signing Lars Stindl who was brilliant in their first competitive game against St Pauli in the DFB Pokal Cup put in a good shift, to make up for Xhaka’s lapses but somewhere around the mix, making them look very ordinary was Julian Weigl.
Favre team despite not being dominant in possession somehow came off with a good pass ratio in the game.
This effectiveness is certainly a huge positive, considering they don’t look bad going forward.
The curious thing with Favre’s team is why you had defenders aged 19 and 20 respectively starting in central defence against a team like Dortmund.
Captain Martin Stranzl seems like a short term layoff, but Alvaro Dominguez , recurring back problem isn’t a logical risk to take.
Maybe one more signing in defence will do for Moenchengladbach before the month runs out.
With the quality of attacking football in the Bundesliga this season, it will trickle down to the team who defends better.
Still, I agree with Patterson, over how very likely it is for Favre ‘s squad to get sapped.
The Die Fohlen should brace themselves for a rough start it seems.
3 — Patterson ;
Mkhitaryan might just be the key for Dortmund this year: Might be a little too early to make such a bold prediction, but the signs are there, and they are really good. Despite Mkhitaryan earlier struggles, his quality has never really been in doubt.
The season has barely started, but apparently, Mkhitaryan seems to be getting in on the goal scoring act. It could be that he has benefited from having a good rest, coming from his many injuries in the past 2 seasons — or the new system (a 4–1–4–1 with him playing from the far left) gives him a lot of space and time.
He was the hat trick hero against Wolfsberger at the Signal Iduna park when they destroyed the Austrian side 5–0 in the second leg of the Europa league qualifier.
On Saturday, he apparently delivered a bad day at work to those in charge of Monchengladbach’s Twitter feed, as one of his two goals triggered this: ”@borussia_en : 50' So, our next game is next Sunday against Mainz. #fohlenelf #BVBBMG 4–0”.
That was his second which all but delivered the game to Tuchel’s men. The 26 year old has been the in flying fettle and he might just be crucial to whatever Dortmund achieve this season.
Thomas Tuchel’s prominent style of keeping possession, playing with pace and transition, wasn’t difficult to figure out in their season opener.
A good proponent of such style will need a technically strong, and passing midfielder in the holding role.
He will need not just be a ball holder, but a scheming ball — passer — none of these attributes seemed like something a 19 year old signing from the 2nd tier side 1860 Munchen would give, yet JULIAN WEIGL out of nowhere is the perfect fit for this role in the Dortmund team.
A start in a game like one against Gladbach showed that brilliant performance at the Signal Idunal Park in Dortmund’s Europa League game isn’t a one-off, Tuchel does trust him to a large extent.
This kid who seemingly has kept Sven Bender out of the team looks like Tuchel’s key to building a new identity for Dortmund and getting Klopp’s lingering presence out the door as quick as he can.
The Bundesliga certainly should be on the look out for this young man.