Borussia Dortmund losing, Hamburg winning, and Bayern Munich exercising caution in comments to the press – these events have been rare recently but all three took place over the course of a curious weekend in the Bundesliga. Curious because Borussia Dortmund had gone 31 league games unbeaten. Curious because Hamburg have been, as the Guardian’s Raphael Honigstein has put it, the worst side in the league so far and curious because Bayern Munich just don’t do caution.
It doesn’t end there either because newly promoted Eintracht Frankfurt, a side albeit not unfamiliar to the Bundesliga, are level with Bayern on top of the table, boasting a 100% record too. This was after they became the first promoted side to win their opening four games, by winning at Nuremberg on Friday night.
Substitute Erwin Hoffer gave the Eagles the lead, only to be eclipsed by his teammate Takashi Inui who scored a superb second goal. The man from Japan cut inside on the left, beat a few players, before planting it into the bottom corner of Raphael Schӓfer’s goal. No wonder people continue to rave about the Japanese influence in the Bundesliga, even after Shinji Kagawa’s summer exit. Hiroshi Kiyotake (Japanese) set up Sebastian Polter for what turned out to be a consolation for Nuremberg as Eintracht Frankfurt held on. Their coach Armin Veh won the Bundesliga with Stuttgart in 2007 but he admitted on Friday that more difficult times might lie ahead.
Bayern Munich were treading a similar line, even after their 2-0 win at Schalke on Saturday. The home side had their chances in the first half but were punished by Bayern Munich early in the second. Toni Kroos and Thomas Müller scored the goals which ensured the Bavarians have four wins from four. “Just because we are currently ahead of Dortmund does not mean we will automatically win the league,” warned Arjen Robben. Bayern Munich director Karl-Heinz Rummenigge echoed this. “We cannot allow euphoria. Last season, we were eight points clear of Dortmund, and we know how it all ended.”
Still, the Bundesliga’s record Champions have looked clinical so far this season whilst the current Champions haven’t exactly raced out of the blocks. For whilst Borussia Dortmund were 31 games unbeaten before Saturday, their performances just haven’t been on the same level as they were at the end of last season. Nevertheless, you’d have expected to see BVB pick up three points against a Hamburg side that have been woeful to date.
This didn’t happen though as HSV managed to secure the most unlikely of victories. Son Heung-Min gave the home team the lead after a great cross from returning Hamburg hero Rafael van der Vaart. Dortmund equalised through a fortunate Ivan Perisic effort just 24 seconds after half time and it was at this point, you’d have expected the northerners to crumble, but not so. Five minutes later, some poor goalkeeping from Roman Weidenfeller allowed Ivo Ilicevic to grab a second for Thorsten Fink’s side on the break. Soon after, it wasn’t inappropriate to say that Hamburg were walking on “Sonshine” as the Korean scored a brilliant third, unleashing a cracking effort into the corner from 25 yards. Perisic pulled another back for Dortmund but despite plenty of chances and pressure, keeper René Adler stood firm for Hamburg as they clinched their first win of the season.
In the context of the Bundesliga as a whole, Hamburg overcoming Borussia Dortmund isn’t a big deal but in the context of this season, it’s huge. BILD proclaimed (perhaps prematurely) that Hamburg “is a happy family again,” whilst Jürgen Klopp was understandably unhappy with his side’s performance. “That was really s***y,” was his rather honest reaction to Dortmund’s first defeat in just over a year, leaving the Champions five points behind Bayern and Eintracht Frankfurt.
Borussia Dortmund won’t panic. After all, they’re no stranger to early season defeats having endured three in their first six games during the last campaign. A trip to high flying Eintracht Frankfurt on Tuesday will be a good test of their character but Bayern Munich will be delighted with the position they’re in. Their summer of spending has been justified so far with new players such as Mandzukic and Shaqiri showing Bayern have a new level of strength in depth – something they missed dearly last season. Yet, his weekend is likely to be the first of a few twists in this year’s Bundesliga title race. Bayern Munich certainly have the edge, for now.
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Matchday 4 Results:
Nuremberg 1-2 Eintracht Frankfurt
Fortuna Düsseldorf 0-0 Freiburg
Hamburg 3-2 Borussia Dortmund
Mainz 2-0 Augsburg
Schalke 0-2 Bayern Munich
Wolfsburg 1-1 Fürth
Bayer Leverkusen 1-1 Gladbach
Hoffenheim 3-1 Hannover
Werder Bremen 2-2 Stuttgart
|1||FC Bayern Munich||4||4||0||0||14:2||+12||12||CL*|
|4||Borussia Dortmund||4||2||1||1||8:5||+3||7||CL* Qual.|
|5||FC Schalke 04||4||2||1||1||7:5||+2||7||EL* Qual.|
|6||1. FC Nuremberg||4||2||1||1||6:5||+1||7||EL* Qual.|
|11||SV Werder Bremen||4||1||1||2||7:7||0||4|
|12||1. FSV Mainz 05||4||1||1||2||4:5||-1||4|
|13||Bayer 04 Leverkusen||4||1||1||2||4:6||-2||4|
Table from the Official Bundesliga Site