Success can be hard enough to attain but following it up is often the real challenge of a team’s abilities. Until this weekend, two of the Bundesliga’s overachievers from the previous campaign, Augsburg and Borussia Mönchengladbach, had shown just how difficult it can be. In May, Gladbach earned an unlikely top four place, and in turn a shot at Champions League qualification whilst Augsburg’s mere presence outside the relegation zone was surprising.
Both clubs lost significant figures in the summer, severely denting their chances on building on last season’s good work. Roman Neustadter, Dante and Marco Reus joined the three clubs which finished above the Foals last season whereas last year’s Bundesliga debutants lost coach Jos Luhukay. Respective replacements were found but neither has been able to carry on regardless.
That’s shown by the fact that until this Friday, Augsburg were yet to win in the Bundesliga this season under new coach Markus Weinzierl. He was working in the third tier of German football last year and had struggled to adjust to life in the top flight. The visit of bipolar Werder Bremen on Friday could well prove a seminal moment in his reign at the SGL-Arena, or so Weinzierl will hope.
This was a game Werder were expected to win with relative ease and judging by the performance of Thomas Schaaf’s side on Friday night, the Northerners thought they’d be able to do so with minimal effort too. As much as Augsburg deserved credit for their subsequent 3-1 victory, their opponents were toothless.
Tobias Werner scored the fastest goal of the season (94 seconds) with a diving header after a great cross from Captain Paul Verhaegh. The Bavarians were pegged back by a Kevin De Bruyne free kick soon after but strikes from Stephan Hain and Daniel Baier either side of half time secured a first win of the season for Augsburg. That was enough to lift them out of the automatic relegation places and as if that wasn’t enough, the players were even rewarded with a trip to Munich for Oktoberfest.
Mention the word Munich though to Gladbach fans and it might rekindle memories of their two victories over Bayern last season. As such, those results were just a small part of a cracking campaign under Lucien Favre but, going into their game against in-form Eintracht Frankfurr, the Foals were hovering nervously above the relegation zone after just a solitary win in their first six games.
They didn’t necessarily return to their best as a team on Sunday either but a 2-0 win was just what Gladbach needed. Juan Arango provided a contender for goal of the season in scoring the Foals first. The man with the sweetest left foot in the division struck a 31 yard thunderbolt early on before new signing Luuk De Jong netted his second of the campaign. This in turn ensured Frankfurt’s first defeat of the season, though Oliver Occean’s contender for miss of the season didn’t help their cause on a difficult day in North Rhine-Westphalia.
What next then for Gladbach and their fellow overachievers from last season, Augsburg? Survival remains the aim for Augsburg and it still looks like it will be very difficult to achieve. The same doesn’t apply to Lucien Favre’s side, even if they have lost key players over the summer. The club has invested heavily in an effort to ensure more than a temporary revival of fortunes. Their weekend win will have come as a relief – an emotion Augsburg will understand too. Yet as they continue without significant figures from the last campaigin, both clubs are probably just realising now the extent of which they have been victims of their success.
Elsewhere in the Bundesliga
• Bayern Munich pulled further clear at the top of the Bundesliga as they saw off Hoffenheim 2-0 at the Allianz Arena. Franck Ribery scored both and victory at this time could only mean one thing for Bayern – getting down to Oktoberfest.
• There was no celebrating for Champions Borussia Dortmund. Despite an encouraging midweek Champions League performance, they slipped to a 1-1 draw at Hannover. That’s by no means shabby – Hannover’s unbeaten home record stretches back more than a season now. However, conceding another late goal, this time from Mame Biram Diouf, will hurt Jürgen Klopp after doing the same in Manchester on Wednesday. Dortmund’s local rivals Schalke kept their good start to the season going with a 3-0 victory against Wolfsburg, who dropped into the bottom two.
• Meanwhile in mid table, Freiburg beat Nürnberg 3-0, Bayer Leverkusen were held 2-2 at Stuttgart and promoted Fortuna Düsseldorf lost for the first time this season. Mainz became the first side to breach the side’s defence on their travels in a 1-0 victory for the home side. And finally, Hamburg continued their recent revival as the in-form Son Heung-Min scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory at Greuther Fürth.
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Matchday 7 Results:
Augsburg 3-1 Werder Bremen
Bayern Munich 2-0 Hoffenheim
Freiburg 3-0 Nürnberg
Fürth 0-1 Hamburg
Mainz 1-0 Fortuna Düsseldorf
Schalke 3-0 Wolfsburg
Gladbach 2-0 Eintracht Frankfurt
Hannover 1-1 Borussia Dortmund
Stuttgart 2-2 Bayer Leverkusen
|1||FC Bayern Munich||7||7||0||0||21:2||+19||21||CL*|
|3||FC Schalke 04||7||4||2||1||15:7||+8||14||CL*|
|4||Borussia Dortmund||7||3||3||1||17:9||+8||12||CL* Qual.|
|5||Hannover 96||7||3||2||2||15:10||+5||11||EL* Qual.|
|6||Bayer 04 Leverkusen||7||3||2||2||11:9||+2||11||EL* Qual.|
|9||1. FSV Mainz 05||7||3||1||3||7:8||-1||10|
|12||SV Werder Bremen||7||2||1||4||10:13||-3||7|
|14||1. FC Nuremberg||7||2||1||4||7:14||-7||7|
Table thanks to Official Bundesliga Site