The Bundesliga Review – The Bayern Juggernaut Halted by Hoffenheim

The Bundesliga is a division renowned for its competitive edge and this was epitomised by this weekend’s set of results in Germany. The biggest turn up came at Hoffenheim as the league leaders unable to continue their scintillating start to the campaign.

As Manchester City fans found out last Tuesday, Bayern Munich are formidable opposition. However, Holger Stanislawski has revitalised Hoffenheim since he joined as manager from relegated St Pauli during the close season.

Ryan Babel, a player who failed to live up to his potential at Liverpool, is one example of someone who has discovered form under the new regime. Although Hoffenheim have been far from perfect so far this season, as their loss in Cologne proved last week, Stanislawski looks to have created a real sense of togetherness at the Rhein Neckar Arena.

The manager of “Die Hoffe” will be disappointed his side were unable to pick up all three points having dominated possession for long periods on Saturday. However, to beat the best sides in any division, you need to have cutting edge in front of goal. Bayern can count themselves lucky that they have such an excellent goalkeeper in Manuel Neuer.

Although Jupp Heynckes’ team were probably jaded from their Champions League exerts, this result should give the rest of the Bundesliga confidence that they can break down the heavy favourites for the title. If Bayern Munich are to be toppled, the chasing pack need to take advantage of their slips – which didn’t happen this weekend.

The two sides immediately behind “Die Roten” (The Reds) are Werder Bremen who went down 3-2 at Hannover and Borussia Monchengladbach who lost 1-0 at Freiburg. Trying to ascertain enough consistency to compete with Bayern will be hard.

Werder have enjoyed a fantastic start to this season under Thomas Schaaf, a man who originally joined the club when he was 11. He will celebrate 40 years at Werder Bremen in 2012 and it’s good to see a rare piece of loyalty in today’s game. Last year, they finished 13th – Werder’s lowest finish under Schaaf. However, having been at the club for so long, there was to be no knee jerk reaction from the board. This decision has paid dividends leaving the “Die Grün-Weißen” (The Green-Whites) just three points behind Bayern Munich and in 2nd place eight games in.

Monchengladbach have enjoyed a wonderful upturn in fortunes under coach Lucien Favre. With six games to go last season, Gladbach were five points away from the relative safety of the relegation play off spot. However, a magnificent turnaround saw them survive through the relegation play off after some great late results – they beat Champions Borussia Dortmund 1-0. This season, they’ve carried on from where they left off. The only side to beat and score against Bayern Munich in the league, players like young German winger Marco Reus are thriving at Monchengladbach. Despite stuttering this weekend, they too are also just three points off top spot in 3rd spot.

When Bayern Munich next stumble the teams behind must be much more ruthless. Bayern’s run of matches after the international break doesn’t look too challenging giving them the perfect opportunity to open a gap at the top of the table. The two sides most likely to stop them within their next five, Hannover and Borussia Dortmund, must look to Stanislawski’s Hoffenheim and Favre’s Monchengladbach for inspiration on how to stop  the Bayern juggernaut.

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Last year’s runners up helped to conjure up the goal of the weekend and possibly the season so far. Bayer Leverkusen’s Eren Derdiyok scored a spectacular overhead kick to help overcome VFL Wolfsburg.

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Matchday 8 Results:

Kaiserslautern 0-2 Stuttgart

Borussia Dortmund 4-0 Augsburg

Bayer Leverkusen 3-1 Wolfsburg

Freiburg 1-0 Gladbach

Nürnberg 3-3 Mainz

Hoffenheim 0-0 Bayern Munich

Hertha Berlin 3-0 Köln

Hannover 3-2 Werder Bremen

Hamburg 1-2 Schalke

Rank Club Matches W* D* L* G* GD* PTS*
1 FC Bayern Munich 8 6 1 1 21:1 +20 19 CL*
2 SV Werder Bremen 8 5 1 2 16:10 +6 16 CL*
3 Borussia Mönchengladbach 8 5 1 2 9:4 +5 16 CL*
4 FC Schalke 04 8 5 0 3 17:13 +4 15 CL* Qual.
5 Hannover 96 8 4 3 1 11:10 +1 15 EL* Qual.
6 Borussia Dortmund 8 4 1 3 13:7 +6 13 EL* Qual.
7 VfB Stuttgart 8 4 1 3 12:6 +6 13
8 1899 Hoffenheim 8 4 1 3 12:7 +5 13
9 Bayer 04 Leverkusen 8 4 1 3 10:11 -1 13
10 Hertha BSC Berlin 8 3 3 2 12:9 +3 12
11 1. FC Nuremberg 8 3 2 3 9:10 -1 11
12 1. FC Köln 8 3 1 4 13:18 -5 10
13 VfL Wolfsburg 8 3 0 5 9:15 -6 9
14 1. FSV Mainz 05 8 2 2 4 12:18 -6 8
15 SC Freiburg 8 2 1 5 13:22 -9 7
16 1. FC Kaiserslautern 8 1 2 5 5:12 -7 5 Play-offs
17 FC Augsburg 8 0 4 4 6:16 -10 4 Relegation
18 Hamburger SV 8 1 1 6 9:20 -11 4 Relegation

Table from www.bundesliga.de/en

If you’d like to learn more about Holger Stanislawski, Lucien Favre and much much more, follow me on Twitter – @arhindtutt