Bundesliga: Five things from Matchday 5

Dortmund’s decision to focus on strength in depth during the summer is so far proving to look like a good decision as their new signings continue to impress.

Focus on depth justified
BV Borussia 09 Dortmund were among the busiest teams recruiting this summer. The respective losses of captain Mats Hummels, Ilkay Gundogan and Henrikh Mkhitaryan put the club in the spotlight, adding extra pressure to make sure the purchases were right. Aside from the big money additions of Andre Schurrle and Mario Gotze, the focus from sporting director Michael Zorc was adding flexibility and further depth.

Ousmane Dembele has added verve and unpredictability to the side. Emre Mor is highly thought of and showed glimpses of potential in the 3-1 win over Freiburg. Sebastian Rode has beefed up the midfield, while Raphael Guerreiro looks like the steal of the century at just 12 million euros from Lorient. The French-born Portuguese international has the tool kit to perform most jobs and his advanced left-sided role in attacking-midfield has been fantastic.

While the jury is still out on Gotze and Schurrle for now, the signs are bright. Gotze is gradually adjusting to a number eight role in midfield, with Dortmund finding form in recent weeks to take them back into the top-two. At least, if there was any doubt about Dortmund’s transfer policy, it’s slowly fading away as we enter a crunch period in the season.

Hamburger SV have management issues
With great responsibility as custodians of a great German club, comes a greater pressure to make the right decisions. Hamburg, under the financial might of Klaus-Michael Kuhne and CEO Dietmar Beiersdorder, have added to the chapter of shambolic managerial decisions, by sacking Bruno Labbadia after five matches.



Let’s be clear, Labbadia is not a phenomenal coach. But there’s no doubt the club has made progress from the bundling wreck he inherited, to the mid-table finish of last year, to some solid performances against Ingolstadt, Leverkusen and Bayern Munich. Whether or not Beiersdorfer fancied Labbadia isn’t the issue: the timing is bizarre.

If Hamburg wanted to make the next step, employing a coach with a clearer game philosophy and higher tactical acumen, then they could have in the summer. Signings have been made and any new coach will likely be out of work and required to adapt. Not only does Labbadia deserve respect, but the strategy has to be adhered. What is clear is that they have none of that right now.

The development of Joshua Kimmich
Highlighting Kimmich’s performances at FC Bayern München is nothing revolutionary. The last 12 months for the 21-year-old has been a whirlwind, but he has taken it in his stride with self-confidence. After moving from lower-league football to Bayern, he was carried under the wing of Pep Guardiola who has only added to the midfielder’s game intelligence.

Even a surprise call-up to the Germany squad ahead of the European Championship barely fazed him. He stepped in and became the country’s first choice right-back, answering a difficult question of who could replace Philipp Lahm. Under Carlo Ancelotti, and with Lahm for competition, Kimmich has pushed the boundaries once more.

His winning goal in Hamburg on Saturday is his fourth goal of the season, all of them coming in his last four matches. Kimmich’s goal return is phenomenal, but his performances have been even more impressive. He is dominating games with a cold-blooded efficiency, battling against stronger, more experienced opponents. There’s now an argument to be made that he is one of the most important players for the German champions.

SV Darmstadt 98 will probably go down
Norbert Meier’s team are on the decline right now. It would be something miraculous if Darmstadt are not relegated at the end of the season. With the bottom places being dominated by some of the traditional clubs, who will improve soon, Darmstadt will be there sooner rather than later.


Meier, who replaced Dirk Schuster this summer, is probably not a coach to Bundesliga standards. The incredible turnover in players this summer has caused instability in their ranks, but the losses of Sandro Wagner and Konstantin Rausch has stolen them of their two strongest forward players. None of Colak, Bezjak or Heller can single-handily turn a match in their favour. It will be a long and hard season for the Lillies.

Leverkusen win, but doubts remain?
Bayer 04 Leverkusen had won just one league game this season before their dramatic 3-2 win over FSV Mainz 05 on Saturday. Javier Hernandez once again was the decisive player, scoring a hat-trick, including a 91st minute winner to secure the points. But Roger Schmidt’s men aren’t quite living up to their expectations yet.


Both FSV Mainz 05 goals were poorly defended, with new signing Aleksandar Dragovic being hooked at the break after another poor showing. The balance at full-back has been a contentious issue since last season with Benjamin Henrichs coming in from the youth team, where he was a striker. The Champions League, though, will provide the toughest test for Schmidt. The 2-2 draw was disappointing against CSKA Moscow, but in order to progress, Leverkusen will need to deliver against Monaco and Tottenham. After that, we will truly see what they are made of.

Ross Dunbar

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