Bundesliga Matchday 3 preview: Big games arrive early

Richard Hazeldine Richard Hazeldine

The Bundesliga gets back underway this weekend following the international break with a couple of cracking fixtures to look forward to.

First up on Friday night, Markus Gisdol’s Hamburger SV side will take on last year’s surprise package RB Leipzig. With two wins from two Hamburg will be looking to build on their best start to a new season in seven seasons.

Hamburg have endured an almost annual relegation battle in recent years, but with strikers Andre Hahn and Bobby Wood starting the season in good form, Gisdol is hoping for a big improvement on last season’s 14th position and on last year’s home fixture against Die Bullen, when they slumped to an embarrassing 0-4 defeat.

Leipzig, meanwhile, returned to winning ways in their last match before the break, hammering SC Freiburg 4-1 following a shock opening day defeat away to Schalke.

Striker Timo Werner picked up where he left off last season against Freiburg with two goals, and now looks like cementing his place as the Germany’s goal-getter in chief after netting a brace in the 6-0 win over Norway on Monday.

Werner has been a big hit for Germany.

Werner now has six goals in eight appearances for Die Mannschaft and none other than national team rival Mario Gomez has tipped the 22-year old to dominate the German attack for the next 10 years, while admitting he’s happy to take a back seat.

Keeping the in-form Werner quiet will among the chief duties for the Hamburg defence if they want to continue their great start.

James back to boost Bayern

Another clash of teams in the top half of the table will see Julian Nagelsmann’s TSG 1899 Hoffenheim side take on champions FC Bayern Munchen at the Rhine-Neckar Arena.

Hoffenheim will want to put down a marker early in the season, especially after their disappointing Champions League exit at the hands of Liverpool.

The confident young coach led Hoffenheim to a superb fourth-place finish in his first full season – that included a 1-0 home win over the reigning champions in April.

Nagelsmann would be more than happy with a repeat of that scoreline, but first he will need to tackle the defensive uncertainty that was on display at Anfield – a task made more difficult by the likely debut of Bayern’s big summer loan signing Colombian forward James Rodriguez, who is fit again following a muscle injury and played for Colombia in their World Cup qualifying draw with Brazil.

The tricks and skills of James will pose a new challenge to Bundesliga defences already familiar with threat posed by Robben, Lewandowski and co.

Rudy and Vidal are now on the same side.

The presence of Niklaus Sule and Sebastian Rudy, who left Hoffenheim for Bayern in summer, is also certain to add some spice to what promises to be an exciting encounter.

Ground-breaking official

In other news, Sunday will likely see another debut – this time as Bibiana Steinhaus is set to become the first female referee to officiate a Bundesliga match.

The 38-year old Steinhaus officiated in 80 2. Bundesliga matches before being promoted to the list of top flight officials in May and is reportedly lined up to take charge of Sunday’s game between Hertha Berlin and Werder Bremen.

And those expecting the first female referee to perhaps be a soft touch should be aware that Steinberg is a police inspector by day – meaning that she will have no problem at all booking players who get out of line!