FOX Sports Asia football editor Gabriel Tan looks back on Match Day 8 of the 2019/20 Bundesliga season where things got even more interesting at the top.
If it had already looked tight at the top of the Bundesliga ahead of the international break – with seven teams being separated by just two points – it got a whole lot more congested following the conclusion of Match Day 8.
After a weekend that produced several massive results, the top nine clubs are now separated by a couple of points as Schalke spurned an opportunity to become the fifth different leaders of the competition this season.
Team of the Week – Matchday 08
Here, FOX Sports Asia looks back at the five big talking points from the recent round of Bundesliga fixtures.
1) LEVERKUSEN NEED TO REDISCOVER THEIR GROOVE
Following last season’s fourth-place finish and with a squad brimming with talent such as Kai Havertz, Kevin Volland and Kerem Demirbay, Bayer Leverkusen should have been looking to push on this term.
Instead, they have now lost four of their past seven games with their only two wins coming against Union Berlin and Augsburg, who are both early-season relegation candidates.
View this post on Instagram
It is not just the results but also the emphatic nature of the defeats that will be cause for concern for coach Peter Bosz, especially after his side were put to the sword by Eintracht Frankfurt on Friday in a 3-0 loss.
With Leon Bailey sidelined and wonderkid Havertz struggling for form, Leverkusen are bereft of inspiration at the moment but still have time to rediscover their groove and make something of their campaign, akin to their charge in the second half of the season last term.
2) SULE INJURY WILL BE MASSIVE BLOW TO BAYERN
Having fallen to a 2-1 loss to Hoffenheim last time out, Bayern Munich had another disappointing result on Saturday as they conceded in the 91st minute to draw 2-2 with Augsburg.
Yet, the defeat is unlikely to be viewed as the worst outcome from the game.
— Lucas Hernández (@LucasHernandez) October 20, 2019
Instead, an anterior cruciate ligament injury to centre-back Niklas Sule – who will now miss several months – will hurt the most for Bayern, who have already looked vulnerable in defence several times this season with Jerome Boateng on the wane and Lucas Hernandez shaky thus far since his summer arrival.
Bayern still look potent up forward and Robert Lewandowski – having netted his 12th league goal of the campaign against Augsburg – is doing his best to carry them, but his prolific ways will matter for little if they keep leaking goals at the back.
3) LEIPZIG AND WOLFSBURG SHOULD BOTH AIM HIGH THIS SEASON
A 1-1 draw at the Red Bull Arena may not have been the ideal result for either side, but the match proved that both RB Leipzig and Wolfsburg should be setting their sights high this season.
Leipzig’s winless run is now into a fourth game but – against a team that have not lost in the league so far this season – they controlled proceedings for much of the 90 minutes, with Timo Werner back in form as he netted his first goal since August 30.
Highlights – RB Leipzig vs VfL Wolfsburg
Then, it was Wolfsburg’s turn to impress as they produced a spirited fightback in the closing stages and it seemed only a matter of time before they equalised, which duly arrived when Wout Weghorst found the back of the net in the 82nd minute.
Overall, there were plenty of positives to take from the match for two teams who could go far in 2019/20.
4) DORTMUND CAN WIN UGLY – THEY JUST MUST DO IT MORE OFTEN
After three consecutive draws where they squandered winning positions, Borussia Dortmund finally tasted victory as they beat previous leaders Borussia Monchengladbach 1-0 in the Borussen derby.
They have recently been on the receiving end of having plenty of style without substance but, with manager Lucien Favre making the bold decision to drop excitement machine Jadon Sancho completely for a disciplinary issue, BVB showed they have the mentality to grind out a tough win.
View this post on Instagram
It does not get any easier for Favre’s charges over the next eight matches as they take on Inter Milan twice, Schalke, Gladbach again, Wolfsburg, Bayern and Barcelona across three competitions.
But now they have shown they can win ugly, they just need to do it more often.
5) KRAMARIC RETURN ADDS EXTRA DIMENSION TO HOFFENHEIM ATTACK
It has been trying times lately for Hoffenheim recently after the highs of the not-too-distant past, having finished third and qualifying for the UEFA Champions League just last year.
Since then, prodigiously-talented manager Julian Nagelsmann has left for Leipzig and a host of key players in Joelinton, Nico Schulz and Demirbay have followed him out the door.
Comeback from injury ✅
First appearance of the season ✅
Open the scoring ✅
— Bundesliga English (@Bundesliga_EN) October 20, 2019
Nonetheless, after stunning Bayern before the international break, they made it two wins in a row with another smash-and-grab victory – this time by beating Schalke 2-0 on Sunday.
Andrej Kramaric, Hoffenheim’s top scorer last term with 22 goals, marked his first appearance of the season after a prolonged injury layoff with a goal and the team’s attack – with him and the likes of Ihlas Bebou, Sargis Adamyan and Ishak Belfodil – all of a sudden looks to have several dimensions.