The most compelling question about Wednesday’s midweek Bundesliga fixtures is whether Peter Stoger can engineer an immediate upturn in the fortunes of Borussia Dortmund in the manner of Jupp Heynckes at FC Bayern Munich.
The former FC Koln coach was installed as BVB’s new head honcho at the weekend in place of Peter Bosz, who was fired after Dortmund fell to a 2-1 home defeat at the hands of lowly Werder Bremen – their eighth match without a win – a run that has seen them plummet from first to seventh place.
While Stoger, who was fired by Koln just a week earlier, may not be able to replicate the effect that Heynckes’ appointment at Bayern produced, his immediate mission will be to install some steel into a Dortmund backline that has shipped 23 goals – the fourth worst in the Bundesliga.
Hosts Mainz will be no pushovers though, as the Zerofivers have recorded all four of their wins at home this season. Still, history is on Dortmund’s side as Stoger’s new charges have lost just one of their last 14 games against Mainz, a run they will be keen to continue as they seek to get their season back on track.
Other interesting ties see leaders Bayern host rock-bottom Koln. The Billy Goats were desperately unlucky to lose 4-3 to SC Freiburg at the weekend after throwing away a three-goal lead, but it would perhaps go down as one of the biggest surprises ever in Bundesliga history were Stefan Ruthenbeck’s men to get something from this match.
Another tasty matchup will see third placed Schalke 04, revitalised under up-and-coming coach Domenico Tedesco, play host to FC Augsburg, who themselves are enjoying a great first half to the season.
The success of Tedesco’s Schalke has been built on a good defence, and this will be tested to the max by Augsburg’s dynamic attack that includes Austrian Michael Gregoritsch (six goals in his last eight games) Icelandic striker Alfred Finnbogason (8 goals in 13 games) and Brazilian Caiuby (three goals from midfield).
Schalke have shipped seven of their 17 goals conceded this season in the last three matches and Tedesco will be no doubt keen for his team to return to their formerly miserly ways, but with so much attacking talent on show for the visitors it may prove difficult.