Hamburg’s game against Bayern Munich could be Bruno Labbadia’s last chance to save his job. Dortmund try to keep their hot streak going against Freiburg and Schalke head to Hoffenheim desperate for their first points.
Based on their spending spree in the close season, Hamburg seemed to go all-in to try to make themselves a top Bundesliga club. The opposite has happened in the first four games – Hamburg currently sit third bottom with just one point.
Labbadia has tried to remain optimistic about his team’s sub-par performances, but his superiors did not share that positivity. Saturday’s visit of unstoppable Bayern comes at the worst possible time for the coach.
An audition against Bayern has been tough to pass for anyone this season. Coach Carlo Ancelotti has started his Bayern career with seven straight victories, and Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben re-established their partnership against Hertha Berlin on Wednesday after 200 days apart.
Hamburg will be hard-pressed to get their first win of the season against the defending Bundesliga champions, but Labbadia will still have to get a respectable performance out of his team to keep his job.
Dortmund look to continue dominant run
Nearly two weeks ago, Borussia Dortmund did not manage a shot on target at RB Leipzig as the promoted side won 1-0 in their first ever Bundesliga home game. But Dortmund scored 17 goals in the three games following that disappointing result, squashing Legia Warsaw 6-0 in the Champions League before demolishing Darmstadt 6-0 and Wolfsburg 5-1 in the Bundesliga.
Dortmund will look to maintain their scoring dominance at home to Freiburg on Friday. One of the main features of their stunning form has been the contributions of youngsters Raphael Guerreiro and Christian Pulisic, who were not expected to make such an impact with so many bigger names around them.
Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel has remained modest during his team’s recent run and showed respect for his promoted opponents in his pre-match news conference.
“It is a complicated, tough game,” he said. “Freiburg is a very dangerous opponent, a team without a big weakness.”
Clash of the winless clubs
Schalke have come under early fire after losing their first four games. The arrival of coach Markus Weinzierl and sporting director Christian Heidel was meant to be a new dawn.
But their home loss to Cologne on Wednesday highlighted their struggles at both ends of the pitch. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scored the club’s first Bundesliga goal this term but the Schalke defense threw away the advantage two minutes later and ended up losing 3-1.
Weinzierl now has to try to get Schalke’s season started when they visit Hoffenheim on Sunday or serious questions will be asked.
Hoffenheim have four points but concentration has been a problem for their defense. Their struggles at the back may give Schalke an opportunity to gain some confidence.
Defensive battle in Cologne
Ralph Hasenhüttl and Peter Stöger are arguably the two best defensive coaches in the Bundesliga.
Cologne are second thanks to the likes of Jonas Hector and Yuya Osako.
Stöger’s undefeated Cologne have conceded just once, helping them win three of their first four games to rise up to second. Hasenhüttl’s energetic, counter-pressing tactics have kept RB Leipzig unbeaten too.
On Saturday, the two coaches will face off in a defensive master class. Both teams in this fixture resemble each other quite a bit, each boasting a quick and skillful attack in front of a solid defense.
Bundesliga Matchday 5:
Borussia Dortmund vs. Freiburg (Friday, 20.30 CET)
Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. Ingolstadt (Saturday, 15.30 CET)
Mainz vs. Bayer Leverkusen
Hamburg vs. Bayern Munich
Augsburg vs. Darmstadt
Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Hertha Berlin
Werder Bremen vs. Wolfsburg (Saturday, 18.30 CET)
Hoffenheim vs. Schalke (Sunday 15.30 CET)
Cologne vs. Leipzig (Sunday, 17.30 CET)