Can anyone stop Bayern? No one in Germany seems to think so.
1. Bayern. Champions in October
With over three-quarters of the Bundesliga season remaining and the last barrels of beer only just emptied at Munich’s famous Oktoberfest, the view that the 2015-16 championship race already has been run might seem a tad premature.
Yet not to those who witnessed the carnage of Bayern Munich thumping Dortmund 5-1 at the Allianz Arena on Sunday.
Some statistics can be bent every which way, but not those relating to the top-flight omnipotence of Pep Guardiola and his merry men: the eight wins out of eight; their seven-point cushion at the top of the table; the massive 28:4 goal-difference; the three comprehensive home victories against so-called challengers (Dortmund, Wolfsburg and Leverkusen).
Right now, the other 17 teams in the league only serve as a Bayern’s playthings and while Müller, Lewandowski, Costa et al cannot be blamed for their ruthlessness, the distinct lack of competition undoubtedly will end up hurting the Bundesliga as a whole.
2. Leno: ectasy then agony.
The only new face in the Nationalmannschaft squad for the double-header against the Republic of Ireland and Georgia, Leverkusen keeper Bernd Leno certainly deserved his call-up after four seasons of match-winning performances and constant improvement, but would be wise not to assume that he is among the chosen few for keeps.
On Saturday, in the 1-1 draw at home to Augsburg, the comic own-goal he conceded – taking a wild swing at a backpass and only managing a merest of of connections before the ball trickled into his own net – was not the first time he had blundered of late.
On the opening day of the season, he completely misjudged a long ball to gift Dortmund’s Jonas Hofmann a goal and in last week’s 2-1 Champions League defeat at Barcelona was very much at fault for the Catalans’ equaliser, a spilled shot rolling out the red carpet for Sergi Roberto.
If Leno wants to be in the German group for Euro 2016, the gag goals will have to go.
3. Pressure leads to scapegoating at rock-bottom Stuttgart
Young Stuttgart attacker Timo Werner might have expected a congratulatory high-five or hug from his coach after heading in a last-minute equaliser to give his side a 2-2 draw at Hoffenheim at the weekend.
However all Stuttgart boss Alexander Zorniger had to offer him were brickbats, criticism for not tucking away an even later chance.
“Following his goal, he was so busy blowing kisses to the crowd that he lost focus on what he had to do,” railed Zorniger in his press conference. “It’s like that with youngsters.”
An unworthy and unnecessary attempt at deflection, though perhaps understandable. Since Zorniger took over in the summer, Stuttgart have only managed one win and local Swabian boy or not, his job is on the line.
4. Hertha look to their Golden Triangle up front
Up to fourth in the classification following a routine 3-0 home win over Hamburg, the capital city outfit have begun the new campaign much more strongly than anyone predicted in August and could continue to dream if the excellent front-line trio of Vladimir Darida, Vedad Ibisevic and
Salomon Kalou stay in the groove.
Ibsevic – who struck twice in 180 seconds against Hamburg – is looking as sharp as he was in his Hoffenheim heyday six or seven years ago; the Ivorian Kalou has been popping up here, there and everywhere, while the Czech Darida, brought in recently from Freiburg, has settled in remarkably, providing energy and punch in a withdrawn role
“Vladimir is shaping up to be the heart of our team, ” enthuses general manager, Michael Preetz.
5. Schalke supporters to sit out the derby
Hardcore Schalke supporters are vowing not to attend the Ruhr head-to-head in Dortmund on November 8 because of a reduction in their ticket allocation (from 8,000 to 6,500), new security measures and the insistence of the police that they travel to the big game by local train service and not by bus.
“Bit by bit in recent years, police, politicians and the federation have been trying to make it almost impossibe for us to support our club,” said the Gelsenkirchen Ultras Group in a statement. “It’s a painful step but unavoidable in the current climate. “
Last month, Mönchengladbach supporters, furious with strict limitations on away ticket sales, boycotted the trip to near-neighbours Köln.