The third matchday of the Bundesliga season starts off in unfamilar fashion, as Cologne and Freiburg battle it out to see who can take top spot before the rest of the weekend. Here’s what you should be watching.
Cologne look to go top of the table
In the opening game of Matchday 3, Cologne have a chance to do something that team has not done for 20 years: climb to the top of the Bundesliga table. At least until Saturday, that is.
The Rhineland club has yet to concede a goal this season, collecting one win and one draw from their opening two matches. Holding Wolfsburg to a goalless draw at the Volkswagen Arena was a particularly impressive result for Peter Stöger’s team.
“The possibility of being top of the table is pretty cool, but we should not underestimate our opponent,” Stöger told the press conference on Thursday. “We are well prepared but it won’t be easy against Freiburg.”
Cologne’s visitors on Friday night could continue their own fairytale start to the club’s return season in the Bundesliga, as a win would put them level for first place with Bayern Munich and Hertha Berlin. Freiburg were devastated on the opening day of the season by a late Hertha winner but had a dream start at home, pummeling Borussia Mönchengladbach 3-1 in the Black Forrest sunshine.
Freiburg’s head coach, Christian Streich, has been a thorn in the side of Cologne, having never lost to the Billy Goats. Freiburg are unbeaten against Cologne since 2011, but Streich is wary of the side’s qualities.
“Cologne are very strong and tactically complete – with and without the ball,” Streich told the prematch press conference. “We want to put on a good display in Cologne and if we are successful we can draw many positives for the rest of the season.”
The home side may well be strengthened by the return of No. 1 goalkeeper Timo Horn, if Stöger decides to replace Sven Müller, who was superb in his debut against Wolfsburg.
Dortmund and Bayern look to continue Champions League form
Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich return to Bundesliga action after dominating their opening Champions League group stage matches.
Bayern were in complete control from start to finish at the Allianz Arena against FC Rostov in their 5-0 win, while in a hostile Warsaw atmosphere, Dortmund put last weekend’s defeat to RB Leipzig behind them and were imperious in beating Legia Warsaw by 6-0.
“It shows that we were hungry. You could see we were enjoying ourselves out there,” said Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel following the win in Poland. “We never let up. I’m very happy about that.”
However it won’t be as easy in the Bundesliga. Darmstadt caused problems for Dortmund last season, earning a 2-2 draw at the Signal Iduna Park. Darmstadt’s new head coach, Norbert Meier, who picked up his first league win in the Hesse Derby last weekend, is hoping for a similar performance.
“We improved in the way we played against Frankfurt, but Dortmund is a different caliber,” Meier told the prematch press conference. “We must maintain our belief against Dortmund and be determined, dare to try things and be quick and accurate on the technical side of things.
Darmstadt captain Aytac Sulu is expected to get his first start of the season – he returned to training this week after recovering from a calf injury. Midfielder Jerome Gondorf is doubtful after suffering a knee injury against Frankfurt.
Carlo Ancelotti has started life at Bayern Munich without breaking a sweat. His side are yet to give up any points or even concede a goal in a competitive match. Joshua Kimmich has emerged as the star of the season so far, adding two more goals against Rostov on Tuesday.
“People always said to me that as soon as I get the first one, the rest will follow,” said Kimmich, who has scored three goals in all club competitions. Ancelotti praised the German international as a player who “can fill ever position.”
Ingolstadt have taken only a point from their opening two matches of this season and know that everything needs to fall perfectly into place for them to collect at least a second point of the season this weekend.
“We know that we need a perfect day to take something from them,” coach Markus Kauczinski said. “We’re striving for this perfect day.”
Bayern will be without Philipp Lahm, David Alaba and Thomas Müller due to flu, Ancelotti confirmed at a press conference on Friday. However, Jerome Boateng and Arjen Robben will both be on the bench, as well as Mats Hummels, who has recovered from bruising to his head suffered in the match against Rostov.
Bundesliga Matchday 3:
Cologne vs. Freiburg (Friday, 20:30 CEST)
Bayern Munich vs. Ingolstadt (Saturday, 15:30 CEST)
Borussia Dortmund vs. Darmstadt
Hamburg vs. RB Leipzig
Hoffenheim vs. Wolfsburg
Frankfurt vs. Bayer Leverkusen
Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. Werder Bremen (Saturday, 18:30 CEST)
Augsburg vs. Mainz (Sunday, 15:30 CEST)
Hertha Berlin vs. Schalke (Sunday, 17:30 CEST)