The off-season has been an odd one this year with coronavirus delays severely hampering preparations. Football hasn’t delayed though and after a short break the German Bundesliga returned this weekend.
Here are five things we learnt from the opening weekend of Bundesliga, including that preseason friendly between Bayern and Schalke… (oh wait, it was a real league match?).
The fans are back in town
That’s right, after finishing the season behind closed doors the season openers had a welcome return of fans. Well, some of them at least. Of course, stadiums were not anywhere close to being at full capacity with 25% the maximum allowed into the grounds.
That means the biggest attendance was recorded at just over 9,000 spectators, which whilst not ideal is a big step forward for football as was the league’s confirmation that those watching the games had followed the COVID protocols put in place. Football is nothing without the fans. Let’s hope this marks the start of a return to normality.
Bayern are the team to catch – obviously
Alright, so most people knew this anyway. Bayern won the league last season with 13 points to spare and closed the European calendar for 2019/20 with Champions League success. Still, everything is equal at the start of a new season.
At least it was for four minutes until Serge Gnabry netted the first of eight goals in their hammering of Schalke. Probably no one had told Schalke players that the season had started already, as they seemed completely numb.
Gnabry and debutant Leroy Sane stole the show with the former scoring three whilst Sane netted once and laid on two assists.
Of course, when eight goals go in you can bank on Robert Lewandowski chipping in and he did exactly that from the spot. Leon Goretzka, Thomas Muller and Jamal Musiala, who became Bayern’s youngest ever scorer, completed the rout.
At the end of the game the scoreline looked actually as if it was leaning to another kind of football, the American one, then its European counterpart. If you are a Schalke fan or you are just interested in the NFL, click here to see the current odds.
Wagner is a dead man walking
When your team have just been on the receiving end of an 8-0 drubbing you don’t need to be a genius to know the knives are being sharpened ready to cut you loose. That’s surely the case for Schalke boss David Wagner.
The Royal Blues had been knocking on the door of European football at the midway stage last season but in the second half of the campaign they finished second bottom of the form table with just a solitary win from 17. Two of their next four games are away days at Leipzig and Dortmund. Trouble surely awaits.
New boys still waiting for wins
The start of the 2020/21 campaign represented a step up for newly promoted sides Arminia Bielefeld and Stuttgart. Neither managed to come away from their games with maximum points but there was plenty of promise from the pair.
Stuttgart entertained a Freiburg side who finished eighth last season. It looked like being a long afternoon when they found themselves 2-0 down after 26 minutes and any galvanising team talk at the interval failed to help when it became 3-0 on 47.
The hosts rallied though and enjoyed lots of possession throughout the match and goals from Sasa Kalajdzic and Silas Wamangituka on 71 and 81 respectively ensured a nervy ending for Freiburg.
Arminia, who won Bundesliga 2 last year, had an equally tough task as they made the trip to take on another top half side from last season in Eintracht Frankfurt.
The new boys allowed Frankfurt to have most of the ball but after a goalless first half Cebio Soukou put Arminia ahead. Unfortunately, Andre Silva levelled 10 minutes later to split the rewards. Who will be first to grab a Bundesliga victory?
Dortmund youngsters tear it up
It’s well documented that Lucien Favre is building a team full of exciting young talent. It didn’t take long for it all to click into place either in their match against Monchengladbach either. Giovanni Reyna, 17, struck the first goal on 35 after being set up by fellow 17-year-old Jude Bellingham, who arrived from Birmingham City in July.
Next up was 20-year-old Erling Haaland – arguably the hottest prospect in world football right now – from the penalty spot before the Norwegian doubled his tally by finishing off a rapid counter attack that Manchester United target Jadon Sancho, also 20, orchestrated. Yes, they have an experienced core around them but, oh my, the idea of how good that quad could be in a few years is frightening.
There you have it, all in all, it was an entertaining weekend of Bundesliga action and, as always, it’s a pleasure to see Lewandowski finding the net.