While the usual heavyweights such as FC Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and FC Schalke 04 have been grabbing their share of the early-season headlines, both Nuremberg and Frankfurt have been no less impressive. Frankfurt, returning to the Bundesliga after promotion in May, have a 100 percent record in the league so far, while the men from Franconia have won two and drawn one of their three games.
It would almost be a fool's errand to choose which one of the two has enjoyed a better start to the season. Respective to their ambitions, and the fact that they have only just returned to the German top-flight, the award might well go to Frankfurt. Armin Veh's team have been the surprise package of the season so far, overturning a 1-0 deficit against Bayer 04 Leverkusen on Matchday 1 to register three straight victories, a 4-0 thrashing of 1899 Hoffenheim on the road inculded.
Nuremberg have had their own reasons to celebrate, however. After a disastrous exit to TSV Havelse in the DFB Cup, they have come on in leaps and bounds. Dieter Hecking's charges have two away wins in the league already at Hamburger SV and Borussia Mönchengladbach, and held defending champions Borussia Dortmund to a draw in the easyCredit Stadium on Matchday 2. The momentum they currently have is unlikely to be underestimated by visiting Frankfurt.
An intriguing sub-plot to this game will be the midfield battle waged by Japanese midfield maestros Hiroshi Kiyotake and Takashi Inui. Kiyotake has been instrumental in Nuremberg's improvement since the defeat at Havelse and netted the winning goal at Gladbach, while Inui has adapted to the Bundesliga ably since a summer move from VfL Bochum, and played an equally important role in the Eagles victory over Hamburg. The direction of the game might well depend on which one of these two men is able to stamp his authority on the game.
Nuremberg: Schäfer - Chandler, Nilsson, Klose, Pinola - Balitsch, Simons - Mak, Kiyotake, Esswein - Pekhart
Frankfurt: Trapp - S. Jung, Zambrano, Anderson, Oczipka - Schwegler, Rode - Aigner, Meier, Inui - Occean