Strugglers aim to get going

Matchday 6 gets into full flow on Saturday afternoon and the teams at the foot of the standings all have tricky assignments as they battle to avoid being cut dangerously adrift even at this early stage of the season.

Bayer 04 Leverkusen - SpVgg Greuther Fürth

SpVgg Greuther Fürth, VfB Stuttgart and FC Augsburg are in action against Bayer 04 Leverkusen, 1. FC Nuremberg and 1899 Hoffenheim respectively, while Hamburger SV are out to affirm their recent improvement at home to on-form Hannover 96.

Die Werkself silenced their critics to a degree with their comprehensive 3-1 win at FC Augsburg on Wednesday night, but they will have to start delivering the goods on a regular basis if they are to bring Champions League football back to the BayArena next year.

Always creating chances, Andre Schürrle made amends for his recent showings in front of goal with Leverkusen's third against Augsburg and, surprisingly, his first of the campaign. The German international's contribution will be key to Leverkusen's efforts as the season rolls on and he will be seeking to increase his tally against Fürth, whose first-ever Bundesliga victory at Mainz on Matchday 2 already seems to be receding into the distant past.

Long road ahead

For some reason, the newly-promoted Franconian outfit can't get it right on their own patch: three attempts, three defeats, no goals scored and seven conceded. The most recent home loss, to fellow promotees Fortuna Düsseldorf, has left the Fürth faithful wondering when they will again taste success at the Trolli Arena.

They have done altogether better on the road so far, with the addition of Matchday 4's 1-1 draw at VfL Wolfsburg helping keep them clear of the dreaded bottom two.

1. FC Nuremberg - VfB Stuttgart

Nuremberg's bold start to 2012-13 received a wake-up call this past week, with the Franconians tasting back-to-back defeats for the first time this season. Dieter Hecking's side were unfortunate to go down to Eintracht Frankfurt, but they were simply bowled over by Hannover 96 on Matchday 5.

Having previously taken a point from Borussia Dortmund and beaten Borussia Mönchengladbach, der Club will be aiming to get back to that kind of form sooner rather than later, to avoid being sucked into the kind of relegation battle that has so often been their lot in recent years.

Living on the edge

For VfB Stuttgart, though, the 'r' word is already looming unexpectedly large. Starting the campaign as one of the form sides in pre-season, Bruno Labbadia's hapless troops find themselves only a point ahead of bottom club FC Augsburg in 17th place, after recording a meager two from their first five games.

Looking at the Swabians' first-choice line-up, it doesn't quite make sense why a side with so much potential should be walking such a fine line just five games into a new season. On the upside, it remains very early days and VfB have got into the habit of starting poorly and finishing with a flourish over the past few seasons. Labbadia and his charges will at any rate be determined to stop the rot straight away, namely in Nuremberg.

1899 Hoffenheim - FC Augsburg

What a difference a week makes, with Markus Babbel's Hoffenheim racking up successive victories to pull clear of the Bundesliga basement and up into eleventh place.

The Sinsheim club's turnaround has been nothing short of remarkable, given their poor start to the campain. A Matchday 4 win against high-flying Hannover proved to be no fluke, as 1899 then saw off the challenge of struggling Stuttgart with a resounding 3-0 win away from home.

Staring down a barrel

That all makes for worrying reading for FC Augsburg, who sit bottom with just a point to their name and a goal difference ratio of -8. Indeed, if VfL Wolfsburg had not been so toothless on Matchday 3, Markus Weinzierl's team would still be searching for their first point of the season.

It took a heroic effort to see them safe last term and they will have to repeat the act his time around. Whether the men from Bavarian Swabia can take something from their trip west to face an on-song Fabian Johnson and the rest remains to be seen however.

Hamburger SV - Hannover 96

Hamburger SV are another big club to have got off to a misfiring season start, but the signs are they're moving in the right direction. Few pundits gave them a chance against Dortmund, yet they prevailed 3-2 to end the champions' long unbeaten run - and they should arguably have taken the spoils against Mönchengladbach as well last time out.

Scoring goals has not been and is unlikely to be a problem for Van der Vaart and Co., but keeping them out might be. Despite moving two points clear of the bottom two, only goal difference stands between HSV and 16th-placed Fürth, with Thorsten Fink's side having conceded three more than they've scored (7:10).

Champions League contenders?

Hannover are riding the crest of a wave, with their 4-1 demolition of Nuremberg serving to reinforce murmurings that Mirko Slomka's side might just have what it takes to break the top three in 2012-13. The Reds have ten points to show from their first five games and are at present averaging 2.8 goals per game.

Of their 14 scored so far, star performer Szabolcs Huszti has three and Leon Andreasen two. However, a cruciate knee ligament injury leaves Andreassen facing months out, the unlucky Danish midfielder having only recently returned to full fitness after 28 months on the sidelines due to a debilitating groin problem. A difficult void to fill - Slomka may turn to Manuel Schmiedebach for the task.