Munich - The second weekend of Bundesliga action contains a trio of fascinating fixtures. Two of the Bundesliga’s northernmost clubs host sides from further south looking to make amends after tricky opening outings, while the Black Forest sees a match-up between sides who experienced contrasting fortunes last time out.
Hamburger SV - 1899 Hoffenheim
bundesliga.com rounds-up the 15:30 CET kick-offs...
The men from Hamburg were satisifed with their point against Schalke last weekend, although captain Rafael van der Vaart believed the 3-3 draw was not a fair reflection of their excellent display. He intends to change that this weekend in the Red Shorts’ first home game of the season, emphasising that the players “want to give their fans something to cheer about”.
Coach Thorsten Fink also believes that three points are well within his side’s grasp, underlining the “good spirit within the squad” and “the team's desire to build on their good performance”. The goalscoring trio of van der Vaart, Maximilian Beister and Lasse Sobiech are all set to begin once more.
It might be 1899 Hoffenheim coach Markus Gisdol’s birthday on Saturday, but the soon-to-be 44-year-old will only be celebrating if he sees “an improvement on last week’s performance,” warily eyeing a Hamburg side “who could have won against Schalke”.
The coach can count on new striker Anthony Modeste, who made a goal-scoring Bundesliga debut last weekend in the disappointing 2-2 draw against 1. FC Nürnberg, and has overcome a slight neck problem. A further boost for the coach was the uninjured return of Hoffenheim’s handful of representatives from international duty.
Werder Bremen - FC Augsburg
By beating Eintracht Braunschweig 1-0 on the opening day, Robin Dutt’s Bremen picked up their first three points since February, and the result has their coach longing for another three this weekend: “If we could come out of Saturday’s match with six points under our belt after two games it will have been a dream start.”
That task has been made easier by the signing of striker Franco di Santo, a “clever and tactically aware” recruit according to his new coach. The Argentinian is unlikely to start Saturday’s game, with Dutt likely to opt for a more-attacking line-up than last week, with Eljero Elia replacing Felix Kroos to join Aaron Hunt and Nils Petersen in a front three.
After a 4-0 home defeat to Borussia Dortmund, FC Augsburg are looking to restart their season against an opponent they beat twice last season. Coach Markus Weinzierl has urged his players to “recover quickly” from the loss, in which they showed signs of attacking promise.
Weinzierl will be relieved at the safe return of several of his young charges from international duty. Club captain Paul Verhaegh made his debut for the Netherlands against Portugal, and should lead his side in Bremen. FC Augsburg signed their own South American striker this week, Raul Bobadilla, although he is also not expected to be in the starting XI.
SC Freiburg - 1. FSV Mainz 05
SC Freiburg coach Christian Streich was disappointed but not despondent after last week’s 3-1 loss in Leverkusen. “The boys gave everything," said the 48-year-old. "They really tried to play their football. Now it’s important that we train hard and take every little step towards where we want to be." New signing Mike Hanke, who scored his first Bundesliga goal for Freiburg last weekend, echoed his coach’s thoughts: “Despite the mistake we can take a lot from last week, we showed a lot of heart.”
Hanke is due to start up front with Admir Mehmedi, who impressed for Switzerland against Brazil in midweek. Young full-back Matthias Ginter, who made his fourth appearance for the Germany Under-21s this week, should also start and is hoping for “a good game and, obviously, a victory”.
Mainz fans should know to expect the unexpected from Thomas Tuchel. Despite the impressive 3-2 home win over VfB Stuttgart last Sunday, the coach has promised to be “unpredictable and remain flexible” ahead of this week’s clash with Freiburg. Tuchel expects his charges to be “more aggressive, more passionate and more direct” this time out and has promised a “ball-playing approach with positional switches aplenty.”
Although the line-up is shrouded in mystery, it is unlikely to be vastly different from last weekend, with goal-scorers Nicolai Müller and Shinji Okazaki set to feature from the start.