Munich - GOAL! The Bundesliga Magazine is the DFL's weekly TV programme, offering a global audience a unique perspective on Germany's top flight throughout the season. We have in-depth previews of the upcoming league action, exclusive interviews, behind-the-scenes reports, the best goals from the latest league encounters and much more besides. Coming up in this week's show...
Matchday 3 saw victories for the usual suspects as FC Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Bayer 04 Leverkusen all maintained their 100 per cent starts to the campaign. The Champions overcame a stubborn 1. FC Nürnberg in the first Bavarian-Franconian derby of the season, while BVB edged out Werder Bremen and Leverkusen beat Borussia Mönchengladbach on a weekend full of goals.
1. FSV Mainz 05 also deserve a mention for their third straight win, this one over VfL Wolfsburg and thanks in no small part to the brilliance of . Elsewhere, the weekend also brought with it some weird and wonderful statistics, chiefly the highest number of red cards on any one Matchday in 51 years of Bundesliga history.
Top Game I
Two of the Bundesliga's quartet of Champions League contenders, FC Schalke 04 and Bayer Leverkusen, go head-to-head in Saturday's late kick-off on Matchday 4. Even at this early stage, Schalke find themselves dangerously off the pace after having taken just one point from their first three matches following defeat at Hannover last time out. They are also struggling in Europe after a disappointing home draw against PAOK FC in the first leg of their Champions League group stage play-off meeting.
The Royal Blues need to find their form in double-quick time, not least because visitors Leverkusen, in sharp contrast, take to the pitch at the Veltins Arena on a club record eight-game Bundesliga winning streak. Sami Hyypiä's men set it with the 4-2 home victory over Mönchengladbach, last season's league top scorer Stefan Kießling taking the opportunity to nab his 100th Bundesliga goal in the process. Now Bayer aim to extend that sequence by claiming the scalp of one of their direct rivals.
This week's interview is with Gladbach star Max Kruse. Fresh on the books at the club and thus far deployed in a central attacking role, the 25-year-old all-round forward talent looks set to occupy a pivotal place in head coach Lucien Favre's team as they continue to build on the solid foundations of the past two years.
Having earned his professional spurs in both top divisions with FC St. Pauli, Kruse was snapped up by SC Freiburg in the summer of 2012 and was one of the Black Forest club's stand-out performers as they stormed to an unexpected Europa League finish last season. Before the campaign was over, Gladbach had moved to secure his services for 2013/14 and in the interim, Kruse has taken his senior bow with the German national team for good measure. He has one league goal for the Foals so far, but surely more will follow.
Markus Gisdol's appointment as head coach of 1899 Hoffenheim at the start of April was made in the context of a medium-term strategy to restore the academy-based playing philosophy which had been an integral part of the former village club's rapid rise to the top of the German game. At that stage, avoiding relegation in 2012/13 was regarded as a highly desirable but somewhat improbable extra. Avoid it they did, though, by way of the play-offs on the back of a final matchday win at Borussia Dortmund.
The momentum from that dramatic escape act has carried over into the current campaign with a thumping win at Hamburg sandwiched between a couple of high-scoring draws. Under Gisdol, the results are coming already - and certainly not at the expense of the entertainment.