Munich - Four matchdays into the campaign, the Bundesliga is taking its first break for international action this weekend. Time, then, for a first résumé of the early trends to emerge from the German top flight's 51st season...

The 2014 FIFA World Cup finals in Brazil are drawing ever closer and a number of fringe contenders for a place in the Germany squad have hit the ground running. of Mainz, Leverkusen's and Max Kruse of Mönchengladbach are foremost among them - and national team coach Joachim Löw has called up the latter duo for the upcoming qualifiers against Austria and the Faroe Islands.

Goalkeepers' cries of "don't foul!" have become a matchday standard up and down the country whenever one-on-one tussles get close to the penalty area. Coaches are clearly prioritising a clampdown on conceding unnecessary free kicks around the box and as a knock-on, only 1,047 fouls have been registered so far - the lowest figure since records started in 1992/93.

Paradoxically, despite that record low foul-count, the first four matchdays saw sendings-off aplenty, with eleven players departing for an early shower. Six of them were on the wrong end of a straight red, with the others picking up double yellow. Overall, bookings meanwhile are at a 'normal' level - 129 so far.

No fewer than nine goals could be attributed directly to a keeper's mistake over the first four matchdays. Only once in the last 15 years has that figure been higher at this stage of the campaign (ten in 2010/11). 1899 Hoffenheim custodian Koen Casteels (l.) is the party at fault in this picture, his blunder giving (r.) an easy finish in Stuttgart's 6-2 thumping of their regional neighbours.



Trends Part I