Coming up this week on GOAL!....
The showdown may be over but the show, of course, goes on. After casting an eye back to events in Dortmund, GOAL! looks forward to the next round of matches in Europe's best-supported league. And in case anyone needed a reminder that the Bundesliga is no mere double act, there are features this week on two sides with a top-notch pedigree of their own, Borussia Mönchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen. Action over and action yet to come - make sure you tune in for the lot with GOAL! The Bundesliga Magazine.
They came, they subbed, they conquered: FC Bayern München took three potentially pivotal points in the bid to retain their Bundesliga title and the scalp of their biggest rivals for good measure in the Matchday 13 head-to-head with Borussia Dortmund at the Signal Iduna Park. Bayern coach Pep Guardiola's introduction of Mario Götze off the bench in the second half had a defining influence on the proceedings as the former Dortmund favourite broke the deadlock with his first attempt on goal. Two late strikes from the visitors gave the final result a slightly skewed appearance but Bayern were good value overall for the win in a pulsating contest between Germany's finest. Highlights from the new European Klassiker.
Top Game I
After the disappointment of that loss to FC Bayern and on the back of Tuesday's crunch home meeting with SSC Napoli in the UEFA Champions League, it's back to the everyday bread and butter for Borussia Dortmund this weekend as they head south to take on 1. FSV Mainz 05. Not that there is ever anything mundane about this particular trip for BVB coach Jürgen Klopp, who spent more than a decade ploughing a furrow through Bundesliga 2 for Mainz before famously going on to cut his coaching teeth there. Indeed, Klopp and FSV remains an affair of the heart to this day, not that sentimentality is likely to hold sway as Borussia seek to get back on track in the league at the earliest opportunity. For their part, Thomas Tuchel's hosts go into the game buoyed by victory in a five-goal thriller at Bremen, a result which lifted them up to seventh in the standings – and they may just fancy their chances of a follow-up success here.
Top Game II
Like their near-neighbours in Dortmund, FC Schalke 04 also go into their meeting with VfB Stuttgart after a make-or-break Champions League assignment, in their case on the road in Bucharest. The visitors will be hoping that plays to their advantage in Saturday's late kick-off, all the more so after being thoroughly outplayed in a 2-0 home defeat to Mönchengladbach last time out. That left Stuttgart with just one win from their last six outings and in danger of defaulting on the early progress made after Thomas Schneider took over as head coach. On the statistical up-side, from their point of view, VfB were the only team apart from FC Bayern to achieve a domestic double against Schalke last season. Moreover, the men from Munich are also the only side to have beaten the Royal Blues more often in the Bundesliga than the 41 times Stuttgart have done so to date.
3 Minutes with...
...Oscar Wendt. A cracking strike from the 28-year-old Sweden international sewed up Borussia Mönchengladbach's above-mentioned victory at Stuttgart and maintained his remarkable record of hitting the net with every attempt on goal this season in the Bundesliga – three out of three so far! It's all the more impressive given that Wendt has started just eight games, to say nothing of the fact that he plays for the most part at left back. GOAL! shoots the breeze with a Foal of many parts.
While others, above all in the forward department, are earning the bulk of the plaudits for Bayer 04 Leverkusen's impressively consistent start to the campaign, Simon Rolfes continues to quietly but authoritatively pull the strings in the middle of the park. The 31-year-old skipper, now in his ninth season with the Werkself, remains as good as ever for a goal or an assist – two and three respectively so far this season – but it is first and foremost his link-up work between Bayer's increasingly rock-solid defence and unquestionably deadly attack that makes him the oft-neglected linchpin of the club who are now the mighty FC Bayern's closest pursuers in the title race.