Cologne - With no league action upcoming this weekend, the first international break of the new season offers us the opportunity to cast a leisurely eye back over some of the top moments so far in this still-young Bundesliga campaign. And whether it be out on the pitch or in the final spin of the summer transfer merry-go-round, there have unsurprisingly been highlights aplenty already in the league of world champions. Be sure to check it out!
Final Transfer Update
Here's what's coming up on this week's Bundesliga special…
Xabi Alonso's arrival at FC Bayern München and Shinji Kagawa's re-arrival in Dortmund were the two most spectacular coups in the lead-up to the close of the first season transfer window. The inevitable flurry of last-gasp activity also saw 1. FSV Mainz 05 finalise a loan deal with BVB on midfield talent Jonas Hofmann, further beefing up an attack already strengthened by the acquisition of Spain U-21 winger Jairo from Sevilla FC. An overview of the final comings and goings until the winter break.
Top Game Review Matchday 2
There was equally little doubt as to the major summit of Matchday 2, with the Bundesliga's other two UEFA Champions League contenders going head-to-head at the Veltins Arena. Visitors FC Bayern arrived on the back of a narrow opening-day victory over Wolfsburg, while FC Schalke 04 were badly in need of a morale-boosting result having been dispatched from the DFB Cup by third-flight Dynamo Dresden before getting off to a losing start in the league as well, away to Hannover 96. Things were not looking good early on against the defending champions either, but Schalke stuck to their guns – with one of their own World Cup winners destined to have a big say in the final outcome.
The only side still on maximum points after Matchday 2 and safely through to the group phase of the UEFA Champions League for good measure, Bayer 04 Leverkusen have got off to a flying season start. As much as the results themselves, however, it has been the manner in which the team have achieved them that has had fans and pundits alike really pondering whether the Werkself could emerge as the most serious threat to FC Bayern's domestic dominance this season. New head coach Roger Schmidt arrived in the Bundesliga a renowned proponent of the high- and hard-pressing school of football. Given the opportunity to test that reputation against an acknowledged master of the same on Matchday 1, his charges turned in a performance that had even Dortmund's Jürgen Klopp shaking his head in rueful admiration.
Before ten seconds were on the clock in the aforementioned encounter at Dortmund, Karim Bellarabi had written himself into the history books with the fastest goal in the Bundesliga's 52-year history. In doing so, the Leverkusen attacker bested some pretty rapid-fire opening salvoes from times past, as we reveal in this overview.
Long mooted as a possibility, Shinji Kagawa's return to Borussia Dortmund became a reality on the penultimate day of the transfer window, when the Japanese midfield ace took his leave of Manchester United to sign up for his second stint with die Schwarz-Gelben. Having made a lasting impression first time around, as a key player in Dortmund's back-to-back league triumphs in 2011 and 2012, Kagawa rejoins the Ruhr district giants as an established star and bearing rather more of a burden of expectation than accompanied his initial arrival from Cerezo Osaka as a largely unknown 21-year-old in the summer of 2010. After an often frustrating couple of years in the English Premier League, he is certainly raring to go again at his former stomping ground.
Supercup 2014 Rewind
Even before the Bundesliga had kicked off its 52nd campaign, fans of the German club game got to relish the ultimate palate-tickling taster as Borussia Dortmund entertained FC Bayern München in the . Last season's league and DFB Cup double winners came off distinctly second-best on the day against the impressive hosts at a heaving Signal Iduna Park while on the other side of the touchline, we tasked former Dortmund and Germany central defensive stalwart Christoph Metzelder with a behind-the-scenes assignment to get another perspective on the spectacular domestic curtain-raiser.
One of the most intriguing questions as each Bundesliga season gets underway is how the newly-promoted sides will fare. As far as 2014/15 is concerned, the answer after the two opening matchdays is very well indeed, thank you! Second Division champions 1. FC Köln, an old-time top-flight powerhouse, were generally tipped to prosper on their return and Peter Stöger's men have thus far obliged, following up on a home draw with Hamburger SV with a win on the road at VfB Stuttgart. Even more sensational, however, has been the form of Bundesliga debutants SC Paderborn. Denied a starting victory at the last second by 1. FSV Mainz 05, the division's ultimate underdogs hit Hamburg for three in their first away game – leaving themselves second in the table on goal difference going into the international break!
Best of Crossbar Challenge
Five players, three attempts each, maximum score 15: in a brief respite from the rigours of pre-season training, the Bundesliga clubs took the crossbar challenge. A bit of light-hearted fun, but with a decidedly competitive edge – and a surprising look to at least one end of the 'final table.'
Player of the Month
It was the ultimate of definition of coming back with a bang, but Karim Bellarabi's nine-second strike at Dortmund has by no means been his sole contribution to Bayer Leverkusen's flawless start to the season at home and abroad. The former Germany U-21 international, who spent last season on loan at Eintracht Braunschweig, looks to be earmarked for an integral role down the flank in Roger Schmidt's ultradynamic Bayer side. Indeed at 24, Bellarabi, who also rounded out the scoring in the 4-2 victory over Hertha Berlin on Matchday 2, might just be ready now to thrust himself into the front rank of Bundesliga stars.