Coming up this week on the Bundesliga Preview Show...
Jürgen Klopp has described emerging from the tunnel onto the pitch at the Signal Iduna Park as an experience akin to “being born.” If that holds true for , then the Japanese attacking midfielder was surely born again as he ran out to an ecstatic welcome from the South Terrace and the rest of the vast army of home fans for Borussia Dortmund's home game against SC Freiburg. Back in the yellow-and-black kit that propelled him to international stardom after two years in England with Manchester United, Kagawa certainly did not disappointed on his 'second debut' for BVB – capping the occasion with a trademark strike to put the hosts well in the driving seat before half time. Dortmund, and the Bundesliga, have a favourite son back in the fold.
Having regained their place in the Bundesliga on the back of a second-flight campaign that saw them concede a miserly 20 goals, 1. FC Köln have carried that defensive solidity seamlessly over into the top tier. So well, in fact, that they are the only team in the division still to concede a goal heading into Matchday 4. Even in their title-winning heyday, no previous Köln side has managed to start a league campaign with three straight clean sheets and Peter Stöger's compact company are only the fourth newly-promoted team ever to do so. If they can continue in the same vein, and with a slight buffing up of their shooting boots, the Billy Goats look to have the makings of becoming the surprise package of 2014/15.
State of Play at FC Bayern
The weekend win against southern rivals VfB Stuttgart may, as put it, have been more “workmanlike” than inspired, but it was enough to move FC Bayern München into familiar territory near the top of the standings. Goals from Mario Götze and his second-half replacement off the bench, the impressively-bearded , secured the second home win of the campaign for the defending champions. Alonso himself was again to the fore for Bayern in the ball-contact and mileage categories, while Robert Lewandowski delivered another reminder that he is much more than 'just' a goalscorer, teeing up Ribery with his second assist in three games. Pep Guardiola may be in little danger of getting carried away by his team's early form, but if the initial priority has been to avoid a World Cup hangover and misfiring season start, the coach has grounds enough to be reasonably satisfied thus far.
It had been on the cards for a while and at the capital's Olympic Stadium on Saturday, his moment duly arrived: 36 minutes into the game against Hertha Berlin, stabbed visitors 1. FSV Mainz 05 in front with what was his 27th Bundesliga goal all-told. That took him clear of former 1. FC Köln and Werder Bremen favourite Yasuhiko Okudera and out on his own as the top Japanese scorer in the German top flight, and the 28-year-old forward further extended the new best-mark by netting again at the death to round out a 3-1 win. A player transformed since he swapped a wide role at VfB Stuttgart for his favoured central attacking position with Mainz, Okazaki is far from finished yet.