Cologne - A south-west derby, a meeting of old friends and a trend-bucking quest for victory: there's something to suit everyone's tastes in the Bundesliga on Saturday afternoon.
VfB Stuttgart - 1899 Hoffenheim
bundesliga.com looks ahead to a trio of tantalising Matchday 4 encounters...
It's not been the best start to Armin Veh's second coming at VfB Stuttgart, who are one of seven sides still to pick up a win in the Bundesliga so far this season. Losing at FC Bayern München on Matchday 3 was hardly a surprise, but the manner in which they succumbed to a 2-0 defeat at home to 1. FC Köln prior to the international break didn't exactly inspire much confidence.
"There's nothing quite like a win - then everything is much easier," admitted Veh. "We need the support of the fans, but the players need to prove to the spectators that they're determined to win the game at all costs. We trained well and we have improved. We need to prove that now in the game on Saturday. The players need to produce something that no one's expecting."
'Too many doubts'
South-west rivals 1899 Hoffenheim managed to do just that on a near-weekly basis last season, but their all-or-nothing approach appears to have been tempered of late, with one win and back-to-back 1-1 draws the sum parts of their efforts after three league games of the 2014/15 campaign.
"You always have to try a few new things when you have so many injuries," explained head coach Markus Gisdol. "We might end up fielding a team on Saturday that doesn’t have much experience of playing together. I can't decide much about tactics and personnel just yet as there are still too many doubts."
SC Paderborn 07 - Hannover 96
Last term it was FC Augsburg; this time the Bundesliga's surprise package might well be promoted SC Paderborn 07. Andre Breitenreiter's valiant troops are riding the crest of a wave at present, undefeated in the league so far this season and only two points behind Bayer 04 Leverkusen, FC Bayern and Hannover 96, who visit the Benteler-Arena this weekend.
"It's great that we've been able to show people that we deserve to be in the Bundesliga," enthused Breitenreiter, who made his professional debut whilst on the books at Hannover. "That said, anyone who sits third in the table having only conceded once clearly has plenty of quality."
'Play out of our skins'
Indeed, the Reds' place in the top three comes by virtue of an unbeaten league start that has included wins over FC Schalke 04 and Hamburger SV as well as a goalless draw at 1. FSV Mainz 05. And as Tayfun Korkut's opposite number alluded to, only 1. FC Köln have conceded fewer goals this season.
"We'll do everything to keep our run going," Korkut said. "We know what lies in wait. Paderborn are defensively sound, well-disciplined as a team and they're strong at home. We'll be playing for the win, for sure, but we'll have to play out of our skins."
FC Augsburg - SV Werder Bremen
Augsburg took things up a notch last weekend as they recorded their first win of the season courtesy of Raul Bobadilla's solitary strike at Eintracht Frankfurt's Commerzbank Arena. The Bavarians had lost their opening two fixtures, but enjoyed a return to form of sorts on Matchday 3.
"If we play like we did in Frankfurt, we should be able to get something out of the game against Bremen," Augsburg mastermind Markus Weinzierl said at Friday's pre-match press conference. "Obviously we'd love to win, but we at least want to pick up a point."
'Respect and confidence'
Werder Bremen have drawn on each and every weekend of the new campaign, holding Hoffenheim, Hertha Berlin and Leverkusen to entertaining stalemates. Last Friday's six-goal thriller at the BayArena, for one, has to be an early contender for game of the season.
"It's about time we won," intoned Green-Whites tactician Robin Dutt. "I think we need the right mix of respect and confidence. The respect should be exhibited in our commitment and the confidence in our style of play, but style alone won't win matches. We need to show the same fight as we have of late."