Cologne - Tales of the unexpected for some, business as usual for others: the Bundesliga's finest enjoyed wildly varying fortunes in October.
The Bundesliga Preview Show has the lowdown on these stories and more coming up for you in the latest monthly special…
The Bundesliga contest against which all others were measured for the better part of the 1970s, the meetings of Borussia Mönchengladbach and FC Bayern München subsequently lost much of their lustre as the former slipped gradually into mid-table mediocrity and worse, while the latter strode relentlessly on from one title to the next. In Bayern's case nothing has changed, other than for the better, but to the delight of many a Bundesliga-loving neutral of a certain age, not to mention the Gladbach fans themselves, Borussia Park is now home to a team once again capable of jousting with the men from Munich on a more or less level playing field. When the sides met on Matchday 9, it was a game between the top two in the table for the first time in more than 40 years – and one that did not disappoint.
Player of the Month
His 200th Bundesliga victory, racked up in the advanced midfield role he is rapidly making his own; a place on the shortlist for World Footballer of the Year and, almost incidentally, a first career brace in what was his 321st top-flight appearance. It turned out to be quite a month for FC Bayern skipper Philipp Lahm.
October saw two coaches take their Bundesliga bow – one a newcomer to the German game but no stranger to success at the very highest level, the other a top-flight veteran with a solid coaching apprenticeship at youth level, now being given a tilt at the main job. Roberto Di Matteo is the new man in charge at FC Schalke 04, who hope the Swiss-born former Italy international can reproduce the magic touch that saw him lead Chelsea FC to the 2012 UEFA Champions League title. Viktor Skripnik, an eight-year defensive veteran at Werder Bremen, spent the past decade progressing through the Green-Whites' youth ranks before landing the job of youth team coach last season. Now, as Robin Dutt's successor, he is tasked with lifting Bremen clear of the drop zone.
Heading into the first November matchday, three teams were level on 17 points, four behind FC Bayern at the top. Each of them indisputably talented enough to be there in their own right, as a trio they make for slightly surprising reading nonetheless: Borussia Mönchengladbach, VfL Wolfsburg and 1899 Hoffenheim. Lucien Favre's 'Operation Consolidation' is thus far on track to well exceed its immediate target at Gladbach while, under Dieter Hecking, 2009 champions Wolfsburg look best set for the return to the Bundesliga elite they have been promising for years. Hoffenheim have steadied the ship so well at the back this season that, with their attacking flair, a debut place on the European stage is now looking eminently feasible for Markus Gisdol's men.
These are dark days for Borussia Dortmund, certainly as far as the league goes. While everything continues to tick along very nicely in the Champions League and DFB Cup, die Schwarz-Gelben are currently on a five-game Bundesliga losing streak. Their three October games yielded nary a point against Hamburg, Köln and Hannover, book-ended for good measure by defeats to arch-rivals (local) Schalke and (national) Bayern. It's an unprecedented negative sequence under Jürgen Klopp and one the BVB head coach is as eager as his players to put an end to. On the balance of their overall play, at any rate, that should be happening sooner rather than later
It has been a more than handy start to the campaign so far for 1. FC Köln and SC Paderborn 07. Heading into 2014/15 with the standard-issue target for any newly-promoted club of first and foremost simply ensuring their top-flight survival, both saw out October comfortably placed in mid-table on twelve points apiece from their opening nine games. After beginning the month with a defeat on road at Frankfurt, Köln bounced back with victories over Dortmund and away to Bremen. With a draw at Leverkusen, a 3-1 home victory over Eintracht and a narrow loss to high-flying Hoffenheim, Paderborn meanwhile continued to demonstrate a singular reluctance to assume the role of division whipping boys prematurely assigned them by some before the action had even got underway.