Cologne - The 'lord' is starting to show his true class, Thomas Müller is on the verge of an impressive milestone, Borussia Dortmund find their range whilst Gladbach need to rediscover their stability at the back. bundesliga.com presents the essential guide to Matchday 3.
Lord Bendtner in top form
Neither VfL Wolfsburg nor FC Schalke 04 will be completely satisfied by their starts to the season. The Wolves laboured to a win on matchday 1 before rescuing a point at 1. FC Köln, while Schalke followed up their opening-day win with a frustrating draw at home to newly promoted SV Darmstadt 98. Wolfsburg defender Naldo admitted that the club now have higher expectations after last season, but they will be boosted going into Friday’s encounter by the form of Nicklas Bendtner. ‘The Lord’ has scored three goals in four games, finding the net every 19 minutes on average. Numbers like that will make the Dane and his side confident of extending their 23-ygame unbeaten run at home in the league, which is the longest such run of any current top-light side.
Thomas Müller approaching 200 not out
This weekend’s standout encounter takes place at the Allianz Arena, where FC Bayern München host Bayer 04 Leverkusen. Not only will this match pit Pep Guardiola and Roger Schmidt – two coaches with perhaps the most differing styles in the Bundesliga – against one another, it is also a reunion with old friends for Bayern midfielder Arturo Vidal, who played for Leverkusen between 2007 and 2011. Should he play, Thomas Müller will make his 200th Bundesliga appearance, where he could be involved in a goal for the 152nd time. Only one player lies ahead of him in this regard: Vidal’s old friend Stefan Kießling, who has been involved in 155 goals since Müller’s Bundesliga debut on 15 August 2008.
Clinical efficiency under Tuchel
In their opening seven competitive matches of the new season, Borussia Dortmund have already plundered a staggering 27 goals and have yet to drop a point. In short, Thomas Tuchel has made the best-ever start by a new BVB coach. To record the best-ever start to a Bundesliga season however, Dortmund have to beat Hertha Berlin by a three-goal margin. Back in 1994/95, Ottmar Hitzfeld’s Borussia side won their first three matches with a goal difference of 12-2. That year, Dortmund ended up champions.
Tuchel seems to have made great strides in improving Dortmund’s chance conversion rate. In the Bundesliga, Borussia have only needed 4.4 chances per goal - a league high. The new-found efficiency is embodied above all by Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The Armenian international has bagged eight goals in seven matches so far. Last season he only managed five in 42 appearances.
Can Gladbach turn the corner?
After securing direct Champions League qualification following a barn-storming second half of last season, Borussia Mönchengladbach have found life more difficult so far this term. The departure in the summer of key players Christoph Kramer and Max Kruse seem to have left a gaping hole. The Foals are rock-bottom of the table after consecutive defeats in Dortmund and at home to FSV Mainz 05. Lucien Favre’s men were drawn into the ‚group of death‘ in the Champions League alongside Juventus, Manchester City and Sevilla and will be desperate to get back on track in the Bundesliga before their European adventure starts.
"The pressure is on after losing the first two matches," said Favre. "We need to start picking up points." If they are to do so, Borussia will have to rediscover the defensive stability that has been the key to recent success.
Zoller’s midas touch
Simon Zoller’s days at 1. FC Köln had seemed numbered. The striker spent last season on loan at 1. FC Kaiserslautern in Bundesliga 2. But the 24 year-old has burst back onto the scene, personifying the upswing in Köln’s fortunes and has scored in every competitive fixture so far.
"I learned a lot from my first season in the Bundesliga and made a few minor tweaks," he said. It certainly seems to have done the trick as he currently averages a goal every 45 minutes.