Cologne - Eight Matchdays down, 26 to go. The 53rd Bundesliga season is in full swing and already a different picture is being painted to the previous campaign. Accordingly, bundesliga.com is focussing on the issues providing the brushstrokes at this early stage of the season.
In today's edition, we take a closer look at the impact of some of the German top flight's Latin American stars...
Bayer 04 Leverkusen made headlines with the transfer deadline day signing of Mexico international Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez from Manchester United FC. The 27-year-old had become accustomed to warming the bench in recent seasons, but appears to be enjoying a new lease of life under Roger Schmidt at the BayArena. Predominantly at the expense of veteran forward Stefan Kießling, he has already made five starts in seven outings in all competitions, scoring twice and chipping in with one assist. Hernandez also scored the first goal as Mexico beat the USA 3-2 to seal a place at the 2017 Confederations Cup.
With TSG 1899 Hoffenheim winning just one of their eight Bundesliga matches so far in 2015/16, the performances of Chile international Eduardo Vargas have not received anywhere near as much attention as many of his Latin American contemporaries. The 25-year-old took his maiden Bundesliga strike brilliantly, albeit in an eventual 3-1 defeat to SV Werder Bremen, and it is his deft touch, clever movement and all-round reading of the game that have since yielded four assists, two of which came in the much-needed 3-1 win away to Augsburg on Matchday 7. Vargas has also scored three times in two matches to help Chile to two wins from two in qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, bagging goals against Brazil and Peru.
Billed as the missing piece in Pep Guardiola’s FC Bayern München puzzle, Arturo Vidal has not disappointed on his hotly anticipated return to the Bundesliga. The former Bayer 04 Leverkusen and Juventus box-to-box specialist has started six of the defending champions' eight Bundesliga outings, opening his account in a 3-0 success at SV Darmstadt 98 and grabbing assists in further wins over Leverkusen and 1. FSV Mainz 05. As is to be expected of all Guardiola's players, the Chile international regularly hits the 90-per-cent mark in the per-game pass completion department.
'Immediate impact' personified, Douglas Costa is fast becoming the root cause of all Bundesliga right-backs' nightmares. The Brazilian winger put in some electrifying displays in pre-season and has continued to improve by the game in 2015/16. After netting a debut pearler and assist in the 5-0 rout of Hamburger SV on Matchday 1, the 24-year-old wing wizard has since laid on a further nine goals for his teammates, only failing to do so in one of Bayern's eight Bundesliga assignments so far this term.
Raffael - much like Borussia Mönchengladbach as a whole - did not get going until Matchday 6. On the back of a five-match losing run that culminated in Lucien Favre resigning as head coach, the 30-year-old Brazilian forward weighed in with three first-half assists as the Foals broke their winless cycle with a barnstorming 4-2 victory over FC Augsburg. He scored one and set up another days later against VfB Stuttgart, before once again turning provider on Matchday 8 as Gladbach got the better of VfL Wolfsburg to make it three Raffael-inspired Bundesliga wins on the bounce.