Bundesliga 2017/18 – Game Week 1

Bayern Munich 3 : 1 Bayer Leverkusen

Bayern Munich kicked off the 2017/18 Bundesliga season, and with it their latest title defence, at home to Bayer Leverkusen on Friday in a game marked by torrential rain, the debut of the video assistant referee system and an absolute thunderbastard by Admir Mehmedi.

Bayern trainer Carlo Ancelotti handed first team debuts to new summer signings Niklas Süle and Corentin Tolisso and was rewarded with a couple of stellar performances at centre back and midfield respectively, as well as two goals within 18 minutes to fire Bayern into a commanding but, based on the balance of play, not totally convincing lead into half time.

5 minutes into the second half, the start of which was delayed by 15 minutes due to the heavy rain that broke out just before half time, the video referee was called into use to rightly award a penalty to Bayern following a clumsy coming together by Chilean Charles Aránguiz on Robert Lewandowski, who fired Bayern 3:0 up from the spot.

With such a commanding score line and 40 minutes still to play, the result was in danger of turning into the now traditional opening day rout for the Bayerians, following on from their 6:0 win against Bremen last season, and 5:0 defeat of Hamburg the season before. These fears were eased as Leverkusen rallied directly after conceding their third, with Karim Bellarabi and Julian Brandt particularily impressive. After a couple of near misses, the ascendant Leverkusen pulled on back following a first time rocket from the edge of the area by Admir Mehmedi in the 66th minute.

Despite the improved performance from the away team, Bayern were able to weather the storm and hold out to win 3:1.

Schalke 04 2 : 0 RB Leipzig

Last season’s equally unfancied and unloved runners-up RB Leipzig made the trip from Sachsen to Nordrhein-Westfalen to face a Schalke side managed by Bundesliga debutant Domenico Tedesco who, at 31 is the second youngest manager in the Bundesliga behind Hoffenheim’s Nagelsmann, has been keen to impart the tactical discipline and commitment which was sorely lacking from a team that finished in mid-table last season.

After a slow start to the game from both sides, Schalke began to assert themselves. Nabil Bentaleb forced Peter Gulácsi into a fine save with a top corner bound effort from 25 yards out after 29 minutes. Gulácsi, however, was not able to prevent Bentaleb from scoring from the penalty spot following a foul on former Wigan striker Franco di Santo after some sloppy passing by Leipzig in their opponent’s final third in the 44th minute.

RB rallied at the beginning of the second half after the introduction of last season’s leading assist maker Emil Forsberg, who slotted through Yussef Poulsen to find the back of the net, only for the Dane to be been flagged offside. Moments later, Konoplyanka punished Leipzig, again on the break, to give Schalke a 2 goal cushion and end any hopes of a comeback.

Wolfsburg 0 : 3 Borussia Dortmund

Mario Götze marked his return to the Dortmund team after 8 months out due to ‘metabolic disturbances’ with a fine performance capped with an assist for Christian Pulesic in the 21st minute as BVB lodged a comfortable 3:0 away win at Wolfsburg.

Six minutes after their first, Marc Bartra added a second for Dortmund with an impressive curled effort into the far corner as Wolfsburg allowed the Spaniard to find space alone in the penalty box.

Pulesic added an assist to go with his goal on the hour mark after finding Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 4 yards out to net his 5 goal in the first 3 competitive matches of the fledgling season.

Aubameyang, like Ousmane Dembélé, is keen to make a move away from the Westfalenstadion this summer, but remains available for selection. On this form he is proving to be a vital asset for any potential success on the field this year. On the basis of this performance, however, Dortmund have displayed enough class in midfield to hint that Dembélé might not be missed as much as the star striker.

Hoffenheim 1 : 0 Werder Bremen

Hoffenheim recovered from their midweek Champions League qualification defeat at the hands of Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool to beat Werder Bremen 1:0 following 6 changes by Julian Nagelsmann to the starting line up that featured in midweek.

Kerem Demirbay shot over the bar after going 1 on 1 with Bremen ‘keeper Jiří Pavlenka in the 5th minute, and again went close by hitting the underside of the bar as the ball bounced back off the line in the second half as Bremen created little, other than a missed sitter by Kainz, alone on the 6 yard line on 28 minutes.

Bremen’s resolve was finally broken in the 84th minute as Andrej Kramaric saw his effort deflected off Robert Bauer on the edge of the penalty area and nestle into the the near post to hand Hoffenheim their first points of the season.

Borussia Mönchengladbach 1 : 0 FC Köln

Borussia Mönchengladbach and FC Köln contested the first derby of the season in the opening round of fixtures as last year’s fifth placed Köln visited local rivals Mönchengladbach on Sunday afternoon.

The hosts soon began to dominate proceedings and were very much on top for the opening 30 minutes as chances by Thorgan Hazard, Raffael and Lars Stindl were met by Timo Horn in the Köln goal. The goats were able to fight their way back, however, and missed two breakaway half chances of their own before the break.

Following a goalless end to the first half, the foals took less than 5 minutes to establish their lead. Good offensive work by Ibrahima Traore down the left provided right-back Nico Elvedi with his first Bundesliga goal via a composed finish through Horn’s legs from 6 yards out. Elvedi’s goal proved to be enough to hand Mönchengladbach the win as they remained dominant throughout.

Hertha Berlin 2 : 0 VFB Stuttgart

Hertha kicked off their 125th anniversary season at home to newly promoted Stuttgart, with a performance that suggested that little has changed over recent solid but unspectacular seasons following their return to the top flight in 2013.

After a first half of impotent dominance for the home side, the Ostkurve faithful needed only to wait 30 seconds following a solo finish by debutant Matthew Leckie.

Hertha survived a bright period by the guests directly after the goal and Leckie added some daylight to the scoreline by being quickest to react to the Stuttgarters’ failure to clear Marvin Plattenhardt’s floated corner in the 62nd minute.

Again provoked into action by conceding, Stuttgart looked more threatening as they pressed to close the deficit. Asano saw his shot hit the upright and a scuffed effort from Donis after colliding with the Hertha goalkeeper ensured the clean sheet for the Old Lady.

SC Freiburg 0 : 0 Eintracht Frankfurt

Despite the addition of 6 new players in the starting line up, and making a space on the bench for Kevin-Prince Boateng as he builds up to match fitness, Eintracht Frankfurt posted the first goalless draw of the campaign away to SC Freiburg.

Content with ceding possession to the visitors, Freiburg were fortunate not to go behind as Simon Falette, making his debut for the Eagles following his transfer from Metz, headed wide from point blank range when, in truth, it appeared easier to score.

As if shaken into action by this stroke of fortune, 41 seconds later the Freiburg fans were celebrating what, at first glance, appeared to be fine finish by Tim Kleindienst. The celebration was short lived, however, as the video referee assistant correctly adjudged Florian Niederlechner offside when initially receiving the flick on which led to his assist – another first for the Bundesliga.

Sebastien Haller then went close for the guests, hitting the crossbar after charging a path to goal through the home defence. 0:0 at the break but with several chances for the visitors, the balance of play suggested a Frankfurt would go on to make the dominance count in the second half, but despite the introduction of attacking jack of all trades Boateng in the 67th minute, the game ended all square.

Hamburger SV 1 : 0 FC Augsburg

Fresh from witnessing their team’s latest humiliation in the form of a comprehensive 3:1 defeat to 3rd division Osnabrück, who played 72 minutes with 10 men in the first round of the DFB Pokal a week earlier, HSV opened their record setting 55th consecutive season in the top flight of German football against FC Augsburg. Fortunately for Hamburg, their opponents were in no great shape of their own, having also been defeated by 3rd division opposition, losing 2:0 away at FC Magdeburg.

Hamburg took the lead in the early stages of the contest with Nicolai Müller bundling in a half volley into Marwin Hitz’s near post after the guests failed to clear Filip Kostić’s corner. While the goal was a poor one to concede, Augsburg’s slack defending was overshadowed by the knee injury sustained by the goal scorer in carrying out an ill-fated spinning ‘helicopter’ celebration. The Serbian will be out for 7 months with a ruptured knee.

Müller’s replacement, Aaron Hunt, proved an ineffective attacking replacement and his addition to the field saw Hamburg content to contain their opposition rather than press for a second. Ultimately Augsburg’s own failings to get the better of their opponent ensured the home team began the season with all 3 points.

FSV Mainz 0 : 1 Hannover

Newly promoted Hannover got their return to the top flight underway with a win away at one of last season’s strugglers, Mainz.

Mainz dominated the first half, with several chances falling to Yoshinori Muto. Unfortunately for the hosts, the Japanese international was unable to seriously trouble Philipp Tschauner in the visitor’s goal.

Mainz were made to pay for their profligacy in the first half as Hannover looked to assert themselves in the fixture. Their breakthrough came in the 73rd minute as the experienced Martin Harnik added to his 17 goals in Bundesliga 2. last season to hand his team the winner.

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