Week 6 Notes

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With the Premier League on hold, it was all Germans for me last weekend. I wanted to add some Argentines to the mix, given Sunday’s Superclásico between Boca Juniors and River Plate; but it didn’t happen. Here’s what I did manage:

Werder Bremen 0 – Augsburg 1. Werder Bremen have made an exciting return to the Bundesliga, scoring 12 goals (and conceding 10) in their opening five games, most notably coming back from 2-0 down with two minutes left in regulation to secure a 3-2 win away at Borussia Dortmund. This Friday night game was not like that. Though Augsburg have been struggling thus far this season, Enrico Maassen’s men defended well in a back four (having previously favored a back three, André Hahn shifting from right wing back to a more advanced attacking role).

Augsburg also created more chances in a tight first half, the best of them an early opportunity for Florian Niederlechner in behind at the left post. Bremen, however, will feel hard done by a goal ruled off by VAR for a blocking foul on an offside Anthony Jung that did not obviously impact the play. They also lost starting keeper Jiří Pavlenka before the half hour mark, Michael Zetterer filling in for him.

In the second half, Augsburg continued to look slightly more threatening than their hosts, and just after the hour mark a ball delivered back into the box by Carlos Gruezo was squared across by Mergim Berisha for Ermedin Demirović to score. Ole Werner brought on super-sub Oliver Burke in response, who had scored a 95′ equalizer against Stuttgart and the 95′ winner against Dortmund (along with Niklas Schmidt, who had scored the 93′ equalizer against Dortmund).

Though the changes initially had limited impact, Bremen took control of the final fifteen minutes of the game. In stoppage time, a questionable handball call in the box gave Bremen a chance to equalize, but Rafał Gikiewicz made a triple save on the penalty and two follow-up efforts to preserve Augsburg’s win. The keeper’s taunting of the home crowd earned him a deserved yellow (as well as bringing some supporters to the edge of the hoardings if not quite onto the pitch), but he had an excellent game overall.

RB Leipzig 3 – Borussia Dortmund 0. The most anticipated game of the weekend was also the first for Leipzig’s new manager, Marco Rose–who was also Dortmund’s former manager. He had Leipzig playing in a fluid 4-2-3-1/4-2-2-2, with Christopher Nkunku pushing up from the left alongside Timo Werner up top, and Dominik Szoboszlai tucking in from the left to join Emil Forsberg.

Leipzig scored early from a corner, which seemed to unsettle Dortmund and put Leipzig on the front foot. Though Marius Wolf managed to stop a breakaway goal from Werner with a perfectly-time penalty-box tackle just after the hour mark, Szoboszlai would hit a stunning strike from 28 yards out just before halftime to double Leipzig’s lead.

At the hour mark, Edin Terzić brought on American Giovanni Reyna and Youssoufa Moukoko; but they couldn’t turn the tide. Near the end, an ill-advised backpass allowed late substitute Amadou Haidara to score Leipzig’s third. It was a decisive win, and Leipzig will have real confidence that their new manager can turn their season around.

SC Frieburg 0 – Borussia Mönchengladbach 0. Though lacking the marquee appeal of Leipzig and Dortmund, Freiburg are a team worth keeping an eye on. A win in this game would have taken Christian Streich’s men to the top of the table, a place they have only reached once previously (and that was in the first week of the season, not the 6th). It was Gladbach, however, who started out on the front foot, even though a chaotic corner kick led to an injury to Florian Neuhaus around the half hour mark.

Nathan Ngoumou replaced Neuhaus, and Gladbach continued to have the better of the game, finishing the first half with exactly twice as many shots (on goal) as Freiburg, 10(4) to 5(2). The same was largely true in the opening quarter hour of the second half, as Gladbach’s pressing led to two dangerous turnovers they weren’t quite able to capitalize on.

By the hour mark, however, the advantage was beginning to tilt toward Freiburg, and Stretch’s changes allowed his side to increasingly chase the game. By injury time, Gladbach definitely looked content to hold onto one point, as Freiburg led second half shots on goal 7(5) to 4(1). Overall, a draw was probably fair enough for both sides.

It’s worth noting, even though I only watched a bit of the opening of the Boca Juniors – River Plate Superclásico, that it included a crazy karate kick by former Manchester United defender Marcos Rojo, leaving his side (Boca Juniors) down a man to end the game (a 1-0 victory for the home team).

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