Bundesliga rivals seek advantage after Bayern slip
BERLIN (AP) — Bayern Munich’s rivals hope to capitalize on the defending champion’s first slip of the season in the Bundesliga.
With an eye on Friday’s European Super Cup against Chelsea in Monaco, Bayern rested several regulars in Tuesday’s 1-1 draw at home against Freiburg, dropping its first points in four games.
Bayer Leverkusen can take advantage if it maintains its winning start at Schalke on Saturday, while Borussia Dortmund can do likewise at Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday.
Such is the top three’s strength compared to the rest that any dropped points could prove significant. Bayern only dropped points five times last season.
Mainz will be hoping to maintain its surprising 100 percent record at Hannover on Saturday.
Leverkusen has made arguably the most impressive start — well-organized in defense and dangerous up front, where Stefan Kiessling and Sidney Sam have five goals between them.
Schalke has conceded nine and has only one point from three games.
“We won’t get far with scaredy-cat football. We have to talk less and deliver more,” Schalke midfielder Julian Draxler said.
The pressure on Schalke coach Jens Keller alleviated slightly on Tuesday, when his side won 3-2 at Greek side PAOK Thessaloniki to advance to the Champions League 4-3 on aggregate.
“It’s an important successful experience for the team and I think that they will take something positive from it for the coming games,” Keller said.
Defenders Benedikt Hoewedes and Christian Fuchs are both suspended after being sent off in the 2-1 loss at Hannover last weekend, meaning Germany left back Dennis Aogo is likely to start following his switch Wednesday from Hamburger SV.
Dortmund labored to beat Werder Bremen 1-0 last weekend and faces a Frankfurt side relieved after beating promoted Eintracht Braunschweig for its first points of the season last week.
Unbeaten Hertha Berlin hopes to continue its best start to a Bundesliga season at Wolfsburg on Saturday.
“Wolfsburg are the best quality opponents up to now,” Hertha coach Jos Luhukay said. “They have a good mix between youth an experience. It’ll be a difficult game.”
Also Saturday, Borussia Moenchengladbach hosts Werder Bremen, Nuremberg hosts Augsburg and Hamburg desperately needs a good result against Braunschweig.
“We have to win on Saturday,” said Hamburg coach Thorsten Fink, whose side has just one point. “There’s no alternative.”
Braunschweig has yet to secure a point on its return to the Bundesliga after 28 years and is targeting a win at confidence-battered Hamburg to get off the mark.
“HSV is a situation like ours. We have to start climbing (the table) and start getting points there,” Braunschweig defender Deniz Dogan said. “We haven’t yet arrived in the Bundesliga. We simply have to be more courageous.”
Stuttgart hosts Hoffenheim on Sunday for Thomas Schneider’s first league game in charge after his predecessor, Bruno Labbadia, was fired on Monday.
Schneider, a former Stuttgart player and coach of the club’s under-17 team since 2011, aims to halt a run of four straight defeats.