1. Are Dortmund even better this season?
After a sublime performance against HSV on Friday night, the question has to be asked. Dortmund’s quick passing and interchange left HSV bewildered. The return of Kagawa has given fresh verve to Dortmund’s attack. In particular, the sickeningly talented 19 year old Mario Götze seems to love playing with Kagawa and the two combine brilliantly. New signing Gündo?an has also slotted nicely into the Nuri Sahin shaped hole in the midfield. With Barrios and Subotic still to come back from injury, and Ivan Perisic on the bench, there are even more reasons to be optimistic. However, it remains to be seen whether Dortmund can play that well after a tough midweek Champions League tie.
2. Is Patrick Helmes the man to solve Wolfsburg’s goalscoring issues?
Helmes fired home twice in Wolfsburg’s 3-0 victory away to Cologne. Helmes had an impressive strike rate at Bayer Leverkusen, but struggled to make an impact in his first 6 months after signing for Wolfsburg last January. Unfortunately for Helmes, Wolfsburg manager Felix Magath doesn’t seem to rate him. Instead, Magath is desperate to sign Papiss Cisse. Wolfsburg’s problem is that Magath doesn’t want to pay Freiburg’s €15 million asking price. Either Magath needs to stump up the cash soon, or find himself relying to Helmes.
3. Do Schalke already face problems?
Schalke were pretty poor in their 3-0 defeat away to Stuttgart. Admittedly, Stuttgart isn’t an easy place to get a result, but the game exposed a number of issues with Rangnick’s team. Rangnick favours a high tempo fluid passing game. However, to play that kind of style, Schalke need a central creative figure, which was sadly lacking on Saturday. Baumjohann doesn’t seem capable of providing the necessary creativity. Jan Moravek, who played quite well on loan to Kaiserslautern last season, is still young and yet to be given a real chance in the Schalke team. The obvious option is Jurado, who excelled in spells last season, but Rangnick doesn’t think he works hard enough to fit into the Schalke system. However, without him, Schalke’s play looked laboured.
Perhaps more worryingly, Schalke’s defence also looked shaky against Stuttgart. Rangnick has placed his faith in young defender Papadopoulos, but at only 19 he may not be ready to play week in week out. In addition, Rangnick favours new signing Marco Höger at right-back, but Schalke miss the dynamism provided by Uchida.
4. Is Thomas Tuchel the next Jürgen Klopp?
To a certain extent, the comparison is lazily drawn because both got their first taste of managerial experience at Mainz. However, there are other similarities. Both are representative of the young breed of German coaches currently plying their trade in the Bundesliga. Klopp’s Dortmund won last year’s title with high tempo pressing and passing, much like Tuchel’s Mainz team. Tuchel has done a remarkable job firstly keeping little Mainz in the division and then taking them to fifth place last season. Mainz suffered the ignominy of going out of Europe after their first tie, losing on penalties to Gaz Metan Medias. But Tuchel cannot be blamed for the profligacy of his players, both during the game and the shoot-out.