Did you miss it? The Bundesliga returns this weekend with Schalke and Hertha facing each other in a top-four clash. Bayern Munich, meanwhile, travel to Werder Bremen after the 'Klassiker' win.
With the departure of the international break comes the arrival of Bundesliga action again this weekend. After a frantic first eight games, the first assessments have been made and on matchday nine, it's time to find out who made the most of the break.
Schalke's seven-game win streak came to a surprising and abrupt end at home to Cologne on matchday eight, and the visit of Hertha this weekend makes things no easier. Hertha is on a three-game unbeaten streak and only one place and two points behind Schalke. Although still early in the season, the result of this one could be a marker for the rest of the first half of the season. Hertha's Sebastian Langkamp should return after four weeks out and if Vladimir Darida keeps working as hard as he has been - he's run the most kilometers of all players after eight matchdays (108) - then perhaps it is time we started to take Pal Dardai and his understated side more seriously. That being said, Schalke hasn't lost in their last 13 meetings with Hertha.
Next for the sack?
Two head coaches under pressure this weekend are Werder Bremen's Viktor Skripnik and Stuttgart's Alexander Zorniger. The former has seen his side collapse to four straight defeats and although perhaps premature to talk of the end of his tenure, a visit from Bayern (aiming to be the first team in Bundesliga history to win the first nine games) this weekend will do little to restore some much-needed confidence. Over in Stuttgart, the feeling is there has been too much noise and not enough points from Zorniger. Despite there being some progression under the 48-year-old, failure to beat Ingolstadt at home and build on four points from eight games will likely prove the last straw.
Gladbach will be hoping goalkeeper Yann Sommer can play with his protective mask. They'll need him away to Frankfurt, who has scored the most counterattacking goals (6) in the league this season. Perhaps the bigger issue for Gladbach is that Granit Xhaka, Patrick Herrmann, Martin Stranzl (and Nico Schulz) are all out injured for a lengthy period of time.
Matchday Nine Fixtures:
- Schalke vs. Hertha (Saturday)
- Wolfsburg vs. Hoffenheim
- Hamburg vs. Leverkusen
- Augsburg vs. Darmstadt
- Werder Bremen vs. Bayern Munich
- Frankfurt vs. Gladbach (Saturday late)
- Cologne vs. Hannover (Sunday)
- Stuttgart vs. Ingolstadt (Sunday late)