Roger Schmidt's Bayer Leverkusen side certainly knows how to keep things entertaining. Eight goals in one week is a lot, but if they are accompanied by four points then who is complaining?
Whisper it quietly, but Leverkusen are finally showing the mettle that has been beyond them for years. As if coming back to draw 4-4 in dramatic fashion against Roma in the Champions League wasn't enough, Roger Schmidt's men went one further by coming from 3-1 down after an hour against Stuttgart to win 4-3 on Saturday. Granted it was against the worst defense in the Bundesliga at the moment, but Leverkusen are daring to iron out the issues that have long haunted them.
It turns out playing with four attackers is fine, but Karim Bellarabi has to be one of them. With his second touch off the bench, Bellarabi scored Leverkusen's first. It didn't immediately spark the comeback, but his introduction added width and speed to Leverkusen's thus-far lackluster display. Aided by a home crowd that clearly felt the comeback was possible after Tuesday night, Leverkusen could have had even more than four. Fittingly though, Admir Mehmedi's strike did win the game. Bayer's savior against Roma became the hero against Stuttgart as he banished some of his demons in the process.
"If you win, it's bearable," said Leverkusen's sporting director Rudi Völler afterwards. So far, Leverkusen's entertainment hasn't come at the expense of points.
This was a far from perfect performance from Leverkusen, as was the case against Roma. At least here they didn't throw away a lead, but Schmidt will know his side cannot afford to make a habit of waiting to be two goals down after an hour before starting to get things right.
The first goal was a pinball affair that looked more Kreisliga (amateur league) than Bundesliga as Schmidt's initial plan - starting four attackers - drowned in optimism. Stuttgart, after all, haven't been all bad under head coach Alexander Zorniger.
First Martin Harnik scored a goal befitting of a man who is short on goals, and then Daniel Didavi reminded Stuttgart that things could be worse were he not there.
It all started so well for Stuttgart, who must have thought after Lukas Rupp's goal that they were on the way to victory
For all the encouraging football Stuttgart have played under Zorniger though, too often it has only come in small doses. Even with Timo Werner impressing, the crumbling that followed Leverkusen's second was predictable. Irrespective of the fact Stuttgart haven't won in Leverkusen since 2009, the side has consistently been let down by either their attack of their defense. On this occasion, it was the latter. Admir Mehmedi's goal was superbly taken, but he had an awful lot of time to place his winner. The end may well be nigh for Zorniger, who never hit the ground running at a club struggling to find its place in the league.
Leverkusen's place is fifth. Considering their battling admirably on three fronts, that is exactly where they need to be. After this win though, they'll feel like champions.
- Bayern Munich are facing the real challenge of going an entire season without dropping points. An improved Cologne side was swatted away with ease as Arjen Robben returned to the team and the scoreline in a win that saw Bayern become the first side to win 1,000 Bundesliga games. With Lewandowski, Müller, Coman, Costa and Robben all starting, it was overload football from Bayern that took 36 minutes to find a way through. 10 games, 10 wins, 33 goals, four conceded. It's ominous stuff from Bayern and there are no signs of it letting up.
- Viktor Skripnik just needed a visit to Mainz to remember how to win. After five straight defeats, Werder Bremen played the side he earned his first win against when he took the Bremen job last season. And right on cue, Anthony Ujah remembered how to score as well. The game was over by half time and Bremen pulled Mainz down as they climbed up the table in the process.
- It was less Hannover against Frankfurt, and more Hiroshi Kiyotake against Marc Stendera. The battle of two of the Bundesliga's brightest attacking talents, ended in victory for the visiting man from Frankfurt as Hannover's three-game undefeated streak came to an end. The 19-year-old Stendera notched a brace within the space of eight minutes and delivered the complete performance he's been threatening to for quite some time. Stendera overcame an ACL injury early on in his career and has gone on to make 44 league appearances already. Remember this name.
- Daniel Caligirui is quietly taking over the role that Kevin de Bruyne occupied for Wolfsburg last season. Their poor away form was ended against a defiant Darmstadt because of Caligiuri's deflected goal, but it took Dieter Hecking's team a worryingly long amount of time to find an answer.
- The Pal Dardai production line of results continues. Hertha weren't pretty, but they keep surprising. The capital city's football stock continues to rise. They have only lost to Schalke, Wolfsburg and Dortmund in their last 10 league games.
Matchday 10 Results:
Hoffenheim 0-1 Hamburg
Bayern Munich 4-0 Cologne
Leverkusen 4-3 Stuttgart
Hannover 1-2 Eintracht Frankfurt
Mainz 1-3 Werder Bremen
Darmstadt 0-1 Wolfsburg
Ingolstadt 0-1 Hertha