While the opening weekend brought depressing defeats for Bundesliga giants Bremen and Hamburg, two promoted sides, Frankfurt and Düsseldorf, marked their return to the top flight with feel-good wins. Can they keep it up?
It was a goal that will go down in the club's history. After 15 years out of the Bundesliga, occasionally scraping some pretty deep depths in Germany's soccer system, Fortuna Düsseldorf announced their return with Dani Schahin's sweetest of volleys in the 68th minute of their clash against Augsburg.
It was a moment of both unalloyed joy and historical significance for Fortuna's travelling fans, bouncing deliriously in the stands, and it was underlined 11 minutes later when the same player brought down a cross and doubled the lead with a brilliant near post strike.
Schahin himself, a summer arrival from the also-promoted Greuther Fürth, was overcome with the moment. "I can't put my emotions into words," he said after the game. "It's just unbelievable."
His coach Norbert Meier took the result more soberly. "We got three points and we're happy," he offered. Anything else? "Doesn't interest me." Not even…? "We're pleased that it works with Dani," he said finally. "But he shouldn't forget that he has to train Sunday morning."
Between the lines
Perhaps Meier's circumspection stemmed from the realization that, beneath the euphoria at this history-making strike, Fortuna had been, well, a little fortunate. The hosts, building on a successful first season in the Bundesliga, dominated the game, but their early pressure failed to tell, while Düsseldorf did precious little going forward. "We had the better chances," Augsburg's new coach Markus Weinzierl complained bitterly afterwards. "You can't lose games like this."
Meier's disregard for the historical context could also have stemmed from the fact that he has a lot of work to do if he wants to keep Düsseldorf in the top flight. For a start, he needs to go about building a new team. Schahin is one of no fewer than 18 new signings, five of whom were used on Saturday. Success depends on how well the rest can be integrated.
Their most famous new signing, ex-Hertha Berlin and ex-Liverpool striker Andriy Voronin, for instance, failed to make an impression on the game, though he did look useful in the German Cup game last week.
Meier may have extracted more satisfaction from the fact that his new, untested defense around Mönchengladbach signing Tobias Levels kept a clean sheet in their opening game.
The other promoted side to have made a triumphant return to the Bundesliga did so with much less fanfare, but much more confidence. Eintracht Frankfurt's home win over Bayer Leverkusen was an impressive comeback against a Leverkusen side dripping with talent. Not only that, it was richly deserved.
Leverkusen, who finished fifth last season, had the best of the first half, taking the lead through Stefan Kiessling in the 30th minute, but Frankfurt's Alexander Meier caused mayhem on more than one occasion. The team's aggression and courage paid off in the second half, and they got the deserved equalizer through Stefan Aigner in the 57th minute. The win was crowned by Martin Lanig, shamefully left alone by the Leverkusen back line in the 82nd minute.
It was a shock result on many fronts, not least because of Leverkusen's perceived strength, and Frankfurt's abject cup defeat last week. The 18 months of misery that Frankfurt had endured - the last half of the 2010/11 season, combined with last season in the second division - seemed forgotten in one fantastic half of football.
And although coach Armin Veh confessed to "some concerns" around the defense, with central players like Carlos Zambrano coming in after barely a week with his new team, the club's mood was quietly confident.
Eintracht goalkeeper Kevin Trapp put Frankfurt's confident display down to the team's newfound bonds, forged in the pre-season. "When we get into a tight spot, everyone helps everyone else," he told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung on Sunday.
He also predicted that that Eintracht's boost would have been felt throughout the league. "I can imagine that a few players will have sat in front of the TV and they won't be looking forward to facing Frankfurt as much as they were before," he said.