Bundesliga Bulletin: Redemption for Müller, dazzling debuts and VAR farce | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 26.08.2018
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Bundesliga Bulletin: Redemption for Müller, dazzling debuts and VAR farce

Nicolai Müller once again scored on the opening day, but this time he didn't rule himself out for the season. Elsewhere, Bayern Munich were in the middle of VAR chaos, Dortmund shone, and a number of debutants dazzled.

Good week for: Nicolai Müller, Daniel Ginczek, Augsburg, Hendrik Weydandt, Axel Witsel

Bad week for: The newly promoted sides, Leon Bailey, Domenico Tedesco, RB Leipzig

The lowdown

- For all the new faces in squads and dugouts, the opening weekend featured some familiar themes. Bayern Munich did enough to pick up three points, Dortmund looked better at the front than the back and VAR decisions proved contentious.

Read more: VAR isn't to blame, the referees are - Opinion

Read more: Leverkusen's inexperience costs them dearly

Read more: Blunted Fortuna come up short in first game

- The referee-assisting technology made critical interventions in Bayern's 3-1 win (see, The Weird, below) over Hoffenheim on Friday as well as Schalke's late defeat to Wolfsburg on Saturday. The Royal Blues were reduced to 10 men after Matija Nastasic's yellow card was upgraded to a red, before the opposite happened to Wolfsburg's Wout Weghorst. Neither decision was entirely clear cut. But Daniel Ginczek's cool injury-time finish on debut was, and sealed a largely deserved win for the Wolves, who won just one of their first 11 last term.

- There was no such controversy in the biggest game of the weekend on Sunday evening but Jean-Kevin Augustin laid down a strong early marker for quickest goal of the season. The Leipzig front man scored just 31 seconds in to the match but it was to no avail as BVB ran out 4-1 winners in an incredibly open game. Much more on that one here.

- Plenty of new faces were on show over the weekend, as you'd expect on Matchday 1. Some, like Ginczek, impressed but Salif Sane and Suat Serdar both struggled to reach their levels of last season in a Schalke shirt. Leon Goretzka made his Bayern bow from the bench but Hoffenheim's Kasim Adams Nuhu had a shocker in that same game. He commited a string of fouls and would surely have been sent off had Julian Naglemann not substituted him.

- But the feel-good stories of Matchday 1 belonged to Nicolai Müller and Hendrik Weydandt. Müller scored the first in Eintracht Frankfurt's 2-0 win at Freiburg, just as he'd scored Hamburg's opener in their Matchday 1 win last year. But that was to be his only contribution for HSV, as he ruptured his cruciate ligament while celebrating. He didn't re-appear until an 11-minute cameo in the season's penultimate game. Hamburg dropped to the 2. Bundesliga the next week. As for Weydandt...

The stats 

- John Brook's opener in Wolfsburg's win over Schalke was his first goal for the Wolves in his 100th Bundesliga appearance. 

- Henrik Weydandt (see above) has now scored from each of his first three shots in professional football.

- Axel Witsel now has two goals in two games for Borussia Dortmund. The same amount he got in the whole of last season with Tianjin Quanjian. 

The quotes

"I wouldn't have given it." Bayern Munich coach Niko Kovac admits his side got lucky in the award of the penalty that ultimately restored their lead over Hoffenheim.

"Something completely irrational needs to happen for us to let him go, both in terms of the size of the offer and the player's own wish." Stuttgart sporting director Michael Reschke on the potential departure of World Cup-winning defender Benjamin Pavard.

"Finally. I haven’t saved a penalty for a long time. I told myself it was about time that I should stop one." Hertha Berlin's man between the sticks, Rune Jarstein, on his late penalty stop that secured three points against Nuremberg.

"I really missed it, playing in front of the south [stand]. It felt even louder than usual." Dortmund's Roman Bürki feels he's been away too long.

Roman Bürki made several crucial saves in Borussia Dortmund's win | Parade von Roman Bürki (Imago/Team 2)

Roman Bürki made several crucial saves in Borussia Dortmund's win

 

"There's five days to go, and I won't be ruling it out that we will do something." Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc hints that the long search for a striker may still be alive.

"The VAR interventions made it no normal Bundesliga game for us today." Schalke keeper Ralf Fährmann chooses his words very carefully.

The weird

Back to VAR we go. Some of the quirks of the controversial system have been ascribed to teething troubles, but after a season and countless revisions to its operation, chaos reigned in the very first match of 2018-19.

Robert Lewandowski's poor second-half penalty was saved by Oliver Baumann before Arjen Robben slammed home the rebound. Bayern began to celebrate and then play stopped. Suddenly, Lewandowski was re-spotting the ball for reasons unclear to those watching. The VAR graphics on the screens of broadcasters showed offside, impossible in this situation. Then there were suggestions that Baumann had come off his line before the kick was taken, which, given that Bayern scored, made no difference to the outcome.

Finally, it was established that Robben had encroached as the penalty was taken. As the penalty was missed, there is some suggestion that Hoffenheim should have been given a free kick for Robben's premature run. But they weren't, and Lewandowski put Bayern 2-1 up. It was as clear as mud to those with the benefit of watching on TV, so spare a thought for the ticket-buying fans in the Allianz Arena.

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