Three key points about Bayern and the Bundesliga | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 31.08.2014
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Three key points about Bayern and the Bundesliga

For 20 minutes on Saturday, Bayern showed Schalke who was boss. Then they started passing the ball around aimlessly, Pep Guardiola has work to do to restore Munich's former ruthlessness.

There was a pair of startlingly contradictory statements after Bayern's 1-1 draw with Schalke, a match which saw the Bavarians get off only ten shots on goal - their worst tally since Pep Guardiola took charge.

"Ten shots on goal isn't that bad," Bayern coach said afterwards. Thomas Müller did not agree.

"After the first 20 minutes, we didn't have any clarity in what we were doing," the plainspoken forward said. Or to engage in a somewhat looser translation of Müller's words: after the first 20 minutes, Bayern spent most of their time diddling around.

One of the lessons learned from this summer's World Cup was that tiki-taka is devastating when it serves to wear out opponents physically and drain their hope of getting the ball in promising positions, but passing for its own sake is no way to win. In the two teams' first match in that competition, the Netherlands brutalized tiki-taka-ing Spain with incisive counterattacking football.

Pretty much the same thing happened to Bayern Munich in last season's Champions League - and perhaps not by coincidence. Pep Guardiola is one of the main architects of the style that won Spain and Barcelona so many titles, and with tiki-taka now being considered déclassé, how long will it be before Guardiola comes in for some serious criticism?

That's not to suggest he's in any imminent danger of a pink slip. But the fact remains that Bayern have been anything but lethal since they wrapped up their last Bundesliga title in March, and there was no reason to drop points against an injury-hit and uncertain Schalke side in Gelsenkirchen on Saturday.

A change of gears in Leverkusen

Karim Bellarabi

Bellarabi is one of the early-season surprises

One team that hasn't diddled around in the first two rounds of the new Bundesliga season is Leverkusen. The Pharmaceuticals have a perfect record, and they've beaten two tough opponents: Dortmund away and a defensively well-organized Hertha at home.

Leverkusen have also shown that they've made the transition from the counter-attacking focus of last season to the Dortmund-style high-pressing game new coach Roger Schmidt favors. Against the club from the capital, Leverkusen had 62 percent possession, squeezed off 21 shots on goal and outran their opponents by five kilometers.

Two new additions look particularly valuable. Karim Bellarabi had Hertha on the back foot all match with his pace. The forward, who must enjoy escaping offensively moribund Braunschweig, had eight shots on goal, scoring once and contributing an assist as well.

Meanwhile on set pieces, Hakan Calhanoglu gives Leverkusen an unusually potent threat. The 20-year-old, who arrived from Hamburg in the summer, seems to have settled in immediately and booked two assists against Hertha.

Of course, Leverkusen has a history of fast starts that then freeze solid in the dead of winter, but this side has a much more spritely feel to it than recent teams.

Hamburg horror show gets a sequel

Hamburg vs. Paderborn

Hamburg left the pitch in shame against Paderborn

Hamburg set a dubious record last season, becoming the team with the lowest total of points since the introduction of three points for a win to stay up in the Bundesliga. The main problem was obvious. The northern Germans' defense was absolute rubbish. So HSV's goalless draw in their opener against Cologne was greeted as reason for hope.

At home against minnows Paderborn, Hamburg wanted more. What they got was a 3-0 thrashing that suggested this, too, is going to be a mighty long season on the River Elbe. Hamburg are nominally broke, but can always draws upon wealthy backers to revamp disappointing squads during the summer. This time around is no exception. So it boggles the mind that with the exception of left back Matthias Ostrzolek the northern Germans failed to strengthen their back four.

Perhaps more than any other club Hamburg need a campaign without relegation worries so that they can break the hire-and-fire cycles that saw three coaches come and go last season and that rules out any sort of continuity in northern Germany.

But after only earning one point against the two newly promoted sides, Hamburg coach Mirko Slomka's seat is already warming up. Hamburg's next three matches are away to Hanover, at home to Bayern and away to Mönchengladbach. It wouldn't be surprising to see them stuck on one point after that run - and potentially searching for yet another new coach.

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