It may not have done much except take a little shine off the celebrations, but Bayern Munich’s players are unlikely to forget the 4-1 home hammering that Stuttgart dished out in the final game of last season.
The loss was Bayern’s worst at home in the league for a decade and sent Jupp Heynckes’ men to Berlin for the German Cup final on a downer. Things got worse a week later, as Niko Kovac masterminded a win for Eintracht Frankfurt over his future employers.
Bayern can consider themselves somewhat fortunate not to come in to Saturday’s late match on the back of another failure to win in the Bundesliga. Their Friday night opener against Hoffenheim was marked with all manner of controversies, not least the penalty that got them back in front at 2-1, which even Kovac admitted he wouldn’t have given.
Despite a dominant first half performance, the Bavarians were put off their stride by Hoffenheim’s aggressive pressing after the break while Stuttgart fell to a late defeat in a scrappy game at Mainz in their 2018-19 ope,ner. Nevertheless, Stuttgart midfielder Erik Thommy believes lightening can strike twice.
“We are looking ahead and enthusiastic about the big home debut against Bayern,” the 24-year-old said. “We know it will be extremely hard work, but we want to do everything we can to hold our own and throw ourselves into every challenge. As we saw the last time we played away in Munich, you always have a chance – and we want to take that.”
Though the 4-1 was at the Allianz Arena, Stuttgart can take heart from their exceptional home record in their return to the top flight last term. Only Bayern and Hoffenheim won more home games than the Swabians’ 10 last season and their home defense was the third best in the division.
That backline featured Benjamin Pavard, who played every minute as Stuttgart finished seventh. He then enjoyed a brilliant World Cup that finished with the 22-year-old in possession of a winners medal and the goal of the tournament. His displays in Russia and last season have reportedly led to firm interest from Bayern, who rarely let a player excel at a club further down the league without sniffing around.
But so far, Stuttgart have resisted any approaches for their prized asset, who moved inside to center back last weekend. Bayern’s star men are all of a older vintage and this week marked the ninth anniversary of the first time Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery played together. With Kingsley Coman out for several weeks, and Serge Gnabry short of match fitness, the two old timers and likely to take to the stage again And the Dutchman, 34, believes age is just a number.
“I am fit and ready to play an important role. Age is not a factor. “There is only good or bad, not young or old,” Robben insisted.
The winger is the same age as Bastian Schweinsteiger and both men scored in the latter’s testimonial on Tuesday. The injury that forced new signing Leon Goretzka off in that match is not serious and Coman is Bayern’s only notable absentee, while the home side have a clean bill of health.
Elsewhere on matchday 2
– After they ended the first round of fixtures with a 4-1 win over RB Leipzig less convincing than the scoreline suggests, Dortmund open the second round up on Friday night, when Hannover come to town. The reverse fixture last year came in the middle of the horror run from mid October that cost Peter Bosz his job, Hannover won 4-2. Like Bosz, Lucien Favre has started with a bang, he’ll be hoping he can sustain it.
– The battle between the workers’ clubs – Bayer Leverkusen and Wolfsburg – sees the two in very different mood. Leverkusen’s highly regarded young attack failed to fire last weekend, as they fell to Borussia Mönchengladbach, while Wolfsburg were the beneficiaries of some curious VAR decision-making in their surprise win over last season’s runners-up Schalke. With Bayern and Dortmund to come before matchday 6 is out, Leverkusen need a home win to get their campaign up and running.
– After a pointless opening weekend, the two newly promoted clubs have differing chances of getting off the mark this weekend. Nuremburg host Mainz in a fixture that screams must-win while Düsseldorf, who struggled for fluency last weekend after a relatively free-scoring 2. Bundesliga campaign, travel to face Leipzig on Sunday. The Red Bulls looked vulnerable in their loss to Dortmund but also showed they have the attackcing prowess to be in the Champions League shake up once again.
Matchday 2 fixtures
Borussia Dortmund vs. Hannover (Friday 20:30 CET)
Augsburg vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach (Saturday 15:30)
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Wolfsbubrg
Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Werder Bremen
Hoffenheim vs. Freiburg
Nuremburg vs. Mainz
Stuttgart vs. Bayern Munich (Saturday 18:30)
RB Leipzig vs. Fortuna Düsseldorf (Sunday 15:30)
Schalke vs. Hertha Berlin (Sunday 18:00)