By Peter Vice @ViceytheSS
Leipzig and Leverkusen were able to record their first wins of the season while Wolfsburg remain winless through four. Courtesy of a 6-1 rout of FC Schalke 04, Union Berlin currently occupy top spot in the table ahead of Bayern’s match with Gladbach later this evening.
|Niko Kovac.||Photo: Sven Mandel / CC-BY-SA-4.0|
In a crucial battle between two teams off to disappointing starts to their season, Domenico Tedesco’s RB Leipzig were able to overcome Niko Kovac’s VfL Wolfsburg 2-0 in fairly dominant fashion Saturday over at the Red Bull Arena. The Saxon hosts completely outplayed a VfL side still struggling to form some sense of coherent identity. Leipzig earned their first win of the season while Wolfsburg remain winless.
RB trainer Tedesco made two changes to the XI that dropped last round’s encounter to 1. FC Union Berlin at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei. Marcel Halstenberg replaced the error-prone Josko Gvardiol in defense. Timo Werner – revealed to have been struggling with a cold – also made way for André Silva. Peter Gulacsi was unable to recover in time from his recent adductor issues, meaning Janis Blaswich once again started between the sticks.
Wolfsburg’s Kovac continued with his ongoing personnel carousel. This time there were three changes. Mattias Svanberg, Sebastiaan Bornauw, and Omar MArmoush all began the game on the bench. Ridle Baku, Maximilian Philipp, and the much-discussed Max Kruse entered the XI. Kruse worked as the ten, flanked by Philipp and Jakub Kaminski on the flanks. Absent Svanberg, Maximilian Arnold and Joshua Guilavogui paired in central midfield.
Almost immediately after kickoff, Leipzig were awarded a penalty. After video review, match official Bastian Dankert ruled that VfL defender Maxence Lacroix had handled a ball in the box. Christopher Nkunku calmly converted in the 5th to give the Saxon hosts a 1-0 lead. Tedesco’s RB spent much of the duration of the first half on cruise control, with Silva and Dani Olmop narrowly missing chances to double the advantage.
Blasich had almost nothing to do throughout the opening 45 as Wolfsburg were barely able to cross the halfway line. Kovac reacted to his team’s languid performance by pulling the trigger on a double change at the half. Marmoush and Felix Nmecha came on for Kaminski and Guilavogui. The second half got off to a lively starts but it was again the hosts that looked more threatening.
Nkunku might have been through were it not for a heroic tackle from Micky van de Ven in the 48th. One minute later, VfL keeper Koen Casteels had trouble with a stinging effort from Konrad Laimer. Marmoush was able to force Blaswich into his first save of the match on a quick WOB counter one minute after that. Die Wölfe began to wake up.
Marmoush, Kruse, and Lukas Nmecha were all able to get efforts off during a flurry of VfL activity just shy of the hour mark. Josip Brekalo also caused some problems shortly after Kovac introduced him in the 59th. Kovac’s charges certainly made it interesting for a little while, but Leipzig were back pummeling their opponents in the final 20 minutes.
Werner was introduced late and assisted on some fine chances from Nkunku and Olmo. After a barrage of chances that pushed Leipzig’s xG up near the 4.0 mark, Nkunku was able to complete his brace and seal the match by polishing off an easy rebound as the match entered injury time.
Elsewhere in the Bundesliga’s 15:30 kickoffs, Wolfsburg’s “company team counterparts” were able to break their four-game-losing streak. Gerardo Seoane’s Leverkusen travelled to Mainz and earned a convincing 3-0 victory.Jeremie Frimpong scored two goals in quick succession near the end of the first half to give die Werkself an essentially insurmountable early lead.
Nkunku and Frimpong weren’y the only player to bag a brace win on this day. Sheraldo Becker of 1. FC Union Berlin also netted two in Union Berlin’s 6-1 rout of FC Schalke 04. Sven Michel then himself scored two in the final three minutes. Urs Fischer’s men temporarily move to the top of the Bundesliga table; one point ahead of Bayern München ahead of this evening’s showdown with Gladbach.
Over in “sleepy Sinsheim”, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim were able to eke out a 1-0 win over Augsburg in a tight physical duel that featured few chances. In a much more exciting game at Berlin’s Olympiastadion, there were loads of chances in Dortmund’s duel with Hertha BSC. The scoreline nevertheless remained the same as in Sinsheim, with the BVB earning a narrow 1-0 victory.
Anthony Modeste opened his Dortmund account with a headed tally that turned out to be the game winner. Supplying the assist was none other than Modeste’s former 1. FC Köln teammate Salih Özcan, who also got his name on the BVB scoresheet for the first time.