Football Critic's Paul Macdonald runs through the key take aways from the return of the Bundesliga, including Germany's next big thing and a ruthless Robert Lewandowski.
5. RB Leipzig find that football is still unfair
RB Leipzig were one of the shortest-priced sides on the matchday coupon on Saturday and there would have been more than a few punters who took them on the handicap, finding their 3/10 price too short to take on its own.
And they would have been massively frustrated to watch the hosts hit 22 shots, the most of the round, eight on target (joint-most) and win the xG battle 1.9 to 0.3 against a Freiburg side who held out for a 1-1 draw and whose goal came from a corner that fortunately deflected in off the calf of Manuel Gulde.
English forward Ademola Lookman, formerly of Everton, was most guilty, somehow contriving to direct a volley wide of the post with an xG of 0.5, suggesting that he should score 50% of the time from this range. He skewed his effort well wide.
Leipzig made 199 passes into the final third, created three big chances and had 34 touches in total inside the Freiburg penalty area, but could not get it done.
The result effectively ended their chances of challenging Bayern for the title.
4. Hoffenheim found that it’s REALLY unfair
Hoffenheim’s 3-0 home humbling from a Hertha Berlin side who have been poor on the road for much of the season was surprising, but even more so was their awful finishing on the day.
Hertha gave as good as they got and were simply more clinical than the hosts. Hoffenheim racked up 2.8 xG but despite having 18 shots, only landed two on target in as clear a display of ring-rustiness in front of goal as you will see.
Christoph Baumgartner alone had 1.4 xG worth of chances but could not finish, finding Rune Jarstein impossible to pass. But in truth the goalkeeper simply made himself big and the Hoffenheim offence refused to shoot either side of him.
If Hoffenheim can create as many high quality opportunities, however, they should be worth a look away at struggling Paderborn on Saturday - 11/10 with Sky Bet at the time of publication.
3. Dortmund still dangerous, even without Sancho
Dortmund’s 3-4-1-2 formation paid dividends as they struck four times past Schalke in the Revierderby despite only having four shots on target.
The clinical nature of their attacking play - their xG was just 1.45 on the chances they created - showcased a team that can score from virtually any of the front seven.
Jadon Sancho didn’t have to leave the bench until the match was all but won and their attacking performance shows their strength in depth.
Julian Brandt hasn’t always been first choice this season but he was superb here, providing two assists in the match. His xG chain - a score which shows the total attacking contributions a player made in a match - of 1.1 was comfortably the highest on show. And Raphael Guerreiro’s vibrant display from left wing-back contributed two excellent goals and made him the highest-ranked player of the round, with a rating of 9.5.
Throw in eye-catching efforts from Thorgan Hazard and the irrepressible Erling Haaland (a goal and an assist for each of them) and it was a perfect afternoon.
It’s a huge, must-win match against Wolfsburg on Saturday, who themselves recorded a good away win at Augsburg, before Bayern visit on Tuesday in a clash which could decide the destiny of the Bundesliga title.
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2. Lewandowski always good for a first goal
Bayern Munich produced an economical display in the 2-0 defeat of Union Berlin on Sunday, in a performance that lacked the thrilling attacking guile they showed pre-lockdown, but was enough to get the job done.
They retained their four-point cushion at the top of the table thanks to a Robert Lewandowski penalty and a Benjamin Pavard clincher.
Lewandowski netted his 26th goal of the season (40 in all comps) in just 24 appearances and interestingly, 10 of those (42%) have been the first goal in the match. Indeed, no other player in Europe’s top five leagues has scored as many openers as the Pole.
He will always be a short price with the bookmakers to score first given his enviable record, but with Frankfurt arriving in Bavaria this weekend on the back of a dodgy display conceding three goals to Borussia Monchengladbach, Lewandowski to score and Bayern to win looks a sure thing, no matter the price.
1. Havertz’s brilliant resurgence continues
As we noted prior to the weekend here, Manchester United and Liverpool target Kai Havertz has put his poor pre-Christmas form behind him and is looking back to his best.
Granted, Werder Bremen put up minimal resistance, but Havertz’s two excellent headers in the first half showed he has lost none of his sharpness during lockdown, and he is fast becoming a more conventional centre-forward than cultured playmaker, one that continues to get involved in all of his side’s attacks - indeed his xG chain was a gigantic 2.23.
Havertz now has seven goals and six assists in his last nine matches, providing a goal contribution every 59 minutes.
Even in a depressed transfer market Havertz will still have teams lining up to secure his signature.
Odds subject to change and correct as of 1515 BST on 19/05/20
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