Xabi Alonso is to get a clear understanding of how well his Bayer Leverkusen revival is progressing when his side challenge perennial titlists Bayern Munich on Friday night in the marque fixture of match day four of this season’s Bundesliga. Alonso is relative coaching novice who was last season thrown into the deep end to save the Bay Arena club when they were hovering just above the relegation zone. The World Cup, European Championship and Champions League winner immediately showcased his coaching talent by guiding Leverkusen to Europa League qualification.
A three-time Bundesliga titlist with Bayern Munich where he benefitted from the tutelage of Pep Guardiola as a player, Alonso has since strengthened the Black and Reds with a string of well thought out summer recruits. Signed from Belgian upstarts Union St Gilliose with whom he was Europa League top scorer last season, Victor Boniface has hit the ground running.
The Nigerian international’s four goals in three outings have propelled Leverkusen to the summit of the embryonic standings where they lead Friday’s opponents on goal difference.
The scoring shootout between Boniface and Allianz Arena record signing Harry Kane won’t be the only captivating sideshow to look out for. A midfielder contest for the ages portends between Leverkusen’s new arrivals Granit Xhaka and Jonas Hofmann on one hand and Bayern Munich triumvirate Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka and Jamal Musiala on the other.
At the end of the ninety minutes Bavarians’ boss Thomas Tuchel will have a better appreciation of whether his charges are doing enough to plug a midfield hole he hoped to plug with the deadline day signing of Joao Palhinha from Fulham.
Saturday’s action features a fascinating duel between Freiburg and Borussia Dortmund. Having missed out on the title on the final day last season, Edin Terzic’s Black and Yellows were touted as the side best equipped to break Bayern Munich’s eleven year stranglehold on the Bundesliga.
They have however failed to get out of second gear and sit four points off the summit after upset draws at home to Heidenheim and away to Bochum. Newly signed reigning top scorer Niclas Fulkrug could be handed a start along with Sebastian Haller and Donyell Malen as Terzic seeks the firepower to subdue Christian Steich’s well chiseled hosts.
RB Leipzig will use Saturday’s encounter with Augsburg to prepare for Tuesday’s Champions League trip to Young Boys of Berne, Switzerland. Marc Rose’s side dismantled Union Berlin 3-0 in their last outing relying on the counter attacking speed of creating midfielders Dani Olmo and Xavi Simons.
Expect more of the same at the Red Bull Arena. Urs Fischer’s Union Berlin are to utilise the trip to Robert Kovac’s Wolfsburg as a dress rehearsal for Wednesday’s trip to Real Madrid.
Bayern Munich v Bayer Leverkusen
RB Leipzig v Augsburg,
Freiburg v Borussia Dortmund,
Mainz v Stuttgart,
Cologne v Hoffenheim,
Wolfsburg v Union Berlin,
Bochum v Frankfurt
Heidenheim v Werder Bremen,
Darmstadt v Gladbach