Its the Bundesliga!

Did you think we had forgotten?  Not a bit of it.  With the World Cup still fresh in our minds and lots of interest in the German top flight, IBWM would like to introduce you to Raul, Ruud and Greg Keane.

After a madcap second round of Budesliga action, the league, which combines adventurous approach play with an abnormally large amount of teams incapable of defending, returns after a much needed week long break.

Let's hope the break has allowed for those involved on and off the field to dust themselves down, compose their thoughts and allow normality to return to the pitches across the top flight of German football... No not really, more of the same would be rather marvellous thanks!

Seven away wins last time around, you could make a lot worse bets this weekend than it happening again...


TSG Hoffenheim v Schalke 04

Schalke losing both centre back Marcelo Bordon and right back Rafinha is starting to look a much bigger blow than anyone could have anticipated- especially with Christoph Metzelder’s quite simply appalling start to life at Gelsenkirchen. The former Real Madrid defender was even booed by his own fans during Schalke's 1-2 home defeat to Hannover in Week 2, their second of two defeats so far. On the plus side, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar could be in line to make his Bundesliga debut on Friday, alongside his former Real Madrid team-mate Raul.

Hoffenheim in contrast, have won their opening two fixtures. Their professional display away at St Pauli last time out was enough to see them victorious 0-1, following on from their impressive 4-1 victory over Werder Bremen on the opening weekend. Gylfi Sigurdsson, Hoffenheim's €5m signing from Championship side Reading could play some part. Sigurdsson (20) scored 16 goals from midfield last season for the second tier English side.  A seemingly impressive scout behind this move? perhaps, although manager Ralf Rangnicks must thank his son who is studying near Reading, who recommended the player to his dad.


Borussia Dortmund v Wolfsburg

Dortmund may have been gifted their 1-3 victory away at Stuttgart in week two thanks to some shocking defending, but that shouldn't take anything away from how Jurgen Klopp is developing his young players, which I'm sure is making Jogi Loew as excited as he gets when he's buying a new cardigan. Eighteen year old forward Mario Gotze especially is looking rather good; starting and scoring in his side's last outing.

Steve McLaren may be sweating just a tad if he fails to pick up a result from this game however. Wolfsburg have now lost their two opening matches after inexplicably throwing away a 3-0 lead at home to Mainz two weekends back, and somehow managing to lose 3-4. Offensively they look fine; holding onto Dzeko will be a huge and unexpected boost to the 2009 Champions and of course the addition of Diego should prove to be an exquisite one. Yet, Simon Kjaer will drastically need to up his game at Dortmund.  The usually reliable Dane was at fault for two of Mainz' goals, whilst I'm not sure the rumoured arrival of American defender Jay DeMerit would improve McLaren's defensive woes.

Hannover 96 v Bayer Leverkusen

This should prove a tricky test for Bayer. They looked more than impressive in their away victory over BVB on the opening weekend - their slick and swift passing was too much for Dortmund to handle - yet against Monchengladbach, it appeared they thought they simply had to turn up- resulting in a quite frankly ridiculous 3-6 home defeat to Gladbach of all sides. Hyypia and Reinartz look sluggish at the back, whilst Michael Ballack will need to offer more protection. He was carried in his first game, but was found out by the time Gladbach were in town.

Hannover's 2-1 victory over Schalke came off the back of their same scoreline win at Frankfurt. New signing Mohammed Abdellaoue scored and impressed against Schalke and looks set to be a hit in his first season in the Bundesliga after signing from Norwegian side Valerenga in the summer.

Bayern Munich v Werder Bremen

Whether golden boy Thomas Muller’s implausible miss, early on against Kaiserslautern, went in or not, Munich looked sluggish, much in the same vein as they did in large periods against Wolfsburg in their opening game. Defensively the Bavarians look weak and judging by Holger Badstuber's performance in Bayern's 0-2 loss to the Red Devils, it looks as if the youngster has been picking up the bad habits of team mate Martin Demichelis.

Werder Bremen should fancy their chances at the Allianz. Despite their heavy opening day defeat at an ambitiously buoyant Hoffenheim, Bremen look undeterred by the loss of talisman Mesut Özil. Qualifying for Europe seemed to spur Werder onto an impressive 4-2 win over Cologne, and as long as Marko Marin can produce the type of display he put on at Sampdoria in their Champions League Qualifier, then Bremen should feel confident of taking something from Bayern. Although it's unlikely that Werder's massive last minute transfer deadline day coup of Northern Ireland U21 striker Liam Boyce will feature.


Mainz v FC Kaiserslautern

Stylish Mainz coach Thomas Tuchel is known to be a fan of the Chilean tactics employed at the World Cup in South Africa and tries to implement something similar for his own side to follow- resulting in Mainz being a must watch team if you get the opportunity. They ripped Wolfsburg apart in the second half of their remarkable 3-4 turnaround, whilst their previous victory over Stuttgart shows this exciting side are no mugs and expect to improve on their 9th place finish last season. Mainz too made a fantastic transfer deadline day signing, in the shape of German International full-back Malik Fathim; the 26-year old signing (on loan from Spartak Moscow) is expected to start on Sunday.

Kaiserslautern have also started fantastically, finding themselves on top of the Bundesliga after their victories over Cologne and of course their 2-0 overturn of Champions Bayern Munich. It is a phenomenal start for the promoted side that had the best defence in 2.Bundesliga last campaign- a trait which looks set to continue in the Bundesliga. It will be fascinating to see how they deal with their hosts swift attacking intent however.

And the rest of this weekends action...

Stuttgart travel to Freiburg with Christian Gross desperate to get points in the bag as he knows how impatient the board are at Die Roten. Despite picking up more points in the second half of last season's Bundesliga campaign than anyone else, Stuttgart have once again started slowly and will find it hard going against Freiburg on the back of their 1-2 victory at Nurnberg. Mauro Camoranesi is set to make his debut for Stuttgart- although there's no telling how much that will help Gross' men.

St Pauli go to FC Köln on Sunday havini huffed and puffed against Hoffenheim but worryingly failed to break them down, while hosts Köln are looking for their first points of the season. Elsewhere, Hamburg will expect another win, following on from their 3-1 defeat of Eintracht Frankfurt.  Ruud Van Nistelrooy will be hoping to build on his already excellent 3 goals for HSV, while a win over Nurnberg will make it an impeccable 9 points from 9. And finally, Monchengladbach, fresh from their 3-6 trashing of Leverkusen, take on pointless Eintracht.

Greg writes regularly for both the BBC and Sky amongst others.  You can catch his Bundesliga updates right here on IBWM.