After putting six goals past Borussia Mönchengladbach in just 37 minutes last weekend, SC Freiburg can further fortify their credentials for a top-four finish when they host Baden-Württemberg neighbours TSG Hoffenheim this weekend.
Everything Freiburg touched turned to gold in a remarkable first half on Matchday 14 as they registered their biggest ever away victory in the Bundesliga and bounced back in style from a run of three straight defeats.
That streak had threatened to undo all of the excellent work Christian Streich’s men had done in remaining unbeaten through the first ten matchdays, but the manner of their first-ever win in 26 trips to Borussia-Park was enough to prove the Black Forest club really do mean business this term.
So do their local rivals Hoffenheim, who flexed their own increasingly toned muscles with a 3-2 win over Eintracht Frankfurt which kept them just two points behind Freiburg ahead of Saturday’s derby.
That was their third straight win – the first time they have won three in a row under Sebastian Hoeneß – although the head coach of the Sinsheimers was quick to douse the igniting expectations, saying talk of possible UEFA Champions League football “doesn’t help and only places a focus on things that could slow us down.”
Either way, Streich or Hoeneß will be fielding questions about their European ambitions again this weekend, with the winner of this derby on course for a top-four finish to 2021.
Similar questions are bound to be asked of new RB Leipzig coach Domenico Tedesco, who takes charge of his first game at the helm of the Red Bulls against a wounded Gladbach side on Saturday.
Leipzig find themselves five points off the pace of the top six and already out of this season’s Champions League in what is a delicate moment for a club who have reached Europe in each of their five seasons in Germany’s top flight.
Jesse Marsch paid the consequence for a 2-1 defeat to 1. FC Union Berlin last weekend and former FC Schalke 04 boss Tedesco makes his return to the Bundesliga to try to turn their season around against a side still reeling from that six-goal salvo last Sunday.
It is a fixture that has never ended goalless, and on last weekend’s evidence, that is unlikely to change on Matchday 15.
Incidentally, that was not the only six-goal margin of defeat on Matchday 14, with SpVgg Greuther Fürth’s toils continuing with a 7-1 loss at Bayer 04 Leverkusen. Patrik Schick became the first player in the history of Die Wekrself to score four times in a single game, yet the Czech Republic forward – who marked his return from a four-week injury lay-off in style – said he was not even at his best. “I’m still not 100 per cent fit and am still feeling a bit of pain,” he said. “But I wanted to score and get this feeling back after my injury. The last time I scored four in a game was back in the U13s or U14s.”
Those goals took Schick to 12 for the season, fewer only than FC Bayern München forward Robert Lewandowski, who decided the first Klassiker of the season last weekend in the Bavarians’ favour, helping them to open up a four-point advantage at the top of the table.
They can defend or extend that on Saturday against Mainz, who are on the cusp of the top six and have proven on many occasions that they are made of strong stuff under Bo Svensson.
Dortmund, meanwhile, will be desperate to rebound from that defeat with a win at Revier rivals VfL Bochum, while third-placed Leverkusen are not in action until Sunday when they travel to Eintracht Frankfurt.
Elsewhere this weekend, VfL Wolfsburg will now turn their total attention to the Bundesliga after a midweek elimination from Europe, with VfB Stuttgart their guests on Saturday, and Union Berlin are the 14th club Fürth will try to register their first win of the season against this Sunday.
The weekend action starts on Friday night with 1. FC Köln hosting an FC Augsburg side who could slip into the bottom two if they are beaten. DSC Arminia Bielefeld could dislodge them when they travel to fellow strugglers Hertha Berlin in a relegation battle at the Olympiastadion on Saturday.