So after an international break which saw England qualify and Wayne Rooney break the scoring record, Scotland crash and burn against Georgia, and Germany and Wales move a step closer to qualification, the Bundesliga returns. If you'd said three games ago that Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. Hamburg would involve a team bottom of the table I would've believed you. But I would have expected it to be Hamburg languishing at the foot of Germany's elite league. Instead the Foals have fallen to three straight defeats and have looked clueless defensively. Hamburg have been slightly better than last year at this point- they have a goal to their name for starters- but have still disappointed.
Lucien Favre's men have endured a torrid start to the new season. Hopes that they would be able to continue their push towards the top of the table after last season's successful third place finish have quickly given way to wondering how it all went so wrong, so quickly. Three defeats from three, 2 goals scored and 8 conceded: the second best defensive team in the Bundesliga last year have really struggled in the absence of injured centre backs Alvaro Dominguez and veteran Martin Stranzl. They should have Dominguez back for Friday's clash with Hamburg which should help the inexperienced Oscar Wendt to find his feet and feel more confident. The Hamburg attack is also relatively weak, which should help the Fohlenelf to keep their first clean sheet of the season.
In attack the sale of Max Kruse has left a large gap in their armoury, as was expected. New signing Josip Drmic is yet to score for his new team, whilst experienced creator Raffael has also failed to find the target in the first three games this season. The creative midfield threats of Lars Stindl, newly arrived from Hannover 96, and Patrick Herrmann have provided the two goals so far but more cutting edge will be required to break down the Hamburg defence.
The focus and pressure will be entirely on the hosts of Friday's match, but that doesn't mean Hamburg have had a perfect start. Three points from three games, which all came in a narrow (and not wholly deserved) 3-2 victory against VfB Stuttgart not only brought all three of their points but also three of their four goals. They only won three teams away from home last season and lost all but two of their away games after the winter break. They also lost their first two away games of this season so things are yet to improve on the road for the team with an average of 3 managers a season in the last two years. Defensively they are always liable to make mistakes; offensively they lack a cutting edge, with veteran striker Ivica Olic left out or played out of position and Pierre-Michel Lasogga looking less than threatening in front of goal.
I don't expect many goals in this one: they have 6 between them from 6 games and whilst both are liable to gift the opposition a goal the probable return of Dominguez will boost the Gladbach back-line. I think they will just edge it, but I don't see them scoring more than one or two. Prediction: Borussia Mönchengladbach 1-0 Hamburg SV
Over 2.5 goals? No
Herrmann to score anytime
Stindl to score anytime
Lasogga to score anytime
Draw or Gladbach to win
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