The question: are Leverkusen still reeling from last season’s UEFA Champions League narrow miss? Heiko Herrlich’s side thrilled last season on their way to what seemed like a sure-fire top four place, but had to settle for fifth spot, missing out on Europe’s top club competition on goal difference.
Two games into the new season, and things seem a whole lot different, two defeats to open the campaign, the latest of which was a 3-1 loss to Wolfsburg despite taking the lead, has Herrlich suddenly under pressure this early. And with a trip to the Allianz Arena to face champions Bayern Munich coming up this weekend, things might not improve so soon.
Bayern have begun the season with two comfortable wins that still didn’t require them leaving second gear, which hardly bodes well for the others, and Niko Kovac’s side will be expected to leave with three points.
That may work both ways for Leverkusen, who’ll be under little pressure to win and can go with little weight on their shoulders. But defeat, no matter how expected, will mean three losses in three games, and the alarm bells may well start ringing.
Herrlich and Bayer have had the international break to digest; defeat here and he may well start looking like a man out of time.
Elsewhere, Borussia Dortmund play host to Frankfurt, Nuremberg travel to Werder Bremen, while Freiburg host bottom-placed Stuttgart.
Wolfsburg aim to continue their bright start as they host Hertha Berlin, Augsburg face a trip to Mainz, and Schalke to Borussia Park to face Monchengladbach.
Monchengladbach v Schalke
Bayern Munich v Leverkusen
Dortmund v Frankfurt
Wolfsburg v Hertha BSC
Mainz v Augsburg
Werder Bremen v Nuremberg
RB Leipzig v Hannover
Freiburg v Stuttgart
Dusseldorf v Hoffenheim