VfL Bochum entertain reigning Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich on Sunday.
The hosts could hardly be playing the European heavyweights at a worse time having lost their opening two matches of the season.
Indeed, having survived their first Bundesliga campaign since 2010 pretty comfortably in the end – with 13th-place and a 42-points total representing a highly respectable return to Germany’s top-flight – matters look more complicated for Thomas Reis‘s side this time around.
Two fine Karim Onisiwo headers saw them fall 2-1 at home to Mainz 05 on the opening day, before Die Unabsteigbaren threw away a two-goal lead at Hoffenheim last time out.
Simon Zoller scored twice in the space of four minutes to send the away fans into ecstacy, with the striker latching onto Philipp Hofmann‘s unselfish knockdown to open the scoring after 10 minutes, before meeting Kevin Stoger‘s brilliant inswinging cross on the half-volley.
However, a fumble by goalkeeper Manuel Riemann allowed Christoph Baumgartner to pounce from close range just a minute later, before Ozan Kabak completed a quickfire comeback with a bullet header inside the opening 23 minutes.
After a topsy-turvy first-half, both sides appeared to be settling for a share of the spoils in a quieter second period, but Munas Dabbur had other ideas as he expertly flicked his header into the far corner to complete a magnificent turnaround for the hosts and leave Bochum as one of only two sides without a point ahead of the toughest test of them all against Bayern on Sunday.
Having scored 13 goals in their first three competitive outings this season, Bayern will be licking their lips at the prospect of visiting Bochum this weekend.
Sadio Mane has taken no time to settle into his new surroundings at all, with the former Liverpool forward adding a more powerful and tactically flexible edge to Julian Nagelsmann‘s world-class front-line.
Mane was unfortunate to blank for the first time in his Bayern career in his side’s 2-0 win over Wolfsburg last weekend, with the Senegal man having two headers disallowed due to offside.
Jamal Musiala and Thomas Muller showcased the amount of different goalscorers within this Bayern squad, though, with Musiala brilliantly firing into the bottom corner from outside of the area, before Muller scored in trademark fashion by reacting quickest to divert Joshua Kimmich‘s speculative strike beyond the reach of Koen Casteels.
The Bavarians were perhaps not at their fluent best, but having beaten RB Leipzig 5-3 in the German Super Cup before thrashing Eintracht Frankfurt 6-1 on matchday one, there was always likely to be a slight drop-off at some point.
The most important thing for them – as it is with any club, but particularly big ones expected to lift trophies – is winning, and one would expect them to continue their sequence on Sunday.
After naming only seven of a possible nine substitutes last weekend, Bochum continue to be plagued by injury doubts.
Danilo Soares is definitely ruled out with a hip injury, while Jannes Horn (thigh), Jacek Goralski (eye), Gerrit Holtmann (knee), Christopher Antwi-Adjei, Kostas Stafylidis and Patrick Osterhage (all muscle) are all expected to miss out again.
With his side considered rank underdogs to gain a positive result, there seems no reason for Reis to risk any of these players ahead of more winnable upcoming fixtures, so it would be a surprise if he makes any changes to his starting XI despite the collapse against Hoffenheim.
Likewise, Nagelsmann could name the same starting XI for the fourth successive match.
The only slight doubt surrounding that is Serge Gnabry‘s hand injury, which forced him to be replaced by Leroy Sane at half-time of Bayern’s win against Wolfsburg last time out. However, this was thought to be a precaution and the former Arsenal winger will not want to give up his place easily having performed so well in the early weeks of the campaign.
Leon Goretzka remains out with a long-term knee injury, while Eric Choupo-Moting is still a doubt with the groin strain which has kept him on the sidelines so far this season.
VfL Bochum possible starting lineup:
Riemann; Gamboa, Ordets, Heintz; Osei-Tutu, Losilla, Stoger, Janko; Asano; Zoller, Hofmann
Bayern Munich possible starting lineup:
Neuer; Pavard, Upamecano, Hernandez, Davies; Sabitzer, Kimmich; Gnabry, Muller, Musiala; Mane