BUNDESLIGA WEEK FOUR PREVIEW: RB Leipzig meet Bayern Munich in clash of title hopefuls, while Borussia Dortmund host Bayer Leverkusen and there's a battle at the bottom

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  • The Bundesliga makes a welcome return after the international break
  • RB Leipzig host Bayern Munich in a clash of two of this season’s title favourites
  • Borussia Dortmund take on Bayer Leverkusen in another mouth-watering clash
  • Union Berlin hope to build on win over Dortmund as they play Werder Bremen 
  • Local rivals Cologne and Borussia Monchengladbach meet in the Rhine derby
  • There’s a basement battle as bottom two Mainz and Hertha Berlin meet 

Bayern Munich take on RB Leipzig in the stand-out fixture of week four in the Bundesliga

Bayern Munich take on RB Leipzig in the stand-out fixture of week four in the Bundesliga

United States international Zack Steffen has made more saves - 20 - than any other Bundesliga keeper this season

United States international Zack Steffen has made more saves – 20 – than any other Bundesliga keeper this season

Josip Brekalo has started the season well for Wolfsburg, scoring three goals in all competitions

Josip Brekalo has started the season well for Wolfsburg, scoring three goals in all competitions

Anthony Modeste celebrates scoring in Cologne's come from behind win at Freiburg

Anthony Modeste celebrates scoring in Cologne’s come from behind win at Freiburg

Gladbach's Swiss forwards Breel Embolo celebrates after scoring against Leipzig last match

Gladbach’s Swiss forwards Breel Embolo celebrates after scoring against Leipzig last match

There were amazing scenes as Union Berlin stunned Borussia Dortmund last time out

There were amazing scenes as Union Berlin stunned Borussia Dortmund last time out

19-year-old United States international Josh Sargent scored a great goal against Augsburg

19-year-old United States international Josh Sargent scored a great goal against Augsburg

Jean-Paul Boetius scored for Mainz after six minutes at Bayern - they then conceded six goals

Jean-Paul Boetius scored for Mainz after six minutes at Bayern – they then conceded six goals

It was a chastening afternoon for Hertha Berlin as they went down 3-0 to Wolfsburg

It was a chastening afternoon for Hertha Berlin as they went down 3-0 to Wolfsburg

Jadon Sancho returns to domestic duties with Dortmund after scoring twice for England

Jadon Sancho returns to domestic duties with Dortmund after scoring twice for England

Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz featured in Germany's matches with Holland and N. Ireland

Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz featured in Germany’s matches with Holland and N. Ireland 

Ruben Vargas, a summer signing from Luzern, has started with three in three of Augsburg

Ruben Vargas, a summer signing from Luzern, has started with three in three of Augsburg

Andre Silva has come in on loan from AC Milan to bolster Eintracht Frankfurt's attacking ranks

Andre Silva has come in on loan from AC Milan to bolster Eintracht Frankfurt’s attacking ranks

Timo Werner has scored five times in three matches in the Bundesliga so far this season

Timo Werner has scored five times in three matches in the Bundesliga so far this season

Robert Lewandowski continues to bang in the goals for Bayern Munich, with six so far

Robert Lewandowski continues to bang in the goals for Bayern Munich, with six so far

Florian Grillitsch in action during Hoffenheim's 1-1 draw against Bayer Leverkusen last month

Florian Grillitsch in action during Hoffenheim’s 1-1 draw against Bayer Leverkusen last month

Freiburg's Luca Waldschmidt scores a penalty in their match against Mainz last month

Freiburg’s Luca Waldschmidt scores a penalty in their match against Mainz last month

Streli Mamba, a summer signing from Energie Cottbus, celebrates scoring against Leverkusen

Streli Mamba, a summer signing from Energie Cottbus, celebrates scoring against Leverkusen

Schalke's Everton loanee defender Jonjoe Kenny takes on Bayern Munich's Ivan Perisic

Schalke’s Everton loanee defender Jonjoe Kenny takes on Bayern Munich’s Ivan Perisic 

After a two-week pause for international football, the Bundesliga makes a welcome return this weekend with the fourth round of this season’s fixtures.

There’s no questioning the stand-out match as RB Leipzig and Bayern Munich put their unbeaten starts on the line when they meet on Saturday night.

Sportsmail takes a look ahead to that and the other matches on what promises to be another fascinating weekend of action in Germany.

FRIDAY

Fortuna Dusseldorf vs VFL Wolfsburg

7.30pm UK time; Live on BT Sport 3

The Bundesliga resumes on Friday evening with a meeting of two sides hoping to bounce back to winning ways.

Fortuna have suffered back-to-back losses against Bayer Leverkusen and Eintracht Frankfurt following their flying start at Werder Bremen.

Wolfsburg, meanwhile, were held at home by newly-promoted Paderborn last time out having opened with victories over Cologne and Hertha Berlin.

Fortuna will want to kick on to a top half finish after coming 10th in last season’s Bundesliga but there are alarm bells sounding defensively.

Their goalkeeper, the US international Zack Steffen, has made more saves than anyone else in this season’s Bundesliga so far with 20. The next highest figure is 11.

And they’ll need to be tighter at the back against a Wolfsburg team who have looked sharp so far.

Their 21-year-old Croatian forward Josip Brekalo has impressed, with three goals this season and they have a very good record against Dusseldorf.

Wolfsburg also begin their Europa League campaign with a home match against Ukrainians Oleksandriya next week so will seek three more points before their squad gets stretched.

SATURDAY

Cologne vs Borussia Monchengladbach

2.30pm UK time

The latest instalment of what is the third-most contested local derby in German football takes place at the RheinEnergieSTADION.

Cologne are already making a better fist of top-flight football than their last Bundesliga season in 2017-18. 

The three points acquired in beating Freiburg before the international break meant they matched in just three games their return from their first 16 two years ago.

In all honesty, they were unfortunate to lose to Wolfsburg and Borussia Dortmund in their opening two games but Cologne will feel a whole lot better to get that first win on the board.

Borussia Monchengladbach have a win, a draw and a defeat on their early season record. Their Switzerland international forward Breel Embolo has looked sharp, scoring in the win over Mainz and the loss to Leipzig.

Union Berlin vs Werder Bremen

2.30pm UK time

If, as most people predict, Union Berlin return straight back to the 2. Bundesliga in May, then at least they’ll always have that night against Borussia Dortmund.

Their stunning 3-1 win over the title favourites before the international break – the club’s first-ever top-flight win – was one of the all-time great Bundesliga upsets.

But it will mean little in their survival bid if they don’t back it up with another positive result in their home fixture against Werder Bremen on Saturday.

The win over Dortmund was founded on good old-fashioned hard graft, with Union’s players covering a Bundesliga season-best 78.5 miles.

Werder started their campaign shakily, with defeats to Dusseldorf and Hoffenheim, but they edged out Augsburg 3-2 to get some points on the board.

Their 19-year-old American international Josh Sargent set social media on fire with a brilliantly improvised goal in which he controlled a ball over the top and juggled it over the keeper before scoring.

Sargent has a very impressive scoring record of a goal every 98 minutes for Bremen and he will be the one Union’s defence need to watch.

Mainz 05 vs Hertha Berlin

2.30pm UK time

How early is too early in the season to label a match a relegation six-pointer?

Three games in is probably a bit too soon but the alarm bells are certainly ringing for Mainz and Hertha Berlin ahead of Saturday’s meeting of the bottom two.

Mainz lost to Freiburg and Monchengladbach in their opening two games, then shipped six goals after taking an early lead at Bayern Munich.

Finding goals appears to be their major issue – that sixth-minute strike by Jean-Paul Boetius in the Allianz Arena was only their second of the campaign and they’re certainly missing the injured Jean-Philippe Mateta, last season’s leading scorer.

Hertha finished a respectable mid-table last season and nobody could have predicted their current travails when they gave defending champions Bayern a run for their money on the opening night.

But back-to-back 3-0 losses to Wolfsburg and Schalke have punctured much of season’s optimism and they’re in the bottom three for the first time since February 2015, albeit with 31 games to play.

They will put faith in deadline day loan signing from Borussia Dortmund, Marius Wolf, to supply some goals and you feel that Mainz are the ideal opposition for a crisis.

Borussia Dortmund vs Bayer 04 Leverkusen

2.30pm UK time

Two of the most exciting players in world football go head-to-head as Borussia Dortmund take on Bayer Leverkusen in an appetising clash at Signal Iduna Park.

Jadon Sancho and Kai Havertz will shoulder the hopes of England and Germany respectively for many years to come but for now it’s back to Bundesliga business.

Dortmund must get a reaction after that shock loss at Union Berlin prior to the internationals and Lucien Favre will have been pleased to see Sancho impress and score twice in England’s win over Kosovo.

But most importantly for the Dortmund coach, Sancho came through unscathed, especially as he already has Thorgan Hazard and Axel Witsel on the injury list.

Julian Brandt, who featured in both of Germany’s Euro 2020 qualifier this week against Holland and Northern Ireland, is likely to face his former club.

Havertz, who at 20 years of age is just starting to make his mark on the German squad, will be hoping to make an impact in one of Leverkusen’s biggest games of the season.

And in another interesting sub-plot, Leverkusen manager Peter Bosz comes up against the club that sacked him after just six months in charge back in December 2017.

His Leverkusen team are proving very hard to beat – only Bayern (17 games) currently boast a longer unbeaten run in the Bundesliga than their nine (seven wins, two draws).

Augsburg vs Eintracht Frankfurt

2.30pm UK time

Quite a few expected Augsburg to be involved in a relegation scrap and their early season form – a heavy loss to Dortmund, draw with Union Berlin and loss to Werder Bremen – certainly confirms that.

They are now winless in seven Bundesliga matches dating back to April and coach Martin Schmidt is well aware that solutions have to be found.

As it happens, though, Saturday’s opponents Eintracht Frankfurt were the last team Augsburg beat, a 3-1 success on the road in mid-April that pretty much kept them up.

On the plus side, their summer signing from Swiss club Luzern Ruben Vargas has made the step up effortlessly with three goals from three.

Frankfurt are looking better, with narrow wins over Hoffenheim and Dusseldorf bookending a loss at Leipzig and progress into the group phase of the UEFA Europa League, where Arsenal are among their opponents.

While they may have lost Sebastien Haller, Luka Jovic and Ante Rebic over the summer, the scoring slack will hopefully be picked up by Andre Silva and Filip Kostic, while Bas Dost got off the mark against Dusseldorf.

They will hope for three points on the road to continue their solid start before the Europa League campaign picks up pace.

RB Leipzig vs Bayern Munich

5.30pm UK time; Live on BT Sport 2

There’s no question this is the match of the weekend and it has the potential to shape the entire Bundesliga season.

If RB Leipzig genuinely have designs on wresting the Bundesliga shield from all-conquering Bayern Munich then they really have to make a statement of intent by winning on Saturday night.

It may be early in the season – and don’t forget Bayern successfully reeled in Dortmund last year – but a fourth win from four would really inspire belief at Leipzig.

This is a meeting of two of the Bundesliga’s most accomplished strikers – Leipzig’s Timo Werner has scored five times already this season, second only to the ever-prolific Robert Lewandowski of Bayern with six.

Werner, who also looks set to lead Germany’s attack for many years to come, has 10 goals in his last 11 Bundesliga matches after scoring the first hat-trick of his career in their win at Borussia Monchengladbach.

He is averaging a goal every 47 minutes this season so Bayern’s back line will have to be at their best to contain both him and the creative force that is Marcel Sabitzer (three assists this season).

At the other end, Bayern will obviously carry a threat and new arrival from Barcelona Philippe Coutinho will likely be paired with Lewandowski with Serge Gnabry and Kingsley Coman either side of him.

Bayern dropped two points to Hertha Berlin on the opening night but have since recovered to win 3-0 at Schalke and 6-1 against Mainz in a couple of ominous scorelines.

Since Leipzig arrived to gatecrash the Bundesliga title race, Bayern have been pretty effective at putting the upstarts back in their box. They have won four, drawn one and lost six of their meetings with them.

However, Leipzig manager Julian Nagelsmann did record some noteworthy results against Bayern when in charge at Hoffenheim.

It promises to be a fascinating match and with both strike forces in excellent form, could also be quite high-scoring.

SUNDAY

1899 Hoffenheim vs Freiburg

2.30pm UK time; Live on BT Sport 1

A meeting of two sides who can be broadly satisfied with how their seasons have started.

Having lost at Eintracht Frankfurt on the opening day, Hoffenheim got off the mark with a 3-2 win over Werder Bremen before picking up a creditable point at Bayer Leverkusen.

While it’s fair to say there are more promising candidates for the Champions League places, the start has proved there is life after Nagelsmann after all.

And they still have last season’s 17-goal leading scorer Andrej Kramaric to come back from injury, though Sunday’s home game with Freiburg will come too soon.

Freiburg started in blistering fashion with wins over Mainz and Paderborn but then threw away a lead at Cologne.

Powering them is striker Luca Waldschmidt, whose three goals in the early part of the season earned a maiden call-up to the Germany squad, though he remained on the bench against Holland and Northern Ireland.

Freiburg could become one of the season’s entertainers, with manager Christian Streich going with a 4-3-3 system partnering Waldschmidt with Nils Petersen and Brandon Borrello.

Paderborn vs Schalke 04

5pm UK time; Live on BT Sport 1

With just one point from the first nine available, life back in the top flight has proven just as tough as expected for Paderborn.

However, after opening with losses to Bayer Leverkusen and Freiburg, there was some comfort to be taken from winning a point at Wolfsburg last time out.

Their new signing up front, Streli Mamba, has adapted well to top-flight life after making the move from fourth-tier Energie Cottbus and scoring twice so far.

David Wagner’s Schalke saw their season kick-started by a 3-0 home win over Hertha Berlin last time out, albeit with the assistance of two own goals.

Everton loanee Jonjoe Kenny scored their third goal to continue a promising start to life in Germany in which he has played every minute of their league campaign so far.

 



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