Bundesliga Zeitung by Andy Wales.
Another Matchday, another week of Erling Haaland grabbing the headlines in his record-setting start to life in the Bundesliga.
The 19-year-old Norwegian striker had to once again be content starting on the bench as he settles into life in Dortmund, but once again he was able to make an impact once on the pitch and is certainly making his brief number of minutes count.
No other player has notched up five Bundesliga goals as quickly as him. It has taken him less than an hour to do so.
Thankfully for Dortmund and Lucien Favre, they didn’t need him to change the game this week. Instead, they were pretty comfortable in their first game of 2020 at the Westfalenstadion.
A lightning-quick start saw Raphael Guerreiro put the hosts ahead in the opening minute and helped settle any nerves. It will have also disrupted the Köln gameplan of containing and frustrating their opponents, who have shown just how brittle they can be at times.
Although the visitors didn’t really lose their heads and open up completely, it was surprising just how passive Köln were in this game.
On the back of four successive victories that had seen them climb out of the relegation places, you’d be forgiven for expecting more.
Köln barely got in the faces of the Dortmund players and very rarely threatened a defence that has been prone to cracking under pressure.
A brief moment of cheer arrived when Mark Uth grabbed a consolation to make it 3-1.
It took him a little over ten minutes to end any faint hopes the visitors had of getting back into the game. His confidence, composure, authority, movement and sheer presence are impressive and belie his tender years.
His instincts shone through for his first goal, sniffing out the possibility of a chance and being quicker than the defender to react and score.
Haaland’s second was instantly all over social media, showing the composure and technical ability to score from the tightest of angles after rounding Timo Horn.
Dortmund have a another potential world star on their books and he might just be a decisive factor as the title race hots up.
It’s a title race that was opened further by Leipzig suffering a surprise defeat against Eintracht Frankfurt. Almamy Toure gave Frankfurt the lead early in the second half and despite pushing for an equaliser, Julian Nagelsmann’s title chargers could find no way through.
An injury time strike from Filip Kostic confirmed the win and means Leipzig will now be looking over their shoulder.
Right on their tail sit defending champions Bayern Munich. Ominously for Leipzig and the other title hopefuls, Bayern looked very strong in their 5-0 demolition of Schalke in Saturday evenings top spiel.
In this column last week, I wondered if Schalke could improve their record at the Allianz; given their improvements under David Wagner. The answer was emphatically no.
Wagner’s game plan to frustrate Bayern was perhaps a misguided one. Bayern’s vulnerabilities have often come from opponents showing them little respect and attacking them. Schalke backing off merely allowed the hosts to boss the game in the way in which they like.
An early howler from goalkeeper Markus Schubert was punished by a man that needs no gifts: Robert Lewandowski. It was his 21st league goal of the season, nudging him ahead of Timo Werner in a goal-scoring race that could yet be every bit as competitive as the title itself.
Bayern launched wave after wave of attack at Schalke, and only two (correct) VAR calls prevented them from extending their lead until just before the half-time whistle.
A lack of intent and adventure from the Royal Blues merely invited the inevitable during the second half.
The highlight of the three second-half goals was a scissor kick from former Schalke midfielder Leon Goretzka. The scoreline certainly did not flatter Bayern, and Hansi Flick has them in a very strong position. They will be expected to win in similar fashion at Mainz this weekend.
Leipzig face a potentially defining couple of weeks, playing host to challengers Borussia Mönchengladbach in this Saturday’s top spiel and the following week sees Bayern and Leipzig go head-to-head.
There really is no let-up in this exciting and competitive Bundesliga season.