After dominating Freiburg but only mustering a 1-1 draw in the first matchday since the return of the Bundesliga, it was easy to write off RB Leipzig's hopes of the Bundesliga title but Sunday's performance in a 5-0 drubbing of Mainz was a reminder of just how good Julian Nagelsmann's side are, with Timo Werner hitting a second hat-trick of the season against the same opponents. Astonishingly, Leipzig scored 13 unanswered goals against Mainz this team.
Borussia Dortmund are the obvious challengers to Bayern Munich and the Klassiker clash between the two clubs placement as the third fixture back fed that narrative but Leipzig are in a good position to capitalise on any slip ups from the top two. While they are outliers and their cash-driven efforts to establish themselves as a top club are controversial, it is undeniable that they play fine football and we can look forward to seeing many of their star youngsters entertain us for many years to come.
All set for surreal but vital Klassiker
There was a three-minute burst yesterday when Borussia Dortmund's eyes would have lit up. Pedestrian but in control in their 2-0 win over Union Berlin last week, Bayern had skipped into a 3-0 lead against Eintracht Frankfurt, the very team that had enacted a 5-1 win over the champions earlier this season. But then there was a moment of vulnerability when Martin Hinteregger scored twice - both from set plays - in the space of three minutes. Bayern eventually steadied the ship and won 5-2 but it will have provided hope for Dortmund ahead of the two teams' huge match on Tuesday.
Dortmund have been decidedly second best in the recent Bundesliga clashes between the two sides, having beaten the Bavarians just three times since their last title-winning campaign of 2011-12, and furthermore have been beaten 4-0, 5-0 and 6-0 (albeit away) in the last few seasons. Mats Hummels' potential injury provides another headache and the absence of the Westfalenstadion crowd could hinder them, but if they are to end Bayern's grip on the title, they simply must win on Tuesday. It will be surreal to see the biggest match of the season played out behind closed doors but that won't detract from the fixture's importance.
Schalke sinking like a stone
It'd be near impossible for Schalke to have a worse season than last term, when one of the biggest names in German football narrowly avoided relegation, but the current campaign has fizzled out in a hugely disappointing fashion. S04 have scored just two goals since their January win over Borussia Monchengladbach (their only one of the year so far) and have been beaten 5-0 by RB Leipzig and Bayern Munich and 4-0 by arch rivals Borussia Dortmund.
Sunday's 3-0 drubbing at home to Augsburg continued the alarming pattern of heavy defeats and were it not for a strong start to the season, they could even be facing relegation. Worse still, the 180 minutes of football they have played so far since the Bundesliga's return have been truly insipid, completely devoid of creativity and hugely uninspiring. There is still so much uncertainty about the dates of the summer transfer window and the level of capital clubs will have at their disposal but Schalke will need to be active in order to remould their forward line. This situation cannot hold.
Barca boss gives Neymar fresh hope of a Nou Camp return – Euro Papers
Werder Bremen's survival hopes get a much-needed boost
The travails of the likes of Hamburg, Stuttgart and Hannover do not bode well for Bundesliga regulars dropping down to the second tier. Another big name in danger of relegation is Werder Bremen, whose miserable run in 2020 has seen them seemingly cut adrift in the automatic relegation places. But a gutsy and creditable 1-0 away win at Freiburg has reignited their hopes of survival and they now could have some momentum ahead of the run-in.
There is still much work to do, but the result will bring renewed hope that Werder, German champions as recently as 2004, can avoid the drop. Bizarrely, they have finished all but one of their five Bundesliga wins this term with a player sent off, so there could be a counterintuitive recipe for success in that...
Farewell, Mario Gotze, a story of what might have been
In 2013, Mario Gotze had the world at his feet. It seemed obvious that he would be one of the world's leading stars, having just led Dortmund to the Champions League final and won a big-money move to Bayern Munich. Now, having failed to live up to the billing at the Allianz Arena and back at Dortmund, he will leave the club where he made his name as a free agent this summer.
Gotze will always be a national hero due to his winning goal in the 2014 World Cup final, but his story is one of unfulfilled potential. It is important to note that he has suffered some serious health issues since his return to Dortmund, but being released on a free transfer at the age of 27 is certainly an unlikely fate for someone who was so recently German football's golden boy.