10 September 2014 19:23
A host of new signings could make Bundesliga debuts this weekend, with a familiar face at Borussia Dortmund set to command the most attention.
In the first round of fixtures since the transfer window closed, Dortmund appear likely to hand a second debut to Japan playmaker Shinji Kagawa, who rejoined the club from Manchester United at the end of last month, when they play host to Freiburg.
Kagawa was a hugely popular figure at Signal Iduna Park during his first spell with Jurgen Klopp’s side, which featured back-to-back Bundesliga title triumphs in 2011 and 2012.
While question marks remain over Kagawa’s match sharpness due to his lack of action this term, he may well be utilised from the start against Freiburg, particularly after Marco Reus suffered ankle ligament damage for the second time in four months while representing Germany.
Reus was not the only Dortmund player to be hurt during the international break, although Ciro Immobile – taken off a stretcher in the closing stages of Italy’s victory over Norway on Tuesday – is believed to have avoided serious damage to his hip.
Xabi Alonso and Mehdi Benatia will each hope to shake off injuries in order to represent champions Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena for the first time.
Bayern face Stuttgart – a side they have beaten in 11 successive meetings – on Saturday, but Alonso (foot), who made his debut in a 1-1 draw at Schalke on August 30 after arriving from Real Madrid, and former Roma defender Benatia (muscular problems) are not guaranteed to feature.
Franck Ribery has declared himself available to Bayern coach Pep Guardiola, after overcoming a knee problem.
Roger Schmidt’s Bayer Leverkusen, the only side to have taken maximum points from the first two rounds, kick off the latest week of action with a home game against Werder Bremen on Friday.
Leverkusen won 2-0 at Dortmund on the opening weekend and followed up that triumph with a 4-2 victory over Hertha Berlin, who welcome Mainz to the Olympiastadion on Saturday.
Lewis Holtby and Julian Green could make their Hamburg debuts at Hannover on Sunday after joining on season-long loans from Tottenham and Bayern respectively, while Mirko Slomka has also been boosted by the return to training of skipper Rafael van der Vaart, who suffered a calf injury in a 3-0 home defeat to Paderborn last time out.
Paderborn have enjoyed an unbeaten start to their first Bundesliga season and will look to keep that going when Cologne visit the Benteler Arena.
By contrast, Wolfsburg travel to Hoffenheim seeking a first win of the season, while Borussia Monchengladbach and Schalke, who also meet on Saturday, are two other sides yet to taste victory.
Rock-bottom Augsburg, the only team without a point, face Eintracht Frankfurt in the weekend’s other game.