A brief look at the five things to take away from week 8 in the Bundesliga.
The Bundesliga returned from the international break, and Saturday we were treated to Germany's fiercest derby and the record German champions setting another record.
Schalke beat Borussia Dortmund in Revierderby.
Schalke finally reversed the last two seasons and won their first Revierderby since the 2009-2010 season. The win kept them seven points behind Bayern Munich and five points ahead of Borussia Dortmund.
It was one of Schalke's best performances in a long while as they survived to a 2-1 win. There were moments throughout the second half that you felt like, "This is the moment where Schalke collapse, and BVB come back." That moment never came, though.
Coming into this season, Schalke needed to perform better defensively if they were to challenge BVB and Bayern for the title. Currently, they've conceded the second fewest goals (8). Saturday's "bend but don't break" defense worked long enough for them to hold on and collect all three points. Yes, they benefitted a decent amount from Jakub Blaszczykowski and Mario Götze being out injured, but they fought for all 90 minutes for the win.
With their first matches against Bayern and BVB out of the way now, Schalke can focus on moving toward the top of the table to position them for a second half run at the title.
Bayern Munich set record for perfection.
With a 5-0 thrashing of Fortuna Düsseldorf on Saturday, Bayern Munich have won their eighth match in a row to start the season setting a new Bundesliga record. It's hard to fathom a better start to a season.
Offensively and defensively, the Bavarians have been the total package so far. Bayern have scored 26 goals and conceded only 2 for an astronomical +24 goal differential with only a quarter of the season completed. This is without Mario Gomez (54 goals over the last two seasons) playing a single minute. This is without a single goal or assist from Arjen Robben (only 3 appearances this season). This is without preseason favorite starting left back David Alaba not playing a single minute until this weekend's substitute appearance.
Mario Mandzukic and Thomas Müller have scored as many or more goals (13) than twelve other teams in the league. Moving Toni Kroos into the central attacking midfielder role and starting either Luiz Gustavo or Javi Martinez alongside Bastian Schweinsteiger has strengthened the offense and defense at the same time. Kroos' ability to hold on to the ball and create opportunities for his teammates has been indispensable so far, and a move out wide has benefitted Müller allowing him to cut in and wreak havoc on defenses.
Jupp Heynckes has started the same defense in all eight contests so far this season, and the familiarity has certainly paid off. With the world class Manuel Neuer in the goal, the backline has been made up of Philipp Lahm, Jerome Boateng, Dante, and Holger Badstuber for all eight matches so far. They're currently on pace to allow fewer than 10 goals this season. While that won't happen, it's hard to see this defense suddenly collapsing.
Wolfsburg is terrible.
Eight games into the season, and Wolfsburg sit dead last in the Bundesliga. That's definitely not the way Felix Magath drew up things at the beginning of the season.
Magath went shopping this summer bringing in Ivica Olic, Vieirinha, and the highly rated Bas Dost. Diego also returned from his year long sabbatical in Spain. The offensive firepower is there. Wolfsburg have only found the back of the net twice this season. TWO GOALS! It's pretty unbelievable that they've managed to only score twice. One would think with that talent they could accidentally score a few more goals.
They've looked poor in every match so far and lucked into their one win this season against Stuttgart. Wolfsburg were predicted by many to be battling for a European place at the beginning of the season. The question now is, "Will Magath will make it to the Winter Break?"
Will the real Werder Bremen please stand up?
Werder Bremen invited Borussia Mönchengladbach to the Weserstadion and laid the smack down on them. A 4-0 beatdown that likely could've been worse. However, they've been inconsistent at best this season.
Their last match was a 1-3 loss to Augsburg, and the one before that was a 0-2 loss to Bayern Munich. A draw and a win proceeded those losses. Finding a consistent form is a must for Bremen to move up the table.
A positive sign coming out of the Gladbach match is that their forwards got on the scoresheet. Before Saturday, only Nils Petersen and Joseph Akpala had scored. Petersen found the back of the net again Gladbach along with Marko Arnautovic and Niclas Füllkrug. Getting these players --- especially Arnautovic --- continuously involved in the attack moving forward will be key to Bremen's success.
Stuttgart finally get a second win. Are more on the horizon?
It took until Matchday 6 for Stuttgart to pick up their first win of the season, but win number two came only two matches later. They now have 9 points and are in 12th place, but they haven't looked great to start this season. I definitely expected them to look great. I picked them to finish third at the beginning of the season.
Let's talk about the Hamburg match. If you watched it, you'll know that Hamburg are very lucky that Stuttgart didn't win this thing 3 or 4 to 0. What were the reasons for Stuttgart's ineptitude in front of goal? Geez. I think most of it was lack of confidence. Martin Harnik and Vedad Ibisevic should've had a couple of goals apiece in the first half of the game. Harnik had the opportunity to put Stuttgart ahead after only two minutes, but he put his one on one chance right into the chest of Rene Adler.
Defensively they received some brilliant performances by midfielders William Kvist, Christian Gentner, and Raphael Holzhauser. Gentner and Holzhauser in particular were doing an excellent job of transitioning from defense and ball recovery into the attack.
Now that they've pulled to the middle of the table, Stuttgart can focus now on moving higher up the table in the coming weeks.