Andy Brassell On European Football: Form pointers as Bundesliga resumes

Borussia Dortmund's Thorgan Hazard
Thorgan Hazard scored in the Revierderby against Schalke
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The Bundesliga had plenty of coverage as it became Europe's first elite league to resume, but with a good pace to the opening exchanges Andy Brassell looks at where it might go next...

"That Favre could replace Gio Reyna with Thorgan Hazard at a few minutes' notice was a reminder of just what sort of options are available to the coach."

Dortmund depth impresses

As far as statements go, it was emphatic. Every team had to adapt to particular circumstances, of course, but Borussia Dortmund went into the Revierderby against Schalke without the injured Marco Reus, Dan-Axel Zagadou (who will miss the remainder of the season), Axel Witsel and Emre Can - and that's before they lost 17-year-old Gio Reyna, who had been named by Lucien Favre to make a first Bundesliga start, to an ankle injury in the warm-up.

That Favre could replace Reyna with Thorgan Hazard at a few minutes' notice (and that Eden's younger brother quickly turned into the game's standout performer) was a reminder of just what sort of options are available to the coach. It had felt pre-match as if the absence of midfield pair Witsel and Can would be hard to overcome, but Thomas Delaney and Mo Dahoud made light of it, performing excellently as BVB swept to victory.

Schalke were poor and played into Dortmund's counter-attacking hands - goodness knows what would have unfolded had Favre been able to call upon a fully-fit Jadon Sancho - but the quality, and depth, of the home side was irresistible. Neutrals will hope that Dortmund can take maximum points from Wolfsburg at the weekend, which would set up an enthralling Der Klassiker encounter with Bayern Munich on May 26.

Back Dortmund to win at Wolfsburg at 4/5

Bayern can be ruffled

Speaking of Bayern, they had everything going for them that they could have hoped for before their Sunday trip to Union Berlin. Not only had the hiatus given goal machine Robert Lewandowski the time to fully recover from minor knee surgery, but they were visiting the team perhaps most acutely affected by the behind-closed-doors nature of the matches - as Thomas Müller recognised after the games, the fervent Försterei crowd can "tip the scales."

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So why, then, did Hansi Flick's team give one of the flattest performances of his reign to date? Bayern under Flick has been belief, aggression and dash all the way, but there was precious little of it in the capital. They rarely felt threatened but still needed a penalty and a goal from a set piece to prevail.

Like many others, Bayern could point to rustiness and pledge that they'll get better. Yet it was notable just how frustrated they became as it approached half-time without them making a breakthrough. Union's physical approach was very effective, and one wonders if other Bundesliga teams will try something similar.

Back against both teams to score in Bayern Munich v Eintracht Frankfurt at EVS

How good are Borussia Mönchengladbach?

Saturday's tea-time treat was seeing Gladbach, one of the Bundesliga's most aesthetically pleasing teams, in action, and their exciting front line didn't disappoint. Both Alessane Pléa and Marcus Thuram scored in the first seven minutes against Eintracht Frankfurt and Marco Rose's side were superior throughout.

Like Dortmund, praise will probably be offered sparingly to Gladbach due to the below-par performance of the opposition, but they couldn't have asked for a better restart to the campaign. RB Leipzig's slip meant that Gladbach leapfrogged them into third place, an unexpected boost on the first weekend back.

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It's a timely fillip as well with Bayer Leverkusen, a direct rival for the Champions League places and comfortable Monday night winners at Werder Bremen, visiting Borussia-Park on Saturday. Gladbach can give themselves some breathing space over Peter Bosz's team, the only team realistically placed to deny them a top four spot. Rose might need a rethink to stiffen a midfield looking a bit reedy in Denis Zakaria's absence, but they still have a great opportunity to seal an achievement not many believed they were capable of.

Back Mönchengladbach to beat Leverkusen at 11/8

Andy Brassell,

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