There are dream debuts, and then there are dream debuts. This was the latter. Marco Reus showed just why Dortmund were ready to cough up €17m as he ran the schwarzgelb show in the season-opener on Friday. "For his first game with us, it was an exceptional display," gushed BVB supremo Hans-Joachim Watzke after seeing his debutant score just 11 minutes in and generally run amok in his team's 2-1 win. "A future superstar," was Der Kaiser Franz's conclusion, while Jürgen Klopp remarked: "There'll be worse things in his life than playing for us."
True enough, but there are also worse players to spend that much money on than Reus, even if they could have had him for nothing if they hadn't released him as a teenager. Regardless, the post-Kagawa Dortmund clearly has sufficient class to become only the third club to win three successive titles. Reus will play a major role if that is the case, though Dortmund's Mr. Perfect did not avoid a faux pas on his maiden outing, failing to shake the hand of stadium announcer and all-round Dortmund legend Norbert Dickel on his way out onto the pitch. "He simply didn't see me," said Dickel, quick to make excuses for his club's new Liebchen.
Bremen defender Alex Ignjovski was also apologetic after failing to spot Reus for Dortmund's first goal. "Sad. Sorry, guys," was the Serbian's Twitter message well into a sleepless night after the game.
However, the northerners should take heart from their display. A young and largely inexperienced side all but held their own against the champions.
"A very, very good game," said sporting director Klaus Allofs. "If we show the same passion and willingness to help each other as we did in Dortmund, we'll win lots of games."
Allofs must have been impressed with Bremen's own Marko, Arnautovic. The Austrian has yet to live up to his billing since moving to Werder in 2010, but what was probably his best Bundesliga performance since — and the evident quality of loanee Kevin De Bruyne — mean Thomas Schaaf's men should enjoy their season more than the last one.
The same should be true for Stuttgart, though their opening game was anything but fun. The last-minute winner conceded to Wolfsburg, scored by Bas Dost, one of ten debutants to contribute 11 goals to the weekend, must have left an even more bitter taste in the mouth given how it came so quickly after Vedad Ibisevic's incredible miss. Though Diego Benaglio has now saved half of the 16 penalties he has faced in the Bundesliga, the Swiss international should have been picking the ball out of his net when Ibisevic followed up.
"When you switch off too early, it can happen that you shoot wide," said the Bosnia-Herzegovina forward, who didn't so much 'switch off' as 'melt down' as he fired wide of the unguarded goal. "Normally, I'd put that in with the outside of my foot, or my heel, or my head."
Or just about anything, Vedad, to be honest.
Still more inexplicable was Lewis Holtby's header for Schalke in their 2-2 draw with Hannover. The 1.76m midfielder towered over the 1.89m Mario Eggimann to head his team's second and cap what was an excellent display.
The departure of Raul saw him pushed in behind Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, and Holtby looked far more effective and comfortable there than he did in front of the back four last season.
The Germany Under-21 captain was desperately disappointed his team didn't take all three points from the game, but Rene Adler may take even more time to digest Hamburg's 1-0 defeat at home to Nuremberg on his debut for the northerners.
The 125th season in the club's history promises to be even more testing than the last one, though but for Raphaël Schäfer in the visitors' goal, Heiko Westermann would have at least snatched HSV a draw. Adler too though was excellent, and showed why Joachim Löw made him Germany's number one in the run-up to the 2010 World Cup. The new arrival from Leverkusen is more concerned about his club's fortunes though.
"It's a vicious circle," said Adler, who can't be looking forward to this weekend's derby with Bremen. "The atmosphere around the club before matches is one in which people are already taking into account the fact we'll lose. These are stormy times."
And it seems they are still not a-changin' in the north.
Ian Holyman, Eurosport 2 Bundesliga commentator
- Sports & Recreation
- Vedad Ibisevic
- Marco Reus
- Rene Adler