Surprise Bundesliga leader Paderborn off to Bayern

NESHA STARCEVIC
AP Sports Writer

MUNICH (AP) — The featured Bundesliga match will take place in Munich, and that is no surprise.

What is surprising is that it involves Paderborn, the promoted club that is playing in the top tier for the first time.

Four matches into the season, Paderborn leads three other clubs on goal difference. One of them is defending champion Bayern Munich, which hosts Paderborn on Tuesday.

Paderborn is coming off a 2-0 home win over Hannover, while Bayern had to settle for a 0-0 draw in Hamburg.

Here are some things to know about the Bundesliga matches on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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INVERTED LOOK

A casual observer is likely to rub his eyes in disbelief after looking at the Bundesliga standings four matches into the season. At the top, in order, Paderborn, Mainz, Hoffenheim. At the bottom, Schalke, Hamburger SV and Stuttgart.

It is unlikely to remain like that for long, but promoted Paderborn is making its debut in the Bundesliga a memorable one. Now comes a trip to Bayern Munich, which is in fourth, also with eight points.

“We are not traveling to Munich to take photos with World Cup champions,” Paderborn coach Andre Breitenreiter said. “We want to achieve a good result.”

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LEWANDOWSKI’S DROUGHT

Bayern Munich is living up to coach Pep Guardiola’s pre-season prediction that the defending champions will struggle in the first half of the season.

Bayern is winless on the road and came away with only one point from a visit to crisis-ridden Hamburg.

One reason for Bayern’s pale performances is that striker Robert Lewandowski is taking time to adjust to his new teammates. Lewandowski came to Bayern from Dortmund as the Bundesliga’s top scorer but he has found the net only once in seven competitive matches this season.

Bayern captain Philipp Lahm said he is not concerned and is sure Lewandowski will become effective.

“He has a lot of qualities, especially in the penalty area,” Lahm said.

Lewandowski has been long on effort but short on efficiency. His teammates say he has not been given enough useful passes. Defender Jerome Boateng said Lewandowski “needs time,” like the whole team.

Guardiola’s constant rotations may not be helping.

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HAMBURG’S REVIVAL?

Hamburg played like a rejuvenated team under coach Josef “Joe” Zinnbauer and earned a point against Bayern in a 0-0 draw.

Zinnbauer replaced Mirko Slomka last week after a sputtering start, coming from Hamburg’s under-23 side.

Unknown as coach, Zinnbauer had a modest playing career. But he was a millionaire already in his early 20s, while playing in amateur leagues. Zinnbauer had been a disco and restaurant owner, dealt in real estate, acted as a player agent and had a financial services company. He was known as the owner of flashy sports cars, which he now finds embarrassing.

“He radiates an incredible energy and motivation,” Hamburg CEO Dietmar Beiersdorfer said.

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STUTTGART’S PLUNGE

Armin Veh left a secure position as coach of Eintracht Frankfurt to return to Stuttgart, the club he led to the Bundesliga title in 2007.

Veh is not saying it, but he may be regretting the move.

Stuttgart is last in the league with one draw and three losses, including a 2-0 defeat at home to Hoffenheim. Stuttgart fought against relegation last season and seems to be heading in the same direction again.

“I am not going let myself go crazy. I’ve never been relegated in my life and that’s how it’s going to stay,” Veh said after Saturday’s loss.

Stuttgart director Fredi Bobic, himself under fire, said there won’t be any discussions about the coach.

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DORTMUND’S DOLDRUMS

Dortmund has gotten off to a good start in the Champions League with a 2-0 win over Arsenal. But in the Bundesliga, Juergen Klopp’s side if off to its worst start since the 2009-10 season.

Dortmund is in mid-table with two wins and two defeats.

Dortmund has struggled after good Champions League matches — it lost four times following Champions League matches last season and three times the season before.

“It should not be a problem, we’ve been playing in this rhythm every year,” Dortmund midfielder Sven Bender said. “We always try to take the momentum from the Champions League into Bundesliga matches.”

Klopp’s team has the chance to gain ground when it hosts Stuttgart on Wednesday.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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