It might only be week three of the new Bundesliga season but some of the usual suspects are already setting the pace.
Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig have recorded perfect starts to the 2019-20 campaign, picking up maximum points with some thumping wins. Meanwhile, Bayern Munich sit two points adrift and are still recovering from an opening day draw.
Here, Sportsmail previews their upcoming fixtures, as well as every other clash from round three as the Bundesliga campaign starts to pick up pace…
Philippe Coutinho will be looking to make his first Bundesliga start for Bayern Munich vs Mainz
Borussia Monchengladbach vs RB Leipzig – 7:30pm, BT Sport 2
Leipzig have kicked off their Bundesliga campaign in emphatic fashion, thrashing Union Berlin 4-0 on the opening day of the season before overcoming Eintracht Frankfurt at home.
However, they face a very tricky test at Monchengladbach next, who have four points from their opening two games and finished fifth last season. Victory on Friday night would be a big statement of intent from Julian Nagelsmann’s side.
And they will look to main man Timo Werner, who has previously been linked with Liverpool and Bayern Munich, once more after netting twice in as many games.
But Leipzigwill have problems to deal with of their own, despite the departure of Monchengladbach’s star man Thorgan Hazard to Dortmund. And one of them is last season’s top scorer Alassane Plea – who is looking to take on the leading role this season.
The French forward scored eight goals in his first 11 Bundesliga games, before finishing with a total of 12 as Gladbach just missed out on Champions League qualification on the final day.
Gladbach have started off in solid form under new manager Marco Rose and victory over title-challengers Leipzig would send out a big message that they are ready for Champions League football.
Timo Werner celebrates scoring his side’s opening goal in the win over Frankfurt last week
Bayer Leverkusen vs Hoffenheim – 2:30pm
After a disappointing campaign last time out, this match represents the chance for Hoffenheim to prove that they deserve to be playing European football again.
Hoffenheim missed out on Europe for the first time in three seasons and on Saturday they come up against a Leverkusen side in formidable form – only Bayern and Leipzig have amassed more points since Peter Bosz took over in December last year.
And Leverkusen have started this campaign in fine form, picking up maximum points and scoring six goals in two games even without the creativity and magic of Julian Brandt, who departed for Dortmund this summer.
Meanwhile, Hoffenheim have four points so far, bouncing back from a defeat to Frankfurt by beating Werder Bremen under new manager Alfred Schreuder.
Only Bayern and Leipzig have won more points since Peter Bosz arrived at Leverkusen last year
Bayern Munich vs Mainz – 2:30pm
This fixture could get ugly for Mainz, who are rooted to the bottom of the table after having conceded six goals already against Freiburg and Monchengladbach.
And with that, Bayern manager Niko Kovac will be extremely confident of claiming back-to-back victories after a disappointing opener to the campaign.
It also represents the perfect opportunity to throw new signing Coutinho into the starting XI at the Allianz Arena after moving on loan from European rivals Barcelona.
Despite his nightmare in Spain, Coutinho is still regarded as one of the best players in world football and Bayern will be hoping his arrival can help them in their quest for Champions League glory.
Meanwhile, Ivan Perisic will also be looking for his first start after putting pen to paper on a deal from Inter Milan. The new Bayern duo both came on as second-half substitutes in the routine 3-0 victory at Schalke.
The omens certainly aren’t good for the visitors. The Bundesliga giants have won each of their last four matches against Mainz, scoring 14 goals in total and conceding just once.
Robert Lewandowski scored a hat-trick in the comfortable victory over Schalke last weekend
Freiburg vs Cologne – 2:30pm
They may have finished 13th last season, conceding 61 times, but Freiburg have started this term in brilliant style, picking up maximum points and scoring six goals overall against Mainz and Paderborn.
They represent a very difficult task for newly-promoted Cologne, who have found life tough since their promotion back to the top-flight – they remain pointless after two matches.
And things don’t seem to be getting any easier for Cologne after Jhon Cordoba went off injured in last weekend’s defeat to Dortmund. Therefore, Simon Terodde, who was last season’s top scorer for the club, should take his place in attack.
Luca Waldschmidt heads into the clash for Freiburg in fine form, scoring in each of their three competitive games this season. The Germany Under 21 international now has 11 in his last nine fixtures for both club and country. So he will be looking to put the Billy Goats’ defence to the sword.
Cologne led against Dortmund before conceding three times in the second half at home
Schalke vs Hertha Berlin – 2:30pm
Former Huddersfield manager David Wagner is still searching for his first victory in charge of Schalke after they were undone by a Robert Lewandowski hat-trick last time out. They have also yet to score this season, which will come as a worry.
But it hasn’t been too straight-forward for their upcoming opponents Hertha Berlin, who after holding Bayern to a draw in the opening game of the season, fell to a damaging 3-0 defeat at home to Wolfsburg.
One positive note for Wagner before kick-off is that Schalke have beaten Hertha 20 times in the Bundesliga since the turn of the millennium – more than they have beaten any other team.
Wagner will be looking to Weston McKennie for some inspiration, who is in line for his 50th Bundesligsa appearance while Hertha boss Ante Covic will likely give the same XI a chance to redeem themselves after a strong start against Wolfsburg. Former Chelsea and Ajax youngster Daishawn Redan made his league debut last weekend and could feature on Saturday for the visitors.
Ex-Huddersfield manager David Wagner is still searching for his first victory with Schalke
Wolfsburg vs Paderborn – 2:30pm
Hugely contrasting fortunes so far for both teams, with Wolfsburg getting off to a flyer with maximum points while newly-promoted Paderborn, who have been on a rollercoaster journey of late, remain pointless.
The Wolves have never won their opening three Bundesliga fixtures before and will turn to Wout Weghorst for the goals once more. The striker, who was their top scorer last term, has netted in all three competitive matches so far.
It looks like an ominous task for Paderborn, who have shipped six goals already in the top-flight but attack is the best form of defence and in Streli Mamba, they can provide a threat with the striker having scored in every game this season.
There will be familiar surroundings for Paderborn head coach, Steffen Baumgart. He played 32 of his 225 Bundesliga matches for Wolfsburg, where he scored five out of his 29 top-flight goals.
Wout Weghorst has netted in all three competitive matches so far for the impressive Wolfsburg
Union Berlin vs Borussia Dortmund – 5:30pm, BT Sport 2
After picking up a plucky draw away from home against Augsburg and getting their first points on the board, facing Dortmund immediately after isn’t the most ideal fixture as Union Berlin look to build momentum following their promotion.
They will have to come up with something special to stop England international Jadon Sancho, who became the youngest player to reach 15 Bundesliga goals during Dortmund’s 3-1 win in Cologne last week.
Dortmund are already the league’s top scorers after netting an emphatic eight times in two games, with five different players sharing the goals – Paco Alcacer (three), Sancho (two), Marco Reus, Julian Brandt and Achraf Hakimi (all one).
One man who will be looking to stop Dortmund’s formidable attack is Neven Subotic, who made 196 Bundesliga appearances for Saturday’s visitors between 2008-2018 – winning back-to-back titles under Jurgen Klopp in 2011 and 2012.
While defence will be a priority for the hosts, Swedish striker Sebastian Andersson will look to clause problems for Dortmund’s backline after getting the equaliser against Augsburg as a substitute last time out.
Jadon Sancho became the youngest player to reach 15 Bundesliga goals for Dortmund
Werder Bremen vs Augsburg – 2:30pm, BT Sport 1
While there hasn’t been lift-off for Bremen in the Bundesliga just yet this season, there have been plenty of encouraging signs for Florian Kohfeldt’s side heading into this weekend’s action.
They may have lost their first two league games against Hoffenheim and Dusseldorf, but their 43 shots on goal so far is a Bundesliga high – five more than pace-setters Dortmund have managed.
Augsburg are also looking for their first victory of the campaign and the omens are good for them, boasting the league’s best recent record at Bremen’s home with four wins, one draw and three defeats.
And expect this to be an exciting game. None of the last 14 league meetings between the two sides has ended in a stalemate.
Florian Kohfeldt’s Werder Bremen side have been impressive in their two defeats this season
Eintracht Frankfurt vs Fortuna Dusseldorf – 5:00pm, BT Sport 1
The narrow defeat away to Leipzig last time out signalled a mixed start for Frankfurt but last season’s Europa League semi-finalists will be confident of bouncing back in style against Dusseldorf.
Frankfurt won both games last season, with Luka Jovic – now at Real Madrid – scoring five times in a remarkable victory at home back in October 2018. But now they have a new-look attack.
Bas Dost, who arrived from Sporting Lisbon earlier in the week, could make his debut on Sunday but the in-form Goncalo Paciencia might have a say about that while Ante Rebic could return to the side after sitting out the defeat to Leipzig.
Dusseldorf, just like their opponents, have picked up three points so far this term and may look to their American goalkeeper Zack Steffen – on loan from Manchester City – to help them out once again after making a league-high 10 saves on his debut against Werder Bremen.
Zack Steffen made a Bundesliga league-high 10 saves on his debut against Werder Bremen