In the final nine minutes (plus stoppage time) of Matchday 3, 13 goals were scored. In five games, those goals proved result-changing. For neutrals and the Bundesliga this is hugely entertaining, especially in a league short on competition, but it is also a very short-term gain that extends a long-term issue.
In Wolfsburg, two goals came from set-pieces given away by needless fouls, while the final goal was scored because of an inability to defend a long ball. Mainz’s two late goals came from two huge goalkeeping errors and in Düsseldorf the home side first committed and then benefited from a defensive error. Such mistakes happen most weekends, but it is rare that so many happen so late in so many games. Three games into the season and Bundesliga teams can’t concentrate for 90 minutes.
Inadequate fitness levels can’t be a reason, although the impact of substitutes suggests otherwise. All the goals in Mainz were scored by subs, and Dortmund wouldn’t have won were it not for the introduction of Jadon Sancho. With Matchday 3 coming off the back of an international break though, fitness is not the reason.
Tactical changes, new coaches, new teammates, no rhythm – the answer is likely lost in the complex simplicity of football jargon, but the fact the question is even being posed so early on in the season is a concern. Yes, it is great to see the Bundesliga tradition of sides exceeding expectations continue, but it is infuriating to see an equal number of sides fail to meet them. Schalke and Leverkusen, who showed signs of development last season, both have zero points after the first three games.
It is perhaps too early in the season to be worrying about a lack of concentration late on in games becoming a trend, but a handful of Germany’s teams are about to start their European campaigns this week. More of the same will leave Bundesliga sides exposed on the biggest club stage again, and the biggest concern of all is that it won’t even be a surprise this time.