A brief tour through the European soccer scene

With league play getting back under way throughout Europe, there is plenty of soccer action to keep busy with.

KEVIN GROSSKREUTZ 311 (photo credit: Wolfgang Ratt/Reuters)
(photo credit: Wolfgang Ratt/Reuters)
With league play getting back under way throughout Europe, there is plenty of soccer action to keep busy with. Here is a brief glance at the happenings in Germany and France.
The Bundesliga kicked off with a big surprise last week, with favorite Bayern Munich succumbing to an opening- day defeat at home to Borussia Monchengladbach.
Bayern Munich, which will have an eye on Wednesday’s home Champions League qualifier against FC Zurich, now faces a harder task away at Wolfsburg, which started the season on Saturday with a comfortable 3-0 win away at FC Koln with striker Patrick Helmes looking to add to last week’s brace.
Borussia Dortmund was on fire last week beating Hamburg 3-1, and plays away at Hoffenheim this weekend.
The ever-impressive Shinji Kagawa showed his discipline often dropping deep to allow Gundogan to make his forward runs resulting in his two goals. FSV Mainz impressed with a 2- 0 victory over much fancied Bayer Leverkusen capitalizing on Fabian Giefer’s goalkeeping howler and an Omer Toprak own goal.
What was most pleasing to fans was that Thomas Tuchel’s side pressing and team chemistry that was on display last year, was still present even with the loss of key players that seemed to bring last seasons success.
FSV Mainz faces SZ Freiburg, which took part in an exciting draw against newly promoted FC Augsburg with the sides finishing with two apiece.
On Sunday Augsburg faces Kaiserslautern, which lost 2-0 away from home at Werder Breman with Swedish forward Markus Rosenberg firing in both goals.
Werder Breman faces Bayer Leverkusen on Sunday. Stuttgart started impressively firing from all cylinders against Schalke and will face newly pronounced giant-killers Borussia Mochengladbach on Saturday, whereas Schalke are favored against FC Koln.
Newly promoted champion Hertha Berlin, fell 1-0 at home to FC Nurnberg and has a tough task ahead on Saturday away at Hamburg.
FC Nurnberg, on the other hand, will continue its campaign at home to Hannover, which beat Hoffenheim 2-1 last weekend, although Hanover will already be looking ahead to Thursday’s Europa League qualifier against Sevilla.
In France, Paris St-Germain suffered a shock 1-0 home defeat against Lorient in the opening weekend in Ligue 1.
Paris St-Germain has heavily reinforced its roster this summer with the acquisitions of Jeremy Menez and Blaise Matuidi amongst others.
It also spent heavily on star-striker Kevin Gameiro and a reported 43 million euros on Javier Pastore.
It is no wonder so many tip it to become a European super-club in the near future and the big-spender will be keen not to make it two on the trot away from home at Rennes, which started the season with a 5-1 rout of newly-promoted Dijon.
Both teams will be distracted by action on Thursday, with Rennes having an away trip to Serbia to face Red Star Belgrade, while Paris St-Germain has a journey to Greece for a date with Olympiakos Volou.
Lorient has another tough game this Saturday, facing Bordeaux, which will be looking to make up for a loss at home against Saint-Etienne.
Saint-Etienne will be looking to make it two on the trot at home against AS Nancy, which held last season’s champions Lille to a 1-1 draw last week at the Stade Marcel Picot. Lille has a Sunday fixture at home to Montpellier, which impressively beat Auxerre 3-1.
Auxerre also features in Sunday’s fixtures with a home game against last season’s runners up, Marseille, which was held to a 2-2 draw at home to European newcomers Sochaux.
Caens and Valciennes were separated by a Gregory Proment goal at the Stade Michel d’Omano.
Caens will be looking to back up last week’s away victory at Sochaux, which will be awaiting on Thursday’s European encounter in Ukraine against Metalist.
Valciennes has a home tie against Stade Brest, which came back from two goals down against Evian to claim a draw.
Evian, which was the champion of last season’s Ligue 2, will have its second taste of action in the top-flight with a Sunday tie against Nice, which just barely survived relegation last season.
Nice lost at home against European Giants Lyon, 3-1 and Lyon will be looking to make it two straight wins with a home game against Ligue 1 new-boys Ajaccio.
Lyon though, faces Rubin Kazan in the Champions League qualifiers and will be sure to rest some players so that they are fresh for this challenging fixture.
Ajaccio lost 2-0 at home to Toulouse with goals from midfielders Antoine Devaux and Paulo Machado proving to be too much for them to cope, Toulouse face this Saturday a home fixture against Dijon.
On TV: Saturday:Wolfsburg vs Bayern Munich (live on Sport 2 at 4:25 p.m.); Borussia Monchengladbach vs Stuttgart (live on Sport 2 at 7:25 p.m.)