Author Archives: Terry

Loveys’ Bundesliga 2 Betting Preview – Matchday 24

Tom Loveys is back with some more betting prospects for the German Second Division. Follow Tom on Twitter here.

Hertha took over as leaders of the 2.Bundesliga last Monday with a hard fought 1-0 victory over Kaiserslautern. With the away side being reduced to 10 men following the sending off of Baumjohann on (33), Hertha found it difficult to break down a stubborn defence after Ronny missed an early penalty after just 3 minutes.

With an extremely attacking formation in the 2nd half, Luhukay’s side were finally able to get the much needed goal, Per Kluge with a fine finish from a Lassoga flick.

Braunschweig dropped down to 2nd as a result of Hertha’s victory and their loss to 1860 Munchen on Sunday. Despite going a goal up Kumbela’s 14th goal this season, 1860 mounted a superb comeback with goals from Friend and Lauth on (77) and (85) respectively.

St Pauli turned in an impressive and much needed performance beating Frankfurt 3-0, Daniel Ginczek with an impressive hat-trick. FC Koln kept up their unbeaten run with a 2-0 victory over Union and at the bottom, both Regensburg and Dresden picked up away points, but Sandhausen lost after taking the lead against Paderborn.

Matchday 24: Odds from Coral as of 28th February 2013

Paderborn 5/4 Draw 9/4 Cottbus 2/1
Regensburg 6/5 Draw 9/4 Sandhausen 21/10
Union 8/11 Draw 13/5 Aue 10/3
Dresden 10/3 Draw 13/5 Hertha 8/11
Kaiserslautern 1/2 Draw 11/4 Bochum 11/2
1860 Munchen 5/6 Draw 12/5 Ingolstadt 3/1
FSV Frankfurt 19/10 Draw 9/4 Fc Koln 13/10
Aalen 11/8 Draw 11/5 St.Pauli 15/8
Duisburg 9/4 Draw 23/10 Braunschweig 11/10


Tom’s Best Bets: (Industry Best Odds as of 28th February 2013)

Regensburg v Sandhausen (Over 2.5 Goals @ 11/10)

The clash of the bottom two and whilst both teams will probably be looking at 3.Liga action next season, I see this as an entertaining clash. The unpredictability of both defences leads me to believe that goals are expected with 90 goals being conceded between the two teams in their games so far this season. Regensburg’s recent form has been much improved and in Frank Loning, Sandhausen have someone who knows where the goal is, having notched 1o already this season.

Braunschweig to beat Duisburg @ 11/10

Braunschweig will be keen to get back on track after a few below par performances and surrendering their place at the top of the 2.Bundesliga. Their away form has been impressive throughout and Kumbela’s is a massive goal-scoring threat. Duisburg are hovering just above the relegation-play-off place and have only mustered 2 home wins all season.

Kaiserslautern to be leading at H/T @ 11/10

Again the home side here will want to prove that Monday’s below par performance against Hertha (admittedly with 10 men) was a one-off. They are a force at the Fritz-Walter Stadion and with the return of Idrissou, they should present a 1st half threat to Bochum and are taken to be leading at 45 minutes.

As ever, I have looked at every game this Matchday and have selected a bet in each of the 9 games with a price of Evens or above. Selecting some or all of these in doubles/trebles or above could result in decent returns for small stakes.

We are in desperate need of a few better results (and a bit of luck) to turn around some small losses over the last three weeks. The Draw No Bet and H/T results have been the most profitable for us so far.

Paderborn to beat Cottbus 5/4
Regensburg v Sandhausen: Over 2.5 Goals 11/10
Union to be leading at H/T 11/8
Dresden/Hertha: 2nd Half Highest Scoring Half 5/4
Kaiserslautern to be winning at HT v Bochum 11/10
1860/Ingolstadt: Both Teams to score EVS
Frankfurt/FC Koln: 2nd Half Highest Scoring Half 5/4
Aalen v St.Pauli: Only 1 team to score 11/10
Braunschweig to beat Duisburg 11/10


Good luck with any bets you place and enjoy the action…

Loveys’ Bundesliga 2 Betting Preview – Matchday 23

Tom Loveys is back with some more betting prospects for the German Second Division. Follow Tom on Twitter here.

Outright Odds from Coral (As of 20th February)

FRI Aue 6/4 Draw 21/10 Aalen 6/4
FRI Bochum 11/10 Draw 11/5 Duisburg 2/1
FRI St.Pauli 10/11 Draw 11/5 Frankfurt 5/2
SAT FC Koln Evs Draw 11/5 Union Berlin 11/5
SAT Ingolstadt Evs Draw 11/5 Dresden 11/5
SUN Braunschweig 4/5 Draw 9/4 1860 Munchen 11/4
SUN Cottbus 4/6 Draw 12/5 Regensburg 10/3
SUN Sandhausen 6/4 Draw 9/4 Paderborn 11/8
MON Hertha 4/5 Draw 9/4 Kaiserslautern 11/5


Braunschweig and Hertha maintained their march towards the top flight last week with hard fought victories over Regensburg and Aalen respectively. The gap from Hertha to third place Kaiserslautern is now 10 points, after the Red Devils failed to beat Duisburg last Sunday. Bochum pulled off a great result away at 1860 Munchen, after spending much of the match with only 10 men, following the sending off of Eyjolfsson on 17 minutes.

Dynamo Dresden chalked up an important victory, winning 3-1 at home to Sandhausen in a relegation scrap and FC Koln made it 10 games unbeaten with a 1-0 victory away to struggling St.Pauli.

Work to do for followers of these selections, as a small loss was delivered last week. Although Frankfurt beating Cottbus at 6/4 was one of the ‘Best Bets’ of the week and other profits were gained with Braunschweig at H/T 21/20 and FC Koln (DNB) at 11/10

On to Matchday 23, my pick of the ties is Hertha at home to Kaiserslautern and having attended this match last year (as a top flight clash where Hertha lost 2-1), I’m keen for ‘Die Alte Dame’ to gain revenge and increase the points gap between the teams. Braunschweig v 1860 Munchen is also another interesting tie and probably the pick of the other games.

‘BEST Bets’

 Aalen (DNB) to beat Aue @ 23/20

Aalen have played both Braunschweig and Hertha over the last two weeks and have been more than a match for both these teams, despite only coming away with a point. Aue on the other hand have lost the last three in the league, so surely Aalen are the value, especially with my frequently used (DNB) market at 23/20. The away side’s goals have been spread throughout the team, but their striker lynchpin is Robert Lechleiter, who’s hoping to improve on his tally of 5 so far this season.

Cottbus to keep a clean sheet vs Regensburg @ Evens

Cottbus are on a terrible run of form, having not won in 7 matches, and neither scoring at all in the last four. However, they are a solid outfit at home, but to prevail over the 90 minutes is a restricting 4/6. Regensburg are struggling at the foot of the table and we’re hoping that Cottbus can turn in a much improved performance with a solid defence as this could re-ignite their season and improve confidence.

Paderborn to score 1st vs Sandhausen@ Evs

This market was a winning bet for us a fortnight ago and we plan to use this again, benefitting from Paderborn’s strong away form. I wouldn’t put people off Paderborn in 90 minutes at 6/4, although Sandhausen’s home form and their recent demolition of St.Pauli, needs to be taken into account. Paderborn have scored first in eight of their eleven away games and have won their last two 2BL games against Ingolstadt and Aue. We’ll hope that this improved run continues and they can strike first against the relegation-threatened home outfit.

As always, below are a variety of different markets where I’ve given a selection in all 9 games for your enjoyment at prices of Evens or above.

Matchday 23 Selections: (Industry Best Prices as of the 20th February)

Aalen (DNB) to beat Aue 23/20
Duisburg to score first against Bochum 11/8
Frankfurt (DNB) to beat St.Pauli 15/8
FC Koln v Union Berlin : DRAW 18/7
Ingolstadt to beat Dresden EVS
Braunschweig v 1860 Munchen: Draw at H/T 15/13
Cottbus to keep a clean sheet vs Regensburg 6/5
Paderborn to score 1st against Sandhausen Evs
Hertha v Kaiserslautern: Draw at H/T 15/13

Good luck with any bets you place!

Loveys’ Bundesliga 2 Betting Preview – Matchday 22

The Bundesliga Lounge is delighted to be syndicating Tom Loveys’ excellent betting previews for the German second division. Follow Tom on Twitter here.

Current Odds (12th February) with Coral.

FRI 1860 Munchen 4/5 Draw 12/5 Bochum 10/3
FRI Paderborn Evs Draw 12/5 Aue 12/5
FRI Regensburg 7/2 Draw 5/2 Braunschweig 8/11
SAT Union 8/11 Draw 5/2 Ingolstadt 7/2
SAT Aalen 3/1 Draw 12/5 Hertha 5/6
SUN Duisburg 23/10 Draw 9/4 Kaiserslautern 11/10
SUN Dresden 19/20 Draw 12/5 Sandhausen 13/5
SUN FSV Frankfurt 6/4 Draw 9/4 Cottbus 13/8
MON St.Pauli 11/8 Draw 9/4 FC Koln 9/5

In Matchday 21, leaders Braunschweig escaped with a point with a late equaliser at home to Aalen. Hertha battled back from two down in a pulsating Berlin derby watched by around 75,000 spectators. Ramos and Ronny’s strikes earning a draw after Union had gone clear with goals from Terrode and Nemec. Kaiserslautern made progress in 3rd place, comfortably beating Dresden. At the other end of the table, there were wins for Regensburg (beating Bochum away 2-0) and result of the week was Sandhausen’s demolition of St. Pauli……predicted here last week.

Looking at last week’s selections, two of the three best bets obliged with success in the ‘Draw No Bet’ markets. Overall from the 9 points staked, we lost 1.90 points, so a little work to do as we head towards Matchday 22.

Best Bets: (Industry Best Prices as of 12th February)

Kaiserslautern to beat Duisburg @ 11/10

Kaiserslautern have started strongly after the winter break with two wins against 1860 Munchen and Dresden, Having won 5 out of their 10 away games, I feel this impetus and desire to chase down the top two will continue against a Duisburg side who have already lost 6 at home and 2 of the last three. Idrissou and Bunjaku are the away side’s firepower with 18 goals between them.

1860 (-1) to beat Bochum @ 13/5

The home side were a ‘winner’ for me last week and I like to think they can repeat their performance last week over a Bochum side that were beaten at home to Regensburg. 1860 are a great bet at 10/11, however as we look to find value at Evens or better, we will side with the handicap market, 1860 (-1 goal) at 13/5. Maybe a small wager on the 2-0 scoreline at 8/1 for those that like the bigger odds.

Frankfurt to beat Cottbus @ 6/4

Frankfurt have been strong at home early this season, the only team to inflict a defeat on Hertha Berlin and last week turned in a strong performance in beating Aue 2-0 away. This home form has slipped of recent, although these defeats were to 1860, Kaiserslautern , Braunschweig and Ingolstadt and whilst Cottbus are challenging in the upper half of the table, their away form has been average at best with 3 losses and 2 draws in the last five games. The home side’s firepower comes from Dutch striker, John Verhoek, who’ll be looking to add to his tally of 7 this season after scoring last week and whilst I see this as a tight game. 6/4 about the home team appears of value.

As always, I’ve scoured all of the available markets to find a selection in each of the nine 2.Bundesliga games from Friday through to Monday and all selections will be at Evens or better.

Matchday 22 Bets: (Industry Best Prices as of 13th February)

1860 Munchen (-1) against Bochum 13/5
Paderborn v Aue: Over 2.5 Goals Evens
Braunschweig to be leading at H/T 21/20
Union to be leading at H/T 24/17
Hertha (-1) against Aalen 12/5
Kaiserslautern to beat Duisburg 11/10
Dresden v Sandhausen: Both teams to score in the 1st half 15/4
Frankfurt to beat Cottbus 6/4
FC Koln (DNB) against St.Pauli 11/10

Dante set for Brazil debut at Wembley

Bayern Munich’s 29-year-old defender Dante is set to win his first cap for Brazil in a friendly against England at Wembley on Wednesday reports Mark Lovell.

Brazil’s new and old coach Luiz Felipe Scolari (lovingly known as Big Phil) had no hesitation in calling up the Bayern defensive lynchpin to his revamped squad. With regular centre half Thiago Silva of PSG currently out injured, Dante travels to London on Monday with high hopes of a first start for the Seleção (Brazil national team).

Scolari, a World Cup winning coach against Germany in 2002, is back in charge of the ‘Boys from Brazil’ for a second spell after replacing Mano Menezes. The ex-Chelsea manager quickly needs to instil a feel-good factor in the Brazilian national squad ahead of the fast approaching 2014 World Cup on home soil.

Dante joined Bayern in the summer from Borussia Mönchengladbach for a bargain fee of €5m. He has been an ever-present this Bundesliga campaign and has quickly established himself as an integral part of Bayern’s parsimonious backline. Dante is arguably the Bavarians’ stand-out defender this season, compensating for the serious injury of Holger Badstuber.

After the record German champions’ comfortable away win in the carnival city of Mainz on Saturday, Dante immediately turned his attentions to the mouth-watering prospect of a Brazil debut at Wembley, the ‘home of football’.

“Now, I just want to concentrate on the Seleção,” explained Dante. “I am very happy to have this opportunity and hope to get the chance to play. I am the only newcomer to the squad, so it’s going to be difficult to earn the coach’s trust right away.”

Despite the match’s billing as a mere friendly, Dante says he cannot wait for the game and is keen to impress the new boss. “England against Brazil, this is a classic of the world game,” he beamed.

Away from Dante’s potential debut, there is likely to be more media scrutiny on the returning Ronaldinho. The two-time World Player of the Year has also been called back into Big Phil’s star-studded squad for this glamorous fixture, kicking off the English Football Association’s (FA) 150th anniversary celebrations.

Dante flies to London on Monday to meet up with the rest of the squad and could form a potentially formidable ‘afro partnership’ with Chelsea’s David Luiz in the heart of the Seleção defence.

“That would be cool,” Dante joked. “Though he is blonder than me.”

On the subject of eye-catching hairstyles, Dante may have to mark someone with his very own hair history. In-form England striker Wayne Rooney famously underwent hair transplant surgery in 2011. ‘Roo’ will soon realise, like the rest of the millions watching around the world, that there is much more substance to Dante than just a frizzy ‘fro.

Sven jilts the Jordanian

Sven-Göran Eriksson has turned down the opportunity to join second division TSV 1860 Munich, reports Mark Lovell.

There has been much speculation linking the 64-year-old Swede with the Lions since he attended three games before the winter break, as a friend and advisor of Jordanian investor Hasan Ismaik. After a compromise, a deal was hammered out on Monday, Eriksson was expected to join forces with current head coach Alexander Schmidt as soon as the small-print was finalised with CEO Robert Schäfer.

However, after meeting Schäfer in London, the former England coach asked for more time to ponder the offer.
“We discussed the club and the second division at length and in detail. In addition, we considered how he could be best integrated into the current coaching team”, said Schäfer. However, Eriksson telephoned Schäfer a day later to advise him that he would not be taking up a coaching role at the club.

“Since the first contact with the club last November, a fair bit of time has passed and all of us know how fast-moving the professional football business is”, said Eriksson in a statement. “I therefore ask all concerned to respect my decision. I wish my friend Hasan Ismaik and TSV 1860 Munich every success for the future.”

Since the announcement Schäfer has given reassurances that Eriksson’s change of heart will not affect Monday’s agreement or the club’s three year plan to regain Bundesliga status. Whether Mr Ismaik feels the same way remains to be seen and Sven’s decision is just another in a long list of chaotic occurrences surrounding the club.

Alexander Schmidt will remain as 1860′s head coach.

This piece was originally published in the Munich Eye.

Let’s all meet up in the year 2000

Mark Lovell (twitter @LovellLowdown) recalls a Champions League clash between German and English sides – both with an extremely passionate and loyal following.

Both TSV 1860 Munich and Leeds United currently languish in the second tier of their respective country’s leagues after suffering the humiliation of financial implosion.

Back in August 2000, the ‘Lions’ of Munich and the ‘Peacocks’ from Leeds met in a two- legged qualifier, with the winners guaranteed a sum in the region of £25m for simply reaching the group stages – so long ago that the Deutschmark (and not the Euro) was still in circulation.

1860 Munich were crowned Bundesliga champions in 1966 before their ‘noisy neighbours’ Bayern Munich had a lot to shout about. However, 1860 had never beaten English opposition, most famously losing to West Ham in the 1965 Cup Winners Cup final at Wembley. As recently as 1991, the Lions were plying their trade in the regional Bavarian leagues, after being denied a licence to play top-flight football, before rising up the league pyramid to the brink of Champions League qualification under brusque coach Werner Lorant.

Under the tutelage of Don Revie, Leeds United were the dominant side of the late 60s and early 70s in England. Between 1965 and 1974, Revie’s side never finished outside of the top four, winning two League Championships (1968-69; 1973-74), the FA Cup (1972), the League Cup (1968) and two Inter-Cities Fairs Cups (1968 and 1971).

A host of famous names from Leeds’ illustrious past made the trip to the Bavarian capital, gracing the media entourage. Johnny Giles, Joe Jordan and Peter Lorimer, as well as assistant Eddie Gray, were a reminder of the club’s glory days.

Leeds did have bitter memories of a previous clash with a Munich side after losing to Bayern in the 1975 European Cup final. On that night in Paris, Leeds considered themselves very hard done by. Bayern won 2-0, but not before the French referee had disallowed Lorimer’s seemingly valid goal and denied Leeds two clear-cut penalties. These decisions and the dismal defeat had sparked riots in the crowd, resulting in a European ban and a slump in the English club’s fortunes.

The Leeds side of 2000 was about to embark on some massive spending under Chairman Peter Risdale’s regime. The Yorkshire giants had every intention of “living the dream”, to ensure footballing success.

The English side travelled to Munich holding a slender 2-1 advantage from the first leg at Elland Road. Ex-Bristol City striker Paul Agostino grabbed a lifeline for the Lions with a precious late goal in Yorkshire, after the home side had been reduced to nine men with both Olivier Dacourt and Erik Bakke seeing red.

Leeds manager David O’Leary felt that the luck of the Irish had deserted him.

“I thought all the sendings off were wrong,” he said. “I thought they were a joke, unbelievable.”

As a result Leeds were reduced to a skeleton squad, with O’Leary bemoaning his fate ahead of the big-money game in Munich’s Olympic Stadium.

“I don’t mean this as a joke, but I don’t know what side I can field for that game,” O’Leary complained.

“I’m not very confident about going through. I’m not being defeatist, I’m just being realistic, it’s no way to be going into the biggest game this club has had without nine players.”

As the hotly anticipated second-leg clash loomed, the Lions’ (now deceased) President Karl-Heinz Wildmoser viewed it as his club’s “most important game in three decades”.

Yours truly was amongst the 56,000 crowd that turned up on a balmy summer night in the historic stadium, built for the 1972 Munich Olympics. Around 2500 travelling supporters were in fine voice after the customary pre-match lubrication with the local Munich product.

I can vividly recall the fiery Lorant prowling his technical area – a thick mop of grey hair, gesticulating wildly through a haze of cigarette smoke, trying to motivate his charges.

The standout 1860 player was undoubtedly the diminutive German midfielder Thomas ‘Icke’ Hässler, a 1990 World Cup and Euro 96 winner.

Hässler, 34 at the time, was coming to the end of an illustrious career but still ran the show in the middle of the park as the Lions pressed for a vital goal.

Current 1860 player Daniel Bierofka was a mere 21-year-old youngster making his way in the game on this heady night in Munich, whilst two-time Bundesliga top scorer Martin Max provided the goal threat in a lively Lions side.

Hässler almost broke the deadlock in the final seconds of the first half with a rasping free-kick from the edge of the box. Nigel Martyn was beaten all ends up in the Leeds goal, but the ball smacked against the woodwork to safety.

The game was decided immediately after the interval. Martyn punted long, aiming for the imposing figure of Leeds striker Mark Viduka, signed that summer from Celtic. The Aussie Viduka caused havoc in the box against 1860 Captain Marco Kurz, who later went on to manage the club. The loose ball fell nicely to Alan Smith, a Leeds-born striker, who was just 19 at the time. Smith dispatched with aplomb to seal a 3-1 aggregate win over the Lions, who had to make do with UEFA Cup football.

Man of the match was undoubtedly English international goalkeeper Martyn. The Cornishman made a string of fine saves to deny the hosts and keep the makeshift Leeds side ahead.

Ironically, the Lions’ “noisy neighbours” Bayern Munich later lifted the trophy, beating Valencia 5–4 on penalties after a 1–1 draw after extra time. The Spanish side had overcome a full-strength Leeds side in the semi-finals.

This was as good as it got for Leeds as living the dream proved unsustainable. Leeds slipped into administration in 2007, dropping all the way to the third tier of English football, whilst 1860 have managed only mid-table mediocrity in the German second
division since 2004.

Competition: Champions League, 3rd Qualifying Round, Second Leg

Score: TSV 1860 Munich 0 Leeds United 1 (Alan Smith)

1860 Munich: Hoffmann, Passlack (Winkler 63′), Puerk, Max, Hässler, Cerny, Mykland,
Stranzl, Borimirov (Beierle 78′), Agostino, Bierofka (Tyce 73′)

Unused subs: Greilich, Riedl, Pfudere, Jentsch (gk)

Leeds United: Martyn, Kelly, Harte, Radebe, Woodgate, Viduka, Bowyer, Smith, Mills,
Jones (G. Evans 73′), Duberry

Unused subs: Bridges, Huckerby, McMaster, Molenaar, Hackworth, Robinson (gk)

Venue: Olympic Stadium, Munich, Germany


Mark Lovell muses over Pep Guardiola’s appointment at ‘Project’ Bayern.

Respected Spanish football writer Guillem Balague wrote in his recent Pep Guardiola biography, “He needs a new club to offer him ‘cariño’, an expression [a word] that doesn’t exist in English, a concept between friendship and love, respect and commitment. ‘Affection’ is perhaps the closest.”

These values are very much at the core of Bayern Munich. However, it still came as a surprise to many when the club announced in midweek that Josep ‘Pep’ Guardiola, the hottest coaching property in world football, had agreed to join them in the summer on a three-year deal. He will be the first Spanish manager in Bundesliga history, let alone in Bayern history. He is a Catalan cut from the same cloth as the proud Bavarians.

Premier Precedent

I can imagine the oligarchs and sheikhs’chins dropped to the ground after they heard the announcement. Particularly when one considers that, only the day before, he had underlined his love for the English game.

I believe the short-term nature of the Premier League scared Pep. Today, to almost universal dismay and astonishment, recently promoted side Southampton sacked their manager Nigel Adkins. The Saints had a decent record of just two defeats in 12 games, including a midweek draw against Champions of Europe Chelsea. Few managers are safe in the Premiership. Even Pep’s rival José Mourinho felt the wrath of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich.

Listen to the heart

Guardiola’s agent Jose Maria Orobitg revealed that his prized client had opted for the German ‘FCB’ because it was the ‘best project’. “Bayern did not offer the most money,” he said. “Guardiola chose this club because of its organisation, its opportunities and its players.” He is to be lauded for deciding against the constant fear of dismissal – no matter how much more lucrative the financial package might have been elsewhere. CEO of Bayern München AG Karl-Heinz Rummenigge confirmed that Guardiola had listened more to his heart than monetary factors when making his decision. “If it were purely down to money, Bayern would have had no chance,” he explained. The Bayern hierarchy deserves praise for using their ‘soft skills’ to stress the club’s values to Guardiola so convincingly.

Bayern ticked all the boxes as a destination for Pep’s next ‘project’. This is a club with a rich history and a sense of tradition, where former players play key roles. Uli Hoeness is the feisty President after enjoying more than 30 years as general manager; Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, is a diligent Chairman of the executive board; and ‘Kaiser’ Franz Beckenbauer has loyally served the club in many capacities – too many to mention – but all with great aplomb. My personal favourite ‘cariño’ story is goal-scoring legend Gerd Mueller being spared an alcoholic death by the caring Hoeness, and recovering to become a respected member of the Bayern family.

It was former Sports Director Christian Nerlinger who made the first approach to Guardiola back in June 2012. The ex Glasgow Rangers midfielder is no longer at the club, paying the price with his job for Bayern’s trophy drought. The record German champions haven’t won a trophy since May 2010.

Matthias Sammer, Nerlinger’s replacement, was offered a free rein to implement sweeping changes in the club’s organisation, particularly in youth development, where he had built up a burgeoning reputation as the German FA’s (DFB) youth co-ordinator.

Raúl Return?

It will be interesting to see how the working relationship between Sammer and the new coach pans out. Sammer may find himself marginalised. Guardiola will have been astute enough to insist on certain guarantees as to the scope of his ‘project’. He is expected to bring at least two of his ‘own’ men with him to Munich. There are early whispers of ex Real Madrid superstar Raúl coming to Bayern as Pep’s assistant. The two were close friends in the Spanish national side and Raúl gained valuable recent Bundesliga experience with Schalke 04.

Scribes far more talented than I have continued to wax lyrically about the grace, style and substance of Guardiola’s Barcelona, where it was seemingly not all about winning and hoarding trophies. It was all about how you played the game. Trophies (14 in just 4 years) were simply a pleasant side effect.


My early days in Munich coincided with the legendary Giovanni Trapattoni’s time at the club. His press conferences were often more entertaining than some of the drab ‘Catenaccio’ football on offer at the exposed Olympia Stadion.

Bayern showed they can take a strong stance by sacking Felix Magath back in 2007. The disciplinarian had won two successive doubles (a run of success unparalleled in German football history) in just 33 months in charge. However, Magath was heavily criticised for his side’s workmanlike playing style and his antiquated training regime.

Ottmar Hitzfeld delivered the Holy Grail with the Champions League trophy in 2001 and was Bayern’s go to man after Magath was fired.

The current Switzerland national coach also won Europe’s most prestigious trophy with rivals Borussia Dortmund in 1997. This fact and his pragmatic playing style perhaps explain why he doesn’t get the credit he deserves for his exploits, especially amongst Bayern fans.

Uli Hoeness would prefer to gloss over the failed experiment with Jürgen Klinsmann. Hoeness described the current US national coach appointment as his “worst mistake” in management.

Bayern took a different tact after repeated Champions League failures and invested heavily in world class players such as Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben – stumping up the wages that they could readily earn elsewhere. A more ‘Guardiola-friendly’ playing style was first instigated by Louis van Gaal in 2009.

Pep played under the brusque coach at Barcelona and, though they did not always see eye to eye, Guardiola admits to being heavily influenced by the speed of passing and movement of LvG’s Ajax team of the nineties. There is a mutual respect between the two football coaches.

Farewell Jupp

The same cannot be said for the relationship between Bayern’s President and van Gaal. The Dutchman enjoyed a honeymoon period at his ‘dream club’, also winning the double in his first season. But the marriage ended in tears after ‘King’ Louis repeatedly fell out with Hoeness for “meddling into team affairs” and was ultimately forced to abdicate in April 2011. I remember the final dark days of LvG and Uli – frosty doesn’t do it justice. The mutual contempt continues to be aired regularly in the media.

Current coach Jupp Heynckes, a long-term Hoeness confidant, now in his third spell at the club, is the steady hand required after the turbulence of van Gaal’s stormy reign. Heynckes will look to seal Bayern’s first Bundesliga title in three years before grabbing the pipe and slippers and retreating quietly into retirement.

In hindsight, that wonderful thing, given Pep’s appointment, do you think he was consulted before Bayern splashed out €40m on a relatively unproven Spaniard in Javier Martinez from Athletic Bilbao? Or perhaps Bayern felt they needed to highlight to their prospective coach how serious they were about their project?

In Allofs and Hecking, Wolfsburg finally have a plan

Dieter Hecking and Klaus Allofs: Charged with taking the Wolves forward

Since the first departure of coach Felix Magath, in 2009, Wolfsburg have looked to appoint high profile coaches, none of whom have come close to emulating that fantastic Bundesliga title winning season at the end of the last decade. However, each appointment was a statement of intent that the Wolves regarded itself as a Champions League and Championship contending club.

Armin Veh, was a title winning coach at Stuttgart and when he didn’t work out, Steve McClaren was brought into replace him (after a brief interim stint by Lorenz-Günther Köstner, the Tony Parkes of Lower Saxony). McClaren may be regarded as something of a bum in England but the former England coach was appointed off the back of an impressive Eredivisie title win with FC Twente.

Even when the sparkly toothed wonder of York failed and the club re-installed Magath in March 2011 (dispensing with sporting director, Dieter Hoeness at the same time) there was still an expectation of a return to the big time for the Volkswagen owned club even though, by that time, they were out of Europe and almost out of the Bundesliga.

Magath’s second spell was not only fruitless but very expensive. His balance sheet after nearly two and one half seasons was approximately, £30.69 million. Needless to say when the decision came to appoint his successor the club, who cannot be accused of failing to back their coaches with transfer money, have decided to entrust the coffers with people less inclined to go on a spending spree.

The recruitment of Klaus Allofs was a surprise only by virtue of him having been associated with Werder Bremen for so many years that to an outsider, he seemed set to leave the Weserstadion in a pine box. However, with Werder no longer the force they were, it seemed a good time for a change and Allofs now faces a mighty challenge, to restore some order, stability and focus to a club that has been lacking in all three of those attributes in recent seasons.

Initially, it has been suggested that the caretaker, Köstner, may have a crack at the coach’s job  full time after receiving a public endorsement from Diego. The Brazilian playmaker has had a fractious relationship with his employers and keeping him motivated will be key to Wolfsburg success in the short term.

However, despite a modest upturn in results it was clear that a more established coach was desirable and reliable sources had former Real Madrid boss and German International, Bernd Schuster nailed on as the man for the job. But it wasn’t to be and reports suggest that the “Blond Angel” who won the European Championship with Allofs in 1980 could not agree terms so an alternative was sort from a largely unexpected place, Nuremberg.

When Dieter Hecking succeeded Michael Oenning at the Nuremberg club in November 2009 he succeeded in making the newly promoted side tough to beat. In his two years in charge, Der Club may not be the most interesting team to watch but have remained stable and brought through a number of exciting young players such as, Dennis Diekmeier, Timothy Chandler, Philipp Wollscheid, Alexander Esswein and Hiroshi Kiyotake. Hecking’s virtue’s of building teams with a strong defensive core will be of great value to Wolfsburg in the short term but his ability to turn young players into accomplished Bundesliga footballers will be of greater value in the long term.

Hecking did not have a glittering playing career which may be a factor when it comes to earning the respect of the players. However, there is no arguing with the albeit modest achievements at Nuremberg and he leaves his old club in better shape than when he arrived. With support from Allofs, he should be able to get his ideas across to his players in the winter training camp before the restart of the season. Hecking also has the virtue of not being Felix Magath and in that respect, the players should be a good deal happier.

By appointing Allofs as Sporting Director first, followed by Hecking, Wolfsburg are doing things in the right order. Both are experienced and unlikely to panic if and when things go wrong. For the first time since Dzeko, Grafite, Misimovic and co were winning the title under Magath, Wolfsburg seem to have a plan. Now all that remains is for them to play some football.

Lewis Holtby to leave Schalke in Summer 2013

Schalke’s 22 year old attacking midfielder, Lewis Holtby will not be signing a new contract and will leave the Gelsenkirchen club in the Summer of 2013.

The German international was dubbed, “England’s Lewis Holtby” by the Bundesliga Show as a reaction to speculation in the English press that he may one day play for England. Although this is very definitely not the case, it is possible that his destination will be in the  land of his father, Chris who is a Englishman.

Holtby signed for Schalke in 2009 but was sent out on loan at Bochum and then Mainz where he became one of the Bruchweg Boys in the 2010/11 season along with André Schürrle and Adam Szalai who tore up the Bundesliga under coach Thomas Tuchel and took Mainz to their highest ever position in the league and a Europa League play off place. His exuberance and confidence contributed to one of the success stories of the season. In thirty appearances he scored four goals and weighed in with ten assists. A box to box midfielder, Holtby brings energy and dynamism to the midfield. Liverpool fans would see a young Steven Gerrard but with better ball control and vision.
In June 2011 he was recalled to Schalke and took his place in the midfield, just behind the veteran Spanish striker, Raul. He played in forty one competitive matches scoring thirteen goals and providing eight assists. Holtby captained the German Under 21 side and is a peripheral member of the full international squad, making only three appearances, so far.

Possibly because of his English heritage, much of the media speculation from England at least, suggests that Holtby is coming to England. Like his father, Lewis is an Evertonian and has spoken of his dream to swap the blue of Schalke for that of the Toffeemen. In all likelihood, he will be a man in demand and David Moyes may not be able to match his salary expectations. Liverpool and Arsenal have also been mentioned but that may simply be down to the perceived similarities with Gerrard at Liverpool and that almost every young attacking player on the continent is linked with Arsenal without without substantiation. His likely destination should become a little clearer, now that he has declared his intentions.

While England remains an obvious destination, one shouldn’t rule out the possibility of a mover to another German club. However, it is likely that the only genuine destination would be Bayern Munich. Borussia Dortmund may be able to afford him, if they wanted him, but he may never be accepted by the supporters as an ex-Schalke player and the city of Gelsenkirchen would, in all likelihood, banish him from their borders.

Wherever he goes, his new club will be getting one from the crop of outstanding young Germans gracing the Bundesliga. Lewis Holtby is becoming a seasoned European club campaigner with international experience and about to enter the prime of his career. He’ll be generating more than a few column inches come the Summer.

DFB Pokal round up: Fortuna victim of Kickers

The first and third round of Germany’s domestic knock out competition is craftily scheduled. Round one usually happens a week before the league season starts and the third round comes along just after the end of the Hinrunde when German football takes a winter break and the players go off on their Christmas holiday.

The combination of early season jitters and pre holiday anticipation can catch players unaware and leave top teams vulnerable against lower league opposition in this competition. The build up to the third round has featured stern faced coaches in press conferences assuring everyone that their players are fully focussed on the task ahead and weren’t in any way thinking about Christmas parties and home for the holidays.

The Cup also presents giant killing opportunities for small clubs whose opponents, whether by choice or otherwise are, to use an old expression, “concentrating on the league”. Fortuna Dusseldorf, having prevailed in a tough Bundesliga encounter against Hannover 96 last Saturday would not have welcomed an away journey to third division Kickers Offenbach on Tuesday in the Cup. F96 coach Norbert Meier, not having the biggest squad, did not make any significant changes and must have been confident of a win against a team that had lost its last four 3-Liga matches.

It wasn’t to be however, and Kickers triumphed in a 2-0 giant killing thanks to two relatively late goals by Mathias Fetsch and Stefan Vogler. The second was a lovely strike after having made a perfect offside beating run.

Kickers, beat Cologne in the 1970 Final to win the Cup but are probably best known for their involvement in the match fixing scandal in the early 1970s. Since then the best they have been able to manage is the occasional appearance in the second division. However, the club moved into a new stadium in the Summer and can enjoy their moment in the Sun thanks to this cup run.

Schalke’s collapsing Hinrunde concluded after they crashed out of the cup at home to Mainz by two goals to one. Marco Caliguri opened the scoring before Klaas Jan Huntelaar equalised. Nicolai Müller bagged the winner in front of a disgruntled Veltins Arena. It was not the ideal start for interim coach Jens Keller but in fairness, the former Under 17 coach has had very little time to make a difference. He now has the entire winter break to work with his players unless Schalke make a swoop for an early replacement. One of the men fancied for the job in Gelsenkirchen is Thomas Tuchel of Mainz who would be forgiven for checking Keller’s office for carpets and curtains.

Elsewhere, Bayern fought off a determined Augsburg side despite having Franck Ribery sent off with two goals from Mario Gomez and Xherdan Shaqiri. Freiburg prevailed in what could have been a tricky encounter at Karlsruher. 1-0 was the final score at the Wildparkstadion.

Wolfsburg are slowly repairing the cracks in their home form with an impressive 2-1 win against Bayer Leverkusen. The result may prove to be Wolves coach Lorenz-Günther Köstner’s swansong as the German media report that Bernd Schuster is likely to become the coach at the VW Arena.

Bochum were triumphant in the all second division meeting against 1860 Munich. The 3-0 scoreline represented a modest upset insofar as Bochum are very much at the wrong end of the table.

Borussia Dortmund, faced Hannover 96 in what should have been a tough encounter but the Cup holders blew the opposition away with three first half goals. Jakub Błaszczykowski’s strike split a Mario Götze brace.Dortmund took the second half in their stride until the 78th minutes when Marem Diouf’s header made it 3-1. But Götze fired home a fantastic volley from a brilliant cross from Robert Lewandowski. And it was Lewandowski who got the goal he’d been after all evening, right at the death for 5-1 and game over. It was a tough result for Hannover who were given very opportunities  by BVB. Having said that, it is a measure of how far the club have come under coach Mirko Slomka that they should find themselves so disappointed.

Finally, FC Cologne, relegated last season and recovering slowly from an awful start to life in the second division faced Stuttgart. However, the first division team took what proved to be an unassailable lead in the first half with goals from Christian Gentner and Vedad Ibišević. Christian Clemens pulled one back for the away side but it was not enough.

German Cup Quarter Final Draw:

Kickers Offenbach v VfL Wolfsburg;  Bayern Münich v Borussia Dortmund;  Stuttgart v Bochum;  Mainz v Freiburg.