Category Archives: Schalke

Bundesliga Review – Gripping finale aside from Klassiker pair by Archie Rhind-Tutt

Oh have you not heard? I was under the impression that everyone had heard. Well, no – in this case the bird isn’t the word but the Bundesliga certainly is. The semi finals of the Champions League produced nights to treasure for Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund as der Klassiker outclassed El Clásico.

Things were closer back in Germany at the weekend for both, though that’s not too surprising with Jupp Heynckes and Jürgen Klopp making a combined 20 changes. Still, narrow victories were achieved over Freiburg and Fortuna Düsseldorf respectively. But with the title race over and three games left, Bayern and Borussia are not the main points of interest in the Bundesliga – that’s to be found in another pair: the race for the fourth Champions League place, and the struggle to avoid relegation.

The former has been characterised with just as much mediocrity as you might expect with the latter. Prior to this weekend, four points separated the five sides between 4th and 8th. Schalke though had Klaas-Jan Huntelaar back from injury and the man nicknamed “the Hunter” displayed his predatory instinct by netting a hat-trick against Hamburg. If you allow Huntelaar, the Torjӓgerkanone winner last season, nine shots on goal as HSV did, then a hat-trick is perhaps the least damage you can expect. That win for Schalke put some distance between them and the chasing pack of four – none of whom won at the weekend.

With Eintracht Frankfurt drawing with Mainz, Freiburg coming away with what is now considered a credible result at the Allianz Arena (a 1-0 loss) and Gladbach being comfortably beaten at a quietly resurgent Wolfsburg, Schalke would appear to be favourites for fourth. Yet with away games to come at Gladbach and Freiburg, it’s far from a certainty.

That applies too when it comes to survival where the likes of Werder Bremen and Fortuna Düsseldorf have been drawn into the mire. The reason for that is, in the main, Augsburg. Markus Weinzierl’s side only won 1 Bundesliga game in the Hinrunde. Such has been their form in the second half of the season, coupled with the demise of sides above, Augsburg have accrued more points in the Rückrunde than Werder and Fortuna put together. Their resurgence continued at the weekend as they equalled their biggest Bundesliga win, turning over Stuttgart 3-0 with Marcel De Jong scoring a 30-yard chip just 73 seconds after coming on.

The result drew them level with Fortuna (defeated by Borussia Dortmund) and within two points of Werder Bremen (lost at Bayer Leverkusen). Augsburg must still be wary with Hoffenheim showing signs of life. They overcame Nürnberg but with an inferior goal difference to those above them, two wins out of their final three still might not be enough to secure even the “relative” safety of the relegation/play off place.

The only side at the bottom to have been relegated is Greuther Fürth. It’s alarming that it’s taken until this weekend for that to become official. That said, they dominated Hannover for long spells on Friday night but somehow Frank Kramer’s side fell to defeat, meaning they’re in danger of becoming the first Bundesliga team ever to go a whole season without winning a home game.

Still with three games to go, the focus of where the remaining meaningful fixtures in the Bundesliga lie appears to be away from Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund – though you do know that they’re playing this weekend for the fourth time this season, right?

Matchday 31 Results:

Greuther Fürth 2-3 Hannover

Augsburg 3-0 Stuttgart

Bayer Leverkusen 1-0 Werder Bremen

Bayern Munich 1-0 Freiburg

Fortuna Düsseldorf 1-2 Borussia Dortmund

Hoffenheim 2-1 Nürnberg

Wolfsburg 3-1 Gladbach

Mainz 0-0 Eintracht Frankfurt

Schalke 4-1 Hamburg

Table:

Rank Club Matches W* D* L* G* GD* Pts.*
1 FC Bayern Munich 31 27 3 1 90:14 +76 84 CL*
2 Borussia Dortmund 31 19 7 5 76:36 +40 64 CL*
3 Bayer 04 Leverkusen 31 16 8 7 59:38 +21 56 CL*
4 FC Schalke 04 31 14 7 10 54:47 +7 49 CL* Qual.
5 Eintracht Frankfurt 31 13 7 11 43:42 +1 46 EL* Qual.
6 SC Freiburg 31 12 9 10 40:37 +3 45 EL* Qual.
7 Borussia Mönchengladbach 31 11 11 9 38:42 -4 44
8 Hamburger SV 31 13 5 13 37:50 -13 44
9 Hannover 96 31 12 5 14 54:57 -3 41
10 1. FSV Mainz 05 31 10 10 11 36:36 0 40
11 VfL Wolfsburg 31 10 10 11 41:46 -5 40
12 VfB Stuttgart 31 11 6 14 33:50 -17 39
13 1. FC Nuremberg 31 9 11 11 34:42 -8 38
14 SV Werder Bremen 31 8 8 15 45:60 -15 32
15 Fortuna Düsseldorf 31 7 9 15 37:49 -12 30
16 FC Augsburg 31 7 9 15 30:45 -15 30 Play-offs
17 1899 Hoffenheim 31 7 6 18 37:60 -23 27 Relegation
18 Greuther Fürth 31 3 9 19 22:55 -33 18 Relegation

Table thanks to Official Bundesliga Website

Article originally written at Football Fan Cast

Bundesliga Review – 4th place race to provide exciting finale by Archie Rhind-Tutt

As you probably know by now, the Bundesliga’s great. In fact, such is the extensive coverage it has recently received, you can probably recite off by heart all of the reasons for it being so. But, from a competitive point of view, the end of this season could be an anti-climax. The title race is over (unless Bayern Munich appoint Michael Skibbe) and at the bottom, it’s just a case of Hoffenheim, Augsburg and Greuther Fürth sorting out who plays in the promotion/relegation play off.

Fortunately, the battle for the final Champions League spot, known more dourly as fourth place, looks intriguing as we enter the final 12 games of the season. Seven points separate seven teams, though there’s a few who are unlikely to make it such as Gladbach, Hannover and Schalke.

Borussia Mönchengladbach may have done it last season but Lucien Favre’s team haven’t quite recovered from losing players like Marco Reus and Dante, who have been brilliant since moving on to Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich respectively. Losing to Hamburg this weekend leaves them seven adrift of fourth but playing in the Europa League has been a bit of a hindrance as Hannover can perhaps testify too.

The 96’s main problems though are away from home. Mirko Slomka’s side only won twice on the road last season and whilst they’ve matched the total this time around, Hannover had lost their previous four away games before drawing at lowly Nuremberg. That result may sound encouraging but Slomka saw his team lose the lead twice on Sunday, including a 91st minute equaliser from the home side’s Sebastian Polter. Still, Hannover are 8th meaning they’re above Schalke.

And when it comes to surprises, the Royal Blues’s capitulation ranks alongside the resignation of a certain German holy figure in the last week. Because much like the Pope, thousands gather to watch Schalke each week but in contrast, those decked in blue have been leaving bitterly disappointed. They’ve witnessed just one win in their last 11 games, yet new signing Michel Bastos seems to be on a solo crusade to drag Schalke forward. He scored twice in the weekend’s draw against Mainz, however, after little impact from new coach Jens Keller, fourth place looks very unlikely given their recent form.

Their opponents on Saturday, seventh placed Mainz, aren’t exactly front runners either but they are not a team to be underestimated. In Thomas Tuchel, they have one of the best, if not the best, young coaches in the country. He’s had relative success on a small budget and the fact that they are even close to a Champions League place is testament to Tuchel and Mainz as a club. Even so, the lack of a clinical touch at the weekend, against a weak Schalke side, showed why fourth may be beyond them for now.

For Hamburg, Freiburg and Eintracht Frankfurt though, the Champions League spot is a realistic possibility – and that’s surprising in each case. Hamburg finished fourth from bottom last season and have recovered from a nightmarish start this time around. Freiburg, like Mainz, are the provincial low budget outsiders who are overachieving spectacularly under Christian Streich. A year ago, they were bottom of the Bundesliga but Streich guided them to safety and even greater heights this season. Meanwhile, the current occupants of fourth place, Eintracht Frankfurt weren’t even in the Bundesliga last season. Since their promotion from the second tier though, they’ve looked very comfortable in the higher echelons of the top flight.

And from an unbiased viewpoint, what’s not to like about seeing three teams who would have been considered unlikely candidates at the start of the season all with genuine chances of reaching at least the qualification stage of the Champions League. Which team that will be is difficult to judge especially due to the lack of consistency each has shown. Still,  it was unsurprising to see Eintracht Frankfurt defeated comprehensively at Borussia Dortmund this weekend (and more specifically, by the magnificent Marco Reus who netted a hat-trick). That allowed Hamburg and Freiburg to close in on the Eagles.

Rafael van der Vaart, a player who has been a significant catalyst in Hamburg’s charge up the table, swerved a spectacular effort into the top corner to defeat Borussia Mönchengladbach in an otherwise dull affair. In contrast, Freiburg won an entertaining five goal thriller away at Werder Bremen in a game characterised by suspect defending. That’s not been typical of Freiburg this season, with only Bayern Munich conceding less goals. However, Streich’s team showed their character, having been pegged back twice after taking the lead, by scoring a third and decisive goal through Mathias Ginter. With Freiburg taking on Eintracht Frankfurt this Friday night, the race for that final Champions League spot could be even tighter come next Saturday.

But who will make it to fourth? Well, where’s the excitement in football when you know what’s going to happen. The fact each team has its flaws is part of what will make the race for fourth the most exciting aspect of the final games of the Bundesliga’s 50th season.

Elsewhere in the Bundesliga:

  • Bayern shaped up for their Champions League trip to London with a win at Wolfsburg on Friday night. The leaders weren’t as free flowing as they have been for most of the season, but the discipline they displayed showed why the Bavarians will be Bundesliga Champions come May. There were flashes of brilliance from Jupp Heynckes’s side too with Mario Mandzukic’s overhead kick the undoubted highlight of his return to former club Wolfsburg.
  • At the bottom of the table, Augsburg suffered their first defeat of 2013 at the BayArena with Bayer Leverkusen inspired by Stefan Kiessling. The joint top-scorer in the division headed in the first before setting up the second. Augsburg scored a late consolation through Sascha Mölders. The result didn’t affect Augsburg’s predicament at the bottom though as the side below them, Greuther Fürth, lost away at Fortuna Düsseldorf and the team above them, Hoffenheim, were beaten at home by Stuttgart.

Matchday 22 Results:

Wolfsburg 0-2 Bayern Munich

Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 Augsburg

Fortuna Düsseldorf 1-0 Fürth

Hamburg 1-0 Gladbach

Mainz 2-2 Schalke

Werder Bremen 2-3 Freiburg

Borussia Dortmund 3-0 Eintracht Frankfurt

Nuremberg 2-2 Hannover

Hoffenheim 0-1 Stuttgart

Table:

Rank Club Matches W* D* L* G* GD* Pts.*
1 FC Bayern Munich 22 18 3 1 57:7 +50 57 CL*
2 Borussia Dortmund 22 12 6 4 50:26 +24 42 CL*
3 Bayer 04 Leverkusen 22 12 5 5 43:30 +13 41 CL*
4 Eintracht Frankfurt 22 11 4 7 38:34 +4 37 CL* Qual.
5 SC Freiburg 22 9 7 6 29:22 +7 34 EL* Qual.
6 Hamburger SV 22 10 4 8 27:27 0 34 EL* Qual.
7 1. FSV Mainz 05 22 9 5 8 30:27 +3 32
8 Hannover 96 22 9 3 10 41:41 0 30
9 FC Schalke 04 22 8 6 8 35:37 -2 30
10 Borussia Mönchengladbach 22 7 9 6 31:33 -2 30
11 SV Werder Bremen 22 8 4 10 38:41 -3 28
12 VfB Stuttgart 22 8 4 10 24:39 -15 28
13 Fortuna Düsseldorf 22 7 6 9 27:29 -2 27
14 1. FC Nuremberg 22 6 8 8 22:29 -7 26
15 VfL Wolfsburg 22 7 5 10 22:32 -10 26
16 1899 Hoffenheim 22 4 4 14 26:46 -20 16 Play-offs
17 FC Augsburg 22 2 9 11 18:35 -17 15 Relegation
18 Greuther Fürth 22 2 6 14 13:36 -23 12 Relegation

Table thanks to official Bundesliga website

Article originally written at Football Fan Cast

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.

The Bundesliga Show Episode 84 – The Hinrunde Review with Phil Bonney

The Bundesliga has closed its doors for 2012. Jon Hartley and Matt Hermann pick over the best of the first half of the season with the help of Bundesliga commentator Phil Bonney.

Outside of the the best of the Hinrunde there are managerial changes that have taken place. Huub Stevens departure from Schalke and Marco Kurz’ arrival at Hoffenheim are all up for discussion.

Enjoy the show!

 

Bundesliga Review – Stevens Shakin’ after sacking by Schalke by Archie Rhind-Tutt

Whilst Shakin’ Stevens festive hit “Merry Christmas Everyone” rings out continuously in this season of good will, a namesake of Shakin’ won’t be bustling with that Christmas spirit. In fact, Huub Stevens is more likely to be Shakin’ with anger. Because, after a regretful run of results, the Schalke head coach was sacked on Sunday morning.

It didn’t take long for BILD to point out that “the Dutchman has flown.” This is true as Stevens’ Schalke were indeed flying earlier this season. October marked the high point of their voyage as it was then that the Royal Blues outplayed Arsenal and most importantly, their fierce rivals Borussia Dortmund in what were two superb away performances.

But let’s not forget what Felix Baumgartner also showed us during October: what goes up must come down. Like the Austrian daredevil, Schalke’s descent has been spectacular. The problem is the Gelsenkirchen outfit haven’t landed on their feet.

Since that magical month, Huub Stevens has endured something of a nightmare in the Bundesliga, compounded by Freiburg’s victory in Gelsenkirchen on Saturday. Stevens was given false hope by Jefferson Farfan’s opener but then began the woeful defending that would curtail his second reign in charge.

After gliding in unnoticed, Jan Rosenthal volleyed home Freiburg’s equaliser from the edge of the area. Then Joel Matip took a swing and a miss at a bouncing through ball allowing Jonathan Schmid to poke the visitors in front before half time. And when Schalke decided to give the ball away in their own half, Rosenthal was there to make it three.

So could it get any worse for Stevens and Schalke? Well yes it could, because on the field the team’s talisman Klaas-Jan Huntelaar was sent off and off the pitch, there was fighting between a few Schalke fans. Parts of the VELTINS-Arena emptied before full time as memories of the victory over Borussia Dortmund less than two months ago seemed very distant. By the end of Saturday evening the Royal Blues had slipped to seventh place in the Bundesliga.

Stevens’s time was up and keeping to the lyrics of that now familiar English football song, Huub was indeed sacked in the morning. Schalke cited the team’s poor recent performance in the Bundesliga as the reason for his departure. That’s unsurprising when there’s been just one win in Schalke’s last eight games and four losses in their last six.

The Dutchman hasn’t been helped by the performance of a fellow countryman, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. Last season he won the (brilliantly named) Torjägerkanone as the Bundesliga’s top scorer. This time round, the man nicknamed “The Hunter” looks unfocused as his modest total of five Bundesliga goals suggests. When you see that his contract expires in June it makes more sense.

Not much though will make sense to Schalke supporters at the moment. Their team’s recent performances have been oh so frustrating, especially after the heights they scaled just a short time ago. Of course, you can blame injuries and tiredness but it’s still perplexing to think that Schalke’s season looks to have peaked in October. Huub Stevens can be credited for his team topping their Champions League group.  Yet, as General Manager Horst Heldt made clear in a press conference after Stevens departure: “The Bundesliga is our bread and butter.”

Jens Keller is Stevens replacement for the rest of the season. The Schalke website excitedly reported that he has been having a fantastic season with the club’s Under-17 team. Still, he takes over from a man who was held dearly by Schalke for leading the club to UEFA Cup glory in 1997 and back-to-back German Cup wins four years later. But as was shown on Sunday, he was held so dearly by the club, that they sacked him meaning Huub Stevens will be left Shakin’ this Christmas for all the wrong reasons.

Elsewhere in the Bundesliga:

  • Let’s start with the man who is favourite to be Schalke coach come next summer – Thomas Tuchel. His Mainz side grabbed another victory as they saw off Stuttgart at the Coface Arena. After their latest victory, Mainz’s General Manager Thomas Heidel said Schalke will need to come up with 30 million euros if Tuchel is to move to Gelsenkirchen. That comment may have been tongue in cheek but don’t doubt how highly Tuchel is valued by Mainz – they end the year in a very impressive 6th place.
  • Bayern Munich were surprisingly held at the Allianz Arena by Borussia Mönchengadbach. Gladbach goalkeeper Marc-André Ter Stegen deserves extra credit for some outstanding saves on Friday night. The teams trailing Bayern made up some ground though. Bayer Leverkusen comfortably beat Hamburg, Borussia Dortmund overcame Hoffenheim and the season’s surprise performers Eintracht Frankfurt were victorious in Wolfsburg. Bayern Munich though will be very satisfied though with their lead going into Christmas.
  • Meanwhile, in the relegation ramalamadingdong, Fürth and Augsburg drew – a result which left both sides still deep in the proverbial mire. A side that were expected to be in the relegation scrap, Fortuna Düsseldorf, were able to celebrate another win though. They beat off Hannover, who still haven’t worked out this winning away business. And in the last game before the winter break, Werder Bremen and Nuremberg shared the points in Lower Saxony.

For more on the Bundesliga on Twitter, follow @archiert1

Matchday 17 Results:

Bayern Munich 1-1 Gladbach

Bayer Leverkusen 3-0 Hamburg

Fortuna Düsseldorf 2-1 Hannover

Fürth 1-1 Augsburg

Mainz 3-1 Stuttgart

Wolfsburg 0-2 Eintracht Frankfurt

Schalke 1-3 Freiburg

Hoffenheim 1-3 Borussia Dortmund

Werder Bremen 1-1 Nuremberg

Table:

Rank Club Matches W* D* L* G* GD* Pts.*
1 FC Bayern Munich 17 13 3 1 44:7 +37 42 CL*
2 Bayer 04 Leverkusen 17 10 3 4 33:22 +11 33 CL*
3 Borussia Dortmund 17 8 6 3 35:20 +15 30 CL*
4 Eintracht Frankfurt 17 9 3 5 33:27 +6 30 CL* Qual.
5 SC Freiburg 17 7 5 5 24:18 +6 26 EL* Qual.
6 1. FSV Mainz 05 17 8 2 7 24:21 +3 26 EL* Qual.
7 FC Schalke 04 17 7 4 6 27:25 +2 25
8 Borussia Mönchengladbach 17 6 7 4 25:26 -1 25
9 VfB Stuttgart 17 7 4 6 21:28 -7 25
10 Hamburger SV 17 7 3 7 18:21 -3 24
11 Hannover 96 17 7 2 8 32:31 +1 23
12 SV Werder Bremen 17 6 4 7 28:29 -1 22
13 Fortuna Düsseldorf 17 5 6 6 20:22 -2 21
14 1. FC Nuremberg 17 5 5 7 17:22 -5 20
15 VfL Wolfsburg 17 5 4 8 17:27 -10 19
16 1899 Hoffenheim 17 3 3 11 23:41 -18 12 Play-offs
17 FC Augsburg 17 1 6 10 12:29 -17 9 Relegation
18 Greuther Fürth 17 1 6 10 11:28 -17 9 Relegation

Table thanks to Bundesliga Website

Article originall written at Football Fan Cast

Super Schalke show off the Bundesliga’s strength by Archie Rhind-Tutt

“They will pose a threat this evening to Arsenal’s proud record of never having lost a Champions League encounter to foreign opposition at the Emirates.”

These words from the Arsenal programme were all too poignant come the end of Wednesday night. That proud record of the Gunners had disappeared by then, as Schalke continued what has been a glorious last week.

So they’d won away at their arch rivals and Champions of Germany, Borussia Dortmund – impressive. Their victory at the Emirates wasn’t too bad either. Because for the second time in five days, Schalke came away from home and outclassed top opposition. It’s easy to write off Arsenal’s performance as insipid but in all honesty, the side from Gelsenkirchen made them look that way. Schalke kept their discipline so well that it wasn’t until a minute before the end of the game that goalkeeper Lars Unnerstall had to make a save.

The home side had threatened in the first half. Atsuto Uchida looked vulnerable at times as the Gunners poured down the left hand side but anything that went into the box was dealt with by Joel Matip or Benedikt Höwedes. Any hopes Arsenal had of breaking down their visitors were effectively ended when Huub Stevens brought on Jermaine Jones for Marco Höger at half time.

Jones was unlucky to not be picked for the Revierderby at the weekend, having been in good form this season. His presence on the pitch at the Emirates seemed to fix any leaks there were in the first half as Arsenal could not create a clear-cut chance in the second.

Schalke weren’t having such problems as they probed down either flank, and it was down the right hand side where they were having most joy. André Santos cut a lonely figure as time and again, Jefferson Farfan, or Uchida, found space down the right to deliver into the box. It should have produced a goal at the end of the first half but last season’s top scorer in the Bundesliga, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar put wide from just a few yards – an altogether puzzling experience.

If Arsenal expected to get away with giving another great chance to a man with the nickname “The Hunter,” then they were mistaken. Huntelaar lashed in a one-on-one in the second half to give Schalke a deserved lead in London.

Suddenly the home side had an urgency about them which hadn’t been present for the previous 75 minutes. Schalke weren’t worried though as they killed off the hosts five minutes from time. As on Saturday in Dortmund, their second came from a simple counter attack. This time Ibrahim Afellay finished off Jefferson Farfan’s cross, setting off a silent fire alarm across the Emirates as the home faithful disappeared swiftly into the night. In one noisy corner of the stadium, celebrations were under way. It had been another great night for Schalke.

In truth, it had been a great night for the Bundesliga as well, especially with Borussia Dortmund’s victory over Real Madrid. It’s commonplace to hear the division being praised for its fans, for its atmosphere, for the stadiums and in general, for the sensible policies in place in German football. Yet performances in Europe, excluding Bayern Munich, have belied the quality of football in the country. Wednesday night proved to Europe just how capable the likes of Schalke are.

Domestically, the Gelsenkirchen outfit are seven points behind Bayern in the Bundesliga title race but having ended Arsenal’s proud record at the Emirates, Schalke showed they have nothing to fear.

Article originally written @ Gone With The Rhind

The Bundesliga Show Episode 77 – Dortmund’s Disaster Derby

Matt Hermann and Jon Hartley are back for another edition of The Bundesliga Show. This week on the agenda is Schalke’s success in the Revier Derby against Borussia Dortmund. Records were broken in Düsseldorf as Bayern notched up a best ever season start by bagging their 8th straight win of the campaign. And there were goals galore in Bremen.

All that and more. Enjoy the show!

Bundesliga Review – Schalke delight in Dortmund derby win by Archie Rhind-Tutt

Despite some success, the last two seasons have been difficult ones for Schalke fans. Within the last eighteen months, they’ve reached a Champions League Semi-Final and won the DFB-Pokal. Yet these achievements have been eclipsed significantly by the dominance of their arch-rivals, Borussia Dortmund.

With back-to-back Bundesliga titles, as well as a DFB-Pokal triumph, the Black and Yellows have outclassed all that have come before them. Ruhr rivals Schalke have been left firmly in their shadow, though Saturday’s Revierderby provided an opportunity to hurt their rivals. That’s something “fans” of both teams did quite literally with 200 arrested after clashes prior to kick off.

Scenes outside Signal Iduna Park were spectacular for all the wrong reasons with the police even using pepper spray and water cannons in an effort to break up the trouble. Scenes inside the stadium were to prove equally spectacular but this time for footballing reasons.

For the first time in over a year a side came to the Westfalenstadion and emerged victorious. Last time it was Hertha Berlin, a team who would go on to be relegated. This time around, and much more painfully for Borussia Dortmund, it was Schalke. And how sweet it was for the Royal Blues.

They were in control for much of the encounter and in recent times, controlling the play against Dortmund is just unheard of. With injuries to key players, Jürgen Klopp decided to gamble tactically by moving away from a 4231 formation. It backfired badly as Dortmund conceded within the opening quarter of an hour.

Schalke’s loan signing from Barcelona, Ibrahim Afellay, provided a touch of class synonymous with his parent club as the Dutchman volleyed in off the post. Klopp reverted back to the warm comforts of 4231 after half an hour but by then Dortmund were unsettled. Even if the odd chance came for the Champions, there wasn’t the usual conviction to their play.

Their rivals didn’t need any encouragement, doubling their lead early in the second half through some simple counter attacking play. Marco Höger was the beneficiary as he raced onto Lewis Holtby’s through ball, sending Roman Weidenfeller the wrong way with a calm finish.

That secured victory for Schalke, though it should have been more comfortable. Joel Matip somehow missed from a few yards at a corner which in turn encouraged Dortmund. Robert Lewandowski pulled one back for the Champions by flicking in Reus’s free kick. Yet even at two one down, the barrage of pressure you’d have expected never really arrived from the home side.

It completed a worrying display for Borussia Dortmund, left 12 points behind Bayern Munich after this latest setback. Even with eight games played, the title looks out of reach of the Champions. That’s both an indictment on how they’ve not matched the incredible standards they’ve set over the last two years and crucially how they lack the strength in depth which Bayern have proudly shown off so far. No team has ever come from 12 points down to win the Bundesliga. If Jürgen Klopp was to mastermind that, it would no doubt be his greatest title as a coach but that’s likely to stay as a distant fantasy.

Yet Huub Stevens side are in a position where thoughts of a title aren’t so unrealistic. Catching Bayern though even with a seven point gap looks a daunting prospect. Still, Saturday was important for the Royal Blues. Last season, they did not show up in any of the big Bundesliga games. They failed against Bayern in September too but finally, in their rivals’ back yard, Schalke did it.

It’s the sort of result which might persuade star player Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, in the final year of his contract, to sign an extension. Talks were said to have reached a standstill in September according to general manager Horst Heldt but Saturday showed the Royal Blues mean business this season.

Expectations are high at one of Germany’s biggest clubs but a first Bundesliga title is likely to prove elusive again this season. Still, the weekend’s result could well prove a watershed moment for Schalke, as they firmly stepped out of Borussia Dortmund’s shadow.

Elsewhere in the Bundesliga:

• Bayern Munich just keep chugging away at the top of the table. This week, they thrashed Fortuna Düsseldorf to set a new Bundesliga record for consecutive wins at the start of the season (8). Their closest rivals are still newly promoted Eintracht Frankfurt. The Eagles are five points behind after overcoming Hannover.

• Friday night can be a dreary experience for Bundesliga watchers. Hoffenheim and Greuther Fürth ensured it wasn’t this time around, serving up six goals in Sinsheim. It included three goals in the last 5 minutes and Fürth equalised with the final kick of the game. Cue coach Mike Büskens rushing immediately onto the field to celebrate with his team – only in the Bundesliga…

• Pressure continues to grow on Wolfsburg boss Felix Magath as the Wolves lost 2-0 at home to Freiburg. Disappointment is the overriding feeling at Gladbach too, as they were thrashed by Werder Bremen. And just as Hamburg looked to have turned a corner, they flattered to deceive, as Stuttgart sneaked a 1-0 win at the Imtech Arena. Elsewhere in mid-table, Bayer Leverkusen had to come from behind to secure a 2-2 draw with Mainz. Finally, Nuremberg and Augsburg played out a goalless draw on a sleepy Sunday afternoon.

If you’d like to read more about what’s going on in Germany, follow @archiert1 on Twitter

Matchday 8 Results:

Hoffenheim 3-3 Fürth

Bayer Leverkusen 2-2 Mainz

Borussia Dortmund 1-2 Schalke

Eintracht Frankfurt 3-1 Hannover

Fortuna Düsseldorf 0-5 Bayern Munich

Wolfsburg 0-2 Mainz

Werder Bremen 4-0 Gladbach

Nürnberg 0-0 Augsburg

Hamburg 0-1 Stuttgart

Table

Rank Club Matches W* D* L* G* GD* Pts.*
1 FC Bayern Munich 8 8 0 0 26:2 +24 24 CL*
2 Eintracht Frankfurt 8 6 1 1 19:11 +8 19 CL*
3 FC Schalke 04 8 5 2 1 17:8 +9 17 CL*
4 Borussia Dortmund 8 3 3 2 18:11 +7 12 CL* Qual.
5 Bayer 04 Leverkusen 8 3 3 2 13:11 +2 12 EL* Qual.
6 Hannover 96 8 3 2 3 16:13 +3 11 EL* Qual.
7 SC Freiburg 8 3 2 3 13:10 +3 11
8 1. FSV Mainz 05 8 3 2 3 9:10 -1 11
9 SV Werder Bremen 8 3 1 4 14:13 +1 10
10 Hamburger SV 8 3 1 4 9:11 -2 10
11 Fortuna Düsseldorf 8 2 4 2 6:8 -2 10
12 VfB Stuttgart 8 2 3 3 8:14 -6 9
13 Borussia Mönchengladbach 8 2 3 3 9:16 -7 9
14 1899 Hoffenheim 8 2 2 4 13:17 -4 8
15 1. FC Nuremberg 8 2 2 4 7:14 -7 8
16 FC Augsburg 8 1 3 4 5:11 -6 6 Play-offs
17 Greuther Fürth 8 1 2 5 5:14 -9 5 Relegation
18 VfL Wolfsburg 8 1 2 5 2:15 -13 5 Relegation

 

Table thanks to Official Bundesliga Website

Article orginally written @ FootballFanCast

Revier Derby Photo Gallery

The Bundesliga Lounge’s Jon Hartley was at the Revier Derby and took of a few pictures of the day. Here is the view from Dortmund’s Nordtribune.

Bundesliga Review – Dortmund shocked as Bayern take early lead – by Archie Rhind-Tutt

Borussia Dortmund losing, Hamburg winning, and Bayern Munich exercising caution in comments to the press – these events have been rare recently but all three took place over the course of a curious weekend in the Bundesliga. Curious because Borussia Dortmund had gone 31 league games unbeaten. Curious because Hamburg have been, as the Guardian’s Raphael Honigstein has put it, the worst side in the league so far and curious because Bayern Munich just don’t do caution.

It doesn’t end there either because newly promoted Eintracht Frankfurt, a side albeit not unfamiliar to the Bundesliga, are level with Bayern on top of the table, boasting a 100% record too. This was after they became the first promoted side to win their opening four games, by winning at Nuremberg on Friday night.

Substitute Erwin Hoffer gave the Eagles the lead, only to be eclipsed by his teammate Takashi Inui who scored a superb second goal. The man from Japan cut inside on the left, beat a few players, before planting it into the bottom corner of Raphael Schӓfer’s goal. No wonder people continue to rave about the Japanese influence in the Bundesliga, even after Shinji Kagawa’s summer exit. Hiroshi Kiyotake (Japanese) set up Sebastian Polter for what turned out to be a consolation for Nuremberg as Eintracht Frankfurt held on. Their coach Armin Veh won the Bundesliga with Stuttgart in 2007 but he admitted on Friday that more difficult times might lie ahead.

Bayern Munich were treading a similar line, even after their 2-0 win at Schalke on Saturday. The home side had their chances in the first half but were punished by Bayern Munich early in the second. Toni Kroos and Thomas Müller scored the goals which ensured the Bavarians have four wins from four. “Just because we are currently ahead of Dortmund does not mean we will automatically win the league,” warned Arjen Robben. Bayern Munich director Karl-Heinz Rummenigge echoed this. “We cannot allow euphoria. Last season, we were eight points clear of Dortmund, and we know how it all ended.”

Still, the Bundesliga’s record Champions have looked clinical so far this season whilst the current Champions haven’t exactly raced out of the blocks. For whilst Borussia Dortmund were 31 games unbeaten before Saturday, their performances just haven’t been on the same level as they were at the end of last season. Nevertheless, you’d have expected to see BVB pick up three points against a Hamburg side that have been woeful to date.

This didn’t happen though as HSV managed to secure the most unlikely of victories. Son Heung-Min gave the home team the lead after a great cross from returning Hamburg hero Rafael van der Vaart. Dortmund equalised through a fortunate Ivan Perisic effort just 24 seconds after half time and it was at this point, you’d have expected the northerners to crumble, but not so. Five minutes later, some poor goalkeeping from Roman Weidenfeller allowed Ivo Ilicevic to grab a second for Thorsten Fink’s side on the break. Soon after, it wasn’t inappropriate to say that Hamburg were walking on “Sonshine” as the Korean scored a brilliant third, unleashing a cracking effort into the corner from 25 yards. Perisic pulled another back for Dortmund but despite plenty of chances and pressure, keeper René Adler stood firm for Hamburg as they clinched their first win of the season.

In the context of the Bundesliga as a whole, Hamburg overcoming Borussia Dortmund isn’t a big deal but in the context of this season, it’s huge. BILD proclaimed (perhaps prematurely) that Hamburg “is a happy family again,” whilst Jürgen Klopp was understandably unhappy with his side’s performance. “That was really s***y,” was his rather honest reaction to Dortmund’s first defeat in just over a year, leaving the Champions five points behind Bayern and Eintracht Frankfurt.

Borussia Dortmund won’t panic. After all, they’re no stranger to early season defeats having endured three in their first six games during the last campaign. A trip to high flying Eintracht Frankfurt on Tuesday will be a good test of their character but Bayern Munich will be delighted with the position they’re in. Their summer of spending has been justified so far with new players such as Mandzukic and Shaqiri showing Bayern have a new level of strength in depth – something they missed dearly last season. Yet, his weekend is likely to be the first of a few twists in this year’s Bundesliga title race. Bayern Munich certainly have the edge, for now.

Matchday 4 Results:

Nuremberg 1-2 Eintracht Frankfurt

Fortuna Düsseldorf 0-0 Freiburg

Hamburg 3-2 Borussia Dortmund

Mainz 2-0 Augsburg

Schalke 0-2 Bayern Munich

Wolfsburg 1-1 Fürth

Bayer Leverkusen 1-1 Gladbach

Hoffenheim 3-1 Hannover

Werder Bremen 2-2 Stuttgart

Table

Rank Club Matches W* D* L* G* GD* Pts.*
1 FC Bayern Munich 4 4 0 0 14:2 +12 12 CL*
2 Eintracht Frankfurt 4 4 0 0 11:4 +7 12 CL*
3 Hannover 96 4 2 1 1 10:7 +3 7 CL*
4 Borussia Dortmund 4 2 1 1 8:5 +3 7 CL* Qual.
5 FC Schalke 04 4 2 1 1 7:5 +2 7 EL* Qual.
6 1. FC Nuremberg 4 2 1 1 6:5 +1 7 EL* Qual.
7 Fortuna Düsseldorf 4 1 3 0 2:0 +2 6
8 SC Freiburg 4 1 2 1 6:6 0 5
9 Borussia Mönchengladbach 4 1 2 1 5:5 0 5
10 VfL Wolfsburg 4 1 2 1 2:5 -3 5
11 SV Werder Bremen 4 1 1 2 7:7 0 4
12 1. FSV Mainz 05 4 1 1 2 4:5 -1 4
13 Bayer 04 Leverkusen 4 1 1 2 4:6 -2 4
14 Greuther Fürth 4 1 1 2 2:6 -4 4
15 Hamburger SV 4 1 0 3 5:8 -3 3
16 1899 Hoffenheim 4 1 0 3 7:12 -5 3 Play-offs
17 VfB Stuttgart 4 0 2 2 3:9 -6 2 Relegation
18 FC Augsburg 4 0 1 3 1:7 -6 1 Relegation

 

Table from the Official Bundesliga Site

Article originally written @ Football Fan Cast