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The Bundesliga Show 102: The Final Match-day and the Final Countdown

It’s a live podding event in which Matt, Jon and Terry sip hearty German brews at London’s Bavarian Beerhouse ahead of the couldn’t-possibly-get-more-German 2013 Champions League final. The boys talk over the fallout from a wild final day of the Bundesliga season and share their thoughts on the big, bad final at Wembley. Oh and did we mention the special guest? It’s German goalkeeping legend Bodo Illgner! He currently plies his trade as a studio analyst with beIN Sports, and joins Matt on the line from Florida to share his memories of Jupp Heynckes, who coached him to a Champions League title in 1998, as well as his thoughts on the current German football landscape. A dandy.

The Pundesliga presents: #BundesligaMusic

  1. When it comes to Streiching the right chord, there has been no better time to let the bass Klopp than with #BundesligaMusic. Taking its inspiration from Niklas Wildhagen’s piece on Bundesliga stars singing…

  2. #BundesligaMusic: Hits better forgotten – Bundesliga stars singing | Bundesliga Fanatic bundesligafanatic.com/hits-better-fo… via @bundesliga4u
  3. Friday afternoon fast became a challenge to devise musical references related to the Bundesliga. After chugging along contently for an hour or two, it reached fever pitch when Ingolstadt right back, Ralph Gunesch started chipping in with his suggestions, such as…

  4. Such is the high standard, Gunesch hasn’t made the list of #BundesligaMusic’s greatest hits (though the cruel among you may point out that this will be a familiar feeling seeing as he plays for a side in the 2. Bundesliga.)

    But enough – leave your suspicious Mainz behind. Heck, even stick this on if it gets you in the mood…

    It’s time to go through 40 of #BundesligaMusic’s Greatest Hits. Points were awarded for innovation, not just going for the likes of Jürgen Klopp and Joachim Löw…oh go on then – here’s a few of those..

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The Bundesliga Show Episode 100 – We are 100!

For the momentous occasion of The Bundesliga Show hitting the big 100 when it comes to episodes, Matt Hermann, Jon Hartley and Terry Duffelen delve into the the latest goings on in German football…and reminisce about old times.

Enjoy the show and thank you so much for listening over our last 100 editions.

Betze News – 1.FC Kaiserslautern News Update

The lovely folks at Kaiserslautern have released their latest news update and we are pleased to be able to share it with you. You can either view it here on Bundesliga Lounge or download via PDF. Right click here to download: Betze News 11 – Bochum

 

 

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

Time for Salad? Die Meisterschale

Object of Desire - Die Meisterschale

Weighing in at 11kg (the same as the Mask of Tutankhamen), with a diameter of 59cm (about the width of your average fridge door) and a value of some €25,000, the Bundesliga Shield casts an impressive shadow. And the race is most assuredly on for the honour of hoisting it aloft for the fiftieth time in Bundesliga history.

The Original 'Viktoria', and Her Replacement

Yet the history of Die Miesterschale actually dates back way beyond the inaugural 1963 season, recording every German top-flight winning team since the foundation of the National league format in 1903; starting with VfB Leipzig.

Cast from over 5kg of Sterling silver, and emblazoned with five large tourmaline diamonds (along with eleven smaller ones, and five tourmaline-cabochons), it was originally designed and fabricated by a pioneering artist from Cologne as a replacement for the Viktoria, which was lost during the Second World War.

Elisabeth Treskow

A Lesser-known Light: Elisabeth Treskow

Born five years before the National football league – in August, 1898 – Elisabeth Treskow was the only child of Max and Hedwig. By the age of 20, she had attained teaching-grade qualifications in gold-and silver-smiths. After two decades in which she opened her own studio and workshop (in Essen, in 1923), studied in Paris (1927), begun work into redefining granulation techniques that would shape her art for the Twentieth Century, been awarded the Ring of Honour (1933), Jewellery Cross (1935), Love Ring (1936), Paris Worlds’ Fair Gold Medal (1938), and moved to Detmold to open a larger workshop, she crossed paths with the sphere of football.

The 1947-48 season marked the rejoining of competition following World War Two, and saw 1.FC Nuremberg crowned Champions once again. Ironically enough, however, Der Club never received their trophy, which was lost – and never recovered – during the War. Thus, a new trophy was commissioned. By this time, Treskow had been appointed Head of the Cologne School of Artists, and was seen as the foremost artiste in the Country (a remarkable feat for a woman, particularly in the immediacy of the post-War era). She was hand-picked to carry out the commission and, around six months later, presented designs for today’s Meisterschale to the Association. Immediately acclaimed as a reward truly befitting Champions, the trophy also quickly assumed the nickname of ‘The Salad Dish’, due to its shape and structure.

1981 – A Miscalculation

The stereotypical impression of Germany holds for an always-attentive, efficient nation. However, in 1981 – just 31 years into its presentation – space on the plate ran out for carving the names of Winners! Due to the admiration for the shield, and the history attached to it, rather than resort to seeking a replacement, the DFB had an additional ring added – with silver bolts, and inkeeping with the design  – to the original; allowing space for another 60 years of Champions.

Etched into the metal surrounds are the names of a relatively elite – if varied (by today’s standings) – band of Clubs. Just 29 sides have taken the title of being Germany’s best; ranging from the likes of Holstein Kiel (in 1907), Viktoria Berlin (1912) and Eintracht Braunschweig (1936), through to the heavy-hitters of the modern era. In the past 50 years, however, that number count is just 12 strong. Bayern head that list (with a mammoth 21 titles to their name), followed by current holders – Dortmund – and ‘Gladbach on five each.

One thing is for sure, each and every Club honouring the top-flight during this historic campaign will take especial note of the opportunity to write their name in the Bundesliga annuls. And the big two have been quick to attempt to subvert the media glare, with Jürgen Klopp following the general consensus by expressing how “Who’ll finish on top? I don’t know. I don’t think anyone knows. There’s one team for whom success is the only option, and that’s FC Bayern Munich. I’m just pleased we’re up there”; and his counterpart in Münich – Jupp Heynckes – responding equivocally “If a team wins back-to-back titles, you can’t deny them their favourites’ tag. But of course we want to get at Borussia Dortmund, and we will risk everything to bring the title back to Munich”.

Keep Your Mits Off!

Either way – and it’s hard to look outside of those two this year – there’s an added element of desperation to be chomping on salad come the 18th of May next year. Guten Appétit!

 

 

ITV4 to screen Bundesliga highlights free-to-air in the UK

ITV4 are to transmit a highlights programme of the Bundesliga action every week.

This will be the first time that German league football will be transmitted free to air in the United Kingdom.

The Bundesliga Lounge understands that the programme is similar, if not the same as that which is broadcast on ESPN. It will be an hour in length and the first episode will be transmitted on Monday 27th August at 10pm, UK time.

With the emergence of so many top young players in the Bundesliga, the new show is a fantastic opportunity to attract new fans of German football in the UK and for existing fans, who do not subscribe to ESPN, to watch the stars of the Bundesliga with our straining their necks hunched over a laptop.

Download the Bundesliga Lounge Season Preview magazine here.

Revenge: Euro 1980

Euro 1980

In the second of his three-part series,  Kyle Barber moves on to 1980, and retribution for a German side dethroned four years earlier………..

In 1976, reigning World and European Champions West Germany suffered a shock defeat in the final of Euro 1976; losing out 5-3 on penalties to a committed Czechoslovakia side, in a match famed for the audacious way in which Antonin Panenka chose to chip the winning penalty straight down the centre of Sepp Maier’s goal. Cast forward four years, and an enlarged eight-team tournament witnessed a definitive return to prominence for a National team that would go on to dominate the next decade of World football.

Scarcely recognisable from the side that sought to defend their 1972 crown (with just Captain Bernard Dietz and Rainer Bonhof keeping their places from the 1976 group), the 1980 West German squad was shorn of the likes of Beckenbauer – then plying his trade with the New York Cosmos – and Uli Hoeneβ – forced into retirement aged just 27 due to a knee injury sustained two years previous. In their stead stepped future stars such as Lothar Matthäus and Eike Immel. Yet this would prove to be a tournament belonging to two other lights: Karl-Heinze Rummenigge and Horst Hrubesch.

As briefly touched-upon, the Italy-based extravaganza became the first to accommodate more than just four teams, and the first to exhibit a structure more reminiscent of that of the modern era; with two groups of four. The Germans found themselves thrust against the aging (but still competent) Dutch, Greece, and their conquerors from four years hence, the Czechs. Indeed, while the format may have changed, the competition opened with a marked air of familiarity, as the DFB-Elf had the opportunity for revenge, taking on Czechoslovakia.

Perhaps with the weight of expectation exerting too much on them, the pre-tournament favourites struggled to press their superiority into effect amid the imposing arena of the Stadio Olimpico. However, Rummenigge’s far-post headed effort on 57’ finally broke the deadlock, the Czechs managed only one real counter attempt – Zdenek Nehoda wasting a good chance from the edge of the 18-yard box – and Germany were off and running. After that match, Rummenigge was quick to try and alleviate any further pressure from the collective youthful shoulders of his teammates, noting “it was an important match and a very good start to the tournament for us. We had a new, young team [who] weren’t favourites to win at all”.

It would take just a further 65 minutes for the Germans to truly mark their arrival at the tournament; with a whirlwind first half display that would leave not even Rummenigge able to argue to the contrary. Noting the laborious manner of the opening game, Coach Jupp Derwall opted to remove Bernd Förster, replacing him with 20-year-old Bernd Schuster. Schuster would go on to garner a place in the team of the tournament. But for this encounter, he was tormenter-in-chief, with a hand in each of his side’s three goals as the Dutch were swept aside. With a breath-taking level of exuberance, Schuster dominated the midfield, and it was his 20’ effort that cannoned off the from fully 25 yards, straight to Klaus Allofss to tuck in the rebound. While Germany somehow failed to extend their lead before the break, it took them just 15 minutes after it to double the advantage – Schuster playing Hansi Müller in along the right hand flank to tee-up Allofs for his second. Five minutes later, the hat-trick was complete; as a weaving run from Schuster bewitched the Oranje rearguard, allowing him time to pull the ball back to Allofs to net from all of five yards out.

Berndt Schuster:a revelation at the tournament

Berndt Schuster:a revelation at the tournament

That game – against one of the DFB’s most fearsome rivals – was also notable for affording Lothar Matthäus the first of his 150 international caps. But it was a debut to forget for the then-19-year-old, who tripped Wijnstekers in the 79’, to give the Netherlands a lifeline duly converted by Johnny Rep. The final scoreline became even tighter with five minutes remaining – a 30-yard screamer from van der Kerkhof making the last few moments uncomfortable for Derwall’s men – but Germany held on. After the game, Schuster was thrust further into the limelight, as he was designed to attend the post-match press conference. Showing a maturity that matched his on-field play yet belied his youth, Schuster was quick to spread the praise that came his way:

“we had a good mix of experience and youth [in the team today]. We had an excellent nucleus to the [side] and played really well together”.

Group game number three offered a small reality-check for the Germans, as a stuttering display that yielded a scoreless draw with Greece was heralded as the direct result of playing without Schuster. That such a young man should already be carrying such a weight of expectation and mantle in his homeland was of concern to Derwall as he prepared for the final.

Group A – Final Standings

Team

P

W

D

L

GF GA Pts
West Germany

3

2

1

0

4

2

5

Czechoslovakia

3

1

1

1

4

3

3

Netherlands

3

1

1

1

4

4

3

Greece

3

0

1

2

1

4

1

Final

In a move that surprised literally nobody, Schuster was restored to Derwall’s starting eleven. In one that did surprise a few, Horst Hrubesch retained his starting berth, despite not scoring thus far in the competition. Confidence back home was high, as the West German press began printing mock-up pictures of the team hoisting the trophy aloft even before the game had started, such was the restored level of belief held in the side to elevate themselves to the top of the European stage once more.

Yet no team had won the Henri Delaunay trophy on more than one occasion and – as with the opening game – the apparent inevitability of the German ascension an attack on the edge of his own area, before racing through seemed to be bearing down, as international commentators were quick to note an apparent nervousness amongst the players as they lined up for the pre-match ceremonials.

Cue Herr Schuster once more.

Just ten minutes of the game had passed, when the so-monikered ‘firebrand’ broke up a Belgian attack on the edge of his own area, before playing a quick one-two with Rummenigge, then arcing a wonderful chipped through-ball to Hrubesch. Known as the ‘heading monster’ (or, Kopfball-Ungeheuer) courtesy of a coach at Rot-Weiss Essen for his dominance in the air (with 81 of his 136 Bundesliga goals coming with his head), Hrubesch evoked the adage of “good feet for a big man” as he took the pass on, and comfortably opened the scoring.

Finding the Strength - Hrubesch Points the Way

Finding the Strength - Hrubesch Points the Way

Hrubesch himself had only found himself in the squad a matter of days before the start of the tournament and, at the age of 29, it seemed as though the opportunity of adding to his handful of international caps had passed him by. But, with the final preparations well-advanced, an untimely broken leg for Klaus Fischer saw Derwall turn to the 6’2” centre forward Hrubesch has since been more than willing to note the limits of his abilities, attributing his call-up to “the system at the time – it was a strong team…and we played some beautiful football. It was quite simple for me [to fit into the play]”.

As if to underline Hrubesch’s point, the Germans then created – and spurned – a number of other good first-half chances; Müller blazing over from inside the 18-yard box, and Jean-Marie Pfaff doing well to keep out efforts from Allofs and Schuster. But as the whistle went for half-time, they looked to be in complete control. Hrubesch picks up the tale: in the second half we saw Belgium’s class, and they deserved to equalise [through Vandereycken’s 75’ spot-kick, after Uli Stielike had felled Van der Elst]. Extra time would’ve been too much [for us]. So when we got a corner on the left, we were prepared. Rummenigge signalled…Pfaff stayed on his line…[and] I was able to [muster enough energy] to jump high…”

Hrubesch’s 88’ header sparked wild celebrations in the crowd, yet there was little evidence of the pre-tournament hooliganism that was so greatly feared, and Germany held on, the unlikely hero going on to admit that he “found it hard to lift the trophy – I was so tired after the game!”

22/06/1980, Stadio Olimpico, Att: 47,864

West Germany          2-1          Belgium

Hrubesch 10′, 88′      (1-0)         Vandereycken 75′(p)

Once again, West Germany took six places in the overall Team of the Tournament, with Karlheinze Förster, Hans-Peter Briegel, the irrepressible Schsuter, Müller, Rummenigge and Hrubesch being elected alongside four Italians (Zoff, Gentile, Scirea and Tardelli), and one Belgian (Ceulemans). Allof’s hat-trick against the Dutch saw him take the Golden Boot, while Rummenigge found himself crowned with the Ballon d’Or(with Schuster as runner-up).

And so, in a year that saw the Eurovision Song Contest won by Irishman Johnny Logan with ‘What’s Another Year?’, European football witnessed another European revision of sorts, as West Germany took to the helm. And, just as with eight years previous, this side would usher in a decade of dominance. Yet it would be another 16 years before they would get their hands on the European title again.

The Victorious Team

The Victorious Team

 

 

Bundesliga Review – Cologne condemned on dramatic final day

Archie Rhind-Tutt looks back at a dramatic last day of the Bundesliga season.
And so it came down to this, the final day of the Bundesliga, the fight for survival.

In the red corner, weighing in with 30 points from 33 games, the winners of the inaugural Bundesliga – the extremely unreliable FC Cologne.

In the blue corner, weighing in with 28 points from 33 games, the club from the capital – the equally unreliable Hertha Berlin.

Now all boxing analogies and hyperbole aside, Saturday held a lot of importance for these two clubs. Of course, such is the way the Bundesliga works, the most either could achieve on Saturday was the relative safety of the awkward Relegation Play-Off.

It was the importance of the occasion which helped to make Saturday afternoon’s events all the more dramatic. Both Cologne and Hertha had the advantage of playing at home. However, the Billy Goats faced Bayern Munich, a side looking to keep themselves in good shape ahead of the DFB-Pokal Final and the Champions League Final.

Poldi's disappointing last day at Cologne

Hoffenheim weren’t going to be an easy proposition for Hertha Berlin but they certainly weren’t as tough opposition as Bayern were to Cologne. The final results showed this.

Understandably, the relegation threatened duo started tentatively on Saturday but it was Hertha who struck first as Anis Ben-Hatira’s free-kick from wide on the right went all the way in to the delight of the Olympiastadion. Otto Rehhagel’s side had the advantage. The dour face of General Manager Michael Preetz, even when they’d scored, illustrated Hertha were by no means secure.

The mood was further lifted in Berlin with news Thomas Müller had opened the scoring at the RheinEnergieStadion. Such was their inferior goal difference to Hertha, Cologne now had to come from behind and beat Bayern. The problem for Frank Schaefer’s team was that not once during the campaign had their opponents gone in front in the Bundesliga and lost.

The last time it happened was actually against Cologne last season but there was to be no repeat on Saturday. Instead, things kept on improving for Hertha Berlin. Ryan Babel was harshly sent off for Hoffenheim just before half time. It meant Hertha continued to gather momentum which they took into the second period.

Meanwhile at the RheinEnergieStadion, Cologne made an impressive start after half time. Fortune didn’t favour their brave approach though on this occasion. Playing in such an open manner against Bayern is always risky and it didn’t pay off as Geromel diverted Franck Ribery’s cross into his own goal. This was quickly followed by a third by Arjen Robben. Milivoje Novakovic grabbed a consolation before Thomas Müller completed the scoring making it 4-1 to the Bundesliga runners up.

The news from Berlin wasn’t positive for Cologne either with Ben-Hatira scoring his second and ending their chances of automatic relegation, or so it seemed. Someone forgot to inform Hoffenheim’s Marvin Commper who ensured a bizarre finale to the season by halving Hertha’s lead with minutes left.

The scoreline now 2-1 and another goal for Markus Babbel’s side would condemn Hertha. In the final minutes, Thomas Kraft was forced into a save giving Hoffenheim a late corner. Up came goalkeeper Tom Starke but Hertha cleared and with no one guarding the goal at the opposite end, Raffael was able to run the ball in, cue roars of relief around the Olympiastadion.

Simultaneously in Cologne, there were some rather unsavoury scenes as some discontented supporters lit flares behind Manuel Neuer’s goal. Referee Florian Meyer took the sensible step to blow for full time as a plume of black smoke engulfed one end of the stadium. Players and officials rushed down the tunnel but one man trudged off at a slower pace than the others.

That was Lukas Podolski playing his final game for Cologne prior to his move to Arsenal. Seeing “Prinz Poldi” leaving the pitch with clouds of black smoke behind him was poignant. Indeed, he departs with his hometown club in disarray. That said Cologne’s exit from the Bundesliga epitomised the ridiculous nature of their season. Predicting whether they’ll make an immediate return is difficult at this time.

As for Hertha Berlin, they’ll have been delighted their former coach Markus Babbel didn’t end up coming back to haunt them. That relative honour might fall to Fortuna Dusseldorf, their opponents in the Relegation Play Off. Hertha fans know their team haven’t played that well under Otto Rehhagel but with the organiser supreme, they managed to win the fight for survival – for now.

For more on the Bundesliga, follow @archiert1 on Twitter

Matchday 34 Results:

Augsburg 1-0 Hamburg

Borussia Dortmund 4-0 Freiburg

Cologne 1-4 Bayern Munich

Hannover 2-1 Kaiserslautern

Hertha Berlin 3-1 Hoffenheim

Mainz 0-3 Gladbach

Nuremberg 1-4 Bayer Leverkusen

Stuttgart 3-2 Wolfsburg

Werder Bremen 2-3 Schalke

The Final Table

Rank Club Matches W* D* L* G* GD* PTS*
1 Borussia Dortmund 34 25 6 3 80:25 +55 81 CL*
2 FC Bayern Munich 34 23 4 7 77:22 +55 73 CL*
3 FC Schalke 04 34 20 4 10 74:44 +30 64 CL*
4 Borussia Mönchengladbach 34 17 9 8 49:24 +25 60 CL* Qual.
5 Bayer 04 Leverkusen 34 15 9 10 52:44 +8 54 EL*
6 VfB Stuttgart 34 15 8 11 63:46 +17 53 EL* Qual.
7 Hannover 96 34 12 12 10 41:45 -4 48 EL* Qual.
8 VfL Wolfsburg 34 13 5 16 47:60 -13 44
9 SV Werder Bremen 34 11 9 14 49:58 -9 42
10 1. FC Nuremberg 34 12 6 16 38:49 -11 42
11 1899 Hoffenheim 34 10 11 13 41:47 -6 41
12 SC Freiburg 34 10 10 14 45:61 -16 40
13 1. FSV Mainz 05 34 9 12 13 47:51 -4 39
14 FC Augsburg 34 8 14 12 36:49 -13 38
15 Hamburger SV 34 8 12 14 35:57 -22 36
16 Hertha BSC Berlin 34 7 10 17 38:64 -26 31 Play-offs
17 1. FC Köln 34 8 6 20 39:75 -36 30 Relegation
18 1. FC Kaiserslautern 34 4 11 19 24:54 -30 23 Relegation

Table thanks to Bundesliga Official Website

This article was originally written by Archie Rhind-Tutt for Football Fancast and it reproduced with promission.

For the original article follow this link: http://www.footballfancast.com/2012/05/football-blogs/bundesliga-review-cologne-condemned-on-dramatic-final-day

HSV vs The Set Piece

This season, Hamburger SV have seen their net ripple on no fewer than 22 occasions as the result of an opposing set-play. Having shipped 50 goals in total in the 1.Bundesliga from their 28 fixtures to date, a figure of forty-four per cent of all goals conceded coming from the more formulaic aspects of the beautiful game is undoubtedly a concern. And yet the questions as to why this is the case remain.

Of those 22, four have come from the penalty spot, with a further three the result of direct free-kicks (with two of those epitomising some of the lack of good fortune afforded Hamburg by being deflected beyond the luckless Jaroslav Drobny). Discounting those seven; ten and come from corners that haven’t been cleared, with the remaining five from a failure to properly defend free-kicks.

In terms of their overall susceptibility, the recent clean sheet recorded against Kaiserslautern on Matchday 28 was only the fourth shutout this term. That is the joint-lowest total in the league, and came as their first in seven games. In that same time, ten of the 13 goals conceded have come from set-pieces of one sort or another. Yet the seven matches prior to the 1-0 win over Köln on Matchday 21 saw HSV breached just eight times; and only thrice via dead ball situations. Their profligacy is still further confused by the apparent recognition of it by Coach Thorsten Fink. After the 3-1 loss to Schalke on Matchday 25, Fink bemoaned his side’s lack of discipline over free-kicks – “we can’t afford to defend like that”, only to see his backline switch off again as Freiburg delivered an imaginative set-play third, to put Hamburg to the sword just a week later on.

Assessing where the fault may lie over the deficiency is difficult to pinpoint. And Fink is certainly not a coach with a reputation for blindness in this area – recall the dogmatic way his Basel side restricted the creativity of Manchester United in both of their Champions’ League matches. Yet it is hard to countenance the rudimentary way in which they appear to defend both corners and free-kicks.

Corners

Taking the game against Schalke on Matchday 25 as an example:

Employing a standard man-to-man marking system, and with men on both front and back posts, there is a tendency to leave the edge of the six-yard box and penalty spot free. This gives opposing forwards space to attack the ball, and freedom to move.

In addition, if the offensive side adopt a ‘blitz’ sort of grouping before the kick is taken, the defenders are drawn into circling them (left). This makes it harder to get in amongst them and disrupt their runs.

There is also an apparent inclination for ‘keeper Drobny to stay on his line. His rationale here is probably vested in a lack of belief in his defenders, given the relative inexperience. But in that sense it becomes self-fulfilling, with no dominant presence from the defensive standpoint.

As the corner-taker steps up, there is a naïve inclination for the man on back post to drift. The attackers burst at the same time, making runs tough for the defence to track. That combination then leaves the ‘keeper exposed, and rooted to his line as players converge towards him along the edge of the six yard box, and space is crowded.

Coupled with an in-swinging trajectory to the ball (all but one of the goals ceded by HSV from corners have come from in-swinging plays), and uncertainty ensues.

Such plays heavily on the youthful inexperience of the back four, once again highlighting the lack of a controlling hand.

Free Kicks

Taking the game against Bayern on Matchday 3 as an example:

Once again, Hamburg set up on a man-to-man marking basis, with a defensive line angled towards the back post to match the flight of an in-swinging ball.

With seven defenders against five forwards, HSV should have all the armoury they should need. However, a run from Holger Badstuber across the first spare man (indicated by the dotted red arrow) pulls the group towards the front edge of the six-yard box. As Daniel van Buyten (indicated by the yellow arrow) parallels the line of this run, his marker is blocked by Mario Gomez, causing a momentary hesitation. Van Buyten thus gains a yard of space, and rises unchallenged to head home.

What is also notable from the touchline view is how the HSV line fails to move back with their men, leaving two Bayern players unmarked at the far post for any rebounds. Yet more ill-disciplined defence, with players drawn towards the ball.

There is little doubt that the off-field issues surrounding the Club are weighing heavy, and a certain element appears to be manifesting on the pitch too. Combine that with an apparently inherent lack of discipline – most evident through Paolo Guerrero’s horrific foul on Sven Ulreich, which resulted in an eight-game ban – and the distractions for the playing staff are many.

However, as profligate as HSV have been at the back, they have proven themselves fairly well-adept at the other end; with eleven goals in their favour coming from set-pieces.

And Fink – forever with tactical acumen to the fore – has attempted to capitalise on both aspects that this has highlighted, telling the City’s Abendblett newspaper “If we concede goals from set-pieces, the team will pay, but if we score goals, then they will earn money”. That step echoes one he employed during his tenure with Red Bull Salzburg when he was faced with a similar deficiency.

Moreover, Fink’s team currently have a goal difference of -18, which is the worst they have ever had to endure at any stage during the 48-year history of Germany’s top flight, and ahead of Matchday 22’s game with Werder, it certainly appeared that the pressure was beginning to tell. As the 44-year old was interviewed by NDR television, he angered: “Players are not machines and sometimes they have off days. We were a solid unit before Christmas, but maybe some people thought after our draw with Monchengladbach that that was it”. Before going on to ominously opine: “Maybe some people have not fully understood”.

The game with ‘Lautern was probably precisely what HSV needed come Matchday 28, with the visitors having managed to go the entirety of the second half of last season without scoring from a corner. But with six games remaining, they find themselves removed from the relegation play-off berth only on goal difference. Their next game is at home to Leverkusen this weekend, where a response to the departure of Robin Dutt is expected from the away side. Then come the proverbial ‘six-pointers’, with games away to both Nürnberg and Augsburg sandwiching a home tie with Mainz. 59 per cent of their victories so far have come on the road, and they will need that form to be confirmed to survive. But it can certainly still be considered that their destiny is in their own hands: whether that is a positive or not may well depend on Fink garnering more of a solidity to his defence, and the way in which they occupy their own space against the appropriately-monikered ‘dead-ball’ situation.