Monthly Archives: April 2012

Review: Borussia Dortmund v Bayern Munich

Before this season, Bayern Munich had only failed to lift the Bundesliga twice when leading at the half way stage. That will, bar an amazing collapse from Borussia Dortmund, be extended to three after Wednesday night’s decisive result at Signal Iduna Park.

Whilst Bayern may outweigh Dortmund with Bundesliga titles, Jupp Heynckes’ side do not have the same fearlessness which Jürgen Klopp’s team possesses. That said die Schwarzgelben were fortunate at times on Wednesday night but as the saying goes, fortune favours the brave.

Dortmund were most certainly brave in a rather schizophrenic first half. Their eagerness gave Bayern a free-kick inside the first minute but Mario Gomez’s header lacked the necessary purchase to beat Roman Weidenfeller. Jakub Blaszczykowski then poked wide for Borussia before Manuel Neuer produced a terrific double save to deny Kevin Grosskreutz and Robert Lewandowski.

This completed a frenetic opening eight minutes but as brains engaged on both sides, a slightly more conservative approach was pursued. Only slightly though. Bayern Munich, looked dangerous coming forward but lacked a decisive final ball. Dortmund meanwhile continued to create.

This time, it was two of their Polish trio who combined to nearly produce the opening goal. Blaszczykowski’s sweeping cross from deep on the right was met by Lewandowski. Manuel Neuer watched the ball clip the inside of the post before Bayern cleared. Neuer smiled. It was a look he continued to wear even when showered with bananas by the Südtribune as prior to a second half where Bayern returned the stronger.
Franck Ribery drove narrowly wide on the hour mark but Jupp Heynckes and Jürgen Klopp decided to make changes. Bastian Schweinsteiger and Ivicia Olic came on for the ineffective duo of Müller and Gomez. For Dortmund, Perisic and Leitner replaced the subdued pair of Kagawa and Gündogan as the two coaches showed little inhibition about replacing players who have been in fine form of late.

There was little change until, with fourteen minutes to play, a drive down the left by Perisic forced a corner for BVB. Leitner took it short to Marcel Schmelzer. His cross was cleared to Kevin Grosskreutz who struck a low volley. Robert Lewandowski was alert enough to divert the ball into the corner and with a flick of the Pole’s heel, Dortmund led. Arjen Robben claimed for offside but he was playing Lewandowski onside, even when he appealed.

Cue overload from Bayern and Robben, desperately seeking redemption. The Dutchman earned himself the chance five minutes from time when Knut Kircher adjudged ‘keeper Roman Weidenfeller to have brought the winger down. Penalty to Bayern and it would bring redemption, for Weidenfeller that is.

Robben’s low effort to the right was clutched by the joyful Dortmund captain. Yet did Robben realise he would have another chance to snatch a point, another chance he would amazingly spurn just two minutes later. As Neven Subotic headed onto his own crossbar, the ball fell to the Dutchman three yards from goal. He could only screw it over the top as Jupp Heynckes looked on in disbelief.

As the Bundesliga’s top scorers couldn’t find the net, Lewandowski nearly did for a second time as he clipped the underside of the bar in injury time. His earlier effort proved decisive though as Dortmund were able to celebrate a momentous and ultimately deserved victory.

The number three might haunt Bayern Munich. Three moments to forget from Arjen Robben, three points further away from Dortmund, hopes for a treble all but diminished and for only the third time in their history, Bayern Munich will have been leaders at half way and not gone on to win the title. That will hurt the Bavarians.

Borussia Dortmund now need seven points from their remaining four games to clinch back-to-back titles for the first time since 1996. Jürgen Klopp’s side are now 24 games unbeaten in the Bundesliga – they’re Champions for a reason, you know.

By Archie Rhind-Tutt. For more on the Bundesliga on Twitter, follow @archiert1

Preview: Borussia Dortmund v Bayern Munich

Terry looks forward to one of the most anticipated game of the season.

Whether they like it or not, Borussia Dortmund are turning into a European football fan’s wet dream. Look at them with their exciting young players, super modern playing style. Their coach even wears a baseball cap with a slogan reflecting “street” football. If they could only win a Champions League match then the images of Mario Goetze, Shinji Kagawa and maybe even Kevin Grosskreutz would adorn billboards and their silky skills grace TV commercials for sportswear and soft drink concerns for a whole generation (NB a ‘generation’ in football is about 2 and a half years).

What Jürgen Klopp has achieved at Dortmund is impressive: the former Mainz coach has wrung the neck of a relatively small transfer kitty and shaken loose some gems. The aforementioned Kagawa, Lucas Barrios, Robert Lewandowski and Sven Bender have joined the home grown players, such as Mario Goetze and the erstwhile Nuri Sahin to construct a team that is not just effective but tremendous fun to watch. On Wednesday, they play one of the most highly anticipated matches of the season, anywhere, in front of an international TV audience against one of the biggest clubs in world football and they do so as favourites. But this is not the only game of vital importance that Dortmund will play this week.

Victory against Bayern on Wednesday would be Dortmund’s fourth consecutive win against the record holding champions but more importantly, it means that they can afford to lose to their hated local rivals, Schalke 04 the following Saturday and still maintain a three point gap between them and the Bavarians. Should they slip up against the third placed team at the weekend then it’s more than likely back to square one but six points from the next two games means BVB are nailed on for a second title in a row which will mark another year where the name of Bayern Munich is not engraved on the Bundesliga Trophy. That eventuality can lead to a belief that Bayern’s traditional long term dominance is being challenged. That the future is no longer red but yellow and black. That belief is premature.

As we all know, Bayern have dominated the Bundesliga for decades. They’ve traded titles with other clubs in that time (‘Gladbach, Hamburg, Bremen and Dortmund) and enjoyed some cracking rivalries with those teams but it must always be remembered that Bayern is a mighty club with a national and international support and financial reserves as deep as the Well Of Joseph. While a defeat at the Westfalen may result in them missing out on the Bundesliga title for another season, the fact that Bayern could go just two seasons potless, illustrates the length of the shadow cast from Bavaria.

So perhaps guard yourself then from the notion that a Dortmund win is a paradigm shifter. Consider that Bayern are distracted by their Champions League Labours. Consider also that were it not for a couple of blunders by Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer, the three point gap between these two clubs may well be shorter. Dortmund may have Lewandowski, Kagawa and Goetze but Bayern have Gomez, Robben and Ribery. Dortmund have Bender and Kuba and Bayern have Schweinsteiger and Müller. Bayern don’t have Hummels and Subotic and that you suspect, is the difference between the two. But while this game may be many things it is not symbolic of a major turning point or a shift in the balance of power or any other expression that could have been written by a Politics undergraduate essay.

Next season, BVB can look forward to Marco Reus joining them from Borussia Mönchengladbach which was something of a transfer coup. However, Bayern have the wedge to sign almost anyone they like. The only thing stopping them is the limit of their desire to spend the cash informed by an inherent conservatism that has served them well. If Dortmund lose Kagawa or Lewandowski, next season or struggle to manage their Champions League schedule, their league form may suffer. And if it does, Bayern will be there because they always are there and in all likelihood, always will be there. BVB are building something, maybe something lasting but they have a long way to go before they can match the Munich club for year on year consistency.

None of which should detract from what promises to be an encounter that should match the hype. While a tense and uneventful draw is possible, both teams have too much to gain with a win and they have so little experience in playing for a point that you suspect that they’d present the appearance of a dancing dad at a wedding, if they tried.

Bundesliga Review – All roads lead to Dortmund v Bayern

It’s an “English week” in the Bundesliga due to there being midweek fixtures in Germany’s top flight. There’s one game on Wednesday which is likely to receive all the attention though – Borussia Dortmund versus Bayern Munich.

Germany’s top two sides secured tight wins at the weekend to ensure there’s still only three points between the pair going into Wednesday night’s encounter. Both had to fight hard for their victories at the weekend but each side’s talisman came to the fore when it mattered most.

Augsburg travelled to the Allianz Arena as underdogs but such has been the way Jos Luhukay’s team has been playing lately, they couldn’t be discounted. Although when Mario Gomez netted Bayern’s first after just 24 seconds, you could have been forgiven for thinking another rout was about to take place in Munich.

However, the visitors displayed why prior to the game they’d only lost one of their nine last league games. After having an effort cleared off the line, Augsburg grabbed the equaliser through Ja-Cheol Koo’s strike midway through the first half.

The newly promoted side were unable to resist Bayern in the second period as Mario Gomez scored the winner after an hour. It was also his 25th in the Bundesliga this season as he leads Schalke’s Klaas-Jan Huntelaar by two goals at the top of the scoring charts.

Robert Lewandowski is Borussia Dortmund’s top scorer but he is still seven goals off Gomez. Nevertheless, Jürgen Klopp won’t mind too much as long his side continue to top the table. His Polish forward was the goal hero on Saturday for the Black and Yellows in their victory against Wolfsburg.

Like Augsburg, the Wolves have been playing well of late as Felix Magath’s team have even occupied a Europa League spot in the table. Despite running BVB close, they were eventually edged out at the VW arena. Lewandowski slid in the first after good work from Ivan Perisic on the left.

Borussia’s second saw some neat footwork by Ilkay Gündogan before the defensive midfielder unleashed a great curling effort from inside the box to double Dortmund’s lead. Mario Mandzukic pulled Wolfsburg back into the game before Alexander Madlung was sent off. The centre back’s dismissal was evident after a stray pass at the back saw Lewandowski go clear and nonchalantly flick the ball past Diego Benaglio.

Attention now turns to the game on Wednesday night. Dortmund’s CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke has said BVB will win the title if they are victorious on Wednesday night whilst Bayern Munich’s President Uli Hoeness is convinced the Bavarians will be German champions if they win the game in the Ruhr.

“The moment of truth comes when we play in Dortmund,” declared Hoeness. Bayern’s run to the end of the season is more favourable than Dortmund’s but they also have to contend with being in the Champions League. Dortmund on the other hand now enter an eleven day period which will show whether they have the mettle to retain the Bundesliga. The Champions face the other members of the top four, including their arch-rivals Schalke who will be desperate to deny Borussia.

This season though could prove a seminal moment for German football. If Bayern win the title, the old order is restored as they would maintain their record of not going two years without a title since 1996. That year it was Borussia Dortmund who won back-to-back championships. If the Black and Yellows do retain the Bundesliga in 2012, it could usher in a new era in Germany where Bayern don’t rule supreme. Wednesday night might not prove definitive but it has the feeling of being a watershed moment nevertheless.

So call it what you want. The Bundeslásico, first versus second, Borussia Dortmund against Bayern Munich – there’s no escaping from the enormity of Wednesday night’s game at Signal Iduna Park which promises to be a fascinating encounter.

For more musings on the Bundesliga, follow @archiert1

Matchday 29 Results:

Bayern Munich 2-1 Augsburg

Cologne 1-1 Werder Bremen

Freiburg 2-2 Nuremberg

Kaiserslautern 1-2 Hoffenheim

Stuttgart 4-1 Mainz

Wolfsburg 1-3 Borussia Dortmund

Gladbach 0-0 Hertha Berlin

Schalke 3-0 Hannover

Hamburg 1-1 Bayer Leverkusen

Table

Rank Club Matches W* D* L* G* GD* PTS*
1 Borussia Dortmund 29 20 6 3 66:22 +44 66 CL*
2 FC Bayern Munich 29 20 3 6 69:19 +50 63 CL*
3 FC Schalke 04 29 18 3 8 64:35 +29 57 CL*
4 Borussia Mönchengladbach 29 15 7 7 41:20 +21 52 CL* Qual.
5 VfB Stuttgart 29 12 7 10 52:39 +13 43 EL*
6 Bayer 04 Leverkusen 29 11 8 10 40:39 +1 41 EL* Qual.
7 SV Werder Bremen 29 11 8 10 42:44 -2 41 EL* Qual.
8 Hannover 96 29 10 11 8 37:42 -5 41
9 VfL Wolfsburg 29 12 4 13 41:52 -11 40
10 1899 Hoffenheim 29 9 10 10 34:40 -6 37
11 1. FSV Mainz 05 29 8 9 12 43:48 -5 33
12 1. FC Nuremberg 29 9 5 15 27:41 -14 32
13 SC Freiburg 29 8 8 13 39:55 -16 32
14 Hamburger SV 29 7 10 12 33:51 -18 31
15 FC Augsburg 29 6 12 11 31:44 -13 30
16 1. FC Köln 29 8 5 16 36:59 -23 29 Play-offs
17 Hertha BSC Berlin 29 6 9 14 30:52 -22 27 Relegation
18 1. FC Kaiserslautern 29 3 11 15 18:41 -23 20 Relegation

Table thanks to Bundesliga Official Website

This article was originally produced for Football Fancast. The Bundesliga Lounge thanks them for giving permission for it to be used on this website as well. The original article can be found here: http://www.footballfancast.com/2012/04/football-blogs/bundesliga-review-all-roads-lead-to-dortmund-v-bayern

The Bundesliga Show Episode 60 – Tight in the Title Race

This is the first of a double header of Bundesliga Show action for this week. In this episode Jon Hartley and Terry Duffelen talk about all all the big action from matchday 29 and the impact on the big battles in the Bundesliga.

Also there is a look forward to the big matches taking place in the Bundesliga ‘English Week’ on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Bundesliga’s Latest Exports Further Showcase Talent On Offer

Archie Rhind-Tutt looks at the success of recent Bundesliga exports to other major European Leagues.

Have you heard the one about the Icelandic, the Russian and the Senegalese?

This sounds like the precursor to a joke, and a poor one at that.

However, it is in fact the introduction to three of the Premier League’s latest success stories and in turn, the Bundesliga’s too. For Gylfi Sigurdsson, Pavel Pogrebnyak and Papiss Demba Cissé have all made significant impacts since arriving in January.

With the former of the trio, Gylfi Sigurdsson, it’s more of a return to England – except he’s playing in Wales (it’s never simple in football, is it?). Reading nurtured Sigurdsson into a dangerous Championship player before the Icelandic moved to Hoffenheim in August 2010. There, he scored with his first touch, a 20-yard free kick against Kaiserslautern, to earn his new club a draw.

His immediate impact at Swansea City then is less surprising where he’s been an astute addition accumulating six goals and three assists. Playing just behind the striker means marking Sigurdsson can be difficult. The Icelandic attacking midfielder even picked up the Barclays Player of the Month Award for March, reiterating how well he’s performed on his return to English football.

Hoffenheim's Gylfi Sigurdsson

Pavel Pogrebnyak though is playing in England for the first time in his career although his excellent start at Fulham would suggest otherwise. The Russian hasn’t just posed problems to opposition players but also to the media. Whilst defenders have found it hard to control the burly forward, commentators struggle to pronounce his name. Fulham fans have taken the sensible step in calling him “The Pog”.

The Russian striker scored with his first five shots on target, meaning he has five goals in eight appearances. In the process, he also now holds the record for the shortest amount of time to reach five Premier League goals (three games). This is remarkable considering in the Bundesliga this season, he had only scored a penalty for Stuttgart in 14 appearances. Taking into account he doesn’t speak English either, it’s been a terrific start for “The Pog.”

Former Stuttgart man Pavel Pogrebnyak

Not speaking the language though doesn’t seem to matter as Papiss Demba Cissé has illustrated. The Senegalese moved to England with a large Bundesliga pedigree. Cissé had nine goals in 15 games this season. In the last campaign, he was the second highest goal scorer with 22, only trailing Bayern Munich’s Mario Gomez.

Perhaps more defenders should have taken heed of the warning which the new signing’s strike partner, Demba Ba, tweeted on the arrival of Cissé.“I think even when he sleeps, he thinks about the back of the net.” Cissé’s record for Newcastle of seven goals in seven appearances demonstrates Demba Ba wasn’t joking either.

Former Bundesliga boys - Papiss Demba Cisse & Demba Ba

Now the success of Sigurdsson, Pogrebnyak and Cissé is testament to the work of the three managers who attracted them to Swansea, Fulham and Newcastle respectively. From a Bundesliga perspective, the trio’s success shows the calibre of player available in Germany. This includes home grown-talent and those from abroad who come and make their name in Germany. After all, the aforementioned trio are just the latest to succeed in foreign terrain having spent some years in Germany. In England for example, Edin Dzeko and Demba Ba both have impressive records after relatively short periods in the Premier League.

With German talent settled in the Bundesliga, foreign players are more susceptible to being drawn to the Premier League. After all, this is where the money is and this is a driving factor behind many footballers’ decisions. This isn’t to stereotype and say Germans don’t have the same desires but many up and coming stars will want to ensure they’re under the watchful gaze of Joachim Löw in Germany.

Maybe they have noticed what has happened to the likes of Mesut Özil and Sami Khedira – two national team players plucked from Werder Bremen and Stuttgart by Real Madrid, showing that with some patience and consistent good performances, La Liga’s elite could well call.

Another big Bundesliga export - Mesut Özil

Whilst the Premier League may have the money, La Liga’s technique is superior. Such is the style of football promoted in Spain it acquiesces with the high technical ability of the top players in the Bundesliga. Whilst Özil, Khedira and Piotr Trochowski (Sevilla) are German examples, the likes of Ivan Rakitic and Nuri Sahin have all made moves to Spain from the Bundesliga in recent years.

The fact players are moving to La Liga and the Premier League is evidence of the Bundesliga’s current strength. The trio of Cissé, Sigurdsson and Pogrebnyak have come from clubs which are not in the top six of the Bundesliga (Freiburg, Hoffenheim and Stuttgart) neither in terms of ranking nor in terms of the quality of the squad.

Shinji Kagawa is at Borussia Dortmund, a very good top six side, and is regarded as one of the best players in the division. The Japanese playmaker is being linked with a move to the Premier League as he dithers over whether to sign a new deal with the German Champions. Attracting players of his calibre to the Premier League would be a major coup for any club. The problem for these potential suitors is that Germany is a cosy place to be for those playing regularly in a team in the higher echelons of the Bundesliga.

Whilst the Bundesliga needs players who go to the Premier League to perform well to further prove the quality in the league, the top sides in Germany need to ensure they’re able to keep hold of their star talent. That said, the success of Sigurdsson, Pogrebnyak and Cissé will only increase the growing positive reputation of the Bundesliga.

The Bundesliga Show Episode 59 – Dortmund Drop Points and the Dutt Departure

This week on The Bundesliga Show, Terry Duffelen and Jon Hartley are joined by Archie Rhind-Tutt to talk through the big points of matchday just gone. On the table this week is a look at the title race between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich, the departure of Robin Dutt from Bayern Leverkusen and there is also a doffing of the cap to Hannover Sporting Director Jörg Schmadtke.

Jon also chats to Sascha Greinke from Radio Emscher Lippe about all things Schalke in the build up to their Europa League quarter final second leg.

All that and a preview of next weekends action in the Bundesliga.

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.