Monthly Archives: October 2012

Bundesliga Review – Bayer humble leaders Bayern by Archie Rhind-Tutt

Sami Hyypia claimed anything was possible before Bayer Leverkusen’s trip to Bayern Munich as he insisted his side could win at the Allianz Arena. Hyypia’s comments would have no doubt surprised the Bayern hierarchy. After all, going into Sunday’s encounter, Bayern had won all eight of their Bundesliga games this season. To say that Jupp Heynckes’s side had been merely winning doesn’t give the Bavarians enough credit, because the Bundesliga’s record champions have been dominating in each and every game. It’s not like they didn’t have the majority of the play either on Sunday but for the first time this season, Bayern were humbled at the Allianz Arena.

Now in situations where big teams suffer shock defeats, it’s very easy to focus on the woes of the losers, so let’s credit Bayer Leverkusen here. The coaching duo of Sascha Lewandowski and Sami Hyypia are doing a good job at the BayArena. The weekend’s result was not only momentous for them but for the club as well, because Bayer hadn’t won at Bayern for just over 23 years. Add into the mix that this was a win over former coach Jupp Heynckes and this victory was all the sweeter for Leverkusen – a team with the talent to push on into the top four. They certainly showed its well within their reach with their performance on Sunday.

Most teams struggle to get out of their own half when they travel to Munich, yet Bayer were managing to create chances. Yes, they had to endure prolonged spells of pressure on their goal. Bernd Leno though was equal to anything Bayern had. When they ventured into what’s seen as uncharted territory in the Allianz Arena, that being Bayern’s half, they were causing problems. Stefan Kiessling had a goal harshly ruled out for an infringement in the box. The visitors carried on regardless. Leverkusen were rewarded when that man Kiessling finished off a good passing move just before half time.

Cue the inevitable Bayern bombardment which follows any opposition goal. The visitors kept their discipline for much of the second half but their resistance was broken when Mario Mandzukic headed in from super sub Claudio Pizarro’s cross. From there, Bayern looked the only winners with just over ten minutes to go. Bayer’s chance looked to have gone, especially with André Schürrle spurning a glorious opening just before Bayern’s equaliser. Fortune looked to be with the league leaders in the final stages. Yet the slice of luck they needed came at the wrong end of the pitch.

Sidney Sam’s header was drifting wide three minutes from time. Then the ball hit an object, namely Jerome Boateng’s face, wrong footing Manuel Neuer before bouncing tamely into the corner of the goal – Leverkusen were ahead. When Sami Hyypia said anything was possible prior to the game, this probably wasn’t what he would have had in mind.

Nor would he have envisioned Manuel Neuer dribbling past players outside the Bayer Leverkusen box during stoppage time. That’s exactly where Germany’s number one was, and he nearly grabbed an astonishing assist too but Pizarro’s strike struck the bar. It wasn’t to be as Hyypia’s words were to ring true.

It’s not really surprising that he held such an attitude before the game. This is a man who was part of a team that came from three goals down in a Champions League final. Just getting into that competition again would suit Hyypia and his coaching partner Sascha Lewandowski. More consistency is required for that to happen but as Bayer Leverkusen proved this weekend – anything is possible.

Elsewhere in the Bundesliga…

  • So with Bayern Munich losing, it was catch-up time for the chasing pack. Schalke made sure of this with a 1-0 win against Nuremberg, meaning they’re just four points off the top. Champions Borussia Dortmund also secured an important win at Freiburg. That’s the Black and Yellows first away win of the season too but they’re still nine points behind Bayern.
  • Bayern losing at home wasn’t the only shock on Sunday. Borussia Mönchengladbach finally found some form as they came from 2-0 down to win at Hannover. The Bundesliga’s favourite Venezuelan, Juan Arango, was the star of the show in Lower Saxony. It’s the first time Mirko Slomka’s side have been beaten at home in the Bundesliga since April 2011. Who beat them that day? Gladbach! It’s a funny old game isn’t it?
  • Mainz have crept into the top six after a low key but good start to the season. Hungarian striker Adam Szalai grabbed a hat trick on Saturday against toothless Hoffenheim. Toothless was the word of choice too at Stuttgart’s 2-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt. Defender Georg Niedermeier lost a tooth after a challenge with Alexander Meier, before playing on, of course.
  • With Felix Magath in charge this season, Wolfsburg had only scored two goals in 8 games. In their first game without him, they scored four as they thrashed Fortuna Düsseldorf. Enough said.
  • Hamburg, the side who have the unenviable task of playing an angry Bayern Munich next week, won 2-0 at Augsburg. And finally, in a weekend when quite a few records were broken, Greuther Fürth broke two themselves. They scored their first home goal of the season against Werder Bremen in a 1-1 draw – thus securing their first point at the Trolli Arena in the Bundesliga.

For more on the Bundesliga on Twitter, follow @archiert1

Matchday 9 Results:

Augsburg 0-2 Hamburg

Fortuna Düsseldorf 1-4 Wolfsburg

Freiburg 0-2 Borussia Dortmund

Fürth 1-1 Werder Bremen

Mainz 3-0 Hoffenheim

Schalke 1-0 Nuremberg

Stuttgart 2-1 Eintracht Frankfurt

Bayern Munich 1-2 Bayer Leverkusen

Hannover 2-3 Gladbach

Table:

Rank Club Matches W* D* L* G* GD* Pts.*
1 FC Bayern Munich 9 8 0 1 27:4 +23 24 CL*
2 FC Schalke 04 9 6 2 1 18:8 +10 20 CL*
3 Eintracht Frankfurt 9 6 1 2 20:13 +7 19 CL*
4 Borussia Dortmund 9 4 3 2 20:11 +9 15 CL* Qual.
5 Bayer 04 Leverkusen 9 4 3 2 15:12 +3 15 EL* Qual.
6 1. FSV Mainz 05 9 4 2 3 12:10 +2 14 EL* Qual.
7 Hamburger SV 9 4 1 4 11:11 0 13
8 VfB Stuttgart 9 3 3 3 10:15 -5 12
9 Borussia Mönchengladbach 9 3 3 3 12:18 -6 12
10 Hannover 96 9 3 2 4 18:16 +2 11
11 SV Werder Bremen 9 3 2 4 15:14 +1 11
12 SC Freiburg 9 3 2 4 13:12 +1 11
13 Fortuna Düsseldorf 9 2 4 3 7:12 -5 10
14 1899 Hoffenheim 9 2 2 5 13:20 -7 8
15 1. FC Nuremberg 9 2 2 5 7:15 -8 8
16 VfL Wolfsburg 9 2 2 5 6:16 -10 8 Play-offs
17 FC Augsburg 9 1 3 5 5:13 -8 6 Relegation
18 Greuther Fürth 9 1 3 5 6:15 -9 6 Relegation

Table thanks to Official Bundesliga Website

Article originally written @ Football Fan Cast

Bundesliga 2 Preview: Eintracht Braunschweig v Hertha BSC

Eintracht Stadium: Venue for the big game

Terry Duffelen looks ahead to the top of the table clash in the German second division, this weekend.

Two wins, a draw, another win and a draw. That is the record for both Eintracht Frankfurt and Hertha Berlin in the last five match days. If the Berlin club had not had its stuttering start to the season then the top two in the 2.Bundesliga would be neck and neck going into this somewhat unexpected summit meeting.

Despite their yo-yo existence, Hertha are regarded as a natural first division club and their presence at the top of the table should be of no surprise. Braunschweig’s position at the top, on the other hand, is slightly more surprising even when you consider that they have a Bundesliga title to their name, which is one more than their opponents.

But a lot has happened since Eintracht won the League in 1967. The club went into decline and their rise to prominence has been a patient one. This is illustrated by their squad, many of whom have been with the club from when they were in the Regional League (division four in Germany).

Two from Braunschweig’s back four (Ken Reichel and Deniz Dogan) have been at the Eintracht Stadium since 2007, as has the 32 year old attacking Midfielder, Dennis Kruppke who is averaging a goal every other game, so far this season. Other midfield mainstays, Norman Theurkauf and Mirko Boland have been at the club for over four seasons. This is a settled team that has grown together under coach Thorsten Lieberknecht who played 82 games for the club before succeeding Benno Möhlmann as coach in 2007. A settled squad goes a long way in football and while there may not be many outstanding players in this team, they all know what each other is doing.

Braunschweig’s defence is the key to their success, conceding only three goals in the ten games played in the 2.Bundesliga. That’s seven clean sheets for ‘keeper, Daniel Davari.

If Eintracht have based their success on stability the same cannot be said of Hertha. Since the breakdown of the working relationship between Sporting Director, Michael Preetz and coach Markus Babbel in December of last year, there had been a whiff of chaos about the Berlin club’s return to the 1.Bundesliga, last season. If the fans were baffled by Babbel’s premature departure, they were astonished by his replacement, Michael Skibbe who had so spectacularly done for Eintracht Frankfurt the previous season. When Skibbe was sacked after less than three months, Preetz turned to the veteran Otto Rehhagel to attempt a desperate and ultimately futile attempt to avoid relegation.

Hertha’s attempt to reverse that controversial relegation play-off defeat hadn’t been turned down before a new coach was appointed in the shape of Jos Luhukay.  The Dutchman preferred to join Hertha in the second division than stay in the first division with Augsburg. As things stand, it looks like the right choice.

Top man in the midfield is the Brazilian, Ronny who is much more comfortable at this level has also weighed in with four goals this season. Änis Ben-Hatira was patchy in places, last season but is far more consistent in this campaign. Up front, Adrian Ramos was joined by new signings, Sandro Wagner from Bremen via Kaiserslautern and Sami Allagui from Mainz. Between them they have contributed seven goals to the Hertha cause.

Given how fluid the German second division was last season it would be hyperbole to suggest that this was a title decider, especially with only ten games played. Instead we can look forward to an intense match between two teams in identical form.

Eintracht Frankfurt v Hertha BSC kicks off at at Midday GMT on Saturday 27th October.

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.

Champions League Preview: Post Eden Hazards

Bayern Munich travel to Lille for the Champions League on Tuesday. French Football expert and Lille fan, Andrew Gibney, tells you all you need to know.

Some managers hate the international break, well by some, we mean all. Hoping your players return from duty free of any injuries and ready to get back into the long season ahead. One manager perhaps glad to see the break was Lille coach Rudi Garcia. When you started using the word “cursed” in press conferences you get the feeling everything is not OK in the good ship Les Dogues.

From watching every game this season the strange thing was, maybe Garcia wasn’t completely crazy…not yet. Starting the season with a 2-1 win away at Saint-Etienne was fantastic, a 90th minute winner from midfielder Benoit Pedretti had the club on cloud nine. Then came the slide. Disregarding the win over FC Copenhagen in the Champions League qualifier which came in Extra-Time it took until the sixth try for Lille to win at their new stadium. Not the homecoming President Michel Seydoux was hoping for.

In fact after the opening night draw against Nancy there was a sense of heightened pressure on the team to perform at the wonderful 50,000 seater Grand Stade Lille Metropole. No longer was this a team over-achieving in Ligue 1, this team was expected to perform, to challenge the millionaires in Paris, to become one of France’s leading lights.

Theoretically that’s all well and good, and not many Lille fans including myself will tell you these thoughts hadn’t crossed your mind this summer. Pretty sure the words “being the second best team in France would be great” left my mouth now on more than one occasion this summer. There was just one problem, two words that when mentioned will always bring a chorus of sighs to any group of Lille fans, Eden Hazard.

How many teams outside the biggest clubs can sell a player for €40 million and carry on like nothing has happened? Bayern fans should maybe give a knowing look towards Athletic Bilbao at this point. The wonderful, mercurial and supremely telented Eden Hazard was gone. Twenty goals and sixteen assists gone, it takes some astute signings to replace that sort of productivity. After 45 minutes of the opening home game against Nancy they showed Eden down in the changing room chilling out with his former team-mates, would the referee’s notice if new signing Marvin Martin took his #10 shirt off and Hazard took the field? A void that large isn’t replaced overnight, possibly not even this season. That sigh just got a little louder.

Something Lille has always done well is replacing the outgoing players well, really well actually. This summer along with Sochaux’s Martin, Lille signed Salomon Kalou on a free, Djibril Sidibé from Troyes and Ryan Mendes from Le Havre. Only Kalou was really a household name, but every one of them a good player and a few excellent prospects for the future.

Back to the curse, well it could be dialled back to just a case of bad luck. It’s hard to bounce back after going a goal down to PSG after 37 seconds, in three previous games the Parisians had never looked so good. Losing a 90th minute equaliser away at lowly Troyes, another equaliser lost at the end of the home game against Lyon, in what was their second shot on target after being dominated by a spirited LOSC side.

The straw that broke the camel’s back came against Rennes. A team in turmoil, questions over their manager and the attitude of their players, this was meant to be the point that Lille turned their season around. After watching captain Rio Mavuba leave the pitch on a stretcher it wasn’t a surprise to see Mevlut Erding and Romain Alessandrini put Rennes 2-0 up before Aurelien Chedjou’s header bounced off the underside of the crossbar and then the goal-line before being cleared to safety. It just wasn’t meant to be.

Against Valencia days later in the Champions League the bad luck continued. A deflected pass and a shot come cross lead to Brazilian Jonas scoring a double. Yes it wasn’t the best performance from Rudi Garcia’s side but the two nil win flattered the Spaniards just a little. Unfortunately this has been the tale of Lille’s season so far, the problem with football is that you make your own luck. In the colder light of day the lack of a clinical edge could be to blame for some of the last points this season.

When you look at the players that have left since Lille won the title back in 2011 it’s clear to see the transformation this side has been forced to go through in such a short space of time. Adil Rami, Yohan Cabaye, Gervinho, Moussa Sow and Eden Hazard were all key members of the Championship side. Marko Basa, Benoit Pedretti, Dimitri Payet, Nolan Roux and Marvin Martin are all great players in their own right but collectively it still seems the Les Dogues are missing that special something.

The midfield trio of Mavuba, Balmont and Cabaye was easily the best in France that season and a massive reason why they lifted their first title since 1954. With Cabaye gone to Newcastle Garcia has looked for a new third member of the triangle. Pedretti has failed to deliver in the 18 months he’s been at Lille and now €10m signing Martin has already had his problems with form and injury this season. Add to this Balmont’s lack of form and the spine of that successful Lille side is looking a little frail.

Facing the dynamic duo of Franck Ribery and Thomas Muller is going to be a real problem for Lille this week. The French side’s strength this season has come from the full-back positions with the excellent Mathieu Debuchy and 19-year old left-back Lucas Digne bombing forward and providing width and support from deep. Facing some of Europe’s elite attackers will likely keep the full-backs at bay and leave the Lille front-line looking a little isolated.

Unable to make an impression against the defences of BATE Borisiov and Valencia in the first two match-days doesn’t bode well for the visit of the German giants. Three points may be out of reach for this current Lille side but the home fans would be happy to see a spirited performance, a performance that gives hope for the rest of the season.

Bonne Chance Les Dogues

Andrew Gibney is the editor and founder of French Football Weekly and previous guest of the Bundesliga Show. Follow Andrew on Twitter.

Hamburg 0 Stuttgart 1: Fourth place a step too far for HSV

VfB Stuttgart coach Bruno Labbadia.

Terry Duffelen reflects on a well deserved and relatively unexpected away win for Stuttgart.

When Milan Badelj almost split the crossbar open on the stroke of half time and Artjoms Rudnevs headed in off the rebound, it looked like Hamburg would be heading into the break with an equaliser they barely deserved and having to face a less than severe bollocking from their coach Thorsten Fink. Their relief was short lived, however as Rudnevs was offside when Badelj unleashed his rocket and the home side remained one goal down.

The pre-match build up to this game was all about Hamburg and their fantastic revival after an horrendous start to the 2012/13 campaign. HSV had only dropped points once in their last four games and their unbeaten run included wins against Hannover and the Champions, Borussia Dortmund. A win would take them into fourth place which would be a impressive achievement, given their starting point.

However, this is the Hinrunde and at this time of year, Stuttgart usually find themselves under pressure and in need of results lest their coach Bruno Labaddia return to the family home with bad news. They started the game much like any other away side, looking to gain an early advantage before the home side settled. They almost pulled it off too after Hamburg ‘keeper Rene Adler made a smart save in the opening minutes from Martin Harnik. A minute later, VfB goalie, Sven Ulreich was given a feel of the ball from Rudnevs but after that it was all Stuttgart and their pressure very nearly paid off when Vedad Ibisevic had a golden chance score but was wide of the mark.

But Stuttgart persevered. They were sharper in the tackle, and quicker around the pitch against a Hamburg side that lacked urgency. The visitor’s reward finally came after 30 minutes with Ibisevic accepting an opportunity to score at close range from a cross by Martin Harnik.

Needless to say, Coach Fink sent his player out for the second half with the proverbial bomb up their backsides and Max Beister was sent on to replace Petr Jeracek who is still struggling since his move from Wolfsburg. Beister succeeded in finding some space in front of the Stuttgart defence but his attempts on goal were ill conceived as he was denied passing opportunities by the opposition.

For the benefit of the neutrals and perhaps lacking confidence in their ability to keep a clean sheet, Stuttgart went looking for a second goal. As the home side moved further the pitch, the inevitable gaps started to appear and both Michael Mancienne and Adler were forced to make last ditch blocks. Harnik, Ibrahima Traore, Christian Gentner provided the goal threats and Adler was kept busy. I also enjoyed the burly runs of the 19 year old Austrian Raphael Holzhauser for Stuttgart.

Rafael van der Vaart had a quiet game. In fact most of the energy and drive came from the alien creature inhabiting the body of Heiko Westermann. Since this possession took place, the German international is transformed from a plodding cart horse to an energetic, visionary who turns his men and leaves them standing while haring around the field destroying any attack he can get near. He was Hamburg’s best player on the day and even managed three shots on goal. Unfortunately, guys like Westermann don’t win football matches on their own and this result demonstrates how average Hamburg can be without a fully operational van der Vaart. Credit to William Kvist for Stuttgart for keeping an eye on the Dutchman and contributing to a well deserved away win for his team.

The Bundesliga Show Episode 76 – Internationals, damned Internationals, and Statistics

This week on The Bundesliga Show, Matt Hermann and Jon Hartley talk stats with Christof Greiner from Opta Sports and get up-to-date on all the most know numbers on the first seven games in the Bundesliga.

Also in the show, Matt and Jon talk international football and look forward to the Revier Derby this weekend between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke.

Enjoy the show!

The Bundesliga Show Episode 75 – Injuries and the International Break

This week on The Bundesliga Show, Jon Hartley and Matt Hermann are joined by Bundesligalounge.com writer Archie Rhind-Tutt. Together they take a look at the big injuries that have been hitting Bundesliga clubs and also talk about the who needs a break for the internationals.

All that, and Terry Duffelen‘s wrap up of all things 2.Bundesliga.

Enjoy the show!