Monthly Archives: December 2012

In Allofs and Hecking, Wolfsburg finally have a plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lewis Holtby to leave Schalke in Summer 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bundesliga 2012/13 in Numbers – Infographic

Want to find out the facts and figures from the first half of the Bundesliga season? The folks at www.powertablesports.com have come up with this stats graphic to give you all the information you need. Who’s enjoyed success and who didn’t…and even who might not want to indulge too much this Christmas.

Enjoy the stat-attack during the winter break. For more information, follow Power Table Sports on Twitter @PowerTableSport

DFB Pokal round up: Fortuna victim of Kickers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

German Cup Quarter Final Draw:

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

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

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

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

Enjoy the show!

 

Marco Kurz is the new Hoffenheim coach

TSG 1899 Hoffenheim have a new coach and his name is Marco Kurz. The 43 year old has been out of work since being sacked by FC Kaiserslautern in March, earlier in the year.

Despite getting the chop, Kurz’ reputation as a decent coach remained intact after having promoted FCK to the first division in 2010 then getting them to seventh in the table after their return to the top flight. The loss of top players (particularly Srdjan Lakic) without sufficient reinvestment lead to the club’s relegation. Firing Kurz was was a throw of the dice in the hope of saving themselves and not truly reflective of Kurz’ abilities.

As is often the case when coaches are appointed mid season, the Stuttgart born former defender will not be joining his new club under ideal circumstances. Hoffenheim are third from bottom of the table despite starting the season, under the departed Markus Babbel, confident of Europa League qualification.

Not everyone shared their optimism when the club chose to move goalkeeper Tom Starke and central defender Isaac Vorsah to Bayern Munich and Red Bull Salzburg, respectively. Tim Wiese was brought into replace Starke from Werder Bremen but this moved backfired and the German international keeper has struggled in front of a defence that has let in forty one goals this season.

Hoffenheim’s form has been truly wretched. The last point they notched on the board was against Fortuna Düsseldorf on 10th November after which followed a run of six defeats. The players have not tasted victory since 3rd November against Schalke.  The  However, the dreadful car accident in September of young midfielder Boris Vukčević of which he has only recently awoken has to be considered in mitigation.

Nevertheless, there is a smattering of relatively exciting talent in the shape of Roberto Firmino, Takashi Usami, Sven Schipplock, Joselu and Kevin Volland. Stalwarts from that 2009 Winter Champions are still at the club in the shape of Sejad Salihović, Andreas Beck and Tobia Weiss.

On balance there is enough there for the incoming Kurz to be optimistic that he can keep Hoffenheim in the division, particularly since the bottom two teams seem unlikely to mount a convincing survival bid. If Kurz can stop the rot then, at the very least, a relegation play off with the third placed team in the second division is on the cards.

In the longer term, much will depend on Kurz relationship with software billionaire Dietmar Hopp, the de facto owner of the club. Hopp has put the kitchen sink into getting his beloved village club into the Bundesliga. While he is not made of money it is not out of the question that there may be opportunities for Kurz to bring players in and develop the squad, assuming that they can survive the season.

If the trio of Hopp, Kurz and sporting director, Andreas Müller can bring stability to the club then Kurz may be allowed to take Hoffenheim a good deal further than he would have done at Kaiserslautern.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elsewhere in the Bundesliga:

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

For more on the Bundesliga on Twitter, follow @archiert1

Matchday 17 Results:

Bayern Munich 1-1 Gladbach

Bayer Leverkusen 3-0 Hamburg

Fortuna Düsseldorf 2-1 Hannover

Fürth 1-1 Augsburg

Mainz 3-1 Stuttgart

Wolfsburg 0-2 Eintracht Frankfurt

Schalke 1-3 Freiburg

Hoffenheim 1-3 Borussia Dortmund

Werder Bremen 1-1 Nuremberg

Table:

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

Table thanks to Bundesliga Website

Article originall written at Football Fan Cast

Bundesliga Review – Arango’s left foot steals the show by Archie Rhind-Tutt

German sides have had a great week on the continent but it was a 32-year-old Venezuelan who provided the moment of the weekend

The Bundesliga is characterised by its seemingly endless amount of young, home grown talent who are now not just flourishing in Germany but on the continent too. At the same time, that’s part of what makes Juan Arango great – because he’s a 32-year-old Venezuelan playmaker.

The Hispanic flair he brings both to Borussia Mönchengladbach and the Bundesliga should be valued as highly as the young talent present in the division. Because its diverse talents like Arango which only add to what is proving to be the best division in Europe this season.

One part of Arango marks him out from others in the Bundesliga – his left foot. For this peg of wonder, this artefact of wizardry is capable of magnificence, as it proved again on Sunday. The Venezuelan’s side were already a goal ahead against Mainz before the Maracay Magician produced the most audacious of strikes. Just over an hour into the game, Mainz keeper Heinz Müller raced out to clear an over-hit through ball but he cleared it only as far as Arango.

Still, the Venezuelan captain, stationed on the byline, was 44 metres away from the Mainz goal. The chance to score was indeed small, but the scope for the spectacular was tremendous. As the ball came towards him, Arango prepared to swing that almighty weapon, though in fact, to say that Juan Arango swings his left foot at a ball would be to imply that he is not in control of it all times, something which just isn’t true.

So then, it was with precision that he drew back his left foot before shooting first time from the most improbable of angles. Such was the fusion between Arango’s foot and the ball, the Venezuelan slipped to the floor after striking it. But it was from there he watched the ball loop up, up, up into the Borussia-Arena sky and, as if by magic, the ball started curving towards goal. Still, it looked too high to get anywhere near its intended target but perhaps Newton himself was looking on favourably as gravity took hold.

Still curling, the ball plummeted down and with each inch it travelled towards the earth, you just knew where this one was heading. Down, down, down it went before landing over the line and cue wild scenes in the Borussia Arena, because Juan Arango had done it again. Coach Lucien Favre rushed towards him along with other members of the bench as the Venezuelan remained on the floor to take the plaudits from his teammates.

Borussia Mönchengladbach won the game 2-0 but the match belonged to Arango for providing another sumptuous moment of quality.  That was his fifth of the season and as BILD pointed out, four of the five have been dream goals. The Venezuelan is not short of confidence as he showed earlier in the season when talking about his free-kicks. “I’m just as good as Ronaldo or Messi. I do not have to hide behind them.”

Now this may sound far-fetched, but with this eye for the spectacular, Arango can certainly rank himself alongside Ronaldo and Messi in that aspect too. For the Venezuelan captain, the Maracay Magician, or to put it simply, Juan Arango showed the Bundesliga on Sunday afternoon that while he may be 32-years-old, he and that trusty left foot of his are special talents indeed.

Elsewhere in the Bundesliga

  • Now whilst the piece above may have you believe otherwise, there was other football played in Germany outside of the Juan Arango vortex. So, where better to go next than Borussia Dortmund who were surprisingly beaten at home by Wolfsburg. That only explains half the story though. BVB were one up when Wolfgang Stark incorrectly sent Marcel Schmelzer off for deliberate handball on the goal line, when in fact it had hit his thigh. Within five minutes of the decision, Wolfsburg were ahead and despite a Dortmund equaliser, the Wolves went onto record a victory that was still impressive in any case. Schmelzer’s red card was overturned on Saturday evening and Wolfgang Stark apologised for his error. But by that stage it was too little too late for Dortmund.
  • Schalke’s woeful run of recent form continued too as they lost to Stuttgart. VfB striker Vedad Ibisevic grabbed a hat-trick in the process and also became the Bundesliga’s top scorer on Saturday afternoon. He was joined at the top of the charts later that day by Eintracht Frankfurt’s Alexander Meier. The burly attacking midfielder helped Eintracht to move above Schalke after they beat Werder Bremen to record their first victory in three.
  • But what about Bayern Munich? Well, surprise surprise, they won – this time against lowly Augsburg who seem doomed. Bayern’s nearest challengers, Bayer Leverkusen, lost at Hannover on Sunday meaning that the league leaders are now 11 points clear at the top. (One highlight for Bayer was Stefan Kiessling scoring meaning he’s also on 10 goals for the season along with Ibisevic and Meier.)
  • Back to the relegation dogfight though, because if Augsburg seem doomed, then Greuther Fürth are too. They lost to Freiburg whilst Hoffenheim could do no better without Markus Babbel as they slipped to defeat in Hamburg. And slightly further up the table, Nuremberg saw off Fortuna Düsseldorf in Franconia.
For more on the Bundesliga on Twitter, follow @archiert1

Matchday 16 Results:

Hamburg 2-0 Hoffenheim

Augsburg 0-2 Bayern Munich

Borussia Dortmund 2-3 Wolfsburg

Freiburg 1-0 Greuther Fürth

Nuremberg 2-0 Fortuna Düsseldorf

Stuttgart 3-1 Schalke

Eintracht Frankfurt 4-1 Werder Bremen

Gladbach 2-0 Mainz

Hannover 3-2 Bayer Leverkusen

Table:

Rank Club Matches W* D* L* G* GD* Pts.*
1 FC Bayern Munich 16 13 2 1 43:6 +37 41 CL*
2 Bayer 04 Leverkusen 16 9 3 4 30:22 +8 30 CL*
3 Borussia Dortmund 16 7 6 3 32:19 +13 27 CL*
4 Eintracht Frankfurt 16 8 3 5 31:27 +4 27 CL* Qual.
5 FC Schalke 04 16 7 4 5 26:22 +4 25 EL* Qual.
6 VfB Stuttgart 16 7 4 5 20:25 -5 25 EL* Qual.
7 Hamburger SV 16 7 3 6 18:18 0 24
8 Borussia Mönchengladbach 16 6 6 4 24:25 -1 24
9 SC Freiburg 16 6 5 5 21:17 +4 23
10 Hannover 96 16 7 2 7 31:29 +2 23
11 1. FSV Mainz 05 16 7 2 7 21:20 +1 23
12 SV Werder Bremen 16 6 3 7 27:28 -1 21
13 1. FC Nuremberg 16 5 4 7 16:21 -5 19
14 VfL Wolfsburg 16 5 4 7 17:25 -8 19
15 Fortuna Düsseldorf 16 4 6 6 18:21 -3 18
16 1899 Hoffenheim 16 3 3 10 22:38 -16 12 Play-offs
17 FC Augsburg 16 1 5 10 11:28 -17 8 Relegation
18 Greuther Fürth 16 1 5 10 10:27 -17 8 Relegation

Table from official Bundesliga website

Article originally published on Football Fan Cast

The Bundesliga Show Episode 83 – Bundesliga Show & Bundesliga Fanatic Superpod – When Podcasts Collide

It is that time again! At least once a season there seems to be the opportunity for a Bundesliga Superpod. This week, the Bundesliga Show’s Jon Hartley teamed up with Niklas Wildhagen from the Bundesliga Fanatic to create a special edition pod. It doesn’t stop there, as the pair were joined by Tobias Escher from German tactical website spielverlagerung.de to discuss all the big matters of matchday 16 in the Bundesliga.

Enjoy the show!

Lounge Act – Short Fat Müller

With the current frenzy surrounding Lionel Messi’s injury-hit attempt to break Gerd Müller’s record of 85 goals in a calendar year, Mark Lovell gives the lowdown on the prolific German striker affectionately known as ‘Short Fat Müller’.

, from Wikimedia Commons”]

Gerd Müller - Promifotos.de at the German language Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)

Müller was a stalwart striker for Bayern Munich as they rose from obscurity to the highest echelons of the world game; top scoring every season from 1964/65 to 1977/78. He was the Bundesliga’s leading marksman on seven occasions, racking up 40 goals in 1971/72. Bayern legend Franz Beckenbauer is famously quoted as saying, “without Gerd’s goals we would still be sitting around in a wooden shack on Säbener Strasse [Bayern's training facility].”

With his motto “if I think, it’s way too late,” Muller was an instinctive poacher who was born to score goals. The 5ft 9 inch striker was squat and chunky, with thighs like tree trunks, not too dissimilar to Diego Maradona’s build in his prime. Bayern coach “Tschik” Cajkovski labelled him as ‘too small and too fat’ but he soon had to begrudgingly recognise his predatory scoring ability.

Unlike our modern-day ‘Messiah’ Messi, Müller was not one for ‘beautiful’ goals. The German scored a lot of goals lying prone on his backside. “I was never into performing magic tricks for the crowd. I just wanted to score. ”

Müller was the bane of England and English clubs during his career, scoring the winner as West Germany knocked the holders out of the 1970 World Cup in Mexico. Yes, England the World Champions were bundled out in extra time, throwing away a two goal advantage in the soaring heat of Leon. You could argue that English football has never recovered from this bitter blow. The German finished top scorer in the tournament with 10 goals.

, via Wikimedia Commons”]

Gerd Müller - Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-N0716-0314 / Mittelstädt, Rainer / CC-BY-SA [CC-BY-SA-3.0-de (http://creativecommons.org /licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en)

Müller also scored at Wembley, eliminating England from the 1972 European Championships. He starred for Bayern with a typical no-thrills goal in their 2-0 European Cup success against Leeds United in Paris in 1975. He was a fixture for the Bavarians as they secured three successive European Cup crowns (Champions League in today’s money) in the Seventies.
He had an uncanny knack of scoring goals from unlikely positions, often when totally off balance or when rooted to the seat of his pants. This was epitomised by his goal in the 1974 World Cup final as West Germany prevailed against Holland’s ‘Total Football’ in Munich.

His sudden retirement from international football was accelerated after a disagreement with a team official, who berated him for being too loud during the after-match celebrations. The stubborn striker succinctly summed this up: ”I just thought they could kiss my arse!”

He saw out his career like so many legends of the time in the North American Soccer League (NASL) with the now defunct Fort Lauderdale Strikers in Florida. Müller doesn’t look back too fondly on his time in the States. He missed his friends and family and ”the constant sunshine really got on my nerves.”
Superstar George Best (now there’s a player we could compare with Messi!) was once a team mate in America. Like the Northern Irishman, Müller also slumped into an alcoholic haze as his drinking worsened. “I ruined my life,” he later admitted.

It is typical of the compassionate nature of Bayern Munich and the way they look after their former players, that when ‘The Bomber’ fell on harder times, the club’s hierarchy did not turn the other cheek. The Bayern family rallied round, most notably Uli Hoeness, and perhaps spared him a tragic ending (unlike George Best).

After treatment and admitting his alcohol dependency, the club was in some way able to repay their debt to him. The 67-year-old has gone on to thrive as a respected coach at the record German champions and is currently helping out Mehmet Scholl with the reserves. “It does not get any better than being at Bayern,” he says proudly.

His goal scoring record for Germany stands at a remarkable 68 goals in 62 internationals. No doubt Miroslav Klose will overtake his goals tally sometime during 2013. It will have taken the Lazio striker over twice the number of internationals. No disrespect to Klose, who also possesses admirable qualities, but there is a strong case for him to retire from international football to pay due deference to ‘The Nation’s Bomber’s record. Take note, Miro, you would actually earn a lot of respect by such a magnanimous gesture.

Gerd Müller is quite simply the best striker of all time. I can quite confidently state this as, for all of his genius; Messi is not an out and out striker.

This article was originally written for the Munich Eye.