Monthly Archives: January 2013

The Bundesliga Show Episode 87 – Bundesliga Derby Weekend

Jon Hartley and Matt Hermann, with help from guest Archie Rhind-Tutt, dissect the derby day action from the Bundesliga in matchday 19. There was also a shift in the positioning in the bottom three which is also the subject of discussion this week.

All that, and a preview of the most important games for matchday 20 in the Bundesliga.

Enjoy the show!

Bayern Munich – No Substitute For Champions League Success

Mark Lovell looks at Bayern Munich’s poor Champions League final record and the substitutions that arguably cost them two crowns.

After the fanfare and collective back-slapping surrounding Bayern’s acquisition of Pep Guardiola, it’s clear that expectations will be heightened when the 42-year-old begins a three-year contract in the summer. Victory in the Champions League is likely to be the minimum dividend expected from the club’s investment. Racking up Bundesliga titles alone will not cut it for the club – or, for that matter, the Catalan himself.

The Champions League remains the ‘Holy Grail’ for the Bavarian club. The Reds last won the title in 2001 after a penalty shoot-out success against Valencia.

In fact, Bayern have developed quite a habit of falling at the final hurdle. They have experienced the heartache of defeat in four of their last five finals in Europe’s most prestigious competition.

By Bogaerts, Rob (Nationaal Archief Fotocollectie Anefo) via Wikimedia Commons

In 1982, Bayern were strong favourites to beat English underdogs Aston Villa in Rotterdam, but succumbed to a solitary Peter Withe goal in the De Kuip stadium. Famous names from the Bayern ‘family’ suffered the agony of the 1982 defeat. The Reds were captained by Paul Breitner, with Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Dieter Hoeness playing up front. Uli, Dieter’s elder brother, was by this time the club’s General Manager.

In 1987, a Bayern side inspired by Lothar Matthäus surrendered a deserved half-time lead, losing 2-1 to an unfancied FC Porto side in Vienna. The names Rummenigge and Hoeness were again on the team sheet – this time it was Karl-Heinz’s younger brother Michael – with Dieter Hoeness still in attack for Bayern.

Louis van Gaal’s Bayern came out second best in the 2010 final in Madrid, losing to Jose Mourinho’s treble-winning Inter Milan side. This was the first of two painful final defeats in three years for the record German champions. Argentinian Diego Milito decided affairs with a goal in each half against a Bayern side deprived of the talents of their talisman Franck Ribéry through suspension.

By Johnny Vulkan from New York, East Village, USA via Wikimedia Commons

Despite dominating the 2012 Champions League final at the Allianz Arena, Bayern failed to see off an average, but spirited, Chelsea side. The ‘Finale Dahoam’ (Home Final) turned into more of a Home Fiasco. Bayern squandered three match points in their own backyard against Chelsea: throwing away a lead in the final minutes; Arjen Robben’s tame extra-time back pass – sorry missed penalty; and then the ultimate heartache of the penalty shoot-out, when Kroos, Timoschtschuk and Robben felt unable to take penalties as their nerves failed them.

Recalling the lead-up to Didier Drogba’s shock equaliser, I would argue that there was no pressing need to take off Thomas Müller just a couple of minutes after his bouncing header past Petr Cech. The 23-year-old Bavarian certainly seemed fit enough to jump around wildly in celebration before being mobbed by jubilant team-mates after his 83rd minute goal finally broke the deadlock.

During the miserable post mortem sound bites, Müller’s hauling off was attributed to a long-standing calf injury. However, Müller had gone into the game with this injury and been playing through the pain barrier for weeks. He had complained of the injury long before the goal and Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes hadn’t taken him off. So why react now?

In reality, hadn’t Heynckes sacrificed his goalscorer to afford him a standing ovation in recognition of his ‘winning’ goal in front of a home crowd? Chelsea carried little threat. The game was done and dusted. However, the substitution brutally backfired as Daniel van Buyten entered the fray on 85 minutes. Defensive reorganisation was required, but this failed to transpire when the English side were awarded their only corner of the match. Drogba was allowed the freedom of Munich to thunder a bullet header past the helpless Manuel Neuer. Fellow defender Jerome Boateng was the scapegoat in many peoples’ eyes for not getting tight enough to Drogba but surely the idea of bringing on van Buyten was to ‘double team’ the African striker for the remaining minutes?

How fickle the footballing fates are. The history books would not show Robben’s weak extra-time penalty miss – and the Dutchman would not have been booed a few days later in the Allianz Arena when he played for the Netherlands in a Euro warm-up game. A more defensive Bayern unit with van Buyten on board lost on penalties to a Chelsea side that seized their only real chance of the match, emphatically punishing Bayern for a momentary lapse in discipline. “It’s madness, really cruel,” said (now) President Uli Hoeness after the game, whilst the (former) Director of Football, Christian Nerlinger, called it “a total nightmare, like a really bad film.” “1999 was incredibly brutal, but tonight is even sadder, even more brutal and more unnecessary,” said a disconsolate Chairman of the Board Karl-Heinz Rummenigge at the post-match function.

The late Freddie Mercury crooned “Barcelona! How can I forget?” with Opera diva Montserrat Caballé before the 1999 final in the Catalan capital. Well, the 1999 final defeat to Manchester United at Camp Nou will forever be etched into the Bayern memory. This was another perfect example of Bayern plucking defeat from the jaws of an assured victory – after a substitution backfired.

Bayern were deservedly ahead after Mario Basler’s cheeky 6th minute free kick, which sneaked through a ragged Manchester United wall, beating the Big Dane Peter Schmeichel all ends up. Bayern should have been out of sight; both Carsten Jancker and Mehmet Scholl had chances to seal the deal but could only hit the woodwork.

The game in Barcelona arguably turned after the substitution of Bayern legend Lothar Matthäus with just ten minutes remaining. Germany’s 1990 World Cup winning captain was 38 years old at the time and entering the twilight of his career. However, as ‘Libero’ (sweeper) on that balmy night in Barcelona, he had mopped up everything a limited United side could throw at Bayern.

Without their experienced ‘Libero’, Bayern let in two goals in added time to let the trophy slip from their grasp. Thorsten Fink, who replaced Matthäus, hurriedly miskicked the ball from a corner – instead of launching a clearance into Row Z. His timid hack fell to straight to Ryan Giggs, whose mishit found Teddy Sheringham, who equalised from close range.

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse for a visibly reeling Bayern side, they conceded another sloppy goal from a corner. The Norwegian ‘baby-faced assassin’, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, fired into the roof of the net from a Sheringham flick-on.

Cue bedlam in Barcelona. Commentator Clive Tyldsley asked UK TV viewers how Matthäus must be feeling as the cameras panned to the German with his head in his hands after the two hammer blows. “Who cares?” was his belligerent summing up.

In the aftermath of post-match analyses of their inexplicable 102 second collapse, Scholl was fined around DM 10,000 for suggesting that Lothar had a habit of removing himself from duty when things got a bit tight. Bayern’s outspoken midfielder Steffen Effenberg labelled Matthäus a ‘deserter’. In his recent autobiography, ‘Effe’ stated he still can’t work out why Germany’s most capped player (150) was substituted with his side in front. “It would have taken a broken leg for me to leave the field,” said the fiery former captain.

Lothar added fuel to the flames by suggesting that he could have played on if coach (Ottmar Hitzfeld) had insisted, a statement which he was later forced to retract.

Uli Hoeness famously said that Lothar wouldn’t even get a job as a greenkeeper at the club. Although time is a great healer and certain differences have been patched up, it is no coincidence that Lothar has never been asked back to the club in any capacity to join fellow former greats in the Bayern ‘family’.

In 2001, Bayern were definitely spurred onto greater efforts in the Champions League after the misery of Barcelona 1999. Fans will be hoping that Jupp Heynckes’s charges can use the disappointment of the ‘Home Final’ to go one better this time around, before the 67-year-old hands over to the man welcomed by all and sundry as the new Messiah, Pep Guardiola.

 

The Bundesliga Show Episode 86 – Pep’s arrival is no longer a guarded secret

This week on The Bundesliga Show, Matt Hermann and Jon Hartley, finally get to talk about the announcement that Pep Guardiola will be taking over as coach of Bayern Munich in the summer. Outside of the Pep talk, there is the small matter of the return of the Bundesliga from the winter break. The fall out from matchday 18 and the a preview of next weeks games are all included.

Enjoy the show!

Sven jilts the Jordanian

Sven-Göran Eriksson has turned down the opportunity to join second division TSV 1860 Munich, reports Mark Lovell.

There has been much speculation linking the 64-year-old Swede with the Lions since he attended three games before the winter break, as a friend and advisor of Jordanian investor Hasan Ismaik. After a compromise, a deal was hammered out on Monday, Eriksson was expected to join forces with current head coach Alexander Schmidt as soon as the small-print was finalised with CEO Robert Schäfer.

However, after meeting Schäfer in London, the former England coach asked for more time to ponder the offer.
“We discussed the club and the second division at length and in detail. In addition, we considered how he could be best integrated into the current coaching team”, said Schäfer. However, Eriksson telephoned Schäfer a day later to advise him that he would not be taking up a coaching role at the club.

“Since the first contact with the club last November, a fair bit of time has passed and all of us know how fast-moving the professional football business is”, said Eriksson in a statement. “I therefore ask all concerned to respect my decision. I wish my friend Hasan Ismaik and TSV 1860 Munich every success for the future.”

Since the announcement Schäfer has given reassurances that Eriksson’s change of heart will not affect Monday’s agreement or the club’s three year plan to regain Bundesliga status. Whether Mr Ismaik feels the same way remains to be seen and Sven’s decision is just another in a long list of chaotic occurrences surrounding the club.

Alexander Schmidt will remain as 1860′s head coach.

This piece was originally published in the Munich Eye.

Let’s all meet up in the year 2000

Mark Lovell (twitter @LovellLowdown) recalls a Champions League clash between German and English sides – both with an extremely passionate and loyal following.

Both TSV 1860 Munich and Leeds United currently languish in the second tier of their respective country’s leagues after suffering the humiliation of financial implosion.

Back in August 2000, the ‘Lions’ of Munich and the ‘Peacocks’ from Leeds met in a two- legged qualifier, with the winners guaranteed a sum in the region of £25m for simply reaching the group stages – so long ago that the Deutschmark (and not the Euro) was still in circulation.

1860 Munich were crowned Bundesliga champions in 1966 before their ‘noisy neighbours’ Bayern Munich had a lot to shout about. However, 1860 had never beaten English opposition, most famously losing to West Ham in the 1965 Cup Winners Cup final at Wembley. As recently as 1991, the Lions were plying their trade in the regional Bavarian leagues, after being denied a licence to play top-flight football, before rising up the league pyramid to the brink of Champions League qualification under brusque coach Werner Lorant.

Under the tutelage of Don Revie, Leeds United were the dominant side of the late 60s and early 70s in England. Between 1965 and 1974, Revie’s side never finished outside of the top four, winning two League Championships (1968-69; 1973-74), the FA Cup (1972), the League Cup (1968) and two Inter-Cities Fairs Cups (1968 and 1971).

A host of famous names from Leeds’ illustrious past made the trip to the Bavarian capital, gracing the media entourage. Johnny Giles, Joe Jordan and Peter Lorimer, as well as assistant Eddie Gray, were a reminder of the club’s glory days.

Leeds did have bitter memories of a previous clash with a Munich side after losing to Bayern in the 1975 European Cup final. On that night in Paris, Leeds considered themselves very hard done by. Bayern won 2-0, but not before the French referee had disallowed Lorimer’s seemingly valid goal and denied Leeds two clear-cut penalties. These decisions and the dismal defeat had sparked riots in the crowd, resulting in a European ban and a slump in the English club’s fortunes.

The Leeds side of 2000 was about to embark on some massive spending under Chairman Peter Risdale’s regime. The Yorkshire giants had every intention of “living the dream”, to ensure footballing success.

The English side travelled to Munich holding a slender 2-1 advantage from the first leg at Elland Road. Ex-Bristol City striker Paul Agostino grabbed a lifeline for the Lions with a precious late goal in Yorkshire, after the home side had been reduced to nine men with both Olivier Dacourt and Erik Bakke seeing red.

Leeds manager David O’Leary felt that the luck of the Irish had deserted him.

“I thought all the sendings off were wrong,” he said. “I thought they were a joke, unbelievable.”

As a result Leeds were reduced to a skeleton squad, with O’Leary bemoaning his fate ahead of the big-money game in Munich’s Olympic Stadium.

“I don’t mean this as a joke, but I don’t know what side I can field for that game,” O’Leary complained.

“I’m not very confident about going through. I’m not being defeatist, I’m just being realistic, it’s no way to be going into the biggest game this club has had without nine players.”

As the hotly anticipated second-leg clash loomed, the Lions’ (now deceased) President Karl-Heinz Wildmoser viewed it as his club’s “most important game in three decades”.

Yours truly was amongst the 56,000 crowd that turned up on a balmy summer night in the historic stadium, built for the 1972 Munich Olympics. Around 2500 travelling supporters were in fine voice after the customary pre-match lubrication with the local Munich product.

I can vividly recall the fiery Lorant prowling his technical area – a thick mop of grey hair, gesticulating wildly through a haze of cigarette smoke, trying to motivate his charges.

The standout 1860 player was undoubtedly the diminutive German midfielder Thomas ‘Icke’ Hässler, a 1990 World Cup and Euro 96 winner.

Hässler, 34 at the time, was coming to the end of an illustrious career but still ran the show in the middle of the park as the Lions pressed for a vital goal.

Current 1860 player Daniel Bierofka was a mere 21-year-old youngster making his way in the game on this heady night in Munich, whilst two-time Bundesliga top scorer Martin Max provided the goal threat in a lively Lions side.

Hässler almost broke the deadlock in the final seconds of the first half with a rasping free-kick from the edge of the box. Nigel Martyn was beaten all ends up in the Leeds goal, but the ball smacked against the woodwork to safety.

The game was decided immediately after the interval. Martyn punted long, aiming for the imposing figure of Leeds striker Mark Viduka, signed that summer from Celtic. The Aussie Viduka caused havoc in the box against 1860 Captain Marco Kurz, who later went on to manage the club. The loose ball fell nicely to Alan Smith, a Leeds-born striker, who was just 19 at the time. Smith dispatched with aplomb to seal a 3-1 aggregate win over the Lions, who had to make do with UEFA Cup football.

Man of the match was undoubtedly English international goalkeeper Martyn. The Cornishman made a string of fine saves to deny the hosts and keep the makeshift Leeds side ahead.

Ironically, the Lions’ “noisy neighbours” Bayern Munich later lifted the trophy, beating Valencia 5–4 on penalties after a 1–1 draw after extra time. The Spanish side had overcome a full-strength Leeds side in the semi-finals.

This was as good as it got for Leeds as living the dream proved unsustainable. Leeds slipped into administration in 2007, dropping all the way to the third tier of English football, whilst 1860 have managed only mid-table mediocrity in the German second
division since 2004.

Competition: Champions League, 3rd Qualifying Round, Second Leg

Score: TSV 1860 Munich 0 Leeds United 1 (Alan Smith)

1860 Munich: Hoffmann, Passlack (Winkler 63′), Puerk, Max, Hässler, Cerny, Mykland,
Stranzl, Borimirov (Beierle 78′), Agostino, Bierofka (Tyce 73′)

Unused subs: Greilich, Riedl, Pfudere, Jentsch (gk)

Leeds United: Martyn, Kelly, Harte, Radebe, Woodgate, Viduka, Bowyer, Smith, Mills,
Jones (G. Evans 73′), Duberry

Unused subs: Bridges, Huckerby, McMaster, Molenaar, Hackworth, Robinson (gk)

Venue: Olympic Stadium, Munich, Germany

SHOW ME THE CARIÑO

Mark Lovell muses over Pep Guardiola’s appointment at ‘Project’ Bayern.

Respected Spanish football writer Guillem Balague wrote in his recent Pep Guardiola biography, “He needs a new club to offer him ‘cariño’, an expression [a word] that doesn’t exist in English, a concept between friendship and love, respect and commitment. ‘Affection’ is perhaps the closest.”

These values are very much at the core of Bayern Munich. However, it still came as a surprise to many when the club announced in midweek that Josep ‘Pep’ Guardiola, the hottest coaching property in world football, had agreed to join them in the summer on a three-year deal. He will be the first Spanish manager in Bundesliga history, let alone in Bayern history. He is a Catalan cut from the same cloth as the proud Bavarians.

Premier Precedent

I can imagine the oligarchs and sheikhs’chins dropped to the ground after they heard the announcement. Particularly when one considers that, only the day before, he had underlined his love for the English game.

I believe the short-term nature of the Premier League scared Pep. Today, to almost universal dismay and astonishment, recently promoted side Southampton sacked their manager Nigel Adkins. The Saints had a decent record of just two defeats in 12 games, including a midweek draw against Champions of Europe Chelsea. Few managers are safe in the Premiership. Even Pep’s rival José Mourinho felt the wrath of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich.

Listen to the heart

Guardiola’s agent Jose Maria Orobitg revealed that his prized client had opted for the German ‘FCB’ because it was the ‘best project’. “Bayern did not offer the most money,” he said. “Guardiola chose this club because of its organisation, its opportunities and its players.” He is to be lauded for deciding against the constant fear of dismissal – no matter how much more lucrative the financial package might have been elsewhere. CEO of Bayern München AG Karl-Heinz Rummenigge confirmed that Guardiola had listened more to his heart than monetary factors when making his decision. “If it were purely down to money, Bayern would have had no chance,” he explained. The Bayern hierarchy deserves praise for using their ‘soft skills’ to stress the club’s values to Guardiola so convincingly.

Bayern ticked all the boxes as a destination for Pep’s next ‘project’. This is a club with a rich history and a sense of tradition, where former players play key roles. Uli Hoeness is the feisty President after enjoying more than 30 years as general manager; Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, is a diligent Chairman of the executive board; and ‘Kaiser’ Franz Beckenbauer has loyally served the club in many capacities – too many to mention – but all with great aplomb. My personal favourite ‘cariño’ story is goal-scoring legend Gerd Mueller being spared an alcoholic death by the caring Hoeness, and recovering to become a respected member of the Bayern family.

It was former Sports Director Christian Nerlinger who made the first approach to Guardiola back in June 2012. The ex Glasgow Rangers midfielder is no longer at the club, paying the price with his job for Bayern’s trophy drought. The record German champions haven’t won a trophy since May 2010.

Matthias Sammer, Nerlinger’s replacement, was offered a free rein to implement sweeping changes in the club’s organisation, particularly in youth development, where he had built up a burgeoning reputation as the German FA’s (DFB) youth co-ordinator.

Raúl Return?

It will be interesting to see how the working relationship between Sammer and the new coach pans out. Sammer may find himself marginalised. Guardiola will have been astute enough to insist on certain guarantees as to the scope of his ‘project’. He is expected to bring at least two of his ‘own’ men with him to Munich. There are early whispers of ex Real Madrid superstar Raúl coming to Bayern as Pep’s assistant. The two were close friends in the Spanish national side and Raúl gained valuable recent Bundesliga experience with Schalke 04.

Scribes far more talented than I have continued to wax lyrically about the grace, style and substance of Guardiola’s Barcelona, where it was seemingly not all about winning and hoarding trophies. It was all about how you played the game. Trophies (14 in just 4 years) were simply a pleasant side effect.

Drabattoni

My early days in Munich coincided with the legendary Giovanni Trapattoni’s time at the club. His press conferences were often more entertaining than some of the drab ‘Catenaccio’ football on offer at the exposed Olympia Stadion.

Bayern showed they can take a strong stance by sacking Felix Magath back in 2007. The disciplinarian had won two successive doubles (a run of success unparalleled in German football history) in just 33 months in charge. However, Magath was heavily criticised for his side’s workmanlike playing style and his antiquated training regime.

Ottmar Hitzfeld delivered the Holy Grail with the Champions League trophy in 2001 and was Bayern’s go to man after Magath was fired.

The current Switzerland national coach also won Europe’s most prestigious trophy with rivals Borussia Dortmund in 1997. This fact and his pragmatic playing style perhaps explain why he doesn’t get the credit he deserves for his exploits, especially amongst Bayern fans.

Uli Hoeness would prefer to gloss over the failed experiment with Jürgen Klinsmann. Hoeness described the current US national coach appointment as his “worst mistake” in management.

Bayern took a different tact after repeated Champions League failures and invested heavily in world class players such as Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben – stumping up the wages that they could readily earn elsewhere. A more ‘Guardiola-friendly’ playing style was first instigated by Louis van Gaal in 2009.

Pep played under the brusque coach at Barcelona and, though they did not always see eye to eye, Guardiola admits to being heavily influenced by the speed of passing and movement of LvG’s Ajax team of the nineties. There is a mutual respect between the two football coaches.

Farewell Jupp

The same cannot be said for the relationship between Bayern’s President and van Gaal. The Dutchman enjoyed a honeymoon period at his ‘dream club’, also winning the double in his first season. But the marriage ended in tears after ‘King’ Louis repeatedly fell out with Hoeness for “meddling into team affairs” and was ultimately forced to abdicate in April 2011. I remember the final dark days of LvG and Uli – frosty doesn’t do it justice. The mutual contempt continues to be aired regularly in the media.

Current coach Jupp Heynckes, a long-term Hoeness confidant, now in his third spell at the club, is the steady hand required after the turbulence of van Gaal’s stormy reign. Heynckes will look to seal Bayern’s first Bundesliga title in three years before grabbing the pipe and slippers and retreating quietly into retirement.

In hindsight, that wonderful thing, given Pep’s appointment, do you think he was consulted before Bayern splashed out €40m on a relatively unproven Spaniard in Javier Martinez from Athletic Bilbao? Or perhaps Bayern felt they needed to highlight to their prospective coach how serious they were about their project?

Bundesliga XI – PowerTable’s team of the season so far

Bundesliga XI – PowerTable’s team of the season so far.

The Bundesliga season re-starts on Friday 18th January after just over a month off for the Winter Break.  The first 17 games have seen all the ups and downs that we’ve come to expect from the German domestic league, with a number of teams and players catching the eye.  www.PowerTableSports.com therefore takes a look at the stats and facts behind the players to create a Bundesliga XI team of the season so far.  In truth, after Bayern Munich’s incredible start to the season the Bundesliga XI could consist of all Munich players, but we wanted to spice things up a little bit!  What do you think?  Do you agree or disagree?  Let us know who you would choose!

Formation
The PowerTable Bundesliga XI shapes up in a 4-2-3-1 formation which has been the most used formation in the Bundesliga this season.  Teams like Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Schalke and Wolfsburg have all favoured this set up, which allows them to utilise 2 holding midfielders to break up attacks then counter via 3 attacking midfielders to support a lone striker.

Starting XI
Goalkeeper

·         Adler (Hamburg) – Adler joined Hamburg in the summer on a free transfer after spending all of his career at Bayer Leverkusen.  He has been very impressive in goal this season, conceding just 21 goals (joint 4th lowest in the league) and keeping 7 clean sheets in the process.  His fine form was awarded with a recent recall to the German National Team in November after a 2 year absence.  If it wasn’t for his heroics in goal, Hamburg would find themselves lower down the table.

Defenders

·         Carvajal (Leverkusen) – The Spanish under-21 right back has made a good start to life in the Bundesliga and has become an integral part of the Leverkusen team.  He is solid defensively (averaging 3.5 tackles and 3.8 interceptions per game), but also equally talented at getting forward and supporting the attack down the right wing as he has contributed 4 assists to the team.
·         Westermann (Hamburg) – The Hamburg ‘Skipper’ also takes the Captain’s armband in our team.  He has been impressive this season and appears near the top of all defensive stats when compared to other Bundesliga players, averaging 3.2 tackles, 3.8 interceptions, 7.8 clearances and 3.4 aerial duals won per game. His versatility means that if required, he could also play at fullback or as a defensive midfielder in our side.
·         Papadopoulos (Schalke) – Greek International Papadopoulos is only 20 years old, but has shown maturity beyond his years since joining Schalke.  Despite making just 9 starts this season, he gets the nod in our team due to impressive stats such as winning an average 3 aerial duals and 3.7 tackles per game, as well as making 2.9 interceptions and 6.1 clearances per game.
·         Oczipka (Eintracht Frankfurt) – Left back Oczipka has had a great start to life at his new club in Frankfurt.  He has started all 17 League games and helped his club reach an impressive 4th place in the table.  In addition to his strong defensive performances, one of the key reasons for his inclusion in this team is the fact that he has provided 7 assists for his teammates – the joint most in the Bundesliga and the most of any defender.

Defensive Midfielders
·         Badelj (Hamburg) – Croatian midfielder Badelj has been impressive in his first season in the Bundesliga.  Regarded as a deep-lying playmaker, one of his main qualities is his range of passing (averaging 59 passes and 7 accurate long balls per game).  Badelj is able to do a very good job defensively too though, averaging 4.2 tackles and 2.4 interceptions per game in the Hamburg midfield.
·         Bender (Leverkusen) – Lars Bender (not his twin brother Sven at Dortmund!) is our other defensive midfielder after a great season so far at 2nd place Leverkusen.  He has done an exceptional job at protecting the defence, making an average 4.3 tackles and 2.3 interceptions per game.

Attacking Midfielders
·         Müller (Bayern Munich) – Müller brings pace, creativity and the ability to consistently score goals no matter what position he plays to our team.  Despite still only being 23 years old, Müller has been a key figure for Bayern and Germany over the past few years.  He has been in exceptional form once again this season, scoring 9 goals (the joint top scorer for Bayern) and providing 7 assists (the joint most in the league).
·         Meier (Eintracht Frankfurt) – One of the standout players this season (and for Frankfurt over the past 8 seasons) has been tall, attacking midfielder Meier.  He has scored 11 goals this season, an impressive record for any striker let alone an attacking midfielder, and has also chipped in with 2 assists.  At 29 years old, a first German cap looks unlikely with the young German talent on offer for Joachim Low, however Meier should be regarded as one of the most under-rated players in the Bundesliga.
·         Ribéry (Bayern Munich) – French International Ribéry is arguably the best player in the Bundesliga, showing this with 6 man of the match awards in 12 appearances.  His pace, skill and dribbling often cause havoc for the opposing defenders.  This season has been no different, with the tricky winger averaging 3.6 key passes and 5.8 dribbles per game.  He has provided 7 assists for his teammates this season and also chipped in with 4 goals.

Striker
·         Kießling (Leverkusen) – A number of strikers have impressed in the Bundesliga this season, but Kießling gets the nod in our team because of his lethal form in front of goal.  He leads the Bundesliga goalscoring charts with 12 League goals, 36% of the total goals Leverkusen have scored.  The German International also averages 3.6 shots on goal and 5.6 aerial duals won per game, the most of any player in the Bundesliga.  Despite normally playing in a 4-3-3 formation, we are sure that Kießling would still find the back of the net in our team!

Substitutes
With the wealth of talent on show in the Bundesliga, it is no surprise that our Subs Bench is full of quality players, many of which could easily walk into any team in Europe.   Unfortunately though, only 11 players can start the game so these stars will need to get used to beginning the game on the bench.

Neuer has conceded just 7 goals this season for Bayern, however he is tested less often by the opposition than Adler, so Neuer is our 2nd choice goalkeeper.  Our substitute defenders are Dortmund duo Piszczek and Hummels who are having good seasons despite their teams inconsistency.  Our midfielders form a very talented bench, with Diego and Götze providing flair, creativity and goals, whilst Caligiuri (Daniel, not Marco) would support a move to a change in formation (these 3 got picked just ahead of Hannover’s Huszti and Dortmund’s Reus!).  The 10 goals Ibisevic has scored in 15 games for Stuttgart secures his place as a very capable backup for Kießling.

What do you think to our Bundesliga XI?  Let us know if you agree, and if not, what players you would choose instead!
Follow them on Twitter @PowerTableSport and check out www.PowerTableSports.com for all your football stats, facts, predictions, betting tips and latest news for Europe’s Top Leagues.

From England’s Three Lions to Munich’s Lions – Sven-Göran Eriksson joins 1860

TSV 1860 Munich’s investor Hasan Ismaik has had his special New Year’s wish granted – former England coach Sven-Göran Eriksson will join the Bundesliga 2nd division club. Mark Lovell brings you the lowdown on what has been happening at the Lions.

, via Wikimedia Commons”]

By Doha Stadium Plus Qatar (Flickr: Sven Goran Eriksson) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)

Last week, banker Hamada Iraki, a trusted advisor of Jordanian businessman Ismaik, was trying to act as a peace-maker to bring the two ‘warring’ fractions back to the negotiation table again, in an attempt to find some common ground. After hammering out a compromise deal deep into the early hours, President Dieter Schneider and his vice Otto Steiner spoke to the press at 3am this morning to reveal the 64-year-old Swede’s appointment.
“It was a good night”, said Steiner. “We’ve agreed that Sven-Göran Eriksson will join our coaching staff. Alexander Schmidt will remain as coach.”
Eriksson has been strongly linked with the Lions since attending three games in Berlin and Munich before the winter break.
Exact details of the experienced coach’s role are still unclear but he is expected to start his job in “one to two weeks” after finalising the small-print with CEO Robert Schäfer.

Eriksson has lifted 17 major trophies as a manager, with a host of clubs in Sweden, Portugal and Italy. He was the first manager to win league-and-cup doubles in three different countries. He later took charge of national sides in England, Mexico and Ivory Coast, as well coaching in the Premier League with Manchester City, before dropping down the divisions with Leicester City and Notts County.

However, he is perhaps best remembered for his spell as England coach. Eriksson turned England’s bid for 2002 FIFA World Cup qualification around, including a memorable 5-1 rout of old foe Germany in 2001. Later the relationship turned a little sour, and the Swede often found himself in the headlines more for alleged off-the-pitch (s)exploits than for success with the ‘Three Lions’.
Current ‘caretaker’ manager Alexander Schmidt will stay at the club, working in tandem with Eriksson. “He’s doing a super job”, added Steiner, who is convinced that the duo can work together in complete harmony.

6th placed 1860 could propel themselves into a promotion play-off position with a decent run in the second half of the season. The Lions are just five points from that prized spot, currently occupied by Kaiserslautern, who they meet in the first game after the winter break on February 4th at the Allianz Arena.

Originally written for, and reproduced with kind permission of the Munich Eye.

For more information on the state of 1860 Munich listen to this edition of the Bundesliga Show with Mark Lovell: http://www.bundesligalounge.com/archives/1549

The Bundesliga Show Episode 85 – The Prodigal Son Returns

The Bundesliga is almost back from the winter break, as is the Bundesliga Show. Jon Hartley and Matt Hermann are joined by Mark Lovell to talk about the big transfers so far in the transfer window, including Nuri Sahin, Ivan Perisic and the defensive bolstering at Hannover 96.

In addition, there is a chat about the state of affairs at 2.Bundesliga club 1860 Munich. All that, and a look at the up-coming fixtures at the start of the rückrunde.

Enjoy the show!