Tag Archives: Borussia Dortmund

Bundesliga Review – Surprisingly Superb Starts for Eintracht and Fortuna by Archie Rhind-Tutt

 

In terms of population the cities of Frankfurt and Düsseldorf both rank in the top ten in Germany. Last season, neither city had a team gracing the top flight of German football. How times can change rapidly in football. After five games of the new season, the promoted pair of Eintracht Frankfurt and Fortuna Düsseldorf each occupy a place in the top five of the Bundesliga.

Their starts are made even more impressive when you consider that between the two teams, they signed an incredible 33 players (Eintracht 13, Fortuna 20) over the summer. The next time a coach complains about the fact his side needs more time to gel, frustrated directors and chairmen would do well to point to the case of Eintracht and Fortuna, who have acclimatized to the Bundesliga with ease. Tuesday night really emphasised this.

With the Bundesliga having an “English week” by playing midweek fixtures, it gave the duo another chance to show their performances in the first four games of the season have been no fluke. Neither Eintracht Frankfurt or Fortuna Düsseldorf disappointed either.

Fortuna actually faced up to the third team promoted from the 2. Bundesliga, Greuther Fürth. Their opponents haven’t been too bad this season but Fürth are the smallest of the trio to arrive in the division. Facing Bayern Munich and Schalke hasn’t helped their cause early on. Still, playing Fortuna Düsseldorf would have been seen as opportunity to get their first home win of the season. The visitors from North Rhine-Westphalia had other ideas as Oliver Fink and Ken Ilsö ensured a 2-0 win Norbert Meier’s side in Bavaria.

It also meant a fifth consecutive clean sheet for Fortuna, leading to Klaus Hoeltzenbein, in Süddeutsche Zeitung, describing Norbert Meier as the man who invented “The Rhine Catenaccio.” These days, when you hear the word “catenaccio” being used, it’s usually in a negative context. Meier can, and should, take it as a compliment, because Fortuna are the only team in Europe’s top leagues who haven’t conceded a goal this season.

You certainly won’t hear any such comparisons for Armin Veh’s Eintracht Frankfurt. They’ve entertained the division and became the first promoted side on Friday night to win their opening four games of the season. Their fifth game was always going to be tricky as they faced up to the current Champions of Germany, Borussia Dortmund.

The way Borussia have started the season has raised questions over whether they’ll be holding onto that tag for a third successive year. Bayern Munich look great, Dortmund’s defence appears dodgy and despite being 31 games unbeaten until last Saturday, BVB have struggled to find the rhythm with which they finished the previous campaign.

Things were going smoothly against Eintracht on Tuesday night. A deflected shot from Lukasz Piszczek and a sumptuous strike from Marco Reus gave Dortmund a two goal lead at half time. “When you lead 2-0, there is the iron law that it cannot be thrown away,” noted Jürgen Klopp.

In the second half Eintracht Frankfurt were to break this iron law as in the financial capital of Germany, Borussia Dortmund paid the price. Within six minutes of the restart the home side were level. Stefan Aigner netted the first with a magnificent half volley before setting up Takashi Inui for the equaliser. Dortmund went back in front through Mario Götze but after wasting further chances, BVB were pegged back again. Anderson headed in a second equaliser for Frankfurt, earning the home side a spectacular point.

“It was the best performance I’ve ever seen from a Frankfurt team,” claimed Klopp, sent to the stands late on for squaring up to an official (and making one of the more incredible facial expressions of the season so far). His frustration would not have been quelled in the knowledge that Bayern Munich had won comfortably against Wolfsburg, leaving the Champions seven points behind the Bavarians.

In contrast, newly promoted Eintracht Frankfurt are just two points off the top of the league. Along with Fortuna Düsseldorf, they’ve started the season in sparkling style. Now the real challenge begins for both – maintaining it. A word of warning must go to Eintracht especially. In November 2010, they were 4th in the Bundesliga but ended up getting relegated after a wretched run of form.

Survival remains the goal for both sides. Still, Frankfurt and Düsseldorf may be in Germany’s top ten cities for size and come May, they might each have a team in the Bundesliga’s top ten too, should Eintracht and Fortuna continue their excellent form.

For more on the Bundesliga, follow @archiert1 on Twitter

Matchday 5 Results:

Bayern Munich 3-0 Wolfsburg

Eintracht Frankfurt 3-3 Borussia Dortmund

Fürth 0-2 Fortuna Düsseldorf

Schalke 3-0 Mainz

Augsburg 1-3 Bayer Leverkusen

Freiburg 1-2 Werder Bremen

Gladbach 2-2 Hamburg

Hannover 4-1 Nuremberg

Stuttgart 0-3 Hoffenheim

Table

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

Table from Official Bundesliga Website

Originally written @ Football Fan Cast

Bundesliga Review – Faces old and new shine on opening weekend – by Archie Rhind-Tutt

The Bundesliga has steadily built a reputation of being an entertaining and competitive division. The competitive part has waned a touch over the last few years, but at the start of its 50th season, Germany’s premier division proved it is both entertaining and competitive. After all, only two games were won by more than a goal this weekend. The league has also garnered a reputation of uncovering new talent but on the first weekend, credit had to go to both last seasons’ top performers and to the division’s necomers.

Take Fortuna Düsseldorf’s Dani Schahin for instance. He was one of an incredible 20 new signings for Fortuna who are back in the Bundesliga for the first time in 15 years. What’s more, he was unsure if he’d even be in the squad for the first game. Schahin ended up scoring both goals in a 2-0 away at last year’s surprise package Augsburg. Such was his performance it even led to an unlikely invite that evening to “Aktuelle Sport Studio,” one of Germany’s most prestigious sports shows. Elsewhere, there was also a debut goal for Wolfsburg’s new striker Bas Dost who struck an 89th minute winner. It came just two minutes after Stuttgart’s Vedad Ibisevic had won a penalty, had it saved and missed the rebound from just a few yards – a strangely impressive achievement.

Yet, it was hard to ignore the efforts of some of last season’s stars. Marco Reus is an obvious starting point, what with Borussia Dortmund playing the first game and with the high profile nature of his move from Borussia Mӧnchengladbach. It took the German Player of the Year just 11 minutes against Werder Bremen to get his first goal for Dortmund. BVB weren’t at their best though and Theodor Gebre-Selassie’s goal (another new signing doing well) threatened to spoil the Champions opening game. Mario Gӧtze’s late winner though ensured Borussia started with a win meaning its 29 league games unbeaten now for the Champions.

It was victory for the Bundesliga’s other Borussia too with Gladbach securing a 2-1 home win. They beat Hoffenheim, the only side to defeat them at the Borussia Park last year. This was mainly down to one of their heroes from last season, Juan Arango. The Venezuelan set up Gladbach’s opener by curling in a free-kick to Mike Hanke to nod home. He then scored their winner – a free-kick on the edge of the box, which he dispatched into the corner. This led to Arango proclaiming after the game “I shoot sharper than Ronaldo,” a statement he might struggle to back up this season, even if his left foot is somewhat mercurial. Still, Arango certainly helped to lift spirits in Gladbach ahead of their daunting trip to Kiev on Wednesday, where they’ll have to score at least three if they want to qualify for the Champions League.

Bayern Munich and Schalke have no such problems on that front – both have qualified direct to the Champions League group stages. They were the two sides that finished just ahead of Gladbach last season and some of the usual suspects were on form again over the weekend. Even though he is a new signing, Mario Mandzukic comes into this bracket for Bayern, as he’s effectively proven himself in the Bundesliga. The ex-Wolfsburg striker scored his first in the Bavarians 3-0 win at newly promoted Greuther Fürth with Thomas Müller and Arjen Robben grabbing the others.

Schalke meanwhile were the only one of last season’s top four not to win on the opening weekend as they were held in Lower Saxony by Hannover. That didn’t stop last season’s Bundesliga top scorer, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, from opening his account for this campaign. He scored the equaliser after Hannover’s centre back Felipe (yet another new signing) netted the opener just before half time. Lewis Holtby put the away side in front before another one of Hannover’s new signings Adrian Nikci came off the bench and rescued a point for Mirko Slomka’s side.

So as far as opening weekends go, this was a good one, not just for players old and new, but also for their teams. Three of the top four won whilst two of the three promoted sides gained impressive victories – the standout being Eintracht Frankfurt’s win over Bayer Leverkusen. For now though, you can’t make too much of these results as it is so early on in the campaign. Nevertheless, when it comes to reaching 50, the Bundesliga certainly did so in the exciting manner it has become renowned for.

Matchday One Results:

Borussia Dortmund 2-1 Werder Bremen

Augsburg 0-2 Fortuna Düsseldorf

Freiburg 1-1 Mainz

Fürth 0-3 Bayern Munich

Gladbach 2-1 Hoffenheim

Hamburg 0-1 Nuremberg

Eintracht Frankfurt 2-1 Bayer Leverkusen

Stuttgart 0-1 Wolfsburg

Hannover 2-2 Schalke

Table

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

Table from Official Bundesliga Website

Article originally published on Football Fan Cast

Bundesliga Review – Composure the key to Dortmund’s success

Dusel – a German phrase, describing the undeserved luck Bayern Munich “usually” get. It is a myth, a myth that some believe exists but as Borussia Dortmund look set to clinch back-to-back Bundesliga titles, dusel hasn’t been apparent at all of late. In fact, what looks to have separated Germany’s top two has been composure.

On Wednesday night, Borussia came out on top when playing Bayern, putting a six point gap between the pair. Yet had Arjen Robben kept his composure and concentration on three occasions (playing Lewandowski onside, missing the penalty and missing from 3 yards) in the last 15 minutes, Bayern wouldn’t be out of the title race.

They are though. Borussia Dortmund deserve great credit for keeping their cool in the last week. Firstly they rode out late pressure against Bayern at Signal Iduna Park on Wednesday. Then on Saturday, BVB completed what was perhaps an even more meaningful victory over arch-rivals Schalke, despite not being at the best.

It wasn’t easy for Dortmund as they probably anticipated. Their Gelsenkirchen neighbours are ranked third in Germany and they took an early lead thanks to Jefferson Farfan’s spectacular effort which took a sizeable nick off Shinji Kagawa. Borussia were unflustered and duly responded with a terrific effort.

Right back Lukasz Piszczek has been superb for Die Schwarzgelben but his goal scoring prowess isn’t what he’s noted for. However, his strike against Schalke was majestic. On his weaker foot, he struck a half volley from a tight angle wide on the left in the penalty area, which flew past the diving figure of Lars Unnerstall – one all. Surely the game couldn’t produce an even better goal?

No, it couldn’t. The winner was scrappy. Club Captain Sebastian Kehl latched onto a poor touch from Christoph Metzelder inside the six yard box to stab the ball home, securing victory in the Revierderby for Dortmund. What’s more it meant BVB extended their unbeaten run in the Bundesliga to 25 games.

“Twenty-five games? That’s crazy! What we have done is unimaginable.”

It’s hard to disagree with Jürgen Klopp. What Dortmund have done is fantastic and they only need two points to create an unassailable total for Bayern Munich after they drew against Klopp’s former side Mainz on Saturday evening.

Jupp Heynckes did make changes with the Real Madrid game on Tuesday in mind. However, they lacked the necessary intensity to break down a resolute Mainz team, who deserved more credit than they received in the aftermath of Saturday’s result.

Victory over Borussia Mönchengladbach this weekend will secure the Bundesliga title for Dortmund. In fact, if Werder Bremen take anything off Bayern Munich earlier in the day, then it will be all over before a ball is kicked in the Ruhr.

As Klopp said in the aftermath of Saturday’s victory though, “This team is never satisfied and is incredibly greedy.” This thirst is part of what makes Dortmund champions. Their composure at the most critical moments though when others might have flinched is ultimately why Borussia Dortmund will be crowned as Bundesliga winners for a second consecutive year.

Article originally published on FootballFanCast.com - For more on the Bundesliga, follow @archiert1

Matchday 31 Results:

Stuttgart 4-1 Werder Bremen

Bayer Leverkusen 3-3 Hertha Berlin

Hamburg 1-0 Hannover

Kaiserslautern 0-2 Nuremberg

Schalke 1-2 Borussia Dortmund

Wolfsburg 1-2 Augsburg

Bayern Munich 0-0 Mainz

Cologne 3-0 Gladbach

Freiburg 0-0 Hoffenheim

Table

Rank Club Matches W* D* L* G* GD* PTS*
1 Borussia Dortmund 31 22 6 3 69:23 +46 72 CL*
2 FC Bayern Munich 31 20 4 7 69:20 +49 64 CL*
3 FC Schalke 04 31 18 3 10 66:41 +25 57 CL*
4 Borussia Mönchengladbach 31 16 8 7 46:22 +24 56 CL* Qual.
5 VfB Stuttgart 31 14 7 10 59:41 +18 49 EL*
6 Bayer 04 Leverkusen 31 12 9 10 46:43 +3 45 EL* Qual.
7 Hannover 96 31 11 11 9 39:43 -4 44 EL* Qual.
8 SV Werder Bremen 31 11 9 11 45:50 -5 42
9 1899 Hoffenheim 31 10 11 10 38:40 -2 41
10 VfL Wolfsburg 31 12 4 15 42:56 -14 40
11 1. FC Nuremberg 31 11 5 15 33:42 -9 38
12 1. FSV Mainz 05 31 9 10 12 47:48 -1 37
13 SC Freiburg 31 9 9 13 41:56 -15 36
14 Hamburger SV 31 8 10 13 34:55 -21 34
15 FC Augsburg 31 7 12 12 34:48 -14 33
16 1. FC Köln 31 8 5 18 36:66 -30 29 Play-offs
17 Hertha BSC Berlin 31 6 10 15 34:57 -23 28 Relegation
18 1. FC Kaiserslautern 31 3 11 17 19:46 -27 20 Relegation

Table thanks to the Bundesliga Official Website

Poker Face: Heynckes v The Pretenders

A Wave Goodbye?

Despite an amazing run of recent form, Bayern have suffered some key losses this season. Kyle Barber, investigates.

So far this season, Jupp Heynckes has fallen foul of six domestic defeats. That tally represents just one fewer than last season’s total, and could scarcely have looked further away during their eponymous run of 1,147 minutes without conceding so much as a goal, let alone three points. The opening round 1-0 reversal to ‘Gladbach was quickly cast as a mere speed bump on the inevitable road back to Bundesliga triumph. After all, the long-sought Manuel Neuer had joined, Robben and Ribéry posed the most vibrant wide threat inEurope, and the much-vaunted Jupp Heynckes had returned to revise the shadows that still clouded the end of his previous tenure, in 1991.

However, in retrospect that 1. Spieltag defeat offered portent for similar results yet to come. Thus far in 2011-12, Bayern have registered 16 wins, garnering 51 points, and finding the net on 58 occasions (at a ratio of 2.32 goals per game). However, the Bavarians have regularly found periods of promising form punctuated by debilitating defeats. Over the six losses sustained, the Bavarians have leaked 12 goals, managing just four themselves. And perhaps more concerning, each of those occasions has seen them tactically outmanoeuvred, with creativity stifled, and Plan B conspicuous by its absence.

There is little dispute that, man-for-man, Bayern have the standout starting eleven and squad in the Bundesliga. Yet the common thread running through their league losses is that they have all been to sides bossed by coaches regarded as being both tactically and sequentially astute. Cast against the dogmatic – bordering on stubborn – commitment to personnel and formation nominally adopted by Heynckes has appeared tired and archaic. By restricting the time and space afforded to Bayern’s wide men – from the more robust man-to-man marking shown by Dortmund in their victory at the Allianz Arena on Matchday 13; to the attacking verve employed by Mainz that forced them back into unfamiliar areas of the field just one week later – coupled with a disciplined back four (reinforced by at least one holding central midfielder) in all instances, opponents have limited Bayern’s principal routes of attack to looking distinctly prosaic.

As a result, the energy and creativity of the likes of Schweinsteiger and Kroos is rendered redundant. The expectation then to perform, whether home or away and brought largely by the weight of history, lends itself to Bayern invariably over-committing. Set a natural 4-4-2, or more fluid 4-2-3-1, against that – mounted on pace through the front two or three and a pivotal figure in the central midfield berth (think Reus and Arango for ‘Gladbach, or Pinto and Rausch for Hannover) – and the exposure to a vibrant counter-attack has proved stark.

There were further signs of the Bavarian’s potential for a readily-blunted attack last season. With eight draws, only four teams recorded more – they had already displayed a propensity for being stopped. The subsequent decision to reinforce their backline rather than enhance their attacking options was understandable (they shipped 40 goals during their league campaign – 18 more thanDortmund), but missed a real source of limitation that has since come to the fore. Heynckes apparent reticence to adapting his approach in respect of the opposition merely serves to add to the evident frustrations both on and off the pitch, casting an exasperation in him that then accentuates the pressure on his players, increasing the tension which further hinders the talents at his disposal.

Four of a Kind?

Aces in the Pack

Thomas Tuchel

Thomas Tuchel is some 28 years the junior of Jupp Heynckes. Yet the Mainz Head Coach is swiftly establishing a burgeoning reputation for tactical acumen, coupled with a style of football that epitomises the definition of being greater than the sum of its constituent parts. Having taken charge of first team affairs ahead of the 2009-10 season, Tuchel imbedded a dogmatic work ethic amongst his squad, with no little skill and an eye for youth development. His second campaign saw him quickly face down any remaining sceptics by leading Mainz to a sequence of seven straight wins.

Tuchel is widely touted as the ultimate successor to Heynckes, principally for reasons mused by the venerable Rafael Hönigstein: “Mainz are created in their manager’s image – young, eager players happy to learn new things. And teach rivals a few too”!

Mirko Slomka

Mirko Slomka parallels Tuchel in a notable number of ways, not least amongst which is his adoption of the counter-attack as his weapon of choice. His tenure at Hannover has been prefaced by a need to use the tools at his disposal. Yet, with a limited transfer fund, he has turned a 17th placed side into one still creating waves in second-tier European competition, and all in a little over two years. The perfect balance of a resolute back four – one noted for its parsimonious nature – and a fluid attacking verve, spearheaded by Mohammed Abdellaoue and Didier Ya Konan, has become an identifying factor of the team. As has the implementation of Slomka’s defining ‘ten second rule’ – whereby the team must work hard for ten seconds to directly regain possession after losing is, before reverting to two banks of four. Such was epitomised in their Matchday 10 win, where they covered some 6km more than Bayern, and were restricted to just 37% of the ball.

Lucien Favre

Having taken charge of ‘Gladbach on Valentine’s Day last year, it would be no exaggeration to say the love affair between Club and Head Coach is still very much in its veritable honeymoon phase. Still justifiably able to be considered part of the title race, the pairing have also held something of an Indian sign over Bayern during their time together. As the only side to take maximum points from the Bavarians this year (so far), the feel good factor engendered in his squad by the Swiss tactician has been at its most evident through the countering style built around the machinations and undoubted talents of Marco Reus. There is a growing degree of upper-hierarchical support for Favre at Bayern, with Karl-Heinz Rummenigge having touted the 54-year old this time last year.

Robin Dutt

At the end of last season, Robin Dutt was the immediate choice to follow Heynckes into the principal role at the helm in Leverkusen. Cast forth nine months, and there is a growing groundswell of opinion that sees him as doing the same once more at Bayern. The attentive and aggressive way he set his side up to directly match Bayern recently in their 2-0 win will have done much to impress both Munich fans and higher echelons. In that game, Leverkusen matched Bayern on shots and territory – albeit with a more direct style – and showed a good deal more endeavour (covering some 7km more over the course of the 90 minutes). The direct 4-2-3-1 like-for-like formation may also have suggested he has the formative ability to use the tools that would be immediately at his disposal. And the shark-like manner in which he sought to capitalise on Bayern’s humiliation in their away tie to Basel will also have appealed, as will his more amiable relationship with – and handling of – Michael Ballack. One element that may count against him, though, could be the rather more lacklustre surrender yielded in the 3-0 vohr-ründe loss in the reverse fixture on Matchday 7.

The Joker

Jürgen Klopp

Joker in the Pack

In amongst all the wider considerations as to who may be next in the Bayern hotseat is the proverbial ‘Joker’: the irrepressible Jürgen Klopp. To continue the metaphorical references; Klopp is the ‘elephant-in-the-room’ when it comes to who the Bayern top-brass would truly like to don the head trainer’s tracksuit. Moreover, he is also the predominant choice amongst the fans, and the likely retention of the Bundesliga title this term will do little to assuage that desire. In that vein, Klopp’s achievements and heraldry tells more than the bare facts: Dortmund’s success underlines Bayern’s relative failure. It also shows that they are no longer the overbearing domestic force; unable to simply buy-up the resources of their greater opposition, nor cherry-pick the best National talent – accentuated by Reus’s decision to head Northeast to them, rather than South to Munich.

The Here and Now

It’s not all negative for Heynckes and his players though by any means – they’re some nine points better off than at this stage last term; have scored more; conceded less; and sit just five points offDortmund, rather than the 19 of 2010-11. And when the likes of Gomez, Ribéry, Robben, Müller and Schweinsteiger are firing, Bayern invariable triumph. That was certainly underlined by their midweek annihilation of Basel, as well as the 13 league goals they’ve registered since the debilitation of losing to Leverkusen. Some of the problems which have manifested this term are also rooted in the changes in management over the last 12 months, and the disagreement fostered amid the Bayern hierarchy.

Indeed, there is some thought that Heynckes failure would please certain areas of that senior group, with his appointment seen by many as having been motivated by a polar reaction to the approach adopted by predecessor Louis van Gaal. The Dutchman had been cited as the archetypal tactician, but had a method that ruffled more than few feathers. In contrast, Heynckes offered a more grounded, tender approach that was intended to restore the feel good factor to both the dressing room and training ground. Yet even at that stage – and as reported by Bild this past week – the names of Slomka and Favre were also in the frame, but were debarred from further consideration due to their relative anonymity amongst the casual fan, and global standing (not to mention the political determinations of the Munich ‘upstairs’; with it being seen as Rummenigge’s turn to pick after Uli Hoeneß’s choice – Heynckes – failing to meet expectations). Hoisted by their own petard 12 months ago, Bayern could easily find themselves in the same predicament once more; especially should they land their ultimate goal this year, and lift the Champions’ League trophy in their very own back yard.

History Repeating for Dortmund?

Archie Rhind-Tutt looks back into the history book to see if the omens are stacking up for another title for Borussia Dortmund.

“It’s just a little case of history repeating.” So sang Shirley Bassey with the Propellerheads in 1997 – the year Borussia Dortmund won the Champions League. Just five years earlier, the Ruhr club narrowly missed out on the Bundesliga title but according to Uli Hesse in Tor!, “to be in contention was something of an achievement for the dark horses in the title race.”

Gone are the days where the Ruhr side are considered dark horses but there are parallels to be drawn with the 1991-1992 season. For example, it’s not uncommon for Borussia Dortmund to perform well six years after near liquidation. The first time was in 1992 when they finished second to Stuttgart. BVB performed this trick for a second time in 2011, where they became Champions, when in only 2005 the threat of bankruptcy loomed large.

The correlation exists to an extent with one of their main rivals for the title this season – Bayern Munich. Bickering and infighting got out of hand under Jupp Heynckes in his first of three spells in Bavaria. He was sacked before the season even reached the half way stage though. As Bayern are currently not on top of the table, noises of discontent continue to grow Whilst they also teeter towards the edge of Champions League elimination, rumours of a third exit from Bayern will only increase for Heynckes.

The ’92 parallel is perhaps not as strong with the Reds as it is with Dortmund but elements still remain. It is also intriguing to take into account how affairs have changed in the Ruhr 20 years on. After Dortmund’s success in 1992, they went onto reach the UEFA Cup Final losing to Juventus. The club was able to garner DM 25 Million which was used to bring back German players who had moved abroad to Italy, the country widely regarded as having the deepest pockets in football at the time.

Andreas Möller with the Bundesliga Trophy

Andreas Möller, Karl-Heinz Riedle and Matthias Sammer returned to home with Borussia but they, nor any other Bundesliga club have to rely on bringing back players from abroad now, such is the strength of talent being produced by teams in Germany. That is not to say the likes of Mesut Özil and Sami Khedira wouldn’t be greatly received back in their home country.

With home grown players such as Kevin Grosskreutz, Marcel Schmelzer, Mats Hummels, Sven Bender and Mario Götze, Dortmund don’t have to search too far abroad. An impressive academy to boot helps. They will even bring back a product originally not deemed good enough this summer. Gladbach’s Marco Reus, arguably the best player in the Bundesliga this season, will return to bolster Dortmund’s ranks.

Strength in depth is an area Klopp is deprived in currently. Along with a lack of experience in European competition, his young side struggled to cope with the rigours of the Champions League. A player of Reus’ quality will only improve the state of the Dortmund squad. It is a group which must be kept together by Jürgen Klopp if they are to continue their excellent progress.

The club though deserves praise for the manner in which it has learned from its mistakes. Sometimes you have to look into the abyss before being able to succeed. In the last 20 years, Dortmund did it not once but twice. It’s not an advisable method at all but having been through this, it’s probably why fans are relishing their current success with all the more delight.

In Jürgen Klopp, they have a young coach who’s in step with his surroundings. He may not have the authoritarian management style of say, a Sir Alex Ferguson or for a German comparison, a Felix Magath. The former Mainz boss proves this isn’t needed to succeed in modern football.

Borussia Dortmund boss Jürgen Klopp

However, Klopp does adhere to a value which Ferguson endorsed in an interview with BBC Radio 5live on Monday evening. The Scot concurred wholeheartedly with the view that the most successful people in life adapt to change the quickest. Both BVB and Klopp function upon this currently and considering this make their achievements together that little less surprising.

Will there be a case of history repeating in the Ruhr? Dortmund will be hoping it won’t with regards to 1992. However, they’ll welcome with open arms the subsequent years of triumph which were experienced after their second placed finish twenty years ago. The way they’re playing at the moment, it looks like they’ll retain the title for a second consecutive year, something they last did prior to winning the Champions League in 1997.

If they can repeat the latter achievement under Klopp, then that will be a much greater feat. Not only would it be a terrific achievement for Dortmund but it would prove there is more to the Bundesliga than good spreadsheet results and Bayern Munich.

The Tale of Two Talismans

Jon Hartley looks at the situation surrounding two of the Bundesliga’s most highly conveted players, Marco Reus and Lukas Podolski.

One of the big Bundesliga transfer stories has come to an end while another still rumbles on with no obvious solution in sight. Borussia Mönchengladbach and Cologne are not that far away in terms of distance, but they are miles apart when it comes to the solutions surrounding their prized assets. Marco Reus’ move in the summer to Borussia Dortmund for €17.5 million is a massive coup for the reigning champs, and signals their intent for the coming years. While down the road in Cologne, rumour and counter rumour concerning Lukas Podolski, looks like it will not be resolved anytime soon.

In the case of Reus, he has been the darling of the Bundesliga this season and has been at the centre of the Borussia Mönchengladbach revival, spearheaded by Lucien Favre. His impact cannot be understated in this incredible turnaround. A turnaround that has seen Gladbach go from bottom of the table at the end of 2010 to 4th at the end of 2011, and just a point off 2nd. Reus has contributed 10 of Gladbach’s 25 league goals this season, and has very much been at the teams creative heart. His direct style, good awareness of his teammates and even better eye for goal has seen him be a handful for even the best teams in the Bundesliga.

Despite his impact for Gladbach, Reus’ departure could well be good  for the club as a whole. €17.5 million is a good fee, and even better considering that he was picked up from Rot-Weiss Ahlen (having left Dortmund U-17s on a free) for €1 million in 2009. Not only is it is good return on their investment, but it also paves the way for Favre to carry on the good work he has started. He was unable to do that at Hertha Berlin during his tenure there, in part due to financial restrictions, but at Gladbach this move could well finance strengthening in more areas than just a replacement for Reus (if Patrick Hermann doesn’t step into his boots).

The timing of this move couldn’t be more ideal for Reus and his current club. The fact that it has come very early in the transfer window means that he can get down to business at the club’s winter training camp in Turkey without the distraction of speculation and negotiations. Good preparation and a great second half of the season is great news of Gladbach. They get to keep this talent until the end of the season and help push this team on, and leave the kind of legacy that will make him a favourite at the Borussia Park for years to come…with a return to European football.

For Cologne the story is not so rosey. Their return from the Christmas holiday began with a training session without Lukas Podolski due to a slight ankle injury. However, more importantly on the same day, the opening round of contract talks at surrounding a contract extension for the player didn’t go so well. It looks at the moment that Cologne are also going to have services of their top man until the end of the season, but under different circumstances than their Rheinland neighbours. Having contributed over half of the FC Cologne goals this season (14  in 16 games), ‘Prinz Poldi’ has given Cologne some thing of a dilemma. Top scorers are all well and good, but when he is also the hometown hero it certainly makes the issue that bit more complicated.

Sell Poldi and the club chances their hand of feeling the wrath of the fans. Don’t sell him and they missing out on their one great money spinner. Either way, he will almost certainly go in the summer and the fee will probably depend on how he does in the second half of the season and the European Champions…no pressure Lukas. So in the same way that Reus has a chance to leave a legacy, as does Podolski. But will his be as great? Speculation will follow Podolski like never before, and this kind of disruption is the last thing that Cologne needs. In his first press conference after the winter break, coach Stale Solbakken spoke positively about the future, and stated that he believed the team is understanding his concept. That suggests the start of stability, something that Cologne have been screaming out for, for sometime. Whether this can flourish with the Podolski transfer circus is unclear.

Would a pre-contract agreement that would see the striker depart in the summer be something that would benefit Cologne in terms of stability as well as financially? The complications surrounding Podolski’s relationship with the club makes this kind of level headed decision seem unlikely, as the club will continue to fight for a contract extension. With that in mind, it will just come down to whether he and Cologne can cope with the pressure and speculation that will mount in the coming months about his future. If being in the ‘shop window’ is something he relishes, he could well spur Cologne onto their best season in a long time and swell the coffers of the club. Who knows, that fee and a release from that carnival that surrounds Podolski, could be just what Cologne needs for a brighter long-term future.