Tag Archives: Bundesliga

Bundesliga Review – Bayern in pole despite Dortmund draw by Archie Rhind-Tutt

Germany’s record champions may have drawn on Saturday but the Bavarians are well on their way to yet another Bundesliga title

There was a strange sensation going into the year’s fourth edition of Bayern Munich against Borussia Dortmund, especially given the importance with which recent encounters have been laced. This game was shaping up as the least significant one of 2012 and that says something when one of the matches was the German Super Cup, a seemingly irrelevant pre-season encounter.

Yet it was even then that Bayern Munich laid down the law to the Champions for this season. The Bavarians newly found strength in depth was prominent that day. Still, few expected there to be an eleven point gap between Bayern and Borussia by the time they next played.

After all, Borussia Dortmund had been all conquering for the last two seasons but have been left in Bayern’s wake, as they’ve suffered something of a European hangover. But in order to acquire this hangover, boy, have the Black and Yellows had some good nights. They’ve cruised through the Champions League’s Group of Death, impressively taking four points off Real Madrid in the process.

But the high standards of their European performances haven’t been matched domestically. Injuries haven’t helped but if anything, it’s just shown how well Bayern did in their effort to strengthen over the summer, with the likes of Mandzukic, Shaqiri and Dante performing with distinction. With Dortmund dropping points at home to newly promoted Fortuna during the week, Bayern’s lead over the champions moved into double figures.

No matter what Saturday brought, Bayern were going to be in a strong position after the game. Even though the title looked (and indeed looks) a foregone conclusion, it was a match Borussia Dortmund could not afford to lose, and they didn’t – just.

The away side had the better chances in the first half with Marco Reus testing Manuel Neuer but the game didn’t have many clear-cut opportunities. It opened up after Bayern centre back Holger Badstuber was carried off towards half time with a cruciate ligament injury – a painful blow to the home team, with the defender expected to miss the rest of the season. It was in the second half when Badstuber’s absence became more apparent.

That said, Bayern were getting into good positions but failing to provide that killer pass. Dortmund meanwhile were creating chances at more regular intervals. Adventurous centre back Mats Hummels scuffed a volley from Marcel Schmelzer’s quick free kick, whilst Schmelzer and Marco Reus also missed opportunities. You can’t do that against Bayern this season and not expect ramifications, as Toni Kroos proved. He showed seamless technique as he fired in the opener low, from the edge of the box after good work from Thomas Müller.

Kroos has been one of the stars of the season so far, if not the star and this strike midway through the second half only affirmed this. So with Bayern a goal up at the Allianz Arena, there’s usually one outcome but for the first time in nearly three years, the Bavarians didn’t win a Bundesliga home game when taking the lead.

Bayern found out first hand last season that Jürgen Klopp’s side don’t do “giving up,” after the way BVB caught them in the title race. Just in case this was doubted in any way, Borussia Dortmund equalised seven minutes after Kroos’s strike.

Marco Reus’s corner found its way to the edge of the box where Mario Götze was placed. Before the game, he said he thought the Champions could still retain their title. Judging by the conviction with which he struck the ball for Dortmund’s equaliser, he wasn’t joking either. The teenage prodigy sent a crisp half volley into the corner of Manuel Neuer’s goal. With just a quarter of an hour to go, Borussia looked to have the momentum but it was Bayern who finished the game in much stronger fashion.

So much so that Roman Weidenfeller became the hero for Dortmund, receiving praise from opposition coach Jupp Heynckes after the game. He added that he couldn’t believe that Weidenfeller had not been capped by Jogi Löw for Germany. This feeling of disbelief stemmed from three outstanding saves the Dortmund keeper made late on. First came an instinctive block, followed by an acrobatic tip over the bar before finishing with a one handed dive to his left from a Javi Martinez header.

Still, it ended up just being an exercise in preservation for Weidenfeller and Borussia Dortmund. Because as much as the Champions will say there’s still life left in the title race, it’s hard to see anyone stopping Bayern Munich. Bayer Leverkusen are the nearest side to them but they won’t hit the consistency required to topple Heynckes’s team.

Borussia Dortmund are the only club who have what it takes to come close but with Champions League football guaranteed in the second half of the season, they currently lack the resources to mount a challenge on both fronts. And whilst it’s sad as a neutral to be writing off the title race in December, you just have to applaud the way Bayern Munich have responded to last season.

Runners up in the Bundesliga, the DFB-Pokal and the Champions League, their focus has been unmatched in Germany this time round as they’ve torn through the division. You could only criticise their performances on the European stage which, despite seeing them through the group stages, will need to improve after Christmas. Still, after crushing defeats at the hands of Borussia Dortmund in the year’s first two editions of der Klassiker, Bayern Munich have responded well in the second half of 2012. Jupp Heynckes will be all the more satisfied knowing that Bayern won’t just be clear of Dortmund at Christmas, they’ll be top of the Bundesliga too.

Elsewhere in the Bundesliga:

  • Markus Babbel is out of a job again for the second December running. He was sacked after Hoffenheim’s 4-1 drubbing at home to Werder Bremen. The ex-Liverpool defender had just one win in his last ten games. Otherwise at the bottom, not a lot changed with Augsburg sharing the points with Freiburg and Fürth losing at home to Stuttgart.
  •  At the top, Bayer Leverkusen closed the gap on Bayern after a slender win over Nuremberg whilst Schalke stuttered to a draw with Gladbach – teenager Julian Draxler scoring an 86th minute winner to bail them out at the VELTINS-Arena. Mainz continued their recent good run of form as they beat off Hannover, despite having 10 men in the second half after goalkeeper Christian Wetklo handled outside the box.
  • On Friday night, Fortuna Düsseldorf thumped Eintracht Frankfurt though they can thank Karim Matmour for that after the Eintracht player was sent off for the second time in seven days – a new Bundesliga record! And finally, in Sunday’s game, Wolfsburg came from behind to draw with Hamburg. The away side were rescued late on by goalkeeper René Adler too who put in another good performance.

Matchday 15 Results:

Fortuna Düsseldorf 4-0 Eintracht Frankfurt

Augsburg 1-1 Freiburg

Bayer Leverkusen 1-0 Nuremberg

Fürth 0-1 Stuttgart

Mainz 2-1 Hannover

Schalke 1-1 Gladbach

Bayern Munich 1-1 Borussia Dortmund

Hoffenheim 1-4 Werder Bremen

Wolfsburg 1-1 Hamburg

Table

Rank Club Matches W* D* L* G* GD* Pts.*
1 FC Bayern Munich 15 12 2 1 41:6 +35 38 CL*
2 Bayer 04 Leverkusen 15 9 3 3 28:19 +9 30 CL*
3 Borussia Dortmund 15 7 6 2 30:16 +14 27 CL*
4 FC Schalke 04 15 7 4 4 25:19 +6 25 CL* Qual.
5 Eintracht Frankfurt 15 7 3 5 27:26 +1 24 EL* Qual.
6 1. FSV Mainz 05 15 7 2 6 21:18 +3 23 EL* Qual.
7 VfB Stuttgart 15 6 4 5 17:24 -7 22
8 SV Werder Bremen 15 6 3 6 26:24 +2 21
9 Hamburger SV 15 6 3 6 16:18 -2 21
10 Borussia Mönchengladbach 15 5 6 4 22:25 -3 21
11 SC Freiburg 15 5 5 5 20:17 +3 20
12 Hannover 96 15 6 2 7 28:27 +1 20
13 Fortuna Düsseldorf 15 4 6 5 18:19 -1 18
14 1. FC Nuremberg 15 4 4 7 14:21 -7 16
15 VfL Wolfsburg 15 4 4 7 14:23 -9 16
16 1899 Hoffenheim 15 3 3 9 22:36 -14 12
17 FC Augsburg 15 1 5 9 11:26 -15 8
18 Greuther Fürth 15 1 5 9 10:26 -16 8

Table taken from official Bundesliga website

This article was originally written on Football Fan Cast

Bundesliga Review – Low-key Freiburg Surge Into Top Six by Archie Rhind-Tutt

 They may not be the most high profile club in the Bundesliga but having been down in the doldrums a year ago, Freiburg have made great progress

What a year it’s been for Freiburg coach Christian Streich. Twelve months ago, he was Marcus Sorg’s assistant as the club slipped to the foot of the Bundesliga by Christmas. So the Black Forest side did something they hadn’t done for 20 years – they sacked the coach. So into the breach stepped Christian Streich at the very end of December.

He knew the club well having coached the youth team for 16 years but less than a few weeks into the job he’d lost the team’s talisman, Papiss Demba Cissé, to Newcastle. And even though they won their opening game under the new coach, a five match winless run culminated in a 4-1 thrashing at the hands of local rivals Stuttgart, leaving Freiburg bottom of the Bundesliga, again.

To date, it’s the nadir of Christian Streich’s time in charge, because after the Stuttgart match, things rapidly improved for the Black Forest outfit. Freiburg went on a ten match unbeaten run, before finishing the season in 12th place. After a few summer tweaks, they’ve continued their impressive form from the last campaign. And this Sunday marked the high point in the Streich reign.

Exactly seven months to the day after Stuttgart had demoralised them, Freiburg had the chance for revenge against their provincial rivals. Stuttgart is the capital city in Baden-Württemberg and Christian Streich was keen to play up his side’s role as underdogs prior to the game. “VfB were German champions and we are the little neighbours who try to annoy the great capital city,” he said in an interview with Badische Zeitung.

On Sunday, Freiburg annoyed Stuttgart in some style. Streich wouldn’t have needed to do much motivating beforehand either, with Stuttgart’s sporting director Fredi Bobic saying that Freiburg was not a proper derby for the Swabians.

But the “little neighbours” swept aside their more illustrious opponents, who seemed to tire having been in Bucharest for Europa League action on Thursday. Acknowledging that the visitors would be tired after the midweek travels, Streich’s move to give his players two days off before the game worked a treat too.

Despite a frantic opening, the home side were ahead midway through the first half as Jan Rosenthal beat Sven Ulreich with a low effort from just outside the box. Chances followed for both teams either side of half time but Freiburg were the ones in control. Half way through the second half, it showed too as Pavel Krmas doubled Freiburg’s lead.

Stuttgart failed to deal with a free kick, allowing the Czech to round Ulreich and shoot past the defenders on the line.  With Stuttgart fading, summer signing Max Kruse grabbed a third ensuring Freiburg moved into the top six on Sunday.

Since that Stuttgart game in February, Streich’s side are unbeaten in 19 of their last 24 Bundesliga games, showing the progress the team have made under his guidance. That’s the thing about Freiburg too – it really is about the team.  That togetherness and organisation is a testament to the magnificent work of Christian Streich, as he approaches his first anniversary as Freiburg coach.

Elsewhere in the Bundesliga

  • Let’s start with the side Freiburg play in midweek – Bayern Munich. They cruised past Hannover with Javier Martinez netting an overhead kick and Mario Gomez scoring just 26 seconds into his return from injury. Yes, they were playing a Hannover side that’d only had a day’s rest having played in the Europa League in Thursday but Bayern continue to turn on the style in the Bundesliga.
  • Champions Borussia Dortmund are now the side directly behind them. That’s after Jürgen Klopp’s men came from behind to win at his former club, Mainz. One of the main talking points though was how much more restrained Klopp was on the touchline. He’s had a very public fall out with the head of German referees in the last week. However, BILD put Klopp’s more dignified appearance down to the presence of a policewoman, Bibiana Steinhaus – she was the 4th official on Saturday.
  • Dortmund rose to second as Schalke and Eintracht Frankfurt drew on Saturday. There was some off field controversy too with the majority of Schalke fans booing and whistling against some of their own supporters who lit flares in one corner of the Veltins Arena. They weren’t the only fans to have flare troubles as Hamburg supporters accidentally set their own flag on fire before their game with Fortuna Düsseldorf, delaying the game by a few minutes. It got worse for HSV too as Fortuna went on to secure their first home win of the season.
  • Elsewhere, Bayer Leverkusen closed on the top four. Despite a below-par performance against Hoffenheim, they held on for an away victory. Die Hoffe though are teetering above the automatic relegation places. The teams below them, Greuther Fürth and Augsburg, drew with Nuremberg and Gladbach respectively. Finally, Wolfsburg’s new sporting director Klaus Allofs was unable to see his side overcome his former charges as the Wolves played out a draw with Werder Bremen.
For more on the Bundesliga on Twitter, follow @archiert1

Matchday 13 Results:

Fortuna Düsseldorf 2-0 Hamburg

Bayern Munich 5-0 Hannover

Fürth 0-0 Nuremberg

Mainz 1-2 Borussia Dortmund

Schalke 1-1 Eintracht Frankfurt

Wolfsburg 1-1 Werder Bremen

Freiburg 3-0 Stuttgart

Augsburg  1-1 Gladbach

Hoffenheim 1-2 Bayer Leverkusen

Table:

Rank Club Matches W* D* L* G* GD* Pts.*
1 FC Bayern Munich 13 11 1 1 38:5 +33 34 CL*
2 Borussia Dortmund 13 7 4 2 28:14 +14 25 CL*
3 FC Schalke 04 13 7 3 3 23:15 +8 24 CL*
4 Eintracht Frankfurt 13 7 3 3 26:19 +7 24 CL* Qual.
5 Bayer 04 Leverkusen 13 7 3 3 23:18 +5 24 EL* Qual.
6 SC Freiburg 13 5 4 4 19:14 +5 19 EL* Qual.
7 SV Werder Bremen 13 5 3 5 21:19 +2 18
8 Hannover 96 13 5 2 6 25:25 0 17
9 1. FSV Mainz 05 13 5 2 6 16:16 0 17
10 Hamburger SV 13 5 2 6 12:16 -4 17
11 Borussia Mönchengladbach 13 4 5 4 19:24 -5 17
12 VfB Stuttgart 13 4 4 5 14:23 -9 16
13 VfL Wolfsburg 13 4 3 6 13:20 -7 15
14 Fortuna Düsseldorf 13 3 5 5 13:18 -5 14
15 1. FC Nuremberg 13 3 4 6 10:18 -8 13
16 1899 Hoffenheim 13 3 3 7 19:28 -9 12 Play-offs
17 Greuther Fürth 13 1 5 7 10:23 -13 8 Relegation
18 FC Augsburg 13 1 4 8 9:23 -14 7 Relegation

Table from official Bundesliga Website

This piece was originally written on FootballFanCast

Time for Salad? Die Meisterschale

Object of Desire - Die Meisterschale

Weighing in at 11kg (the same as the Mask of Tutankhamen), with a diameter of 59cm (about the width of your average fridge door) and a value of some €25,000, the Bundesliga Shield casts an impressive shadow. And the race is most assuredly on for the honour of hoisting it aloft for the fiftieth time in Bundesliga history.

The Original 'Viktoria', and Her Replacement

Yet the history of Die Miesterschale actually dates back way beyond the inaugural 1963 season, recording every German top-flight winning team since the foundation of the National league format in 1903; starting with VfB Leipzig.

Cast from over 5kg of Sterling silver, and emblazoned with five large tourmaline diamonds (along with eleven smaller ones, and five tourmaline-cabochons), it was originally designed and fabricated by a pioneering artist from Cologne as a replacement for the Viktoria, which was lost during the Second World War.

Elisabeth Treskow

A Lesser-known Light: Elisabeth Treskow

Born five years before the National football league – in August, 1898 – Elisabeth Treskow was the only child of Max and Hedwig. By the age of 20, she had attained teaching-grade qualifications in gold-and silver-smiths. After two decades in which she opened her own studio and workshop (in Essen, in 1923), studied in Paris (1927), begun work into redefining granulation techniques that would shape her art for the Twentieth Century, been awarded the Ring of Honour (1933), Jewellery Cross (1935), Love Ring (1936), Paris Worlds’ Fair Gold Medal (1938), and moved to Detmold to open a larger workshop, she crossed paths with the sphere of football.

The 1947-48 season marked the rejoining of competition following World War Two, and saw 1.FC Nuremberg crowned Champions once again. Ironically enough, however, Der Club never received their trophy, which was lost – and never recovered – during the War. Thus, a new trophy was commissioned. By this time, Treskow had been appointed Head of the Cologne School of Artists, and was seen as the foremost artiste in the Country (a remarkable feat for a woman, particularly in the immediacy of the post-War era). She was hand-picked to carry out the commission and, around six months later, presented designs for today’s Meisterschale to the Association. Immediately acclaimed as a reward truly befitting Champions, the trophy also quickly assumed the nickname of ‘The Salad Dish’, due to its shape and structure.

1981 – A Miscalculation

The stereotypical impression of Germany holds for an always-attentive, efficient nation. However, in 1981 – just 31 years into its presentation – space on the plate ran out for carving the names of Winners! Due to the admiration for the shield, and the history attached to it, rather than resort to seeking a replacement, the DFB had an additional ring added – with silver bolts, and inkeeping with the design  – to the original; allowing space for another 60 years of Champions.

Etched into the metal surrounds are the names of a relatively elite – if varied (by today’s standings) – band of Clubs. Just 29 sides have taken the title of being Germany’s best; ranging from the likes of Holstein Kiel (in 1907), Viktoria Berlin (1912) and Eintracht Braunschweig (1936), through to the heavy-hitters of the modern era. In the past 50 years, however, that number count is just 12 strong. Bayern head that list (with a mammoth 21 titles to their name), followed by current holders – Dortmund – and ‘Gladbach on five each.

One thing is for sure, each and every Club honouring the top-flight during this historic campaign will take especial note of the opportunity to write their name in the Bundesliga annuls. And the big two have been quick to attempt to subvert the media glare, with Jürgen Klopp following the general consensus by expressing how “Who’ll finish on top? I don’t know. I don’t think anyone knows. There’s one team for whom success is the only option, and that’s FC Bayern Munich. I’m just pleased we’re up there”; and his counterpart in Münich – Jupp Heynckes – responding equivocally “If a team wins back-to-back titles, you can’t deny them their favourites’ tag. But of course we want to get at Borussia Dortmund, and we will risk everything to bring the title back to Munich”.

Keep Your Mits Off!

Either way – and it’s hard to look outside of those two this year – there’s an added element of desperation to be chomping on salad come the 18th of May next year. Guten Appétit!

 

 

Borussia Mönchengladbach v Bayern Munich: Preview

‘Gladbach v Bayern: The Second Half of the Season Starts with a Bang!

  

In Matchday One, Borussia Mönchengladbach’s 1-0 triumph in the Allianz Arena (courtesy of the opportunism of Igor de Camargo, and severe lack of communication between Manuel Neuer and Jerome Boateng) was largely dispelled by fans and analysts alike as part of Bayern’s inevitable teething problems as they looked to bed into a new coaching regime, and revised defensive line. Indeed, having dominated the attempts on target (17:8), possession (with 59%) and crosses (27:0), such assertions would certainly look to have some merit. Cast forward 17 fixtures, and the best part of five months, and Bayern’s occupation of top spot in the Bundesliga would further bear that out.

However, what that victory did for ‘Gladbach and their fans was to reinforce the turnaround in fortunes enjoyed under the thus far remarkable tenure of Lucien Favre. The 54-year old took charge on Valentine’s Day 2011, and it’s fair to say that the relationship is still firmly entrenched in the honeymoon phase. Since taking the helm, the former Hertha coach has enjoyed a record of 17 wins, 5 draws, and just 8 defeats, guiding his team to fourth spot in the league, and the Quarter Final stage of the Pokal (where they meet Hertha in February). Nigh-on twelve months previously, that lofty position looked a long way off, with the side cast adrift at the foot of the table.

Last year, a 3-all draw at the Borussia Park and a 1-0 win for Bayern at the Allianz – the latter of which saw them finally occupying a Champions’ League spot, through Arjen Robben’s 77’ strike – indicated that, in actuality, there was little to choose between the two sides; save perhaps the belief engendered by positive results. And that indication has proven to be a solid prophecy for the current campaign. Much of the credit for the lofty traverse enjoyed by the Rhineland side has, justifiably, been levelled towards boss Lucien Favre.

Favre has served to put great store in a solid spine, as the fundamental part of his formation. And with the lineage of Marc-André ter Stegen, Dante and Felip Daems, Roman Neustädter and Marco Reus, and the much-maligned Mike Hanke, The Foals have arguably as resilient and dominant a backbone as any in the league. Favre has also alternated between a more standard 4-4-2, and a modified 4-4-1-1 that looks to emphasise the impact of Reus (deployed behind the striker), and Juan Arango. There is no doubt that those two have flourished, with Reus leading the Club’s scoring charts (with 10), and Arango heading the assists column (seven).

Fortress Borussia

Bayern, for their part, do not normally travel well to Mönchengladbach, having won there only once in the last nine visits, and that was some six years ago. That fact, however, has certainly not dented the confidence of Jupp Heynckes, who wrapped up their winter friendlies by boldly claiming: “We’re very well prepared heading into the second half of the season. Perfection is impossible to achieve in football, but we have a team which gives us every reason to be optimistic going forward”.

His apparent optimism was reinforced by two stars whose collective return to both fitness and form should sound a note of caution to ‘Gladbach: Messrs Robben and Schweinsteiger; who were both quick to suggest the break was indeed “perfect” for the Bavarian giants. The imminent return of the talismanic 90-cap international may have tempered Heynckes’ desire to focus too greatly on that area, or to delve into the transfer market with any gusto. And the Bayern head-honcho will be hoping for a swift return to form from ‘Schweini’, addressing the deficiencies so evident before the Christmas period, especially against Mainz and Dortmund.

In due deference to the ever-present pressure from the Bayern hierarchy (who have collectively dismissed the challenge of ‘Gladbach as little more than an irritation), Heynckes is likely to deploy both wingmen (Robben and Ribéry) alongside Thomas Müller, and behind the prolific Mario Gomez. So the reliance on the presence of Schweinsteiger will be immediately obvious, and with no side having kept ‘Gladbach from scoring at home so far this season, it is likely to be the midfield where the game is won or lost, with the home side liable to sit deep to use their counter-attacking speed: a tactic still more than tolerated against the Munich behemoth.

From a ‘Gladbach perspective, it is to be hoped that the confirmed summer departure of their own figurehead – Marco Reus, to Dortmund – does not have a equivalent destabilising impact to the previously MIA Schweinsteiger; and nor does the likewise move of Neustädter to Schalke.

On top of all other considerations, the two sides go into battle very much from divergent standpoints. While Bayern’s ascension simply marks a return to the status-quo, there is a distinct air of entering the ‘unknown’ for their Friday night hosts. Whether the five-week break will have fostered a change in mantra from ‘Gladbach seems unlikely – with captain Daems this week opining that we want to pick up a point or maybe even more…and deserve to be in fourth place. [W]e demonstrated in the first half of the season that we’re strong enough to deal with what may come” – but Favre will hope that his eleven will continue to play with the refreshing freedom of the first half of the season, without fearing thoughts of European competition to come.

One thing is for sure; ‘Gladbach’s position of mixing it in the top-four is fully merited. Indeed, as their prodigious shot-stopper ter Stegen commented to Bild this week: “[Being fourth] is no miracle. We work hard every day in training, and deserve to be there!”

While that position may feel like we’ve slipped into a time warp back to the ‘Gladbach heyday of the 1970s, it is very much the here-and-now. And the very worst mistake that Bayern could make would be to underestimate The Foals’; particularly in their own back yard.

For what it’s worth, I’m plumbing for a seat firmly on the fence: 1-1.

The Bundesliga Show mid season podcast

In order to test out the podcast settings for our new WordPress site, Jon and Terry got together  to record a short podcast. The transfer activities at Wolfsburg and Borussia Monchengladbach were the principle topic of discussion but there was time for a quick muse on what to look forward to before the season gets underway this Friday.

You can listen to the podcast but clicking on this link or by the embedded player below. If you subscribed via a feed but did not use iTunes then you will have the resubscribe to the new feed by clicking on this link.