Tag Archives: Jurgen Klopp

Bundesliga Review – Gripping finale aside from Klassiker pair by Archie Rhind-Tutt

Oh have you not heard? I was under the impression that everyone had heard. Well, no – in this case the bird isn’t the word but the Bundesliga certainly is. The semi finals of the Champions League produced nights to treasure for Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund as der Klassiker outclassed El Clásico.

Things were closer back in Germany at the weekend for both, though that’s not too surprising with Jupp Heynckes and Jürgen Klopp making a combined 20 changes. Still, narrow victories were achieved over Freiburg and Fortuna Düsseldorf respectively. But with the title race over and three games left, Bayern and Borussia are not the main points of interest in the Bundesliga – that’s to be found in another pair: the race for the fourth Champions League place, and the struggle to avoid relegation.

The former has been characterised with just as much mediocrity as you might expect with the latter. Prior to this weekend, four points separated the five sides between 4th and 8th. Schalke though had Klaas-Jan Huntelaar back from injury and the man nicknamed “the Hunter” displayed his predatory instinct by netting a hat-trick against Hamburg. If you allow Huntelaar, the Torjӓgerkanone winner last season, nine shots on goal as HSV did, then a hat-trick is perhaps the least damage you can expect. That win for Schalke put some distance between them and the chasing pack of four – none of whom won at the weekend.

With Eintracht Frankfurt drawing with Mainz, Freiburg coming away with what is now considered a credible result at the Allianz Arena (a 1-0 loss) and Gladbach being comfortably beaten at a quietly resurgent Wolfsburg, Schalke would appear to be favourites for fourth. Yet with away games to come at Gladbach and Freiburg, it’s far from a certainty.

That applies too when it comes to survival where the likes of Werder Bremen and Fortuna Düsseldorf have been drawn into the mire. The reason for that is, in the main, Augsburg. Markus Weinzierl’s side only won 1 Bundesliga game in the Hinrunde. Such has been their form in the second half of the season, coupled with the demise of sides above, Augsburg have accrued more points in the Rückrunde than Werder and Fortuna put together. Their resurgence continued at the weekend as they equalled their biggest Bundesliga win, turning over Stuttgart 3-0 with Marcel De Jong scoring a 30-yard chip just 73 seconds after coming on.

The result drew them level with Fortuna (defeated by Borussia Dortmund) and within two points of Werder Bremen (lost at Bayer Leverkusen). Augsburg must still be wary with Hoffenheim showing signs of life. They overcame Nürnberg but with an inferior goal difference to those above them, two wins out of their final three still might not be enough to secure even the “relative” safety of the relegation/play off place.

The only side at the bottom to have been relegated is Greuther Fürth. It’s alarming that it’s taken until this weekend for that to become official. That said, they dominated Hannover for long spells on Friday night but somehow Frank Kramer’s side fell to defeat, meaning they’re in danger of becoming the first Bundesliga team ever to go a whole season without winning a home game.

Still with three games to go, the focus of where the remaining meaningful fixtures in the Bundesliga lie appears to be away from Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund – though you do know that they’re playing this weekend for the fourth time this season, right?

Matchday 31 Results:

Greuther Fürth 2-3 Hannover

Augsburg 3-0 Stuttgart

Bayer Leverkusen 1-0 Werder Bremen

Bayern Munich 1-0 Freiburg

Fortuna Düsseldorf 1-2 Borussia Dortmund

Hoffenheim 2-1 Nürnberg

Wolfsburg 3-1 Gladbach

Mainz 0-0 Eintracht Frankfurt

Schalke 4-1 Hamburg

Table:

Rank Club Matches W* D* L* G* GD* Pts.*
1 FC Bayern Munich 31 27 3 1 90:14 +76 84 CL*
2 Borussia Dortmund 31 19 7 5 76:36 +40 64 CL*
3 Bayer 04 Leverkusen 31 16 8 7 59:38 +21 56 CL*
4 FC Schalke 04 31 14 7 10 54:47 +7 49 CL* Qual.
5 Eintracht Frankfurt 31 13 7 11 43:42 +1 46 EL* Qual.
6 SC Freiburg 31 12 9 10 40:37 +3 45 EL* Qual.
7 Borussia Mönchengladbach 31 11 11 9 38:42 -4 44
8 Hamburger SV 31 13 5 13 37:50 -13 44
9 Hannover 96 31 12 5 14 54:57 -3 41
10 1. FSV Mainz 05 31 10 10 11 36:36 0 40
11 VfL Wolfsburg 31 10 10 11 41:46 -5 40
12 VfB Stuttgart 31 11 6 14 33:50 -17 39
13 1. FC Nuremberg 31 9 11 11 34:42 -8 38
14 SV Werder Bremen 31 8 8 15 45:60 -15 32
15 Fortuna Düsseldorf 31 7 9 15 37:49 -12 30
16 FC Augsburg 31 7 9 15 30:45 -15 30 Play-offs
17 1899 Hoffenheim 31 7 6 18 37:60 -23 27 Relegation
18 Greuther Fürth 31 3 9 19 22:55 -33 18 Relegation

Table thanks to Official Bundesliga Website

Article originally written at Football Fan Cast

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 – Schalke delight in Dortmund derby win by Archie Rhind-Tutt

Despite some success, the last two seasons have been difficult ones for Schalke fans. Within the last eighteen months, they’ve reached a Champions League Semi-Final and won the DFB-Pokal. Yet these achievements have been eclipsed significantly by the dominance of their arch-rivals, Borussia Dortmund.

With back-to-back Bundesliga titles, as well as a DFB-Pokal triumph, the Black and Yellows have outclassed all that have come before them. Ruhr rivals Schalke have been left firmly in their shadow, though Saturday’s Revierderby provided an opportunity to hurt their rivals. That’s something “fans” of both teams did quite literally with 200 arrested after clashes prior to kick off.

Scenes outside Signal Iduna Park were spectacular for all the wrong reasons with the police even using pepper spray and water cannons in an effort to break up the trouble. Scenes inside the stadium were to prove equally spectacular but this time for footballing reasons.

For the first time in over a year a side came to the Westfalenstadion and emerged victorious. Last time it was Hertha Berlin, a team who would go on to be relegated. This time around, and much more painfully for Borussia Dortmund, it was Schalke. And how sweet it was for the Royal Blues.

They were in control for much of the encounter and in recent times, controlling the play against Dortmund is just unheard of. With injuries to key players, Jürgen Klopp decided to gamble tactically by moving away from a 4231 formation. It backfired badly as Dortmund conceded within the opening quarter of an hour.

Schalke’s loan signing from Barcelona, Ibrahim Afellay, provided a touch of class synonymous with his parent club as the Dutchman volleyed in off the post. Klopp reverted back to the warm comforts of 4231 after half an hour but by then Dortmund were unsettled. Even if the odd chance came for the Champions, there wasn’t the usual conviction to their play.

Their rivals didn’t need any encouragement, doubling their lead early in the second half through some simple counter attacking play. Marco Höger was the beneficiary as he raced onto Lewis Holtby’s through ball, sending Roman Weidenfeller the wrong way with a calm finish.

That secured victory for Schalke, though it should have been more comfortable. Joel Matip somehow missed from a few yards at a corner which in turn encouraged Dortmund. Robert Lewandowski pulled one back for the Champions by flicking in Reus’s free kick. Yet even at two one down, the barrage of pressure you’d have expected never really arrived from the home side.

It completed a worrying display for Borussia Dortmund, left 12 points behind Bayern Munich after this latest setback. Even with eight games played, the title looks out of reach of the Champions. That’s both an indictment on how they’ve not matched the incredible standards they’ve set over the last two years and crucially how they lack the strength in depth which Bayern have proudly shown off so far. No team has ever come from 12 points down to win the Bundesliga. If Jürgen Klopp was to mastermind that, it would no doubt be his greatest title as a coach but that’s likely to stay as a distant fantasy.

Yet Huub Stevens side are in a position where thoughts of a title aren’t so unrealistic. Catching Bayern though even with a seven point gap looks a daunting prospect. Still, Saturday was important for the Royal Blues. Last season, they did not show up in any of the big Bundesliga games. They failed against Bayern in September too but finally, in their rivals’ back yard, Schalke did it.

It’s the sort of result which might persuade star player Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, in the final year of his contract, to sign an extension. Talks were said to have reached a standstill in September according to general manager Horst Heldt but Saturday showed the Royal Blues mean business this season.

Expectations are high at one of Germany’s biggest clubs but a first Bundesliga title is likely to prove elusive again this season. Still, the weekend’s result could well prove a watershed moment for Schalke, as they firmly stepped out of Borussia Dortmund’s shadow.

Elsewhere in the Bundesliga:

• Bayern Munich just keep chugging away at the top of the table. This week, they thrashed Fortuna Düsseldorf to set a new Bundesliga record for consecutive wins at the start of the season (8). Their closest rivals are still newly promoted Eintracht Frankfurt. The Eagles are five points behind after overcoming Hannover.

• Friday night can be a dreary experience for Bundesliga watchers. Hoffenheim and Greuther Fürth ensured it wasn’t this time around, serving up six goals in Sinsheim. It included three goals in the last 5 minutes and Fürth equalised with the final kick of the game. Cue coach Mike Büskens rushing immediately onto the field to celebrate with his team – only in the Bundesliga…

• Pressure continues to grow on Wolfsburg boss Felix Magath as the Wolves lost 2-0 at home to Freiburg. Disappointment is the overriding feeling at Gladbach too, as they were thrashed by Werder Bremen. And just as Hamburg looked to have turned a corner, they flattered to deceive, as Stuttgart sneaked a 1-0 win at the Imtech Arena. Elsewhere in mid-table, Bayer Leverkusen had to come from behind to secure a 2-2 draw with Mainz. Finally, Nuremberg and Augsburg played out a goalless draw on a sleepy Sunday afternoon.

If you’d like to read more about what’s going on in Germany, follow @archiert1 on Twitter

Matchday 8 Results:

Hoffenheim 3-3 Fürth

Bayer Leverkusen 2-2 Mainz

Borussia Dortmund 1-2 Schalke

Eintracht Frankfurt 3-1 Hannover

Fortuna Düsseldorf 0-5 Bayern Munich

Wolfsburg 0-2 Mainz

Werder Bremen 4-0 Gladbach

Nürnberg 0-0 Augsburg

Hamburg 0-1 Stuttgart

Table

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

 

Table thanks to Official Bundesliga Website

Article orginally written @ FootballFanCast

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 – Dortmund shocked as Bayern take early lead – by Archie Rhind-Tutt

Borussia Dortmund losing, Hamburg winning, and Bayern Munich exercising caution in comments to the press – these events have been rare recently but all three took place over the course of a curious weekend in the Bundesliga. Curious because Borussia Dortmund had gone 31 league games unbeaten. Curious because Hamburg have been, as the Guardian’s Raphael Honigstein has put it, the worst side in the league so far and curious because Bayern Munich just don’t do caution.

It doesn’t end there either because newly promoted Eintracht Frankfurt, a side albeit not unfamiliar to the Bundesliga, are level with Bayern on top of the table, boasting a 100% record too. This was after they became the first promoted side to win their opening four games, by winning at Nuremberg on Friday night.

Substitute Erwin Hoffer gave the Eagles the lead, only to be eclipsed by his teammate Takashi Inui who scored a superb second goal. The man from Japan cut inside on the left, beat a few players, before planting it into the bottom corner of Raphael Schӓfer’s goal. No wonder people continue to rave about the Japanese influence in the Bundesliga, even after Shinji Kagawa’s summer exit. Hiroshi Kiyotake (Japanese) set up Sebastian Polter for what turned out to be a consolation for Nuremberg as Eintracht Frankfurt held on. Their coach Armin Veh won the Bundesliga with Stuttgart in 2007 but he admitted on Friday that more difficult times might lie ahead.

Bayern Munich were treading a similar line, even after their 2-0 win at Schalke on Saturday. The home side had their chances in the first half but were punished by Bayern Munich early in the second. Toni Kroos and Thomas Müller scored the goals which ensured the Bavarians have four wins from four. “Just because we are currently ahead of Dortmund does not mean we will automatically win the league,” warned Arjen Robben. Bayern Munich director Karl-Heinz Rummenigge echoed this. “We cannot allow euphoria. Last season, we were eight points clear of Dortmund, and we know how it all ended.”

Still, the Bundesliga’s record Champions have looked clinical so far this season whilst the current Champions haven’t exactly raced out of the blocks. For whilst Borussia Dortmund were 31 games unbeaten before Saturday, their performances just haven’t been on the same level as they were at the end of last season. Nevertheless, you’d have expected to see BVB pick up three points against a Hamburg side that have been woeful to date.

This didn’t happen though as HSV managed to secure the most unlikely of victories. Son Heung-Min gave the home team the lead after a great cross from returning Hamburg hero Rafael van der Vaart. Dortmund equalised through a fortunate Ivan Perisic effort just 24 seconds after half time and it was at this point, you’d have expected the northerners to crumble, but not so. Five minutes later, some poor goalkeeping from Roman Weidenfeller allowed Ivo Ilicevic to grab a second for Thorsten Fink’s side on the break. Soon after, it wasn’t inappropriate to say that Hamburg were walking on “Sonshine” as the Korean scored a brilliant third, unleashing a cracking effort into the corner from 25 yards. Perisic pulled another back for Dortmund but despite plenty of chances and pressure, keeper René Adler stood firm for Hamburg as they clinched their first win of the season.

In the context of the Bundesliga as a whole, Hamburg overcoming Borussia Dortmund isn’t a big deal but in the context of this season, it’s huge. BILD proclaimed (perhaps prematurely) that Hamburg “is a happy family again,” whilst Jürgen Klopp was understandably unhappy with his side’s performance. “That was really s***y,” was his rather honest reaction to Dortmund’s first defeat in just over a year, leaving the Champions five points behind Bayern and Eintracht Frankfurt.

Borussia Dortmund won’t panic. After all, they’re no stranger to early season defeats having endured three in their first six games during the last campaign. A trip to high flying Eintracht Frankfurt on Tuesday will be a good test of their character but Bayern Munich will be delighted with the position they’re in. Their summer of spending has been justified so far with new players such as Mandzukic and Shaqiri showing Bayern have a new level of strength in depth – something they missed dearly last season. Yet, his weekend is likely to be the first of a few twists in this year’s Bundesliga title race. Bayern Munich certainly have the edge, for now.

Matchday 4 Results:

Nuremberg 1-2 Eintracht Frankfurt

Fortuna Düsseldorf 0-0 Freiburg

Hamburg 3-2 Borussia Dortmund

Mainz 2-0 Augsburg

Schalke 0-2 Bayern Munich

Wolfsburg 1-1 Fürth

Bayer Leverkusen 1-1 Gladbach

Hoffenheim 3-1 Hannover

Werder Bremen 2-2 Stuttgart

Table

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

 

Table from the Official Bundesliga Site

Article 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

Match Report – Borussia Dortmund 2-1 Werder Bremen by Archie Rhind-Tutt

There were some neat parallels to Borussia Dortmund’s opening game with Werder Bremen. In what is the Bundesliga’s 50th season, the two teams also met on the opening day in the competition’s first season. BVB were Champions of Germany then but lost 3-2 on that day. Forty nine years later, history didn’t repeat itself in North Rhine-Westphalia, as Jürgen Klopp’s side edged past Werder.

Dortmund didn’t have the swagger which they ended last season with. Still, they were able to spark into life when it mattered most as they punished Thomas Schaaf’s team for missing some great opportunities. Marco Reus returned to Borussia with greater status than when he left in 2006. Much greater in fact – now he’s the German Player of the Year.

Reus showed why Dortmund paid €17 million for him as he took advantage of some poor defending after 11 minutes. Jakub Blaszczykowski poked the ball towards Reus which should have been cut off by Aleksandar Ignjovski. Instead, Ignjovski got his legs in a tangle, as he would do for most of the night, allowing the ball to roll through to Reus who finished nonchalantly.

Werder responded despite characteristic pressing from Die Schwarzgelben. Soon after, Aaron Hunt slipped Eljero Elia through on goal down the left hand side but he could only fire at Weidenfeller. Minutes later, they were to come closer. BVB failed to clear a corner as the ball looped up towards Marko Arnautovic. His well executed volley could only find the base of the post.

Thomas Schaaf’s side couldn’t break the Dortmund defence in the rest of the half, even if debutant Eljero Elia was continually getting the better of Oliver Kirch down the left hand side. Kirch wasn’t the only full back having problems as Ignjovski toiled at left back for Werder. Most who faced Blaszczykowski last season did too but the Serbian cut an isolated figure on Friday night.

His exit from the pitch mid way through the second half helped his side, though it wasn’t before Dortmund threatened to double their lead. Sebastian Mielitz tipped over Neven Subotic’s header five minutes after the break with the Champions seemingly finding their rhythm.

Yet, they dropped off and the 65th minute substitution of striker Nils Petersen for the struggling Ignjovski gave Bremen some much needed momentum. With Dortmund offering little, Werder took advantage of some poor defending.

With just over 15 minutes to go, Borussia thought the ball had drifted out. Goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller appealed in vain before the ball was squared to Marko Arnautovic wide on the right hand side. He chipped in to the centre where Euro 2012 star Theodor Gebre Selassie flicked a header into the far corner – not a bad finish for a right back.

Then came the response of Champions five minutes later. The skilful Mario Gӧtze was subbed on quickly by Jürgen Klopp and minutes later, he was celebrating the winning goal. As Werder couldn’t retain the ball, Gӧtze played a one-two with Robert Lewandowski before the 20-year-old found himself through on goal. He rolled the ball past Mielitz to the delight of a relieved Signal Iduna Park.

Nils Petersen (or as he’s a loanee from Bayern Munich, perhaps it should be Agent Petersen) missed Werder’s only other chance to equalise on 85 minutes. He failed to guide in the lively Arnautovic’s cross as it bounced off his body and wide.

It was a tame end for a Werder Bremen side that looked promising in patches. Borussia Dortmund weren’t at their swashbuckling best by any means but they had a clinical touch in front of goal proving why they’re Champions. Improvement is needed if they’re to retain their crown for a third season running but they’re unbeaten in 29 league games – an achievement not to be sniffed at.

Article originally written @ Gone With The Rhind

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