Tag Archives: Klaas-Jan Huntelaar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elsewhere in the Bundesliga:

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

For more on the Bundesliga on Twitter, follow @archiert1

Matchday 17 Results:

Bayern Munich 1-1 Gladbach

Bayer Leverkusen 3-0 Hamburg

Fortuna Düsseldorf 2-1 Hannover

Fürth 1-1 Augsburg

Mainz 3-1 Stuttgart

Wolfsburg 0-2 Eintracht Frankfurt

Schalke 1-3 Freiburg

Hoffenheim 1-3 Borussia Dortmund

Werder Bremen 1-1 Nuremberg

Table:

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

Table thanks to Bundesliga Website

Article originall written at Football Fan Cast

Bundesliga Review – 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