Tag Archives: Marco Reus

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

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 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.