Tag Archives: Toni Kroos

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 – 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