Borussia Dortmund Superstar Mario Götze Signs for Bayern Munich in €37m Deal

Mario Gotze“Everyone knows how comfortable I feel in Dortmund. The club is far from finished with their recent resurgence. And I want to be part of this development.” -Mario Götze | 27 March, 2012

This quote was said by Mario Götze himself, answering questions in an interview after signing his contract extension with Borussia Dortmund that would keep him at the club until 2016. However, there was always one area of his contract that stood out that kept major clubs around Europe and Germany keeping a close eye on this talented players progress.

This was, of course, his buy out clause, which was €37 million, and on the 23 April 2013, Bayern Munich paid the fee for his services, making him the most expensive German player ever. It has been reported that Mario Götze will officially move to Bayern Munich at the end of this German Bundesliga season that would end an emotional spell at Dortmund, which started when he was just eight years of age.

This account is going to focus on what Mario Götze has done in his short career so far, and whether this will be the right move for him in terms of progressing his career and molding him into the perfect player. This article will also concentrate on how Borussia Dortmund will recover from this loss and whether BVB can still challenge Bayern Munich at the top to continue the rivalry football fans love to observe.

There is no doubt about it, Mario Götze is a credit to Borussia Dortmund’s youth academy, as he is a distinctive player coming through the ranks with a crop of talented football players. The current Dortmund number 10 made his first appearance in the Bundesliga in November 2009 against Mainz 05, after being put on in place of Jakub Błaszczykowski.

Mario GotzeJürgen Klopp was aware of Götze’s talent and upgraded him to the Borussia Dortmund first team, which has proved to be a wise decision. That year, Dortmund won the German Bundesliga, and Mario Götze played his part in making this happen.

There was a slight delay on Mario Götze’s progression however, due to him having problems with his hip; he was out of action for a while before returning to action against Borussia Mönchengladbach in April 2012. The return was perfect timing for Borussia Dortmund and Mario Götze, as there were huge games coming up.

That season Götze was part of a Borussia Dortmund team that broke the German Bundesliga record for acquiring the highest points tally in one season. To further this great season for Borussia Dortmund, they went on to beat Bayern Munich in the final of the DFB Pokal with the score of 5-2, however Mario Götze only made the substitutes.

This season has proved to Mario Götze’s most influential, however as he has played a huge part in Borussia Dortmund’s season, even though they have not been able to keep up with the force that is Bayern Munich. Götze has played 2028 minutes in the Bundesliga this season, scoring 10 goals in the league and gaining 8 assists. He has also created 138 chances for his Dortmund teammates and had 56 attempts on goal.

Götze has appeared in 28 games this Bundesliga campaign with 23 being in the starting line up. It just shows how influential Mario Götze is, with him touching the ball 1487 times and him being fouled 63 is miraculous. His pass succession rate is also 85.8%, which proves his style of play of being a short sharp passer of the ball.

Mario Gotze‘Götzinho’ has not only made a huge impact domestically, but also on the European stage too. Borussia Dortmund have advanced into the UEFA Champions League semi-final and will play Real Madrid for a trip to Wembley in May. He has been influential in wins against Shakhtar Donetsk, Real Madrid, and Malaga in this Champions League campaign. He has scored 2 goals in the UEFA Champions League this season and gained 4 assists, proving Dortmund’s dominance in Europe.

With Mario Götze moving to Bayern Munich however, you have to focus the attention on Borussia Dortmund and how they will recover from this huge loss. Jürgen Klopp has been seen taking the Götze loss in good vein with his recent press conference (see video below), but did mention he was annoyed at the timing of the transfer as he feels it may disrupt the team’s preparation against Real Madrid:

“It could have been worse; it could have happened a couple of hours before the game. But on a scale of one to 10, this is a nine. We all know why it has come out now. We don’t know why the people who have leaked this have done so at such a delicate time. We can only speculate but we are all making the same suppositions.”

He also made it aware that the BVB fans should not single out Mario Götze and that the atmosphere at the ‘Signal Iduna Park’ should be special as always. ‘Kloppo’ also stated that he could not stand in Mario Götze’s way, because he described Pep Guardiola as being a ‘special coach’ and that Götze was the main player he wanted at Bayern Munich.

But assessing whether Borussia Dortmund can recover from this is crazy due to their talent at the club. Marco Reus is another player of fantastic ability, and one you could argue that he has had an even better season than Mario Götze. Rumors have also been flying around that Robert Lewandowski is leaving, but he may stay to see his contract out as he only has one year left on his current deal.

Mario GotzeBut you have to gaze at what these players Jürgen Klopp has brought to the club and what they are worth now compared to when they entered the club. ‘Kloppo’ has brought the likes of Lewandowski for €4.5 million, Hummels and Gündogan both for €4 million, Blaszczykowski for €3 million, Piszczek for free, and other players coming through the clubs fantastic youth system. It needs to be remembered that the club nearly went into bankruptcy in 2005, and that times are far better than what they were.

Jürgen Klopp can again achieve this and he probably has a few irons in the fire on who to bring in next season as he has the task of replacing Mario Götze. Super Mario will still give his all for the rest of his Dortmund career and will always have them in a special place in his heart.

By James Williams (@GermanBuLi)

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Borussia Mönchengladbach: Glad to be Back Near the Top

Borussia MöchengladbachBorussia Möchengladbach was formed in 1900 and is a club situated in Germany’s North-Rhine Westphalia. They are a very well supported club that has many times been compared to Liverpool for their unique way of supporting a football team.

Borussia Mönchengladbach plays at Borussia-Park and has done so since 2004 after moving from their famous Bökelbergstadion. Their stadium holds just over 54,000 supporters and is famous for it’s ‘Nordkurve’ (North Stand) due to its similarities with Liverpool’s ‘Kop.’ The club has just over 38,000 members making them one of the largest clubs in Germany.

Die Fohlen (The Foals) won their first ever trophy in 1960 when they won the DFB Pokal after beating rivals 1. FC Köln with the score of 2-1. Mönchengladbach did not win anything else for another ten years when they reached their ‘Golden Generation’ between 1970 and 1980.

This Mönchengladbach era saw players such as Berti Vogts, Günter Netzer, Herbert Wimmer, and Jupp Heynckes play for them. This period in time built a huge rivalry with Bayern Munich, and going head to head with players like Beckenbauer, Schwarzenbeck, Müller, and Maier was a huge task.

They acquired their first ever Bundesliga trophy in 1970 and went on to successfully defend their trophy a year later, making them the first team to do so in the short Bundesliga history. Bayern Munich stated their dominance however, winning it three years in a row that only allowed Borussia Mönchengladbach to gain their second DFB Pokal in 1973. In that same year, Mönchengladbach reached the UEFA Cup Final, only losing out 3-2 over two legs to Liverpool.

Borussia MöchengladbachHowever, when they reached 1975, this is where Die Fohlen proved their dominance with players like Jupp Heynckes demonstrating his predator instincts, scoring 29 goals that year. They won the Bundesliga and managed to mirror Bayern Munich’s record, winning it three years on the trot.

They reached the UEFA Cup Final, beating Dutch side FC Twente 5-1 over two legs with Jupp Heynckes scoring a hat trick in the away tie. In 1977, Mönchengladbach reached the European Cup Final at the Stadio Olympico in Rome, but went onto lose yet again to Liverpool 3-1 in a major European final.

Mönchengladbach reached the promise land yet again in 1979, beating Red Star Belgrade 2-1 over two legs in the UEFA Cup Final, with the only Danish player in the team, Allen Simonsen, scoring the winner. It seemed that Borussia Mönchengladbach were back again, reaching the UEFA Cup Final another time for an all-German affair.

They lost the match on away goals that seemed to really hurt the Borussia Mönchengladbach fans and players. Since this final, Mönchengladbach has only managed to add the DFB Pokal in 1995 and have struggled to maintain a consistency in the Bundesliga, yo-yoing between the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga.

Borussia Mönchengladbach have had major players wear their famous shirt over recent years, but this has all ended in them selling these players to clubs with a much higher status, most notably Marco Reus to Borussia Dortmund and Dante to Bayern Munich.

Since their ‘Golden Generation,’ Mönchengladbach has majorly stepped back, whereas Bayern Munich kicked on, getting stronger and stronger as an empire. Questions have been asked why this was the case, but nobody could really put together an explanation for them not getting stronger like Bayern.

Borussia MöchengladbachRecently though, Mönchengladbach have managed to get some type of consistency after near missing relegation in 2011 after a post-season playoff. After that season, they have been a very strong side in the German Bundesliga when finishing fourth last season, gaining entry into the UEFA Champions League; they were beaten over two legs by Dynamo Kiev in the qualifying round. They were then entered into the UEFA Europa League but were beaten in the knock out stages by Lazio.

Mönchengladbach currently sits in seventh place on with 41 points and hold a strong position to gain another European spot. UEFA Champions League may be a big ask, but it is still a possibility if Schalke 04 slip up. Mönchengladbach still have to play Schalke 04, so the European race still could be turned on its head. Their supporters will certainly expect them to gain some type of European football, with manager Lucien Favre wanting the same.

But with striker De Jong arguably being out of form, as he has only scored six goals in the league all season, it may be a hard target and a big mountain to climb. However, with Mönchengladbach not being in any more cups, they can fully focus on the league for the final push into one of the European spots.

Borussia MöchengladbachAs mentioned earlier, the Borussia Mönchengladbach supporters have been compared to the Liverpool fans of England for their unique style of supporting the team. Since the 1970s, Mönchengladbach has built a strong relationship with Liverpool as they had a strong rivalry throughout their prestigious years. This relationship has developed every single year as many Liverpool and Mönchengladbach supporters travel between the two cities to see each other play.

After the Hillsborough disaster, Borussia Mönchengladbach donated a large amount of money into the Hillsborough fund. They were also the opposition for Emlyn Hughes’ testimonial game, and to this day, many Mönchengladbach fans wear Liverpool shirts on their famous ‘Nordkurve.’

This is a club that has much tradition that arguably should be at the top challenging Bayern Munich, as they did throughout the 1970s. But it can be said that Mönchengladbach has turned into a selling club, and they will not progress if they continually sell their top players. They have a great chance to enter the UEFA Champions League again this season, but they will have to impose some strong performances if that is to happen.

By James Williams (@GermanBuLi)

TSV 1860 Munich: Bayern’s Noisy Neighbors Continue Their Fight for Promotion

TSV 1860 MunichDid you know that Munich has two main football teams? Did you know that the other club that you cannot think of was formed before the other club that you are thinking of now?

That is correct; Munich has a second major football club, and not everybody in this towering city support the team that play in red. TSV 1860 Munich is the second illustrious club that play football in this fantastic town, and are one that don’t seem to get much advertisement.

They share ground with their hated rivals Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena and have forever been in their shadow for many years. This account is going to explore the season TSV 1860 Munich have had so far and whether they can push 1. FC Kaiserslautern to the very end for a season play-off finale to gain a place in the Bundesliga.

1860 München is a club with a strong history and a football team that is well supported around the city. The club has just over 20,000 members, and their average attendance in 2006 was just over 41,000, however this has seemingly dropped since then, with their average attendance last season being nearly half that figure.

Die Löwen (The Lions) have won the DFB Pokal on two occasions and won the German Bundesliga once in 1966, making them the third team in Germany to be crowned champions.

They also made an appearance in the 1965 Cup Winners’ Cup Final against West Ham United, but were beaten 2-0. This great club has also made an attendance in the UEFA Champions League in 2000, but didn’t advance far, as they were defeated by Leeds United and then were knocked out by AC Parma in the UEFA Cup the same season.

This club has also inherited some great players such as Rüdi Voller, Martin Max, Jens Jeremies, and Sven Bender. Since 2012, 1860 Munich have had Alexander Schmidt in charge, who was appointed after Reiner Maurer was sacked in November 2012. Schmidt is a man that knows the club well, as he managed 1860 München II for a year before being appointed.

This season, however, has been a frustrating one for the fans of 1860 Munich. They have a squad that has huge potential to challenge teams like Hertha BSC, 1. FC Kaiserslautern, and Eintracht Braunchweig at the top, but their inconsistent form has cost them.

TSV 1860 MunichThe Lions currently sit in sixth place with 42 points from the games they have played this campaign, and they are seven points off the end of season play-off place. So is the play-off place a realistic target for 1860 Munich?

There were many signs that Die Löwen would kick on from their years of disappointment at being in 2. Bundesliga for so long. They started the season very well, as they were unbeaten in their first eight games, scoring thirteen and only conceding three. They presented impressive performances against SV Sandhausen 1916, MSV Duisburg, 1. FC Kaiserslautern, and VfL Bochum 1848.

It only took a terrible performance away to Hertha BSC to knock their confidence, and this is when the inconsistent form began. They struggled to get a hold of their performances, only winning two more games until the winter break. The games leading up to the break saw them draw five games and lose three.

Since the winter break, the form of 1860 Munich has been a lot better, with huge potential to kick on. Since Christmas, they have won four, lost three, and drew three. They have put up some impressive wins against Eintracht Braunchweig, MSV Duisburg, and FC Erzgebirge Ave.

At this moment in time, 1860 Munich have 42 points, scoring 31 goals and conceding only 26, resulting in a goal difference of +5. The obstacle that has been stopping them, however, has been the amount of games they have drew, which is twelve all season, and transforming some of these games into wins could have made their season read differently.

The poor form of their strikers has not helped 1860 Munich, with only one player hitting some type of good form. Benjamin Lauth has played 2211 minutes in the league this season, scoring nine goals, making him 1860 Munich’s highest goal scorer.

Their midfield maestro Moritz Stoppelkamp has played 2410 minutes in the league this year, scoring five goals and gaining five assists. Another influential is Daniel Halfar, who has played 1689 minutes in the league, scoring two goals but gaining five assists, making him a valuable player to 1860 Munich.

TSV 1860 MunichSo do 1860 Munich have the nerve to kick on and challenge until the final minute of the season for the play-off place? You’d like to think so as the statistics show they have the potential to do just that with their settled defense and their promising manager, Alexander Schmidt.

But it seems to be scoring goals that is their problem, and they cannot keep relying on Benjamin Lauth to carry the responsibility of doing it all himself. They lost in their last game to St. Pauli 3-1, which was a huge stumbling block in their season target.

With a huge game at home to FSV Frankfurt next, they cannot afford to dwell in their last defeat. Their next game seems like it may decide the season for 1860 Munich, as there are only five games left.

So can 1860 Munich be back in the big time? Who knows?! This is why we love the beautiful game!

By James Williams (@GermanBuLi)

Schalke 04: The Rise of the Royal Blues of Germany

Schalke 04It cannot be argued that Schalke 04 is not a major club, as this famous squad stands by its values of displaying a hard work ethic week in week out. Schalke is the second largest sports club in Germany with 100,000 members that attracts just fewer than 79,000 supporters to their famous Veltins Arena.

Schalke 04 always comes in the top 20 of the ‘Deloitte Football Money League’ in terms of annual revenue, generating a whopping €174.5 million in 2012. Some football fans must wonder how Die Königsblauen has not won the German Bundesliga, however the club itself has won a few major honors.

This account is going to explore some of Schalke’s most highlighted events over their illustrious history and examine their season so far, which may have a major impact on their next Bundesliga season.

In 1934, Schalke’s first German title arrived after beating favorites Nuremberg with the score of 2-1. This was the kick-start Schalke 04 needed as the following year they successfully defended their title against VfB Stuttgart in an entertaining 6-4 win.

Die Knappen showed their dominance in this era by acquiring this trophy again in 1937, 1939, 1940, and 1942. Three of the national finals that Schalke 04 were involved in were unbelievably against Austrian teams: Admira Vienna, Rapid Vienna, and First Vienna, which played in Germany’s Gauliga Ostmark after Austria’s incorporation into the Reich through the 1938 Anschluss.

Between the years of 1933 and 1945, Schalke won 162 out of 189 in their Gauliga Ostmark matches, losing only 6 and drawing 21 times. In this period, Schalke showed their scoring governance as they accumulated 924 goals and conceded only 145.

In the years of 1935 to 1939, Schalke did not lose a single league match to any opponent they faced. These achievements caught the eye of many, and this led them to be held up for propaganda reasons by the Nazi regime, as an example of ‘Neue Deutschland’ (New Germany). This was surprising due to many Schalke players descending from Polish immigrants, including their most influential players, Fritz Szepan and Ernst Kuzorra.

Schalke 04When Schalke entered the German Bundesliga in 1963, they have somewhat been inconsistent with their finishes in the league. During the first few years of the German Bundesliga, Schalke found it very hard to adjust to the new league.

For example, in 1965, they just missed out on relegation, only through the league increasing to eighteen teams. A number of finishes at the lower end of the league table followed after, before development started in 1972 as they acquired a second place finish to Bayern München. In the same season, Schalke won the German Cup for the second time in its history.

When looking at Schalke more recently however, they have managed to finally get some consistency in regards to winning trophies and staying towards to upper ends of the league. In 1997, they won their most coveted trophy, the UEFA Cup, beating Inter Milan on penalties.

Since this trophy, Schalke 04 has won the DFB Pokal three times, the Premiere League Cup in 2005, and the German Super Cup in 2011. However, they still have not managed to win the German Bundesliga.

When assessing Schalke’s season so far, they have had a somewhat rocky campaign as they decided to relieve Huub Stevens of his duties and appoint Jens Keller as their new head coach. Schalke has given their fans something to brag about in the Ruhr though, as they managed to gain the double over their great rivals Borussia Dortmund, beating them 2-1 on both games.

Also defeating Arsenal 2-0 away in the UEFA Champions League, that could be argued to be Schalke’s best performance of the season, as they simply played ‘The Gunners’ off the park. There have been some signs of Schalke’s potential to kick on this season, but beating Galatasaray SK was a step too far as their squad was looking bare.

Bayern Munich 4-0 Schalke 04They have also struggled with injuries this year, and this has been evident in some of their performances, most notably away at Bayern München when they were defeated 4-0. Since that defeat however, they have managed to gain some form and rise up the league by beating Fortuna Düsseldorf, VfL Wolfsburg, Borussia Dortmund, 1899 Hoffenheim, and most recently SV Werder Bremen.

This form has led them to overlap Eintracht Frankfurt in fourth place for that UEFA Champions League spot. They sit nicely with 45 points and are now looking to be favorites to claim this spot. They could even overhaul Bayer Leverkusen, as they are only four points behind, but this will be tough due to Bayer Leverkusen’s plus fifteen goal difference.

The run in for Schalke is hard, and they invite Bayer Leverkusen to the Veltins Arena next and this is simply a must win game for ‘The Royal Blues.’ Then it’s off to the founding father’s Eintracht Frankfurt, who will be looking to get back into the chase for that fourth spot, so Schalke need to be focused for the next two games as their UEFA Champions League spot could slip out of their hands.

But with five games left, they have a great opportunity to confirm UEFA Champions League football next season, and if they gain this, it may get Jens Keller a contract to take over permanently.

But this is Schalke, and anything can happen. Will Schalke 04 ever go back to playing their famous ‘Schalker Kriesel’ way of the 1920s? Who knows?! What will be, will be.

Written by @GermanBuLi

Bayern Munich Crowned Champions of Germany in Record Time

After a couple of not-so-good seasons, Bayern Munich made it their mission to finish the 12/13 season as the best team in Germany, and if possible, the best team in all of Europe. Jupp Heynckes, the 12/13 season being his last season with The Bavarians, planned to give all he could to ensure that he would leave Bayern having accomplished this mission. And so they started their season with their minds set on winning and winning alone.

A Fresh Start to the 2012/13 Season

DFL-Supercup 2012Bayern kicked off their season with a victory after defeating last season’s champions of Germany, Borussia Dortmund, in the DFL-Supercup. Then followed a trip to Regensburg for a DFB-Pokal 1st round tie, which Bayern won comfortably.

Soon after that, the Bundesliga kicked off, with The Bavarians managing 8 straight wins, including 6 clean sheets, and having scored a total of 26 goals against SpVgg Greuther Fürth, VfB Stuttgart, FSV Mainz 05, Schalke 04, VfL Wolfsburg, SV Werder Bremen, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, and Fortuna Düsseldorf, in that order.

A home game against Bayer 04 Leverkusen in the Bundesliga back in October 2012 remains, until now, the only match Jupp Heynckes side has lost in the league. Bayern Munich have, since then, won 17 of their Bundesliga games, scoring a total of 53 goals in those wins; keeping 13 clean sheets.

They have, since that loss to Leverkusen, drawn 3, scoring a total of 3 goals in those draws. In total, since then, Bayern have scored 56 goals; and that’s only in the German Bundesliga!

In other competitions, namely the UEFA Champions League and the DFB-Pokal, Bayern Munich have lost only twice (all in the former competitions as they haven’t lost a game in the latter) to BATE Borisov and Arsenal. They have, otherwise, won 11 matches (7 in the former competition and 4 in the latter) from the 12 matches they’ve played; scoring a total of 31 goals while at it.

The only match they didn’t win from those 12, they drew 1-1 against Valencia in the UEFA Champions League. In total, Bayern Munich have scored 32 goals in both competitions; 21 in the Champions League and the remaining 11 in the DFB-Pokal.

Add the 83 Bundesliga goals (including the only goal they scored in their loss to Leverkusen), the 11 DFB-Pokal goals, the 21 Champions League goals, and the 2 DFL-Supercup goals together and you have a total of 117 goals for Bayern Munich this season, which is pretty impressive for a team that didn’t do too well last season.

Manuel NeuerIn turn, Bayern Munich have conceded only 13 goals in the Bundesliga, 10 goals in the Champions League, 0 goals in the DFB-Pokal, and 1 goal in the DFL-Supercup, making it a total of only 24 goals, compared to the 117 goals they’ve scored until now. And depending on what happens against Barcelona next Tuesday night, these numbers could continue to rise!

It goes without saying that 27-year-old Manuel Neuer has been the best goalkeeper in the Bundesliga, having kept a clean sheet 63% of the time, a long way away from the second best, SC Freiburg’s Olivier Baumann, who’s only managed to do so 42.9% of the time.

Among the many goalscorers for The Bavarians in the Bundesliga this season, the 3 top goalscorers have been Mario Mandzukic, with 15 goals and 3 assists from 21 games, Thomas Muller, with 12 goals and 12 assists from 24 games, and Franck Ribery with 7 goals and 10 assists from 22 games. Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mario Gomez have also managed 7 Bundesliga goals, with 5 assists from 26 games and 2 assists from 15 games respectively.

Jupp Heynckes has kept a 4-2-3-1 formation for all of Bayern’s games this season. And seeing as it’s worked so well for him, I don’t see why he would change it for their remaining games!

Bayern Munich only have 5 games remaining in the Bundesliga, and with them having basically already secured the title with a 20 point gap (courtesy of a Bastian Scwheinsteiger goal this past weekend against Eintracht Frankfurt; see match report below), it will only be a matter of how many more goals Bayern Munich can score before officially being crowned Champions of Germany.

Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Bayern Munich

Bayern Munich knew that this match had the potential to win the league for them, meaning that they absolutely had to win to ensure it would happen.

Despite a few good chances in the first half, Bayern Munich kept pressing on and managed to beat the stubborn home defense to score in the 52nd minute what was to be the only goal of the game, before just holding on to ensure they’d won the title.

Bastian SchweinsteigerBastian Schweinsteiger made sure not to make the same mistake he’d made against Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League Final last May, winning the title for his side (this being his 7th goal of the season) with a good right-footed shot, assisted by Philipp Lahm.

Statistic-wise, Bayern Munich had 55% possession, while Eintracht Frankfurt had 45%. Both goalkeepers were equally tested; both having had to make 10 saves each. Both teams attempted to hit the target 9 times. Florian Meyer, who was the referee for this match, issued a total of 3 yellow cards; 1 (Aigner) to the home side, and 2 (Luiz Gustavo, Javi Martinez) to the away side. No players were sent off during this match.

Armin Veh and Jupp Heynckes lined up the following squads:

Eintracht Frankfurt Starting XI

Nikolov, Jung (c), Oczipka, Zambrano, Soares de Oliveira, Lanig, Rode, Aigner, Inui, Russ, Matmour

Subs: Aykut Ozer, Butscher, Djakpa, Lakic, Celozzi, and Stendera

Bayern Munich Starting XI

Neuer, Lahm (c), Boateng, Dante, Alaba, Schweinsteiger, Martinez, Shaqiri, Robben, Muller, Gomez

Subs: Starke, Van Buyten, Rafinha, Tymoschuck, Ribery, Pizarro, and Luiz Gustavo

Final Score: Eintracht Frankfurt 0-1 Bayern Munich

Schweinsteiger 52′

Written by @TrueBlueFemale

Eintracht Frankfurt: Rise of the Bundesliga’s Founding Fathers

Eintracht Frankfurt

Eintracht Frankfurt are back with a bang since their promotion from Bundesliga 2 last season, they have leapfrogged the table, sitting in fourth at this present moment, which has come as a surprise to most other Bundesliga teams.

Eintracht Frankfurt is a major club in Germany and their support has grown since their inauguration in 1899. Their fans are fantastic, and the recently known Commerzbank-Arena holds over 51,000 supporters. In fact, during the 2010-11 season, Eintracht Frankfurt overhauled attendances ahead of many prominent clubs like Liverpool, Napoli, and Atletico Madrid.

Through their illustrious history there have been many ups and downs that the Eintracht Frankfurt faithful have had to deal with. However, this season there have been many positive experiences for the head coach, Armen Veh, and his players.

Eintracht Frankfurt is one of the original ‘Founding Fathers’ of the German Bundesliga in 1963 and it is sentimental that Frankfurt is taking part in the Bundesliga’s fifty-year anniversary. The club have been German Champions before, however this was prior to the German Bundesliga being formed as they captured this title in 1959.

They have also won the DFB Pokal on four occasions, as well as the UEFA Cup in 1980 after an all-German two-legged affair against Borussia Monchengladbach. The 1980s was obviously their greatest time as a club, acquiring two DFB Pokal’s and gaining the UEFA Cup with that famous goal by Fred Schaub (see video below).

Since that victory in 1988 DFB Pokal final however, Eintracht Frankfurt haven’t gained any more major trophies since; but this season has looked much more promising for the club. Not in terms of trophies, but getting ‘Die Adler’ (Eagles) back into Europe. This account is going to assess Eintracht Frankfurt’s season so far and whether they have the potential to go on and build on their current fourth place position.

Eintracht FrankfurtArmen Veh’s method coming up from Bundesliga 2 has worked, and quite frankly, opponents have found it hard to deal with their slick passing play from the back. They have come up from Bundesliga 2 with no fear and have found on many occasions that other teams cannot break them down with the 4-3-2-1 formation they use.

Eintracht Frankfurt has a very strong spine in their team with recently injured Kevin Trapp in goal, Zambrano, Schwegler and Rode in central midfield, along with Alexander Meier up top, scoring twelve goals in the Bundesliga thus far.

Conversely, this spine has arms to it, with Eintracht Frankfurt having very good wing players that create an awful lot of chances for their team. They have a very good right back in Sebastian Jung, and a superb left back Bastian Oczipka who has achieved seven assists all season, creating seventy seven opportunities for his team mates in total in the current campaign.

They have a great prospect in Japanese starlet Takashi Inui, who has created 102 chances this season and has had sixty-six attempts on goal, clearly showing his attacking prowess. But the man that has stood out is Stefan Aignar with eight goals, six assists, and creating seventy-two chances for his colleagues.

Eintracht Frankfurt’s form as of late has been quite poor and in fact is the joint worst with SV Werder Bremen, conceding six goals and scoring only one. They have won none of their last five games (losing three and drawing two) which seems to be a huge problem if they want to gain UEFA Champions League qualification.

Since the winter break the squad has only won twice and scored their first goal at the weekend to the defeat to VfB Stuttgart since their victorious performance away at Hamburger SV, meaning that they went five games without scoring a single goal.

Will Eintracht Frankfurt qualify for the UEFA Champions League or even the UEFA Europa League for that matter? There is going to be a tight race with teams like Hannover 96 sitting in tenth with thirty four points, have as much chance as Borussia Monchengladbach sitting in seventh with thirty eight points; that’s how tight the German Bundesliga is.

It appears however, Eintracht Frankfurt has ran out of steam, but will their first half of the season form get them over the finish line?

Eintracht FrankfurtIt could be argued that their season is similar to Everton’s fourth place finish in 2005. Everton never respectively had a good side and never really spent any money that summer, with Wayne Rooney leaving for Manchester United. They were the underdogs of the Premier League, but proved doubters wrong by gaining a UEFA Champions League qualification chance, and this can be mirrored to Eintracht Frankfurt’s recent successes.

Everton got their fourth place spot because of their first half of the season form, but ran out of steam the second half. Their first half of the season form was that good, that it managed to get them over the finish line.

Could this be the case for Eintracht Frankfurt? The Bundesliga side seems to have a better team collectively than Everton all those years ago. However, the league is a lot tighter to what is was when Everton qualified in the English Premier League.

Eintracht Frankfurt to play at places like Old Trafford, Santiago Bernabeu, and the San Siro next season? Football brings up this fabulous surprise, that’s why we love it!

Written by James Williams (@GermanBuLi)

The Top 5 Managers in the Football World Today

Jose MourinhoAs Jose Mourinho will be leaving Madrid next season, endless rumors and lots of speculation has been circulating about where he’ll end up. Back to Chelsea? Over to Manchester (City or United)? Or will he end up abroad? From what we know today, only time will tell.

With Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini claiming he is the best in the Premier League, and Sir Alex Ferguson still at United, it got me wondering, who are the top 5 managers in football today?

This can come down to opinion and/or fact. I have focused mainly on statistic mixed with a little bit of my own thoughts on the topic! I have also based this on what leagues they have managed in and the teams they have managed.

Lets start with the mangers who didn’t quite make the top 5. Moyes, Wenger, Simeone, Conte all come close but didn’t quite make it. Other contenders that just missed out we’re Del Bosque, Ancelloti, Heynckes, Capello and Trapattoni. All of these managers are top class. They all have good win percentages and have a successful career, but that wasn’t quite good enough to make the top 5:

5. Jurgen Klopp

To start off we have Borussia Dortmund’s Jurgen Klopp. Klopp has turned Dormund from a team fast developing a reputation as underachievers, to a force who can take on any big team in Europe and one of the most efficient teams in Bundesliga history. He has broke multiple records with the squad, such as the 87 total league-points amassed last season as well as guiding Dortmund to a 28-game unbeaten streak in the Bundesliga. Already, he has been successful in Germany, and being young, he has surely got a bright future ahead of him.

4. Pep Guardiola

Fourth in the list is Pep Guardiola. In only 4 years as Barcelona manager, Guardiola has achieved more then most mangers have in their lifetime. His success was immediate, collecting La Liga and Champions League titles in his first season in charge and going on to win 14 trophies in his time at the club. With a 71.94% win rate, it’s clear that he is a top manager. But his time at Bayern Munich will certainly determine whether he is the best.

3. Ottmar Hitzfeld

Ottmar HitzfeldIn third place is Ottmar Hitzfeld. Having won 18 major trophies in less than thirty years as manager, he has proven that he is top class. Winning 7 Bundesliga titles with Bayern and Dortmund, and also being crowned Champions of Europe with both clubs, he’s impressive success rate is paralleled by his consistency as a manager. He is a great tactician and has one of the best minds in football. Some even call him the greatest manager the Bundesliga has ever seen! For me, he is definitely one if the greatest managers the world of football has had.

2. Sir Alex Ferguson

The last two places come down to a matter of opinion. My opinion is that the second best manager in football right now is Manchester United’s Sir Alex Ferguson, but still the best of all time. Premier League, Champions League, FA cup, League Cup, you name it and Sir Alex has won it. 2060 games with a win percentage of 57.82% is a truly amazing feat! But what I admire most about Sir Alex Ferguson is his loyalty and respect to his club. In summary, he is one of the great tacticians in the game and knows everything about football; a true icon and legend.

1. Jose Mourinho

But the man who I believe to be the best in the game today, a man who is destined to become the greatest, is none other than Jose Mourinho. Love him or hate him he is the special one. He learned how to be a great coach, he studied the game, and is one of the best tactical-minded mangers ever to grace the world of football. Winning the Champions League with Porto and Inter, and winning back-to-back Premier League titles with Chelsea, Mourinho has been the most successful manager in football over the past 10 years. In my opinion, he is the best right now and is on track (if not already!) to become the greatest football manager of all time. In 523 games, he has a win percentage of 68.26%, which is an extremely good number. The self proclaimed “special one” has certainly lived up to the name. In general, he is one of football’s greatest mangers, and will no doubt become even more successful in the future!

Written by @OnlyJuanOneMata

2012 German Bundesliga Best XI

At the end of the day, a standard of a league comes down to it’s star players, the ones that really define the style of play and create the league’s greatest moments. La Liga has Messi, Ronaldo, and Sergio Ramos. The Premier League has Van Persie, Rooney and Kompany.

The Bundesliga is also very much at the level of Spain’s and England’s elite leagues. But who are the best Bundesliga stars? Here’s my Bundesliga team to rival the best from all around the world.

Goalkeeper – Manuel Neuer

Manuel Neuer

Bayern Munich’s big German stopper has a claim to be the best keeper in the world. His shot stopping is tremendous and it is rare that the ball goes past him without it being a quite spectacular goal.

Right Back – Lukasz Piszczek

Dortmund’s Polish right back impressed me particularly with his impressive performances for his country at Euro 2012, and his performances at Dortmund over the last year have been even more sensational. A marauding right back who can make goals and stop them, he would fall straight into most La Liga and Premier League sides.

Center Back – Mat Hummels

This is possibly one of the easiest choices to make. Hummels is one of the most exciting defensive prospects in the world at the moment. Big teams will certainly have their eye on this man.

Center Back – Benedikt Howedes

Howedes is an underrated defender. Big and strong, Schalke’s main man at the back was one of the reasons they have been so impressive in the Champions League this season.

Left Back – Philip Lahm

Another easy choice. Lahm has been top of the full back game for many years now, and whether he’s in Bayern Munich colors or German national team colors, the versatile full back always comes good when needed.

Defensive Midfield – Bastian Schweinsteiger

Bastian Schweinsteiger

It doesn’t matter where this German midfielder is playing, he always runs the game. His composure on the ball and range of passing make him a valuable asset to Bayern and Germany.

Central Midfield – Rafael Van Der Vaart

Having only recently moved back to Germany from the Premier League, Van Der Vaart is still readjusting to life back in the country’s top division. His playmaking skills and powerful shots have already proved valuable this year, with the Dutchman scoring some impressive goals in the process.

Center Midfield – Juan Arango

This final central midfield spot was incredibly difficult to call. Gotze, Kroos and many more could have gone into this slot, but from what I’ve seen of Juan Arango this year, he is placed into the squad on a sort of wildcard calling. Gotze and Kroos may be better overall players, younger and more exciting, but Arango’s range of passing and incredible technique is undeniable. His shooting powers are second to none, with him scoring some quite sensational goals this year. All of the central three in the midfield have the ability to blast the ball in from range or pick a fantastic pass, making this team very dangerous when the midfield moves forward.

Right Winger – Arjen Robben

The Bayern Munich and Holland winger has been criticised for being a bit of a diver over his career, but without his injury problems I truly believe he’d be up there with Messi and Ronaldo. A dazzling left foot combined with amazing pace and dribbling skill makes him a defender’s worst nightmare.

Left Winger – Frank Ribery

Ribery is the other Bayern Munich winger and has similar traits to Robben. The Frenchman’s lightning pace and dangerous right foot make him a problem for left backs all around the world.

Striker – Klaas Jan Huntelaar

Klaas Jan Huntelaar

This was the hardest pick of all of the positions: Huntelaar or Lewandowski. I chose Huntelaar because of his tremendous season last campaign. 48 goals during the previous season was a tremendously impressive record and his competition for the starting striker spot in the Dutch team with Robin Van Persie is tantalising to watch.

Other names I wish I could include:

  1. Mario Gomez
  2. Thomas Muller
  3. Robert Lewandowski
  4. Marco Reus
  5. Toni Kroos
  6. Mario Gotze
  7. Mario Mandzukic
  8. Jefferson Farfan
  9. Neven Subotic

I hope you enjoyed my article on FutbolPulse! Check out my football blog Rematch of the Day and follow me on twitter @rematchoftheday.

The Bundesliga’s Assault on La Liga and the Premier League

After the big debate about FIFA’s Team of the year, and how it was a disgrace that there were only La Liga players and that the Premier League should definitely have featured some of their own, many people started to draw up Premier League elevens or world elevens that could challenge FIFA’s choice.

BundesligaFair enough, I do believe there should be both Premier League and La Liga players in that team, but no one seems to have spared a thought for the Bundesliga. The Bundesliga is possibly one of the most up and coming leagues in modern-day football, and in terms of stadia, fans and match day experience, the top German division can certainly challenge the Spanish and English top leagues.

The question about the Bundesliga has always been the quality of football and players, but I don’t think this is a problem anymore. There is a definite case for a couple of the best Bundesliga players being in the FIFA team of the year, and I believe a Bundesliga eleven would certainly be able to challenge any La Liga or Premiership eleven you could pick.

Over the past few years, the quality of German football has improved from just an organised defense and hard-working team that grounded out 1-0 or 2-1 victories to a league that feature seriously impressive football.

Indeed, this is typified by the German national team’s performance at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, where a young team containing the likes of Sami Khedira, Mesut Ozil, and Thomas Muller played attractive football and were one of the most exciting squads in the tournament. The quality of the national team has received international acclaim, with players who impress in the German set up, such as Mesut Ozil, gaining moves to high-class teams such as Real Madrid.

The improved quality of the national team has been reflected in the improved quality of the national league. Dominated primarily by Bayern Munich and Borrusia Dortmund, the Bundesliga possesses several top quality sides and many, many top quality players.

Bayern MunichIndeed, over the last three years, Bayern have been in the Champions League final more times than Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Chelsea, and other top sides. Earlier this year, Germany’s other big team, Borrusia Dortmund, finished on top of a Champions League group that contained Real Madrid, Man City, and Ajax, proving that it is not only Bayern Munich that can call themselves a truly world-class German team.

In recent years, many top players have left Germany for the ‘grander’ leagues, with the likes of Sami Khedira, Nuri Sahin, Mesut Ozil, and Lukas Podolski moving to either La Liga or Premiership teams.

I question why La Liga and the Premiership are held in such higher regard than the Bundesliga. I watch a fair chunk of Bundesliga football on ESPN and know that the standard of play is highly impressive.

Admittedly, there are no teams in Germany that rival the likes of Barcelona, but over the whole league, there is a wealth of good quality football on show. Indeed, I believe if you look at some of the teams in the bottom half of each of the respective tables and compared them against each other, the Bundesliga would far outstrip La Liga in terms of quality and could give the Premier League a run for it’s money.

I hope you enjoyed my article on FutbolPulse! Check out my football blog Rematch of the Day and follow me on twitter @rematchoftheday.

Pep Guardiola to Coach Bayern Munich Next Season

Despite multiple rumors about Pep Guardiola coaching in the Premier League after his season-long break from football, it turns out that the Spaniard is actually heading toward Germany in July.

Pep Guardiola Makes Move to Bayern MunichThe former Barcelona defensive-midfielder has been in close contact with many of Europe’s most successful clubs, such as Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Paris St Germain, and AC Milan.

Many felt Man City was the right place for Guardiola, considering their signing of now former Barcelona players Ferra Sorriano and Txiki Begiristain over the summer.

In November, Milan President Silvio Berlusconi said:

“Who would not want someone like Guardiola? There are some English clubs after Guardiola, especially Manchester City, who have directors that we know very well. We will try to sign him, but it’s going to be difficult.”

Unfortunately for them, though, he chose Germany. Bundesliga side Bayern Munich have confirmed that Guardiola agreed to take on the managerial position. The 3-year contract he signed will see him coach Bayern all the way through 2016.

The 41-year old left Barcelona in May 2012 after winning 14 trophies, 2 of which were Champions League titles, during his 4 years as the club’s manager.

At the press conference today, Bayern President Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said:

“We are very pleased that we have managed to convince the football expert Pep Guardiola, who was coveted and contacted by many top clubs, to come to Bayern Munich.”

“He is one of the most successful coaches in the world and we are sure that he can make not just Bayern, but all of German football shine.”

Bayern currently have the lead on the Bundesliga table, standing a comfortable 9 points clear of 2nd placed Bayer Leverkusen and 12 points ahead of German Giants Borussia Dortmund.

Current Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes, who is 67 years old, announced that he will not be extending his stay with the club past the end of the 2012-2013 season. Guardiola will take current Heynckes’ place the day after his contract expires on 30 June.Pep Guardiola

Praising Bayern’s soon-to-be coach, General Manager Uli Hoeness said:

“Only a coach of Guardiola’s calibre came into consideration as a successor to Jupp Heynckes.”

Returning for his 3rd time to Bayern, this will be Heynckes 7th year coaching the squad. Bayern has been doing a spectacular job in his final months as manager, holding a huge lead on Bundesliga table as the league resumes following winter break this weekend.

The German side will also be facing Arsenal in the last 16 of the Champions League this February, hoping to move on and eventually emerge European Champions for the first time since 2001.

Earlier today, Guardiola said he believes he will still take on the “challenge” and serve as a coach in the Premier League after spending his 3 years with Bayern:

“As a player I couldn’t realize my dream to play in England.”

“But I hope in the future, I have a challenge to be a coach or a manager there.”

Guardiola retired from playing football in 2006, and became manager of Barcelona’s B-team the following season. After spending a year with the B-team, Guardiola was promoted to manager of Barcelona’s senior squad, replacing Frank Rijkaard.

Under his leadership, Barcelona became one of the top teams in club football. The Spanish side racked up 2 Champions League and 3 La Liga titles during his 4 years there.

Bayern Munich have made the Champions League final twice in the last 3 years, but conceded the titles to Inter Milan in 2010 and Chelsea in 2012. Pep Guardiola’s leadership may be the final push that Bayern needs to get through to the final and win it all, but as of now, all we can do is sit and watch what happens.