Match Day Recap
By now you are all well aware of how much I hate 0-0 draws. However, there are 0-0 draws, and then there are 0-0 draws (it works better if you can hear it out loud). This was the latter. There were a lot of exciting plays, scoring opportunities, fantastic saves and a physical edge for these two teams who clearly did not like nor fear one another. First off, I have to give a lot of credit to Lucien Favre for getting Gladbach up for this game. They, and their fans, showed up in a big way and did not bow down before mighty Bayern and definitely earned this draw. They were content to let Bayern have all the possession they wanted (73:27 possession) and countered them to death. If not for a very questionable non-call on Mehdi Benatia late in the game, they probably should have won this game. It is a 50-50 call, but it looked like a pretty clear forearm to the face and if it happened against Bayern, I'd be screaming pissed. On to the awards.
Tip O' The Cap: Álvaro Domínguez. The center back was a big part of their stout defense which consistently frustrated the Bayern attack in the final third. All game long we were able to build up a pretty good attack, only to see it fail once we reached their zone. Domínguez played a big role in that.
Golf Clap: Christoph Kramer. To put it plainly, he showed why he was chosen to start the World Cup final for Germany. He showed a helluva lot of of patience as he sat back and waited for his moment to pick off our passes and lead the counter attack. The kid is good – like, really dang good – which is why I have no problem giving two Meisters out to the opposition.
Standing Ovation: David Alaba. Box to box, this guy was lethal early on the attack and very strong in the defensive area as well. For much of the season, he has been the forgotten man on this team with Robert Lewandowski and Mario Götze racking up goals, and Xabi leading the attack much as a conductor leads his orchestra. Lost in all of that has been the steady solid play of Alaba who has been in and out of his usual position as Pep tinkers with the lineup. In a game where most of the big names were seemingly off, he was most definitely on.
Meister Of The Match: Manuel Neuer. The best keeper in the world. Absolutely, hands down the best and this game showed off why. He made several acrobatic saves that even the East German judge would have to give top marks. He made a few that were in close which required the reflexes of a cat. He played well outside the box, made a few plays to prevent the final pass in the zone, and ultimately showed off every single skill that you want to see in a keeper and showed them off very well.
Köln managed to build off of its stunning victory over Dortmund last week, and is serving notice to the rest of the Bundesliga that they are here to stay by earning their second victory in a row. Timo Horn, Köln's promising young keeper, kept the clean sheet while a Anthony Ujah scored the lone goal in the 59'.
The tailspin for Die Schwartzgelben continues as Dortmund has now long five of their last six matches. This was another inexplicable loss at home and Jurgen Klopp has got to be feeling the pressure now. A free kick in the 61st minute from Hiroshi Kyotaki proved to be all Hannover needed. Dortmund did create a few good chances and looked particularly dominant in the 1st half, but Hannover keeper Ron-Robert Zieler stood tall and weathered the storm to secure Hannover's first victory at Signal Iduna Park in 5 years and managed to snap a 3 game losing streak.
Augsburg managed to delight the home crowd at SGL Arena and secure a much needed 3 points with a strong victory over Freiburg despite losing the possession battle 61 percent to 39 percent and seeing Freiburg complete nearly 400 passes. It was Paul Verhaegh who started the scoring off of a penalty kick in the 11th minute. Halil Altintop added another in the 66th minute to secure the victory.
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim 1-0 SC Paderborn 07
Hoffenheim gave a strong performance against newly promoted Paderborn and came away with a much deserved three points. After peppering Paderborn keeper Lukas Kruse with 19 shots, Kevin Volland finally broke through in the 73rd minute to secure the win for Hoffenheim.
The Berliners managed to find exactly where to counter attack Hamburg as their scoreline is not reflective of the stats. Hamburg had 58 percent possession and completed 326 passes with 72 percent accuracy but it was to no avail as Berlin made the most of their chances for 3 second half goals. Anis Ben-Hatira had himself a brace with goals in the 59' and 85' and John Heitinga had the other in the 65th minute. Speaking of the 65th minute, Bayern loanee Julian Green happened to be subbed on in the 65th minute, so yay!
Whoa, nelly! We had a real barn burner in Commerzbank Arena in Frankfurt as Stuttgart capped off a wild und crazy game with a win. Starting off the scoring was Alexander Madlung in the 21st to put Frankfurt up 1-0. Stuttgart answered right back with a quick brace from Martin Harnik in the 34th and 36th minutes to put Stuttgart up 2-1 at the half. Stuttgart added another one from Christian Gentner in the 51' to make it 3-1 and seemingly put this game out of reach. Frankfurt would not roll over so easily however as Alexander Meier made it 3-2 in the 57'. Stefan Aigner leveled it all up at 3 in the 61st minute. In the 65th minute, it was Madlung again who completed his brace and put Frankfurt up 4-3 and whip the home crowd into a frenzy. This time, it was Stuttgart who refused to quit as Timo Werner found the equalizer off a feed from Georg Niedermeier in the 81st minutes. Three minutes later it was Gentner who would drive home the final dagger and put Stuttgart up for good. Frankfurt were clearly frustrated after that as Stefan Aigner got himself a booking and Haris Seferović was shown a straight red effectively ending any chance Frankfurt had at a comeback. Needless to say this was most certainly Der Monday Meister's Match Of The Week.
Hakan Çalhanoglu scored the lone goal for Leverkusen in the 53rd minute as Schalke looked disjointed all game. Perhaps they are still getting used to their new manager, but anytime you only manage one shot on goal, to quote "South Park," you're not going to have a good time. It also does not help when you commit 17 fouls and rack up four yellow cards. Schalke clearly has still got some work to due, and it might be in the winter transfer window to let new manager Roberto Di Matteo get the right personnel for his system.
Just a dominating performance by Wolfsburg from start to finish. Naldo opened the scoring at 15' to make it 1-0 and that score would stand until halftime, though to be honest, they probably could have had a couple more. Ivan Perisić would tack on one more in the 59th minute off a feed from Naldo to make it 2-0 and Daniel Caligiuri put the final nail in the coffin in the 87th minute to seal the victory for Wolfsburg.
So with nine matches played, let us take a look at who are in the Champions League spots as the Bundesliga standings start to take shape:
Bayern Munich - 21 points
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim - 17 points
Borussia Mönchengladbach - 17 points
VfL Wolfsburg - 17 points
These three teams are in danger of relegation, but it should be noted that Dortmund is only just above the relegation zone:
Hamburger SV - 6 points
SC Freiburg - 5 points
SV Werder Bremen - 4 points
Champions League Round Up
I missed these matches due to being on vacation, but here let us take a look at the group standings and how they are shaking out so far:
Atlético is right there at the top and hold a +5 goal differential over Olympiakos, but the Greeks are playing this group with no fear having beat Juve 1-0 and look like a solid if not surprising pick to advance.
Real has pretty much sewn up this group with a thorough 3-0 drubbing of Liverpool, but the rest of this group is going to be exciting to see how it shakes out. There are 3 teams sitting on 3 points and from the way it looks, any of them could take the second spot
Bayer Leverkusen - 6 points
Monaco - 5 points
Zenit St Petersburg - 4 points
SL Benfica - 1 point
Bayer Leverkusen are making me look real smart for picking them to win this group. Monaco just drew with Benfica, who are shockingly horrible. Zenit lost to Bayer 2-0, but still remain very much in the mix. Benfica is pretty much out of it.
Borussia Dortmund - 9 points
Arsenal - 6 points
Anderlecht - 1 point
Galatasaray - 1 point
Dortmund continue to make me look smart, while Galata continue to make me look stupid. This group is shaking out just as most experts probably picked, with Dortmund holding the edge over Arsenal both in points and in head to head. I don't see a whole lot changing here going forward.
Bayern pretty much have this group in the bag. Bayern have now beaten every other team in the group. Man City looks out of sorts and really should have beat CSKA. Roma was looking good until we gave them a shellacking. And CSKA, well, CSKA are still fielding a team, so good for them
Paris Saint-Germain - 7 points
Barcelona - 6 points
Ajax - 2 points
APOEL - 1 point
PSG needed a late goal from Cavani to get the three points against APOEL, while Barca seems to be heating up with a strong win over Ajax. PSG holds the lead so far, but I expect them and Barca to swap places. As for Ajax? Well, good luck in the Europa league. Seriously, good luck. I've always respected ya!
Chelsea - 7 points
Schalke 04 - 5 points
Maribor - 2 points
Sporting CP - 1 point
Chelsea blew the doors off of Maribor 6-0 to secure their spot at the stop and a +7 goal differential. Schalke needed a very late and very questionable call to beat Sporting CP in the 93rd minute, but look firmly entrenched in that second spot. Do not expect much to change in the group standings, except I still have Sporting getting the Europa league spot over Maribor.
Porto - 7 points
Shakhtar Donetsk - 5 points
BATE Borisov - 3 points
Athletic Bilbao - 1 point
This group is still very much wide open. Both Donetsk and Porto have a +7 differential. If I had to pick here, Bilbao takes the Europa League spot and Donetsk wins the group with Porto advancing as well. BATE looks horrible. They have now allowed 14 goals while scoring two.
Bayern/Bundesliga News Roundup
Bremen Changes Manager
Werder Bremen, who are currently at the bottom of the table, have sacked head coach Robin Dutt. In his place, they have hired their U-23 coach Viktor Skripnik. Can't blame them for this as Bremen have not only been losing, but have been looking particularly bad. Both of Dutt's assistants have also been released, so Skripnik certainly has his work cut out for him.
Hamburger SV Makes Coaching Change Permanent
In some brighter news, Hamburg have announced that their newly hired head coach Josef Zinnbauer has agreed to the job on a permanent basis, signing a two year deal. The 40 year old has already improved Hamburg's position, picking up 5 points in 6 outings and bringing up from the bottom of the table to 16th. It's not much, but it IS improvement.
Reus Remains Calm Amidst Storm
Not to pile on to Dortmund's woes, but Marco Reus gave a great interview with Bundesliga.com in which he admits that Dortmund is suffering a bit of a crisis of confidence. It's a pretty good read. To summarize, Reus says Dortmund has been playing really well, but haven't been able to find the back of the net. I whole heartedly agree. Any talk of Klopp's job security is just ludicrous. The goals will come eventually, they just need to keep playing the way they've been playing and they'll find their way back up into the CL zone.
Crucial Part Of Schedule Coming For Bayern
Pep Guardiola has said that this upcoming week is crucial for Bayern's domestic hopes. Bayern plays Hamburg in a DFB Pokal match on Wednesday before a match against Dortmund in Der Klassiker. Current form aside, Dortmund is going to be hungry in that game for a win and what better team to break out than Bayern? To make the schedule even more congested, Bayern will play Roma 4 days later. You gotta believe they will be looking for some pay back after that drubbing Bayern handed them. Either way, buckle up Bayern faithful, it's going to be a wild ride.
Bayern Is Perfect, Pep Is Perfect, Everything Is Perfect
....according to Arjen Robben. In an interview that reminded me of that time Peter took ecstasy, Arjen Robben gushed about how awesome everything at Bayern is. This might seem a little odd, but it is absolutely no doubt in response to the ever present rumors that he is going to join his former Netherlands coach at Manchester United. Robben is effectively putting those rumors to bed. Not only is he putting them to bed, he is slipping them some Nyquil, smothering them with a pillow, burying them out back and going back to work. Like. A. Boss
Beer Of The Week!
So, this past week and a half, me and my wife went on our 1 year anniversary trip to Hawaii. I was expecting a lot of white sand beaches and maybe some lava, but instead I was pleased to find some pretty dang good beer (among other things). If you are ever on the Big Island, there is Kona Brewing (in Kona), Big Island Brewhaus (in Waimea) and Hawai'i Nui Nui (in Hilo), all of which you can't go wrong with. For this weeks Beer Of The Week, I was GOING to pick Kona's Koko Brown ale which was absolutely fantastic. However, it is not available in bottles, and I am all about accessibility with BoTW. So, instead, I am picking Kona's Fire Rock Pale Ale. Kona is owned by Widmer Brewing, and everything sold on the mainland is brewed on the mainland, due to the difficulties in shipping it from Hawaii. Fire Rock, however, is available in bottles in most grocery stores or beer distributors. You can't go wrong with Fire Rock. It's crisp, refreshing, with a subtle hoppiness and a very nice floral aroma. Normally I prefer my pale's to be drunk in the summer, but this one would be great year round. If you ever find yourself on Big Island, though, definitely swing by Kona's Brewpub and try their full gamut which aren't all commercially available on the mainland.