Match Day Recap
Bayern Munich 2 Borussia Dortmund 1
Before this match got started, during all the hype and the hoopla that surrounds Der Klassiker, a thought kept bugging me. I absolutely couldn't stand the moniker "Der Klassiker" for this match. I didn't get it. Dortmund isn't in close proximity to Munich (about 606 km). There isn't a civic rivalry involved such as the case in the Cascadia Cup matches between Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders. There isn't a long standing political or cultural feud that fuels the fires for the supporters of Real Madrid and FC Barcelona in El Classico. So this tilt always struck me as simply the top two teams in German professional soccer going toe to toe, which is fine, but calling it a "classic" always bugged me. None of that however, overshadowed the importance of this match. After watching Borussia Monchengladbach counter Bayern nearly to death, it seemed as if a perfect game plan had been drawn up for Dortmund. Fortunately, Pep and the boys came with a game plan of their own and executed it perfectly. This was a back and forth affair and really, just a magnificent match. You can read the full recap here. Now for what we all came for: The Awards!
Tip O' The Cap: Mats Hummels. There was much debate over whether this nod would go to Hummels or to Dortmund keeper Roman Weidenfeller, but in the end, Hummels deserves it. He led the counter attack very well from his own end and broke up a few other attacks from Bayern with some timely interceptions.
Golf Clap: Jerome Boateng. Dude was solid as a rock for the Bayern back line. He made himself known through the air as well and was very adept with his passing all game long. This guy is really coming into form as one of the best (and under appreciated) defenders in the world.
Standing Ovation: Franck Ribery. This game turned when he came onto the pitch, and that's not merely a post hoc ergo propter hoc logical conclusion; he played a huge role in leading the Bayern attack and deftly drew a penalty to get Bayern the winning goal. I'm gonna start calling him "The Warden", cause he has the left side of the pitch on lockdown
Meister O' The Match: Arjen Robben. Simply put, he was the most dangerous player on the pitch. Every time he touched the ball you could see the reaction from the Dortmund defense: They perked up and paid attention. He ripped off several quality shots and should have had about 2 more goals. Ladies and gents, Robbery is back
FC Koln 0 SC Freiburg 1
The lone goal for Freiburg came when Macedonian international Admir Mehmedi drove the ball down the left side of the penalty area. His attempted cross went off the arm of Mergim Mavraj whose hands were certainly extended upwards away from his body making this an easy call for the official. Vladimir Darida converted the penalty and Freiburg cruised to a victory.
SC Paderborn 3 Hertha Berlin 1
Marvin Bakalorz opened the scoring by banging home a strike from distance after a poor clearance attempt from the Berliner back line. Salomon Kalou answered back for Hertha with a diving header off a great cross from Marcel Ndjeng to even it up at 1. A crazy sequence of events led to Paderborn taking the lead. Jens Wemmer made a great run down the right side and somehow managed to pass the ball off the defender to himself. After corralling the deflection, he decided to shoot the ball, which bounced off of Elias Kachunga's head and right into the goal to give Paderborn the lead. If one would argue they didn't deserve that particular goal, there would be no doubt they absolutely deserved their 3rd goal. Alban Meha drilled a beauty of a shot off a give and go play with Elias Kachunga from just outside the penalty area to seal the win for newly promoted Paderborn.
Borussia Monchengladbach 3 Hoffenheim 1
The opening goal for Gladbach was started when Christoph Kramer (who else, right?) lead the counter attack down the middle to find Patrick Herrmann streaking down the left flank. His cross found the right boot of Andre Hahn without touching the ground, and was buried. Hoffenheim equalized in the 30th minute when Steven Zuber caught Gladbach's defense napping and managed to chip it forward to Anthony Modeste who converted to equalize. Gladbach, however, put their foot on the gas. Herrmann and Hahn once again teamed up to put Gladbach in the lead with a low cross from the right side all the way to the top of the box, where Herrmann was waiting to bang it home. Herrmann would complete the brace in the 52nd minute to give Gladbach the victory.
Hamburg SV 1 Bayer Leverkusen 0
An early penalty kick in the 26th minute from the result of a challenge from Leverkusen keeper Bernd Leno on Marcell Jansen. It appeared that Omer Toprak shoved Jansen into Leno's path so it's hard to say just who the penalty should have been on. Rafael Van Der Vaart easily converted and Hamburg turtled up for the remainder of the game and held on to the win.
Hannover 96 1 Eintracht Frankfurt 0
A defensive battle between these two teams that saw few scoring opportunities. However, it was an unfortunate turn of events that gave Hannover the win. In the 88th minute, a free kick from Hiroshi Kiyotake went right the head of Marcelo who knocked it towards Frankfurt's Alexander Madlung who inexplicably kicked it into his own net. It's a sad way to end a game, but such is life as a pro soccer player. Keep your head up, ol' top.
Mainz 1 Werder Bremen 2
A goal in the third minute (pretty sure the opening credits were still rolling...) from Shinji Okazaki, who made a nifty move to cut inside off a nice through ball from Koo Ja-Cheol would be all that Mainz would get in this game. Werder Bremen took over. A scoring opportunity in the 44th minute had Mainz flustered and led to a yellow card on Johannes Geis and a penalty to Bremen. Franco Di Santo had his initial shot saved by Loris Karius, but he calmly headed home the rebound to level up the game. Some really sloppy defending by Mainz defenders Julian Baumgartlinger and Daniel Brosinski five minutes later led to the go ahead goal. Felix Kroos fired off a nice long pass to Di Santo and for some reason, not only did Baumgartingler and Brosinski keep him onside, they let him run right past him to bang home the easy goal and secure the win.
VfB Stuttgart 0 VfL Wolfsburg 4
A bad turnover early by Oriol Romeu led to Ivan Perisic bursting down the left flank and giving Wolfsburg the lead on a shot that fooled Stuttgart keeper Thorsten Kirschbaum to make it 1-0. Right before the end of the half, a great free kick from Kevin Bruyne found the head of Robin Knoche who brought the Wolves ahead 2-0. Sloppy passing from Stuttgart led to a three on two opportunity for Wolfsburg. It was Vierinha who fired a huge cross to a streaking De Bruyne on the left who had an easy tap in past Kirschbaum who really had no chance. In the 88th minute, some more sloppy passing led to yet ANOTHER three on two, and it was (who else?) Kevin De Bruyne down the left flank who's centering pass found Ivan Perisic who completed his brace and secured the dominating win for Wolfsburg. With a goal and three assists, Kevin De Bruyne is my non-Bayern player of the week.
Schalke 04 1 Augsburg 0
A scary moment in the fourth minute for Schalke as Julian Draxler went down with a thigh tear and will be out for the rest of the calendar year. Augsburg, sensing blood in the water, really took it to Schalke and pressed early and often, forcing Schalke keeper Ralf Fahrmann to make some sparkling saves. Augsburg, however, flew too close to the sun with their press as Schalke mid Atsuto Uchida had a perfectly timed interception to start a brilliant solo run down the right side. He somehow found Klaas-Jan Huntelaar who scored with the outside of his right foot in a really strangely remarkable finishing touch. It was an outstanding play by Uchida who Schalke fans (not to mention their skipper Roberto Di Matteo) should be praising to no end, because this would have been pretty bad to lose both Draxler and the game. This was a wide open, entertaining game that quite frankly, was amazing that it finished at 1-0. Could have easily been 4-3.
The top four remain the same, though the positions have changed with a recent surge by Wolfsburg
Bayern Munich - 24 points
Wolfsburg - 20 points (+11)
Borussia Monchengladbach - 20 points (+10)
TSG Hoffenheim - 17 points
The Bundesliga is still very much wide open at this point. Even though Bayern Munich have a +20 goal differential, two teams are only 4 points behind us and one of them played us to a scoreless draw. Certainly goes against the common refrain of the BL being a one team league.
SC Freiburg - 8 points
Borussia Dortmund - 7 points (-6)
Werder Bremen - 7 points (-12)
Not much to say about Dortmund being tied for the worst record in the league except "oh my god, oh my god, I can't believe they are utterly dominating their Champions League Group". Of the teams in the relegation zone this week, the only one I expect to still be there at the end of the season will be Bremen. Freiburg actually plays good team defense and Dortmund will definitely turn it around, but Bremen is just awful.
Bayern/Bundesliga News/Rant Of The Week
Normally, I don't pay attention to the Daily Mail. I try to avoid usually all English media sources, but as my German is terrible and google translate is only SO effective, I inevitably have to turn to sources like the Daily Mail if for no other reason than to see how Bayern is perceived by other media outlets. Today, the Daily Mail's Martin Samuel wrote a good long article about how Bayern's greed is wrecking German football which contains several misconceptions and half truths, all of which I take issue with.
And Reus is next. He has a buy-out clause in his contract, active this coming summer, for the lowly fee of £19.6million. Munich fully intend to trigger it
Really? And how do you know this? Do you have a bug in Rumenigge's office? Or did you hack his phone? Well, actually, being that you're writing for an English newspaper, none of those things would surprise me. Just like it wouldn't surprise me if Reus's release clause were activated, but not by Munich. In fact, given how badly Dortmund botched the Lewandowski free transfer, I'd expect them to sell him to one of the many English clubs that are lining up to get him. But nooooooo, him staying in Germany to play for Bayern would be terrible for German soccer....
Do you know the reason English football does not have a Klassiker or a Clasico? Because it’s not about the same two teams almost every season
Really? Because last I checked since the 2009-2010 season the Premier League champions have been, in order, Manchester United, Manchester City, Manchester United, Manchester City. The 2009-2010 season was won by Chelsea, but before that, it was another three-peat for (guess who?) Manchester United! For comparison's sake, let's look at the same time span for the Bundesliga. Bayern Munich has won 4 titles in the same time period, with Dortmund winning two and Wolfsburg and Stuttgart each getting one. So we have a whopping three different teams have won the EPL in the last 8 seasons while the BL has crowned four different champions yet somehow, it's a 1 team league?
And the reason five teams can win the Premier League? Owner investment. The gift to competition that Rummenigge and his cronies among the traditional elite fought so hard to outlaw. Munich were at the forefront of the move to hound new money out of the game, for fear it would impact on their own selfish interests
By cronies, do you mean "the fans"? Because that is what drives German Soccer and Bayern Munich is no exception. The "50+1" rule in the DFB is what keeps costs down for the fans and ensures that their hard earned money that gets spent on their team is reinvested in their team, rather than lining the pockets of Sheikh Mansour, Joel Glazer, or Roman Abramovich. This is why English fans pay four times as much to go to a game as their German counterparts. But putting all that aside, this statement ignores the one irrefutable fact that opening up the Bundesliga to private investment would only widen the gap at the top. Bayern Munich is, according to Forbes, the fourth most valuable club in the world at $1.85 billion. What investor wouldn't want to get in on that? And if owner investment is really the answer, than why is 1860 Munich, which is owned by Hassan Abdullah Ismaik (one of the few exceptions to the 50+1), still toiling away in the second division? There are plenty of ways for private investors to get in on ownership of a Bundesliga team. For example, in 2009, Bayern Munich sold 9.1% of their ownership stake to Audi to generate an extra $134 million to pay off the Allianz construction. You see, even when "new money" is allowed in to the game, it is almost always re-invested in the club and it's infrastructure because in the Bundesliga, fans are treated as kings, while in your precious EPL, they are treated as serfs. Rant over.
Beer Of The Week!
The weather is getting chillier. The leaves are falling, the new grass seed I mistakenly spread over my lawn is NOT taking root, and the gingerbread latte is back at Starbucks. In the words of House Stark: "Winter is Coming". However, it is not here yet, and thus, I am clinging to the last summer/fall/non stout beers I can before I inevitably switch to the winter warmers and nut brown ale's. This week's BoTW comes from the Sly Fox Brewery in Pottsville, Pennsylvania called 113 IPA named after the highway that runs through Pottsville. It is very hop forward and definitely leaves a bit of that bitterness on your tongue, so probably best to save it for last if you are planning on enjoying a variety of brews in a particular night. Don't let that put you off. It's still a well balanced beer, just with a bit of a hop kick and at 7% ABV, watch yourself. All in all, well done Sly Fox. You've made a great year round IPA.