It’s still early days of this column, so expect some new things added in and experimented with from time to time. If you love something, great! Let us know in the comments. If you don’t, do the same thing! We are here for you and we wanna make this thing something you’d like to come back to so keep us updated on how we’re doing!
Recapping Germany’s European efforts part 2
A reader in the last article mentioned that I failed to feature 1. FC Union Berlin and their efforts in the UEFA Europa Conference League — so I’ll include them this time.
- Dortmund 1-0 Sporting CP: Donyell Malen scores his first goal in Black and Yellow and sit second in their group — tied on points with Ajax but behind on goal difference
- RB Leipzig 1-2 Club Brugge: Christopher Nkunku scoring five minutes in should have been enough to springboard Leipzig to a necessary three points but instead, the team sit last in their group and calls for Jesse Marsch to be fired are already rolling in.
- Bayern Munich 5-0 Dinamo Kiev: a masterful performance from beginning to end — Kiev never had a chance
- Wolfsburg 1-1 Sevilla: This should have ended with three points for the Wolves. However, after an awful penalty decision led to an Ivan Rakitic goal, Joshua Guilavogui suspended for their next match in Europe.
- Celtic 0-4 Bayer Leverkusen: A convincing performance for Die Werkself saw goals from players all over the pitch. Leverkusen are firmly top of their group and face a game against Real Betis next to try and break their points deadlock
- Royal Antwerp 0-1 Eintracht Frankfurt: After drawing Fenerbahce in their first match, things looked like they were heading that way in this game until a penalty converted by Gonçalo Paciência in stoppage time of the 90’ gave Eintracht their first win in Europe since the 2019-20 season.
- 1. FC Union Berlin 3-0 Maccabi Haifa: after falling to Slavia Prague in their first game of the UECL, Union pick up three points and sit in 3rd in their group.
The re-birth of Anthony Modeste
The end of the 2016/2017 season was a bright one for the French striker playing for the Billy Goats. After finishing the season with 25 goals and aiding his Köln side to a Europa League spot, Anthony Modeste seemed like he had nowhere to go but up. What followed were legal troubles, a terrible transfer, the death of his father, and struggles to break back into the side.
All leading to this moment. Modeste, scoring a goal on the birthday of his late father, pointing to the sky in triumph and remembrance, weeping for the world to see. “Papa’s birthday is today,” he told reporters. “Yeah, it’s emotional for me. I lost my father three years ago and he’s very important to me.” It’s been a remarkable journey words can’t accurately describe. But now Modeste, whose four goals in five games sees him tied for 3rd in the Bundesliga scoring table, gets to relive those glory days from seemingly long ago.
In the summer of 2017, Modeste signed for Chinese side Tianjin Quanjin. With a contract on the table that would set him up financially for a long time he couldn’t say no. Köln, meanwhile, were unable to find a striker, got knocked out of the Europa League in the Group Stages, and were relegated.
Over in China, Modeste was performing well, but struggling to fit in. In 29 appearances with the club, he scored 16 goals — but with his family still back in Germany, he spent a lot of time visiting them. Even more so, he was spotted a number of times in the stands of the RheinEnergieStadion cheering on his former club.
Eventually, he had enough of being in China. After Tianjin Quanjin failed to pay Modeste a €15 million bonus and his July salary, he terminated his contract and left the club. He returned to Köln on what both player and club thought would be a free transfer. However, Tianjin Quanjin challenged that in the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The court ruled in favor of the Chinese club saying that despite their failure to pay Modeste, the player did not have a good enough reason to terminate his contract.
From here, things get murky. In January of 2019, Tianjin Quanjin’s owner was arrested in a scandal surrounding false advertising. The club was put into administration and it was taken in by the league, the legal form of the club was dissolved, and a new name was given to it. The league officially folded the club in 2020. Per TransferMarkt, after November 17th, 2018, Modeste had been a part of Köln.
Now, back to Anthony Modeste’s performance. After bagging six goals in ten games in his return season, his form dropped hard. From the start of the 2019-20 season to the end of the 2020-21 season Modeste only played 38 matches and scored a measly five goals. Going into this season, not much was expected from the 33 year old.
That is until the season well and truly kicked off. Modeste has started every game of the season so far. He scored the team’s first goal of the Bundesliga season in a 3-1 win over Hertha Berlin. Following that were three goals in three games that came in a loss to Bayern Munich, and draws with SC Freiburg and RB Leipzig.
It was that Leipzig goal that Modeste was crying about. After slamming a poor clearance into the back of the net, he had to wait for VAR to confirm it. You could see the disbelief in his face as the referee went to check for a possible foul in the box. After checking it, referee Felix Brych pointed to the center circle. Goal given. As he pointed to the sky in memory of his father, tears streaming down, he must have felt like the world was lifted off his shoulders. With that weight off his shoulders, who knows how high he could float this season.
Dreisamstadion says goodbye, Europa-Park Stadion says hello
The man with the megaphone above is Freiburg manager Christian Streich. During his playing career, he never left the relative south west of Germany with all but one stop (FC 08 Homburg from the Saarland) located in the state of Baden-Württemburg. After retiring from football in 1994, he swapped the kit of Freiburger FC for a coaches polo at SC Freiburg as a youth coach. It’s not a stretch to say that for his entire coaching career (from 1995 to present) he’s only known one home, the same one he played in for the 1987-88 season: the Dreisamstadion — a stadium named after the nearby River Driesam. But now, after 26 years at home, the parents decided it’s time to find a new house to live in.
It only makes sense, in fairness. Over the last four seasons or so, Freiburg’s ambition has gone from that of a yo-yo club — they haven’t played in the Zweite Bundesliga since the 2015-16 season — to that of a team that routinely pushed the buttons of the midtable. They needed a stadium that reflected that ambition, regardless of how relatively remote Freiburg im Briesgau is. The Dreisamstadion’s capacity is only 24,000 — which is reduced to 18,000 in continental matches. The 24,000 mark is the second smallest in the league behind the Försterei in Berlin, but also note that due to that stadium’s mostly standing terraces, Union Berlin is forced to play at the Olympiastadion for all of their UEFA Europa Conference League games.
Even compared to the 2. Bundesliga, the Driesamstadion would be the 10th largest — sandwiched in between Hansa Rostock’s Ostseestadion and SV Darmstadt’s Merck-Stadion am Böllenfalltor. Keeping with the idea of the 2. Bundesliga, there are some teams above them in capacity — the likes of Hamburg SV, Schalke 04, Werder Bremen, Fortuna Düsseldorf, and Hannover 96 — who have deeper traditions and therefore bigger stadia. But then consider the other stadia above them after all those big name Bundesliga teams. Dynamo Dresden plays out of the roughly 32,000 seat Rudolf-Harbig-Stadion despite not having played in the Bundesliga since 1995. Karlsruhe haven’t touched the Bundesliga since 2010, but they play out of the Wildparkstadion which seats over 29,600. FC St. Pauli have a cult following, which explains the Millerntor having a capacity of 29,500 and their rivals Hansa Rostock have a strong following and a capacity of 29,000 at the Ostseestadion. Though there are bigger stadia in Germany beyond that — including for 1. FC Kaiserslautern, MSV Duisburg, 1. FC Magdeburg, and Waldhof Mannheim of the 3. Liga
So it was more than time to move to somewhere bigger. That somewhere was the SC Stadion (or Europa-Park Stadion) — a beautiful new stadium near the airport with a capacity of 34,700. That ground, after being beset by delays, legal issues, and ownership struggles, will finally open on October 16th against RB Leipzig.
But there was a farewell game to be played — which is exactly what they did this past weekend against FC Augsburg. Considering the moment, the team from the Fuggerstädt didn’t stand a chance. In the 6’ after an initial shot from the wing, Lukas Kübler cleaned up the rebound of Rafael Gikiewicz to open the scoring. Lucas Höler slipped past the defense in the 25’ to make things 2-0. Finally, a Vincenzo Grifo penalty kick in the 33’ ensured the Freiburg faithful could spend the last 45’ in their home ground in peace — letting them all recount and seal their memories for one last time.
Game of the Week: Mainz v. Union Berlin
Having taken a deep dive into Mainz’s affairs a few weeks ago, I won’t touch on them right now. However, we haven’t talked about Union Berlin’s success so far in the league. The red side of the German capital has been pretty successful in their run up to this match having only lost to Borussia Dortmund so far. The name of their game seems to be draw it until you make it — with a 1-1 against Leverkusen, a 2-2 against Hoffenheim, and a 0-0 against Augsburg as three of their first four results.
There doesn’t really seem to be one strength of this team. Their goal difference is a perfect 8GF/8GA leaving them effectively mid-table in both aspects. But it seems to be those early draws that have elevated them to 8th position in the table. And it’s not like they score late to bring home those draws — though they did score late in last week’s win over Arminia Bielefeld.
The scoring has been relatively scattered across the league this season. Nigerian forward Taiwo Awoniyi leads the team with three goals in six games — an impressive mark for the 24 year old. 30 year old defender Niko Geißelmann has two goals to his name, and then behind him with one goal a piece are forwards Andreas Volgsammer, Max Kruse, and Kevin Behrens.
There’s no true consensus yet on where this team is headed. Last season, they came out of the gates firing on all cylinders before sputtering toward the middle and end of the year. This year, they seem pretty pedestrian over the course of their first six games. That can always change, but fans of Die Eisernen are hoping that it’s the right way up the table.
Here are all the games of MD 7 (all times Eastern US)
Friday, October 1st
- 1. FC Köln  v. SpVgg Greuther Fürth  (RheinEnergieStadion - Köln, North Rhine-Westphalia)
Saturday, October 2nd
- Borussia Dortmund  v. FC Augsburg  (Signal Iduna Park - Dortmund, North Rhine-Westphalia)
- Hertha BSC  v. SC Freiburg  (Olympiastadion - Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, Berlin)
- VfB Stuttgart  v. TSG Hoffenheim  (Mercedes-Benz Arena - Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg)
- VfL Wolfsburg  v. Borussia Mönchengladbach  (Volkswagen Arena - Wolfsburg, Lower Saxony)
- RB Leipzig  v. VfL Bochum  (Red Bull Arena - Leipzig, Saxony)
Sunday, October 3rd
- 1. FSV Mainz 05  v. 1. FC Union Berlin  (Mewa Arena - Mainz, Rhineland-Palatinate)
- Bayern München  v. Eintracht Frankfurt  (Allianz Arena - Munich, Bavaria)
- DSC Arminia Bielefeld  v. Bayer 04 Leverkusen  (Schüco-Arena - Bielefeld, North Rhine-Westphalia)