Bayern Munich 3-1 Manchester United: Guardiola uses his full-backs in midfield, but Bayern better with a standard system

April 11, 2014

“Pep Guardiola played an unusual system, but it didn’t help Bayern break down Manchester United. Guardiola fielded Toni Kroos in the pivot role, with Thomas Muller in midfield and Mario Mandzukic returning upfront. David Moyes brought Shinji Kagawa and Darren Fletcher into his midfield, and recalled Patrice Evra and Chris Smalling at the back. The pattern of the game wasn’t significantly different from the first leg, and the major talking point was Guardiola’s use of his two full-backs.” Zonal Marking

Bayern Munich 3-1 Manchester United: Tactical Analysis | Guardiola’s smart use of Lahm & Alaba
“Bayern Munich came into the game at Allianz Arena as clear favourites having been slightly disappointed with just a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford. A 0-0 would have been enough, but certainly Bayern Munich were always going to go for the win. Man United knew they had to score atleast once to stand a chance of progressing, a task in itself. Despite a dominating performance from Bayern, the sides went in 0-0 at half time. Patrice Evra gave United a surprise lead early in the second half, only for it to be tied again 22 seconds later as Mandzukic equalised. Goals from Muller and Robben saw Bayern comfortably through to the semi-finals with the final score being Bayern Munich 3-1 Manchester United.” Outside of the Boot

Champions League semi-finals: how last four teams compare

April 11, 2014

“Can Atlético Madrid last the pace? Will Pep Guardiola’s tinkering harm Bayern Munich’s hopes? Does José Mourinho have the right gameplan and will Real Madrid’s forward line be too strong for everyone? Here we analyse all four teams” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Cavani’s chance to be the main man

April 9, 2014

“In the modern era, the importance of shirts numbered 1-11 has unquestionably declined, but it’s still pleasing to see combinations of players wearing traditional numbers: a left wing comprised of a no. 3 and a no. 11, for example, or a centre-back combination of 5 and 6. When PSG signed Edinson Cavani last summer, he was unveiled clutching the no. 9 shirt; traditionally the one worn by the main central striker. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, PSG’s other world-class striker, wears 10 (having initially worn 18 until Nene’s departure).” ESPN – Michael Cox (Video)

Real Madrid 3-0 Borussia Dortmund: Tactical Analysis

April 5, 2014

“Real Madrid came into this game as favorites even though things didn’t go their way in the same tie a year back. This was partly due to change of manager for Madrid and partly due to the injury problems Dortmund are facing. The most missed absentee here was Lewandowski who was out through suspension as he had put four past Madrid when they met in Germany last year. Madrid started with a very flexible 4-3-3 shape with full backs pushing on and B-B-C given license to roam and swap places. The most interesting thing was the positioning of Isco. He was expected to start in a much higher role, behind the striker but instead was a straight swap for Di Maria who missed due to injury. He flourished in the deep role and deservedly got goal.” Outside of the Boot

André Schürrle withdrawal allows PSG’s potent trio to dominate Chelsea

April 5, 2014

“The general consensus was that José Mourinho had erred on playing André Schürrle as a false nine on Wednesday night, yet it was after he had gone off to be replaced by Fernando Torres that Paris Saint-Germain scored twice. That’s a simplistic way of looking at things, and Torres had barely been on the field when David Luiz conceded a needless free-kick and then put through his own goal to give PSG the lead, but it does tally with Mourinho’s post-match claim that Chelsea had ‘controlled’ the game until Torres came on because of the way Schürrle kept ‘dropping deep’.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson (Video)

Whither Marc-Andre ter Stegen?

April 5, 2014

“The shockwaves were felt far and wide. FIFA announced earlier this week that FC Barcelona had been found guilty of skirting the rules barring the international transfer of underage players. Of course, few football observers would be truly shocked at the idea of a major football power playing fast and loose with the rules. Perhaps the more-skeptical among the underwhelmed would say the real stunner was that FIFA was taking action of any sort. But the news item that pushed Barcelona’s Champions League semifinal to ‘in other news’ status was the punishment: no transfer action for the club over the coming two transfer periods. In other words, no player not currently under contract with FC Barcelona will be moving to the Catalan giants this summer, nor in the winter to follow.” Bundesliga Fanatic

David Moyes’ simple tactic helps Manchester United match Bayern

April 2, 2014

“Midfield? Who needs a midfield anyway? In fact who needs the ball at all? For 66 minutes at Old Trafford it looked as though David Moyes might have mustered one of the more defiantly retro tactical triumphs of recent years. On a night that began slowly but built to a second-half barrage of rolling noise, Manchester United produced an intriguingly old-school performance of condensed, fast-breaking, midfield-bypassing football, the kind of football that might have come served up drizzled with horseradish and spritzed with gravy and labelled modern British with a twist.” Guardian

Bayern Munich stretched by Danny Welbeck’s pace for Manchester United
“When Manchester United’s starting XI was revealed around an hour before kick-off, there was confusion about whether David Moyes had selected a 4‑5‑1 formation with Wayne Rooney up front and Danny Welbeck on the left, or a 4‑4‑1‑1 with Rooney behind Welbeck. In the end, United actually played a hybrid of the two systems, and Welbeck’s positioning was the key to this tactical battle.” Guardian – Michael Cox

Manchester United, Atletico Madrid, and Two Goals, at the (Almost) Same Damn Time

April 2, 2014

“It’s really hard to watch two soccer matches at the same time. All of the things that make soccer a distinct sport — the lack of stoppages in play, the fluid transitions from attack to defense — also make it completely impossible to juggle more than one match at a time. Try to create a RedZone channel for soccer and you’ll end up with just a whole bunch of timely highlights. So, the Champions League quarterfinals scheduling two games at once makes for some angsty decisions. Which game to watch and which to simply be aware of? Sitting at the bar, which TV should I face, and which should I occasionally glance to my left to check in on? It’s an annoyance that the powers that be chose to schedule the world’s premier club competition this way. Except that, sometimes, it’s awesome.” Grantland

Jupp Heynckes vs Pep Guardiola Tactics: Were Bayern better last season than this season?

March 30, 2014

“This years Bayern Munich squad have been proclaimed as something of legendary. They are the nigh indestructible club that have laid waste to their opponents clinically and efficiently. Where Jupp Heynckes promoted a side with massive physical presence, Pep Guardiola created an appealing creative nature, one that has supporters screaming for more. The question is, are they better than they were last year? Such a question is best answered by retrospection. A perspective on the famous treble-winners’s two seasons (2012-13 and 2013-14) is what we offer. Here’s our analysis on the team…” Outside of the Boot

Bayern clinch a historic Bundesliga title

March 26, 2014

“‘It will not last forever,’ Martin says on this day in late March. Before the game, Berlin was hit by hail storms. Temperatures have gone down again, too. Spring, it feels, is still a faraway place. The fans outside the Olympiastadion still sport their between-season jackets; you can barely see the jerseys popping up underneath the collar. But on this very day, Bayern Munich were out to break another Bundesliga record — to win the fastest-ever Bundesliga title. Though mid-table Hertha Berlin made them sweat in the second half, Bayern’s 3-1 win took the Bavarians over the finish line.” ESPN

Know Your Enemy: Germany midfielder Toni Kroos

March 19, 2014

“Over the next three months, will profile two valuable, but perhaps undervalued, under-the-radar players on each of the U.S. men’s national team’s Group G opponents at this summer’s World Cup. As a result, the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Mesut Ozil and Asamoah Gyan will make way for their lesser-heralded teammates in this space. The first in the Know Your Enemy series is Germany midfielder Toni Kroos.” SI – Jonathan Wilson (Video)

A pall is cast over a milestone victory for Bayern Munich

March 17, 2014

“Two goals in eight minutes either side of halftime, the first from Mario Mandzukic, the second from Bastian Schweinsteiger, were enough for Bayern Munich. This wasn’t one of its romps, when it seems it could put four or five past any opposition, but it was good enough to beat Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 and so extend Bayern’s unbeaten league run to an extraordinary 50 games.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

Bayern’s Uli Hoeness: The Rise And Fall of a Soccer Saint

March 14, 2014

FC Bayern München - FC Barcelona
“Uli Hoeness, the president of Bayern Munich and an icon of German club soccer, could end up behind bars for tax evasion. The case has highlighted the dark side of the skilful entrepreneur and philanthropist whose burning ambition made Bayern what it is today — and has now triggered his fall from grace. Although he is not sitting in jail awaiting trial, although he has not been convicted, although he can sit in a stadium dressed in a suit with a red-and-white scarf and can spend his nights at home, Uli Hoeness, the president of top German soccer club Bayern Munich, is already a prisoner. He is a prisoner of a small device — not an electronic shackle or a beacon that informs the authorities of his whereabouts. The device is a receiver. It informs its owner of developments on stock markets around the world, and Hoeness can’t stop himself from constantly staring at it.” Der Spiegel – Part 1: The Rise And Fall of a Soccer Saint, Part 2: Jail Sentence Possible, Part 3: Chatting With Merkel, Part 4: A Duopoly in the Bundesliga (May 1, 2013)

The rise and fall of Uli Hoeness – Bayern president will not appeal sentence
“Uli Hoeness has decided not to appeal against his three and a half year prison sentence for tax evasion and has offered his definitive resignation as president of Bayern Munich. Initially, after the sentence delivered yesterday by Judge Rupert Heindl, the 64-year-old defence team had claimed the right to appeal. However Hoeness said today that, after discussions with his family, he felt the only responsible action was to accept to sentence and also to step down from his positions with the world, European and German champions.” World Soccer

Arsenal gains morale from Bayern Munch draw, but little else

March 14, 2014

“Arsenal went to Munich seeking the impossible. That didn’t happen but the club did achieve probably the best it could realistically have hoped for: a decent performance and a draw that might provide the sort of jolt of self-belief that galvanized it last season after a victory in Munich. Back then it took 26 points form its last 10 Premier League matches to pinch fourth place from Tottenham Hotspur. A similar run this season might clinch it the league title. In terms of the specifics of overturning the 2-0 first-leg deficit, though, Arsenal never came close.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

Bayern Munich 1-1 Arsenal: Tactical Analysis
“Arsenal put in a commendable performance against Bayern Munich at the Emirates stadium, two weeks back, but came away with nothing and a difficult second leg at the Allianz Arena their only hope. They were buoyed by the fact that they emerged victorious there last season, but still found themselves knocked out. The English side once again put in a stellar performance, which didn’t necessarily make them the better side, but did earn them the plaudits. For Bayern, it wasn’t their usual dominating performance but they were more deserving of the victory. They go through to the next round, full of confidence, and the title of ‘favourites’ still very much in tact.” Outside of the Boot

Lives lived for football

March 12, 2014

“It isn’t very often that football clubs win prizes, as opposed to trophies, unless they happen to be awards handed out by football associations. But last month, Borussia Moenchengladbach won a proper award. It goes by the name of the Future Prize 2014 and is handed out by the Israel Foundation in Germany. Gladbach earned it for having used ‘football as a bridge of understanding’ — as the foundation put it in the explanation. What this means is, quite simply, that no German club has done as much for improving relations between the two nations and peoples.” ESPN

Being bold is the best form of defence

March 10, 2014

“When Australia’s goals were flying in at the New Den against Ecuador a thought was going through my head; I’ve seen this film before. At the end of last May Ecuador took on Germany in an international played in the United States. It was just a couple of days after the all-German final of the UEFA Champions League between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. Players from those clubs, who make up a considerable part of the first-choice Germany side, were not available. It was very much an experimental team that Germany coach Joachim Low fielded. Ecuador was near full strength.” The World Game – Tim Vickery

Wednesday’s friendlies: What we learned

March 7, 2014

International talking points2
“The final international break of the season produced some interesting results, and perhaps more importantly, offered a few hints about how major contenders might play in Brazil. Here are four conclusions from the week’s matches…” ESPN – Michael Cox (Video)

We Went There: A 72-Hour Whirlwind Tour of European Football

March 7, 2014

“Stuttgart’s Mercedes-Benz Arena used to be called the Gottlieb-Daimler Stadion, which used to be called Neckarstadion, which used to be called Century Stadium, which was first called the Adolf-Hitler-Kampfbahn when it was built in 1935. And it was in the shadows of this stadium that I was handed a VIP card — with ‘Einttritt frei!’ on it — for a strip club called Macabu Four Roses. I don’t know if it was because we didn’t speak German and therefore couldn’t say ‘no,’ but people kept trying to hand us stuff. Our hands were full of beers and bratwurst — we’re tourists, all right? — but that didn’t stop the women from Commerzbank from coming over, multiple times, and handing us schedules for the World Cup. And it didn’t stop the older woman in the German-flag smoking jacket from slipping us a card for the only-€84.95 Germany Jacket, which she casually suggested we buy as an ‘alternative jersey’.” Grantland

Sticks and Stones

February 23, 2014

“Jose Mourinho knows how to lie in a way that sounds deeper than the truth. Of his many usefully unscrupulous talents, this is one of the most useful and least scrupulous. He says things that he knows are untrue, and that you know are untrue, and that he knows you know are untrue, but that somehow or other just stick. In 2005, during his first run as the manager of Chelsea, he called Arsene Wenger a ‘voyeur’ when the Arsenal boss publicly questioned Mourinho’s transfer policy. It wasn’t fair, but neither is poetry. The jibe captured something weird and curdled in the impression the hawk-eyed Wenger makes; they were still talking about it in England eight years later. No one actually believes Wenger spends his free hours gazing into the rear courtyard, but that’s not the point. The goal of Mourinho’s lies isn’t to persuade you to believe anything. It’s to hit you at a level below belief, to shock your sense of reality into thinking it agrees with his.” Grantland – Brian Phillips

Fearing relegation, Fulham panics, turns to eccentric Magath

February 23, 2014

” If you think you’ve made a mistake, perhaps the best thing to do is to admit it and look to make amends as quickly as possible. But sacking a manager, then sacking his replacement 75 days later while getting rid of two other coaches you’d only just brought in, does look, as Rene Meulensteen said shortly after he’d been ousted from Fulham, like ‘pressing the panic button.’ Fulham lies at the bottom of the Premier League table, four points from safety with 12 games remaining, its fate in the hands of one of German football’s more controversial figures. Felix Magath won two doubles with Bayern Munich and then, astonishingly, he led Wolfsburg to the Bundesliga title, yet nobody who played for him ever seems to have enjoyed the experience.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

Champions League Team of the Week

February 21, 2014

“The first set of Champions League fixtures this week all went according to script as far as the results were concerned, with all four away sides taking large strides toward the quarterfinals with wins. Not only that, but none of the home teams were even able to register on the score sheet, and three of them had men sent off to make their improbable tasks near impossible.” ESPN

3. Liga Week 25 Review

February 21, 2014

“A rare occurrence took place in Matchday 25 of the 3. Liga and that was that there was not a single draw in all of the 10 matches that were played. This is most definitely a first for this season and something which hadn’t happened in the league since Matchday 24 of the 2010/2011 season. There must be something about February. This meant that big advantages were made or lost in this week, the former at the top of the table and the latter at the bottom. Also, all ten of the victories were one-goal advantages, which resulted in tight matches that were unresolved until the whistle went, some of them crucial three points for the victors.” Bundesliga Fanatic

The Question: how can Arsenal’s tactics tame Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich?

February 19, 2014

“Perhaps there is some encouragement to be drawn for Arsenal from the fact that last time they played Bayern Munich, they won. Perhaps there is some encouragement to be drawn from the thought that, last season, Bayern only beat them on away goals, that no side came as close to eliminating Bayern from the Champions League as they did. But then you think back to the first leg, to Bayern’s 3-1 win at the Emirates, and the gulf between the sides becomes obvious. Arsenal have improved since then, but so too have Bayern and, under Pep Guardiola, they are as tactically flexible as any side in Europe.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Can Bayern Munich Be Beaten?

February 19, 2014

“On Tuesday, Bayern Munich visit Arsenal in the first leg of the first knockout round of the UEFA Champions League. Bayern are the holders of the European Cup. In Germany, they’ve won 19, drawn two, and lost none. They are 16 points clear of the second-place team in the Bundesliga, and their bench could walk into almost any starting lineup in Europe. Some have suggested that Bayern’s biggest obstacle to repeating as Champions League winners is their complacency, but then some seem to forget that Bayern are managed by one of the great modern managers in Pep Guardiola. Last weekend, Bayern beat Freiburg 4-0. After the match, Guardiola made Bayern train, playing a practice match against themselves. So, no, they won’t be complacent. The questions is, can they be beaten?” Grantland

1950-51 East German Oberliga

February 4, 2014

“The East German Oberliga has a reputation for being one of the most manipulated sporting competitions the world has ever seen. The favouritism enjoyed by several big clubs in the 70s and 80s is relatively well-known, but the manipulation can be traced right back to the start of the league’s existence. Nothing illustrates the ridiculousness of the whole system better than the 1950-51 season.” Bundesliga Fanatic

Five big problems at Hamburg

February 2, 2014

“Another match, another defeat. And that’s an experience that HSV fans have experienced eleven times this season, eleven times in nineteen matches, which is form worthy of relegation. And that’s more or less where HSV find themselves, in 16th place and in a playoff relegation spot, just four points ahead of bottom side Eintracht Braunschweig and two in front of Nürnberg, who could go above them if they win in Berlin against Hertha tomorrow. The sacking of Thorsten Fink and the appointment of Bert van Marwijk seemed to have triggered some sort of response from the players with some encouraging performances and results but it’s five straight defeats for HSV now and they are in free fall towards the 2. Bundesliga. So, what exactly needs changing at HSV?” Bundesliga Fanatic

Naming It Right

February 2, 2014

“In a Facebook discussion a while ago, Markus Hesselmann, online editor of Der Tagesspiegel, a newspaper based in Berlin discussed the names of English football clubs in German media. Hesselmann argued that some over-correct people often reminded others that it is not Arsenal London but only Arsenal. While the correctionists do have a point in this case, it is important to remember that there might be people unfortunate enough to not know where this mysteriously called football club ‘Arsenal’ might be located. There are several ways to find out: asking some one around, google it or watching German television. Most often than not, Arsenal becomes Arsenal London. Hesselmann has a point as he later in the discussion thread stated that a journalist’s task is also to educate, without the journalist becoming an educator or teacher.” Do not mention the war

‘We are Union, you are not’: Genuine fans saddened as criminals hijack the headlines in Sweden

January 31, 2014

“Football is as much about the 90 minutes on the pitch as spending time with your mates – an away match and one on European soil, heightens this feeling for the average fan. Pre-match drinks, a few songs perhaps and almost certainly exploring the cultural delights of a new country. However, a small minority from both sides used this game as a vehicle for violence. Let’s be clear. These people are criminals and should be dealt with. No true football fan throws flares at other fans, no true football fan throws a flare that narrowly misses their own goalkeeper and no true football fan rampages around Stockholm after a friendly looking for a fight. The behaviour described above, if proven beyond reasonable doubt, should see those people punished in the severest of terms. So far, this has been in the form of stadium bans.” Bundesliga Fanatic

Bayern in search of perfection

January 29, 2014

“The question is no longer whether Bayern Munich will win the league or not; the question is if they can do so without suffering a defeat. No side in Bundesliga history have gone unbeaten for an entire season. In fact, only a handful ever stood an honest chance. These are our nearly men…” ESPN

Bundesliga continues to break records as it grows

January 29, 2014

“As is customary ever year, the DFL (German League Association) released its annual report on the economic state of German yesterday and it further underlines the positive growth of not only the Bundesliga but German football as a whole with continuous record attendance and profitability. Much has been said about the performances of German clubs in Europe recently, along with the influx of young talents in first teams throughout the country as well as the performance of the national team but German football has also grown in leaps and bounds from a business and economic perspective in that same period. Growing attendance, economic prudence, sporting success and responsible cost control have resulted in record numbers across the board.” Bundesliga Fanatic

Are brilliant Bayern Munich making the Bundesliga boring?

January 23, 2014

“The German top-flight’s winter break should have been about rest and recuperation for Bundesliga players and coaches. But one question will have been driving them to distraction: how can we compete with Bayern Munich? After a five-week absence, the Bundesliga returns on Friday when the leaders – and defending champions – travel to Borussia Monchengladbach. Pep Guardiola’s men are seven points ahead of nearest rivals Bayer Leverkusen, with last season’s runners-up Borussia Dortmund 12 points adrift in fourth, as the second half of the campaign kicks off.” BBC

Julian Draxler: Scout Report | The next big Bundesliga talent

January 17, 2014

“We’ve learnt in the past few years that Germany produces some of the best talents of World football. It is the DFB’s insistence on home-grown talents that has seen the national team flourish, and clubs like Bayern Munich to dominate the European stage. A look through the sides in the Bundesliga throws up a whole host of emerging talents; but the one that catches the eye more than all the others, is a certain Julian Draxler.” Outside of the Boot

The Bayern Supremacy: The most attractive club in the World

January 11, 2014

“The abundance of football talent that’s on display for the entire world to see week-in week-out is unreal. What’s even more intriguing is the fact that so many players sustain the same level of performance over the span of the entire season. The quality of players in a club in a given season predominantly defines its chances of winning silverware in that season. However, in my opinion, success isn’t measured merely by the number of trophies a club has in its cabinet. There are other facets – such as a good reputation, loyal fans, consistent performances, etc., which can be built only in the long run. Therefore, a club that produces generations of quality players that consistently win trophies, creating history at every possible turn, is a lot more respectable and likable than clubs that achieve success overnight.” Outside of the Boot

The Best and Worst in German Football in 2013

January 2, 2014

“It has been a great year for German football. The Champions League final this spring featured for the first time in the competition’s history two German teams on the pitch, Bayern have been breaking records left, right and centre and the Bundesliga seems to produce exciting story lines and talents almost on a weekly basis it seems. But, what have been the stand out players and moments, both good and bad, in the calendar year 2013? Our team of editors sat down to give their views about the subject!” Bundesliga Fanatic

Best XI of the 2013/14 Bundesliga Hinrunde
“With half of the season out of the way, there has been no shortages of surprises, excitement and the usual and expected Bayern Munich dominance in Germany’s top flight. The league maintained its reputation for great fan support, youthful exuberance and goals galore. Most of all, the Hinrunde was characterized by several outstanding individual performances. Unsurprisingly, a lot of those came from Bayern players but there were also many players who surprised and really took their game to the next level. Some were veterans who had somewhat of a comeback year while certain young players kept on making a name for themselves. Here are the standout performers of the 2013/14 Bundesliga season so far.” Bundesliga Fanatic

What has caused Borussia Dortmund’s disappointing form?

December 29, 2013

“Going into the winter break Borussia Dortmund sit fourth in the Bundesliga standings after collecting 32 points from the first 17 games. They are twelve points adrift of the defending champions Bayern Munich who have a game in hand. Even at just the halfway mark of the season, the title race appears over with the runaway leaders Bayern Munich seven points clear of Bayer Leverkusen having played a match less. Even with a managerial change, Bayern have simply continued from where they left last season.” Outside of the Boot

Football violence: a view from around the world

December 19, 2013

Spartak Moscow fans displaying a Nazi flag during a game at Shinnik Yaroslavl.
“Brazil: violence around games on the rise. Brazil ends 2013 with a record in football violence deaths. It was a miracle that nobody died in the festival of thuggery that took place on 8 December at the Atlético Paranaense v Vasco de Gama match in Joinville, during the last round of the Campeonato Brasileiro, whose shocking images were beamed all around the world. That, however, did not prevent Brazilian football finishing its 2013 season with the saddest of milestones: the 30 deaths in football-related incidents this year is the highest number in the history of the game in the country. What’s more worrying is that fatal cases have been rising steadily in the past few years. …” Guardian

World Cup – and outbreak of supporter violence – link Brazil and Russia
“In six months’ time the World Cup will land in the home of joga bonito clad in a Fifa-approved wrapping of sun, sea and samba. But the dark side of the beautiful game in Brazil was in evidence earlier this month, when images of running battles between fans of Atlético Paranaense and Vasco da Gama shocked the watching world. The game was being held at a neutral ground in Joinville due to previous clashes between fans of the two clubs, but within 10 minutes Globo was broadcasting close-up footage of supporters repeatedly stamping on the heads of their rivals and chasing one another around the stadium bowl. Following a long interregnum, the fighting was eventually broken up by armed security firing rubber bullets into the crowds and an army helicopter landing on the pitch, but not before several fans were seriously injured.” Guardian

Borussia Dortmund 0-1 Bayer Leverkusen: Leverkusen Blunt Dortmund attack to take crucial points

December 9, 2013

“With Bayern Munich predictably marching ahead in the title race, the chasing pack had a very important match on Saturday night. Leverkusen travelled to the Signal Iduna Park to face the third placed side, Borussia Dortmund.” Outside of the Boot

Five talking points from Matchday 15
“In yet another goals-galore Bundesliga weekend, Bayern Munich finally satisfied the expectations of a free-scoring victory with a ruthless display at helpless Werder Bremen. Bayer Leverkusen continued to follow the footsteps of the Bavarians as they secured their most impressive win of the season to slump Borussia Dortmund to their second home defeat in a row. Borussia Mönchengladbach leveled their namesake on points after former Königsblauen midfielder Raffael’s sensational goal helped them to a comeback victory against fellow European football seekers, Schalke. The Brazilian wasn’t the only one to score against his former club, as Konstantin Rausch’s first goal for Stuttgart ensured that his former employers, Hannover, are still chasing their first point away from home.” Bundesliga Fanatic

2014 Fifa World Cup: Gary Lineker’s guide to the eight seeds

December 7, 2013

“England have been drawn in Group D for the 2014 World Cup, meaning they will face seeded team Uruguay as well as Italy and Costa Rica. Hosts Brazil are in Group A, reigning world and European champions Spain are in Group B and three-time champions Germany are in Group G. Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker, speaking before the draw was made, takes a closer look at the eight seeded national teams…” BBC

U.S. draws incredibly difficult group, but one filled with opportunity

December 7, 2013

“The U.S. had drawn Germany, Portugal and Ghana, the hardest opening-round group the Americans have ever faced in a World Cup. Germany, a three-time world champion, could easily win the tournament. Portugal has Cristiano Ronaldo, who may be about to win the Ballon d’Or as the world player of the year. And Ghana has been the destroyer of U.S. dreams at the last two World Cups, eliminating the Americans both times. Group G has easily the most difficult average FIFA ranking of any World Cup group: 11.25. Germany is No. 2, Portugal No. 5, the U.S. No. 14 and Ghana No. 24.” SI

USA’s 2014 World Cup group overflowing with history
“You wanted a World Cup group with some sumptuous storylines? You got one. The USA was drawn into a Group of Supreme Death with Germany, Portugal and Ghana, with Jurgen Klinsmann needing to gameplan for the likes of Mesut Ozil and Cristiano Ronaldo while aiming to break the Ghana hex — just to reach the knockout stage. The amount of history that the USA has against its group opponents is staggering, too.” SI (Video)

German Nationalism Courtesy of Football

December 7, 2013

“The 20th century was a wicked roller coaster ride for Germany. Two World Wars, each spawned by high levels of nationalism, both resulted in German defeat. In the course of less than fifty years, Germany’s territory, economy, and politics were reduced to rubble, rebuilt, and then subsequently destroyed multiple times. Post World War II, the Allied Powers split Germany into two countries to separate East from West during the Cold War, with the very visible divide in the form of the Berlin Wall. Only with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 did East and West Germany begin the process of reunification. So, where has that left German citizens?” Soccer Politics

Heroes of the Neighborhood

December 5, 2013

“Klaus Störtebeker was not his real name. Any self-respecting pirate of the late 14th century picked his own nom de guerre, and Klaus of Wismar gave himself a moniker that means ‘empties the mug in a single gulp.’ According to the legend, the mug in question would be about equal to four liters today. After a few years of wreaking havoc on the Northern European coast, Störtebeker was betrayed, captured, and brought to Hamburg for trial. He was beheaded along with 70 or so of his pirate brethren. When a Hamburg senator asked if the executioner was tired after all of this chopping, the executioner said he’d happily behead the whole senate as well. So a second executioner was brought in to behead the first. Störtebeker left a trail of blood (and gold: the core of his ship’s mast was full of it) in his wake.” Roads and Kingdoms

Bayern’s Lost Wunderkinds

December 1, 2013

“From a Bayern fan’s point a view, a look at the club’s bench against Borussia Dortmund would have been a welcome sight: Bayern, with injuries ravaging their praised depth, gave seats to two highly admired youngsters, Mitchell Weiser and Pierre Emile Højbjerg. It was clear from the start that their place on the bench at the Signal Iduna Park was only to fill gaps left by the injuries of Claudio Pizarro, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Xherdan Shaqiri and Franck Ribéry, as a match of Der Klassiker‘s magnitude doesn’t fit the early development of these two young players; however, their absence from lower stake matches – such as UCL matches against Viktoria Plzeň or the Pokal matches, as well as some Bundesliga matches where rotation was possible – must be a cause of concern for any Bayern enthusiast.” Bundesliga Fanatic

Heroes Of the Neighborhood

November 28, 2013

“Klaus Störtebeker was not his real name. Any self-respecting pirate of the late 14th century picked his own nom de guerre, and Klaus of Wismar gave himself a moniker meaning “empties the mug in a single gulp.” According to the legend, the mug in question would be about equal to four liters today. After a few years of wreaking havoc on the Northern European coast, Störtebeker was betrayed, captured, and brought to Hamburg for trial. He was beheaded along with 70 or so of his pirate brethren. When a Hamburg senator asked if the executioner was tired after all of this chopping, the executioner said he’d happily behead the whole senate as well. So a second executioner was brought in to behead the first. Störtebeker left a trail of blood (and gold: the core of his ship’s mast was full of it) in his wake.” SI

Dortmund 0-3 Bayern: superior squad proves crucial as Bayern extend their lead

November 28, 2013

“Pep Guardiola demonstrated Bayern’s tactical flexibility in the second half, introducing Mario Gotze and Thiago Alcantara to great effect. Jurgen Klopp had severe injury problems for this contest – as well as the continued absence of Ilkay Gundogan, his entire first-choice back four were out injured. 34-year-old Manuel Friedrich, previously without a club, was drafted in to play at centre-back. Guardiola was without Franck Ribery and Bastian Schweinsteiger, however, and used Phillip Lahm in midfield. The scoreline exaggerates Bayern’s dominance – for long periods Dortmund competed well, but Bayern simply had greater strength in depth.” Zonal Marking

Toni Kroos has earned right to be Bayern’s key

November 24, 2013

Toni Kroos
“This summer’s speculation about Pep Guardiola’s probable Bayern Munich system took a simple format, one that fell in line with the standard approach for season previews: They assessed the Bayern side from the previous campaign and then considered where the new signings would fit. It was simple: Thiago Alcantara would probably play at the base of midfield and orchestrate play from deep, while it was widely assumed that Mario Gotze could play as the false nine, effectively in the role where Guardiola had played Lionel Messi on the way to transforming him into one of the world’s greatest players.” ESPN – Michael Cox

Dortmund 0-3 Bayern: Tactical Analysis
“The two big guns of German football met at the Signal Iduna Park. Dortmund were looking to close the gap on the league leaders following a shock defeat to Wolfsburg in the previous game. Bayern on the other hand were looking for revenge over their rivals for the defeat in the German Super Cup. Dortmund haven’t been having a good season, Bayern have been increasing the gap between the two while Leverkusen haven’t made life easy either. Added to that, Dortmund’s Champions League hopes seem to be halting at the group stage after an impressive run last season. To make matters worse, the entire Dortmund back four was injured for this game with most of the contingent out for a prolonged period of time.” Outside of the Boot

The 100,000 Deutsche Mark strike force – How Preußen Münster almost managed to win the German championship

November 24, 2013

“The name Josef Oevermann might not sound familiar for anyone born outside Münster. However, the man himself has had his say in German football history. Coming from a wealthy background, Oevermann took over his father’s construction company in 1933. After World War II, Oevermann quickly regained his wealth by being the contractor of a number of large re-building projects after the war. The building baron had also played football for Preußen Münster before the war, and after his team was promoted to the Oberliga West in 1948 (also known as the tram league, because of the close geographical proximity between the teams in the league), Oevermann was infected with the Preußen bug.” Bundesliga Fanatic

Borussia Dortmund v Bayern Munich: Can hosts stop rivals?

November 22, 2013

“For Borussia Dortmund fans, it was the ultimate body blow. Just hours before the first leg of their Champions League semi-final with Real Madrid in April, they woke to the gut-wrenching news the 37m euros (£31.5m) release clause of their star player, Mario Gotze, had been triggered by fierce rivals Bayern Munich. Seven months on, the first chance to see Gotze back at Signal Iduna Park, wearing the red of Bayern rather than the yellow of Dortmund, offers an intriguing sub-plot to the latest instalment of Der Klassiker.” BBC

Toni Kroos has earned right to be Bayern’s key
“This summer’s speculation about Pep Guardiola’s probable Bayern Munich system took a simple format, one that fell in line with the standard approach for season previews: They assessed the Bayern side from the previous campaign and then considered where the new signings would fit. It was simple: Thiago Alcantara would probably play at the base of midfield and orchestrate play from deep, while it was widely assumed that Mario Gotze could play as the false nine, effectively in the role where Guardiola had played Lionel Messi on the way to transforming him into one of the world’s greatest players. Along with the existing options from 2012-13 — Bastian Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez in midfield, Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben on the flanks plus Thomas Muller playing just off Mario Mandzukic — Bayern had become an even more fearsome attacking weapon.” ESPN – Michael Cox

Players starting to look for a new home

November 20, 2013

Fabian Giefer
“There are over 100 contracts expiring at the end of this Bundesliga season and more than 150 at the end of this Bundesliga 2 season. Some clubs may fancy to sell during the winter in order to generate a transfer fee, other clubs are going to hold onto their players allowing them to move onto the next club on a free transfer. The Bundesliga fanatic has compiled a list of 15 potentially interesting transfer targets to keep an eye on.” Bundesliga Fanatic

View from the other side: Three (unconventional) reasons why Germany never beats Italy

November 15, 2013

“The two most successful national teams in Europe face each other for the thirty-second time. However, in World Cups and European Championships, it’s always been a one-way trend. Italy and Germany are two countries with intertwined football destinies. Each has won the World Cup in each other’s home, and very often their duels give way to breathtaking spectacles, which have ended up creating the biggest rivalry in European international football. However, the worst thing when you go to see a highly anticipated show, is knowing how it ends. Because it spoils the taste of the whole thing.” Bundesliga Fanatic

Dortmund 0-1 Arsenal: Dortmund on top for an hour, but Arsenal excellent after scoring

November 7, 2013

“Dortmund had significantly more shots, but Arsenal snatched a winner and saw out the game efficiently. Jurgen Klopp was without Mats Hummels and Ilkay Gundogan, so named an unchanged side. Arsene Wenger didn’t have anyone back from injury, so kept the same side that defeated Liverpool. This game was simultaneously high-tempo and slow-burning – an uneventful first half was followed by a very exciting second.” Zonal Marking

Borussia Dortmund 0-1 Arsenal: Tactical Analysis
“Group F was always going to provide us with a few exciting games. Many have lamented the fact that Europe’s elite competition has stopped being well, elite which leads to some of the smaller, less prestigious clubs featuring in the group stages. This means that we witness quite a few one sided games with the traditional heavyweights usually brushing aside the so called weaker teams. However, there was absolutely no danger of that happening in Group F which featured Borussia Dortmund, Arsenal, Napoli and Marseille.” Outside of the Boot

Dortmund fans visibly deflated as Arsenal score
“It was all going so well for these Borussia Dortmund fans, until Aaron Ramsey popped up to score for Arsenal against the run of play.” World Soccer (Video)


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