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Posts Tagged ‘Borussia Dortmund’

The Final Stretch – European season reaches its climax

With most of the major European leagues now wrapped up, attention in most countries is turning towards the upcoming spate of cup finals across the continent. In England the FA Cup final is, of course, already done and dusted with Wigan Athletic having sensationally beaten Manchester City 1-0 at Wembley to win that venerable trophy for the first time in their history, and on Friday night in Madrid, Spain, Atletico stunned their neighbours Real Madrid in their own backyard at the Bernabeu to win the Copa del Rey. Atletico’s 2-1 extra time win was their first victory over Real in any competition for fourteen years.

The next ten days will see the cup winners decided in Scotland, Italy, Portugal, France and Germany, as well as the Champions League final and the English Championship Play-off final for a place in next season’s Premier League. This coming weekend is the big one, with five major finals over the extended Bank Holiday break (in the UK) for fans to enjoy and European club football’s showpiece event, the Champions League Final kicks it all off on Saturday night.

The Champions League Final – Saturday 25th May 2013, 19:45, Wembley Stadium, London

This year’s final is an all-German clash between Borussia Dortmund and strongly fancied Bayern Munich. Jupp Heynckes’ Bayern are the newly crowned Bundesliga champions, having dislodged Borussia from their perch, and have enjoyed perhaps the most spectacularly successful league season in their history. They won the Bundesliga at a canter by a massive twenty five points, scoring ninety eight goals in the process to end up with a staggering goal difference of plus eighty. They imperiously swept aside Barcelona in the semi finals 7-0 on aggregate to record the biggest semi final victory margin since 1960 and quite frankly they look unstoppable.

Jurgen Klopp’s Dortmund have had an average season by their recent high standards and had to be content with a distant second spot having been champions two years running prior to this season. Their European form has been much better and they annihilated Real Madrid in the first leg of their semi final before holding on resolutely in the face at a late Real Madrid rally at the Bernabeu to book their spot at Wembley. Their success was dampened somewhat by the news that star man Mario Gotze will be jumping ship to Bayern this summer, putting a dent in their hopes of narrowing the gap next season, but they will be hopeful of a big performance on the night to create a small upset.

The two clubs have been regular opponents over the past twelve months with supremacy in head to head matches slowly shifting from Dortmund to the Bavarians. Dortmund had a crushing 5-2 win in the German Cup final last May but Bayern took their first chance for revenge in the Super Cup final in August, winning 2-1. The first league clash finished in a 1-1 stalemate in Munich in December but Bayern triumphed again, 1-0, in a cup quarter final in Munich in February and the return league fixture in Dortmund ended 1-1 earlier this month when the title was already sown up.

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Chelsea chasing East European talent?

Could Napoli top-scorer Marek Hamsik be on his way to West London?

 The Daily Express today suggests that Chelsea are still very much in the market for Napoli forward Marek Hamsik, a story that  has been backed up by sources in Italy as well.  Meanwhile Serb centre-back Neven Subotic of Borussia Dortmund is also being tracked.

The transfer window may have only just shut but it looks like Chelsea are already reviewing their options for the summer, and one player who has come back into reckoning for a move to Stamford Bridge is Marek Hamsik.  The Slovakian international star has been with Napoli for 2.5 seasons making just over 100 appearances in all competitions scoring 30 goals from a range of positions including up front, from the play-maker position and even out wide.

The 22-year-old first caught the eye with Brescia, to whom he moved as a youngster back in 2004/05 hitting 10 goals in 40 appearances in Serie B prompting Napoli to snap him up as they returned back to Serie A after several seasons in the doldrums themselves.

This season he already has 8 goals in 24 Serie A matches, as Napoli have maneuvered themselves into a position to challenge for a position in the Champions League for next season thanks to a wonderful run of form, which saw them hold runaway league leaders Inter Milan to a 0-0 draw last time out.

Hamsik is one of a number of Napoli players who has been connected with Chelsea in the recent past, with his team-mate Ezequiel Lavezzi also thought to be interesting the West London club.  However, Hamsik is now thought to be the man most wanted by Carlo Ancelotti, who has had the chance to watch him first-hand when in charge of AC Milan.

Chelsea may find they have some stiff competition for the 29-times capped Slovak forward, as Inter Milan are also thought to have made Hamsik a top-target for what could be a busy transfer period.  Furthermore if Napoli succeed in qualifying themselves for the Champions League next season, they may be in a stronger bargaining position in terms of demanding a transfer fee thanks to their potentially enhanced finances. 

The Napoli top scorer isn’t the only player on the Chelsea radar, with defender Neven Subotic currently under contract to German side Borussia Dortmund also being closely watched.  The 21-year-old Serb-stopper has had an impressive season at the Signal Iduna Park helping propel his side to the edge of the Champions League places this season thanks to some wonderful performances at the heart of the defence. 

Standing at an impressive 6’3” Subotic is not only excellent in the air but also a strong tackler and reader of the game.  His 6 goals for Dortmund last season in his first season after joining from Mainz will certainly earn comparisons with John Terry.  With 9 caps to his name already, Subotic may well be a top performer at the World Cup in South Africa alongside Nemanja Vidic for his country, and Chelsea may be eager to tie up a deal sooner rather than later if they are considering a move for him.

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