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1) Spain - 1507 points
2) Germany - 1318 pts
3) Argentina - 1251 pts
4) Colombia - 1200 pts
5) Portugal - 1172 pts
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Posts Tagged ‘Germany’

Bayern Maintain Thirteen Point Gap

Bayern Munich thrashed Eintracht Frankfurt 5-0 in the Bundesliga in Germany to maintain their perfect home record and keep the gap at the top of the table at thirteen points from second placed Bayer Leverkusen. Bayern were in control from the off and took an early lead through Mario Gotze with Franck Ribery doubling their advantage just before half time. Substitute Arjen Robben added a third shortly after coming off the bench before Dante and Mario Mandzukic wrapped up the scoring. Eintracht Frankfurt were never really at the races and clearly had their mind on next weekend’s key clash against fellow strugglers Eintracht Braunschweig.

Bayer Leverkusen had reduced the gap at the top to ten points overnight with their 2-1 home win against VFB Stuttgart. Bayer had to fight back after Moritz Leitner gave the visitors an early lead, but Stefan Kiessling and Eren Derdiyok replied to half their run of three successive defeats. Stuttgart now sit on a losing run of four and are only two points clear of the relegation zone but their troubles are nothing compared to those at Hamburger SV, who lost for the fifth time in a row on Saturday, going down 3-0 at Hoffenheim and dropping into seventeenth place. They were overtaken by Nurnberg, who picked up their first away win of the season at Hertha and moved clear of the relegation zone.

Elsewhere, a brace from Pierre Emerick Aubameyang saw Borussia Dortmund finally return to winning ways away at rock bottom Eintracht Braunschweig in the Friday night clash and hold on to third place ahead of a resurgent Schalke, who beat Wolfsburg 2-1 thanks to goals from Felipe Santana and Kevin Prince Boateng. Schalke’s win saw them move up into fourth spot, leapfrogging Borussia Monchengladbach, who went down 3-1 away at Hannover. Mainz made it two wins from two following the resumption after the winter break with a South Korean inspired 2-0 win against Freiburg, who drop into the relegation zone, and Augsburg recovered from an early own goal to beat Werder Bremen 3-1 at home.

Next weekend kicks of with the biggest clash on Friday night as Bayer Leverkusen travel to fifth placed Borussia Monchengladbach. Bayern Munich travel to Nurnberg and Werder Bremen host Borussia Dortmund on the Saturday and Schalke round off the set of fixtures against Hannover in the early Sunday evening match. Hertha Berlin’s Colombian striker Gustavo Adrian Ramos is a goal clear at the top of the scoring charts, having taken his season’s tally up to twelve with his early strike in the defeat to Nurnberg.

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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Bayern Bounce Back

Bayern Munich recorded a thumping 7-1 victory against Hoffenheim at the Allianz-Arena to bounce back from last weekend’s disappointing 2-0 reverse at Beyer Leverkusen and boost confidence ahead of this week’s crucial UEFA Champions League last-sixteen second leg against FC Basel.

The Bavarians stormed out of the blocks, racking up three goals inside twenty minutes and seven before the hour mark. Mario Gomez opened the scoring in only the 5th minute and Arjen Robben doubled the advantage from the penalty spot in the 12th minute. Toni Kroos put the result beyond doubt six minutes later with the first of three goals set up by Franck Ribery. The Frenchman was also the provider for second strikes from Robben and Gomez in the 29th and 35th minutes respectively. Mario Gomez completed his hat-trick shortly after the interval and Ribery finally got his own name on the scoresheet in the 58th minute.

Bayern took their foot off the gas at 7-0 and spared Hoffenheim further punishment, even contributing an own goal courtesy of Luiz Gustavo in the 85th minute to give the visitors something to cheer. With Gomez, Robben and Ribery suddenly hitting top form, Bayern will expect to overturn their 1-0 deficit against Basel and the scoreline will serve as a reminder to Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund that the title race isn’t quite over yet.

Elsewhere, there were home wins for a trio of teams in the bottom half. Wolfsburg came from behind to pile on the misery for a Bayer Leverkusen side still reeling from their spectacular midweek capitulation against a Lionel Messi inspired Barcelona. Stefan Kiessling had given Bayer an early lead but Patrick Helmes cancelled it out and Ashkan Dejagah put Wolfsburg ahead on the stroke of half time. An own goal from Michal Kadlec wrapped up the points for Wolfsburg despite a late consolation goal from substitute Eren Derdiyok to make it 3-2.

Mainz 05 ran out 2-1 winners at home to Nurnberg thanks to first half goals from Nicolai Muller and Mohamed Zidan. Nurnberg fought back after the interval but could only muster a solitary reply from Daniel Didavi despite Adam Szalai’s late dismissal. Koln won a bad-tempered encounter with Hertha BSC 1-0 with a first half goal from Christian Clemens. Three dismissals in the second period saw the home side finish with nine men as substitute Mato Jajalo and Lukas Podolski saw red with Levan Kobiashvili of Hertha joining them for an early bath, so to speak.

The other game of the afternoon saw third placed Borussia Moenchengladbach fail to close the gap on the leaders with a 0-0 stalemate against struggling Freiburg, who remain in the relegation places.

VFB Stuttgart also played out a goalless draw against Kaiserslautern on Friday night and the late game on Saturday sees leaders Dortmund visit Augsburg. Sundays fixtures see Hannover 96 travel to Werder Bremen and Hamburger SV visit Schalke 04.

World Cup 2010: Germany 3-2 Uruguay

World Cup 2010 Third Place Match (Saturday 10th July 2010, K.O. 19:30 BST)
Venue: Port Elizabeth Stadium
Conditions: Cloudy and wet. Temp: 14c, Wind 9.0m/s

Germany: 3 (Mueller 19, Jansen 56, Khedira 82)
Uruguay: 2 (Cavani 28, Forlan 51)

Germany: Butt, Friedrich, Aogo, Mertesacker, Boateng, Khedira, Jansen (Kroos 81), Oezil (Tasci), Schweinsteiger (C), Mueller, Cacau (Kiessling 73).
Uruguay: Muslera, Lugano (C), Godin, Fucile, Caceres, M. Pereira, Perez (Gargano 77), Arevalo Rios, Cavani (Abreu 88), Forlan, Suarez.

Referee: Benito Archundia (Mexico)

Germany claimed the bronze medals at World Cup 2010 by edging out Uruguay in a thrilling third place play-off game in Port Elizabeth. It was a match characterised by end to end attacking football with plentiful chances for both teams and the lead changed hands three times as the momentum swung one way and then the other. There was also drama in the race for the Golden Boot.

The German camp had reportedly been hit by flu since their semi final defeat, with coach Joachim Loew one of the victims. He seemed to have made a full recovery in time for the game and looked sprightly on the touchline. Injuries forced captain Philipp Lahm, Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose out of his starting line up, with Dennis Aogo, Marcell Jansen and Cacau taking their places. Bastian Schweinsteiger was handed the armband for the evening. Klose’s injury denied him the chance of chasing the Golden Boot and a 15th World Cup goal in total that would have put him level with Ronaldo as joint all time World Cup topscorer. Thomas Mueller returned from his suspension and was also in with a shout of the golden boot, having replaced Piotr Trochowski on the right side of midfield, whilst Hans-Jorg Butt was handed a start in goal in place of Manuel Neuer.

For Uruguay, Luis Suarez and Jorge Fucile returned from their suspensions and captain Diego Lugano was back from injury. Diego Forlan overcame the slight muscle strain that forced him off at the end of the semi final but Nicolas Lodeiro was still ruled out by injury. Suarez and Forlan were both hopeful of scoring the goals that could see either of them crowned top scorer in South Africa.

Hamburger SV’s Dennins Aogo, winning only his third cap for Germany following his decision to pledge his allegiance to them rather than Nigeria, was extremely lucky not to have been sent off in the first few minutes for a horror tackle on Diego Perez. He went in hard and high, striking the Uruguayan’s shin with the bottom of his boot but the Mexican referee only produced a yellow card and fortunately Perez escaped unharmed.

The first good chance came in the tenth minute when Arne Friedrich met a Mesut Oezil corner at the far post to head against the crossbar with Muslera beaten. Germany had the better of the early exchanges and took the lead in the 19th minute when Schweinsteiger hit a venomous long range shot which was too hot for Muslera to handle and Thomas Mueller followed up to tuck home the rebound and claim his fifth goal of the tournament, which put him level with Villa and Sneijder at the head of the race for the Golden Boot.

Having been at the origin of the opening goal, Schweinsteiger was at fault for the equaliser in the 28th minute when he lost the ball to Perez in the centre of the park and Perez found Suarez in acres of space in the Germany half with Cavani making a good run to his left. Suarez’ perfectly weighted through ball bypassed Mertesacke and left Cavani with the simple job of slipping the ball past Butt and into the far corner to make it 1-1.

Uruguay ended the half on top and in the 42nd minute Luis Suarez should have had his fourth goal of the tournament as he was played clean through down the inside right channel but screwed his shot just wide of the far post. The entertaining first half ended on a high note with Muslera spilling a corner at one end but Uruguay reacting quickest to break with a man over at the other end and win a corner of their own from which Diego Forlan almost scored directly.

The second half was even more open and entertaining than the first as both teams went hell for leather in the last 45 minutes of their World Cup campaigns to try and secure third place. Forlan scored the goal of the game five minutes into the half after great work by Arevalo Rios down the right flank. He crossed the ball along the edge of the German box and the Atletico Madrid striker drove a superbly executed volley down into the ground and back up into the net shaving the right hand post with Butt helpless. The goal moved Forlan level with Mueller, Villa and Sneijder on five apiece.

Germany weren’t behind for long, equalising five minutes later through Jansen, who headed in a superb Boateng cross when Muslera came off his line and missed it. It was a difficult evening for Muslera, who struggled with high balls throughout the match and created uncertainty in his defence. They next twenty minutes were open and frantic and littered with goalscoring opportunities at each end. It was Germany who eventually broke the deadlock thanks to a set piece. Mesut Oezil’s 82nd minute corner was allowed to drop in the Uruguayan six yard box and, when Lugano failed to clear, it bounced up kindly for Khedira to loop a header into the top corner.

There was still time for a dramatic finish when Friedrich fouled Suarez deep into injury time for a central free kick just outside the box. Diego Forlan lined it up and, with what proved to be the very last kick of the match, struck a powerful shot over the German wall, past Butt’s outstretched hand and onto the crossbar just a fraction too high to take the game into extra time and to give him an outright lead in the top scorers chart.

World Cup 2010: Germany 0-1 Spain

World Cup 2010 Semi Final (Wednesday 7th July 2010, K.O. 19:30 BST)
Venue: Durban Stadium
Conditions: Cloudy and damp. Temp: 18c, Wind 1.3m/s

Germany: 0
Spain: 1 (Puyol 73)

Germany: Neuer, Friedrich, Lahm (C), Mertesacker, Boateng (Jansen 52), Khedira (Gomez 81), Trochowski (Kroos 62), Oezil, Schweinsteiger, Podolski, Klose.
Spain: Casillas (C), Capdevila, Pique, Puyol, Ramos, Alonso (Marchena 90+3), Xavi, Iniesta, Sergio, Pedro (Silva 86), Villa (Torres 81).

Referee: Viktor Kassai (Hungary)

Carles Puyol’s powerful header from a Xavi corner in the 73rd minute was the difference between Spain and Germany in a close semi final in Durban. The Barcelona defender’s third goal for his country qualified Spain for their first ever World Cup final where they will face Holland at Soccer City in Johannesburg on Sunday evening.

Germany were forced to omit four goal hero Thomas Mueller from their squad due to his suspension for accruing two yellow cards and coach Joachim Loew opted to replace him in the starting line up with Hamburg’s Piotr Trochowski. Spain, for their part, had nobody suspended but Vicente Del Bosque also made one chance to his team, bringing in Barcelona’s Pedro for the off-form Fernando Torres. For the record, Paul the Octopus predicted a Spain win.

The first real chance came in the seventh minute when Pedro slipped the ball through for David Villa to run on to behind the German defence. Spain’s top scorer found himself one on one with Manuel Neuer but the German ‘keeper was off his line quickly to charge the down shot almost before it had left Villa’s feet. Spain enjoyed most of the possession during the first quarter of an hour and the game was largely played in the German half. They passed the ball about well and the early signs were that they would be more creative than in their previous games in this tournament. Indeed, they carved out a second good chance in the fourteenth minute when Iniesta’s cross from the right found Puyol free on the edge of the six yard box but the defender directed his header over the bar.

Piotr Trochowski was the first player to really work Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas, who had earlier flapped at a corner but hadn’t really been tested by the Germans. Trochowski’s low driven shot from outside the box in the 32nd minute forced him to make a diving save at his left hand post. Spain continued to control the tempo of the game but didn’t actually manage to create any more clear cut chances and right at the end of the first half it was Germany, with one of their direct counter attacking moves, who almost broke the deadlock. Mesut Oezil was bearing down on goal with only Sergio Ramos to beat when the Spanish right-back clipped his ankle right on the edge of the box. There was a big penalty shout and Ramos would surely have been dismissed had it been given, but the Hungarian referee waved play on. Television replays suggested that it was a foul, but was just outside the box, and the half ended goalless.

After a slow and uneventful start to the second half, Spain suddenly came alive around the 58th minute when they bombarded the German goal with three good chances in the space of a few seconds. Firstly a superb passing move created space for Pedro to shoot from the edge of the box and he forced a good save from Neuer. Following up, Iniesta dribbled through the box towards goal and played a low pass across the six yard box only inches in front of Villa’s desperate lunge. Spain kept on the pressure and moments later Pedro had another shot go off target. Finally Spain were making some headway and the German defence was beginning to show cracks. Another couple of Spanish half chances came and went on the next few minutes and you got the feeling they were edging closer to that elusive opening goal.

Typically, it was Germany who then created the best chance of the half thus far with yet another thrilling counter attack. Good work by Oezil down the left found Podolski free to cross from the edge of the box and his ball in was aimed towards Klose and substitute Toni Kroos who had both evaded their markers at the far post. It dropped kindly for Kroos, but his side-footed shot was comfortably saved by Casillas. That chance must have jolted Spain because a minute later they were ahead, and it wasn’t the product of a slick passing move. For once they scored a simple goal from a corner with Xavi’s kick powerfully met by Carles Puyol and headed emphatically past Neuer.

Spain withdrew David Villa from the action, presumably to rest him for the final and Germany threw on an extra striker, with G0mez replacing Khedira, but almost immediately Spain had a golden chance to win it when Pedro ran half the length of the pitch with substitute Torres to his left and only Friedrich standing in his way. He should have scored himself or teed up Torres but perhaps got caught in two minds and ended up losing the ball. He was replaced soon after by David Silva. Germany tried hard to rally but couldn’t conjure up another opportunity and Spain frustrated them with more neat passing to close out the came. Right again Paul the Octopus!

World Cup 2010: Germany 4-0 Argentina

World Cup 2010 Quarter Final (Saturday 3rd July 2010, K.O. 15:00 BST)
Venue: Green Point Stadium
Conditions: Dry and sunny. Temp: 16c, Wind 4.0m/s

Germany: 4 (Mueller 3, Klose 68, Friedrich 74, Klose 89)
Argentina: 0

Germany: Neuer, Friedrich, Lahm (C), Mertesacker, Boateng (Jansen 72), Khedira (Kroos 78), Schweinsteiger, Oezil, Mueller (Trochowski 84), Podolski, Klose.
Argentina: Romero, Demichelis, Burdisso, Heinze, Otamendi (Pastore 70), Mascherano (C), Di Maria (Aguero 75), M Rodriguez, Messi, Tevez, Higuain

Referee: Ravshan Urmatov (Uzbekistan)

Germany stormed into the semi finals of the World Cup in South Africa with a stunning four nil win against Diego Maradona’s Argentina. The Germans took the lead early on through Mueller and never looked back with Klose twice and Friedrich adding further goals in the second half. Argentina didn’t create a single clear cut chance in whole game and were outclassed in every department.

The opening game came in the third minute when Nicolas Otamendi fouled Lukas Podolski on the German left wing. Bastian Schweinsteiger curled in a free kick towards near post where Thomas Muller got ahead of his marker Otamendi to head past Romero and into the net.

Otamendi’s nightmare start to the game continued when he was booked in the 11th minute for a late tackle on Friedrich at the other end of the field, by which point Diego Maradona must surely have been regretting his decision to choose the Velez Sarsfield defender ahead of Newcastle’s Jonas Gutierrez. The best chance in open play of the first half came in the 24th minute when Muller broke into the Argentine box and squared it for Klose, but the striker’s snapshot flew over he bar. At the very least he should have forced the ‘keeper to make a save.

In the 36th minute, Argentina were awarded a free kick in a dangerous position as Thomas Mueller was harshly booked for a handball. Messi’s shot hit the German wall but Heinze played the rebound back in to the box to Tevez, who was in behind the German defence and squared it to Higuain, who put the ball into the net but it was rightly disallowed for offside. By this point Argentina were putting a lot of pressure on the German defence but Germany still looked just as likely to score the next goal on the break, just as they had twice done against England.

Argentina had obviously had a bit of a talking to from Maradona at half time and they started the second period at a high tempo, threatening an equaliser early on and coming close with a long range effort from Di Maria that flew just wide of Neuer’s right-hand post. However, Germany weathered the storm well and their well-organised defence proved impossible to break down, with Argentina restricted to nothing more than half chances for the next twenty minutes. In contrast, Argentina’s defence never looked comfortable when under pressure and, as many people suspected before the tournament, it proved to be their undoing.

In the 68th minute, Mueller slipped the ball through to Podolski inside the Argentinian box and he drew the ‘keeper towards him before centering to Klose for the simplest possible finish inside the six yard box. Diego Maradona responded by bringing on an extra forward in Javier Pastore for the hapless Otamendi, who had again been partially at fault for the second goal. However, before Pastore could influence proceedings the deficit had been increased further through Arne Friedrich with his first ever goal for Germany. He was the beneficiary of an excellent run and pass from Schweinsteiger and slipped the ball just inside the near post with a first time shot.

Aguero replaced the ineffective Angel Di Maria in the 75th minute as Argentina went all out for a goal to bring them back into the game but by now the Germans were well in control and regularly outnumbering their opponents on their frequent counter attacking moves. There wasn’t a poor performance to be seen amongst any of Germany’s starting eleven or substitutes whereas Argentina’s stars simply failed to turn up. The rout was completed in the 89th minute when the Germans broke once more through Podolski, who played the ball wide to Mesut Oezil. The diminutive playmaker crossed for the unmarked Klose execute a simple volley into the net and claim his 14th goal in World Cup finals history. The final scoreline of 4-0 was by no means flattering to Joachim Loew’s team.

Like BP England find themselves all over the USA with no solution

Last night England drew 1-1 with the USA, with the exception of the first 5 minutes the game was a disaster for England and one the Americans won’t be so upset about. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but is James Milner recovering from an illness better than a fully fit Joe Cole or Shaun WP? Has the gamble on the injury prone Ledley King failed after he only lasted 45 minutes? Should Carragher have been recalled after a poor season with Liverpool and will he continue to be exposed by his lack of pace at this level? Should Green be number 1 ahead of calamity James or the talented but unproven Joe Hart?

The cool conditions allowed the game to be played at 100mph and generally England swarmed all over the USA with Lennon, Heskey and SWP all failing to take good chances. Compared to other games I’ve seen in this World Cup England lacked composure and the ability to retain possession. Heskey showed his strength with the first goal laying the ball off for the new England captain to open his World Cup account. Heskey is as good as any player in the World at holding the ball up, if only he could finish. The key moment came when Dempsey hit a shot from 25 yards that Rob Green spilled, you could blame the ball but a keeper should have their body behind a shot like that. Rob Green to be fair made a great save from Altadore to stop things getting even worse.

All that being said I expect both England and the USA to beat Algeria and Slovenia with the group being decided on goal difference.

Now for an update on my attempt to lose £1,000 over the World Cup; yesterday I put £20 on Argentina to beat Nigeria at 1.45-1 which I won, £20 on Korea to Draw with Greece which I lost and £20 on England to draw with the USA at 4.2-1 which I won. So far I’ve got three out of five results right and I’m surprisingly £80 up. It looks like I’m going to have to try harder to lose this money so onto today’s games and first up the other teams in England’s group Algeria v Slovenia. This isn’t one that sparks the imagination, I fancy Slovenia but not that much though so I’m going for £20 on Slovenia at 1.6-1 on a DRAW NO BET. Next up is Serbia v Ghana and although I expect Ghana to really be up for this I fancy Serbia as a dark horse for the tournament so I considered a Serbia DRAW NO BET but the draws have done me well so far so I’m going for £20 on a draw at 3.25-1. Finally Germany v Australia; I think Australia will make a real fight of this one but the Germans will probably prove too strong, my head says it could be a draw but for some reason I’ve put £20 on 3-0 Germany at 12.5-1. Why have I done this? Well there hasn’t been a big win yet, the Australian’s don’t have a great attack and I think this young German side inspired by the creative Ozil could really surprise a few people.

Wish me luck!

World Cup 2010 Warm Up: Germany 3-1 Bosnia

Germany’s impressive World Cup preparations concluded in Frankfurt am Main with a third win from as many games and another three goal haul, despite being made to fight back after falling behind early on.

It was a familiar foe who opened the scoring for Bosnia in the 15th minute. Germany’s defenders know all about Wolfsburg hitman Edin Dzeko. The striker is much wanted around Europe’s biggest clubs following a hat-full of goals in the Bundesliga in recent seasons and his pressure paid off when he closed down new Germany captain Philipp Lahm’s clearance, which deflected off him and into the goal.

Germany trailed to the interval, when they introduced Mueller and Cacau, and into the second period until Lahm, leading by example, brough Germany level with a run and shot into the top corner. A couple of fouls inside the Bosnian box gave Germany their chance to win the game with a brace of penalties from Bayern Munich midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger in four frantic second half minutes.

Next time out, Germany face Australia in their opening World Cup game in Durban, South Africa.

Germany 3-1 Bosnia (03/06/2010)

Starting Line-up:

45 Mueller for Klose
45 Cacau for Trochowski
71 Marin for Podolski
80 Gomez for Ozil
86 Tasci for Friedrich
87 Kroos for Schweinsteiger

Dzeko (15)
Lahm (50)
Schweinsteiger (74 pen)
Schweinsteiger (77 pen)

World Cup 2010 Warm Up: Hungary 0-3 Germany

Germany continued their preparations for the World Cup with another convincing victory, this time against Hungary in Budapest. It was a chance for some of the squad players to push for a place in the first team as the Germans fielded a team shorn of injured captain Michael Ballack, who misses the World Cup finals, and the four Bayern Munich players Schweinsteiger, Mueller,  Butt and Lahm, who were rested following last weekend’s Champions League final.

A crowd of around 14,000 at the Ferenc Puskas Stadium saw the visitors get off to a fine start and the early pressure paid off almost immediately when Per Mertesacker was fouled in the box following a corner. Lukas Podolski converted the resultant penalty to make it 1-0 in the 5th minute. The Germans continued to create chances and would have added to their lead before half time but for some wasteful finishing by About a Ball Young Player of the Year Mesut Özil.

Manager Joachim Low shuffled his pack early in the second period, introducing Aogo and Cacau followed 15 minutes later by Gomez, Jansen and Marin. These changes brough fresh impetus to the German attack and were rewarded in the 69th minute when Gomez doubled the lead. His strike partner Cacau added the third only three minutes later to wrap up the game and take his personal goal haul to three in the last two games for the national team.

Cacau’s previous two goals came in Germany’s first World Cup warm up game against Malta in Aachen on the 13th May. It was another 3-0 win with a own goal concluding the scoring. They complete their preparations with a friendly against Bosnia in Frankfurt on Thursday the 3rd of June, before flying out to South Africa to kick off their campaign against Australia (in Durban on the 13th of June).

Hungary 0-3 Germany (29/05/2010)

Starting Line-up:
A. Friedrich

46 Aogo for Khedira
46 Cacau for Özil
61 Gomez for Klose
61 Jansen for Trochowski
61 Marin for Kroos
71 Badstuber for A. Friedrich

Podolski (pen 5)
Gomez (69)
Cacau (72)

German Bundesliga 2009/10 ready to awake from winter slumber

Will Ribery and Co. be the team to be beat in 2010?

The German Bundesliga will restart on Friday night with Bayern Munich entertaining Hoffenheim after the lengthy winter break. 

 The German league has to be one of the “hidden-gems” of Europe consistently producing entertaining games and unexpected twists.  Last season saw VfL Wolfsburg claim their first ever title after they put together an astonishing run of form which saw them emerge from the pack to claim the title on the final day of the season.  With five teams separated by just five points at the top of the table, the second half of the 2009/10 season promises to be a fascinating affair.

But it isn’t just at the top of the table where the league is getting interesting.  The relegation battle also promises to be tense with several big-names struggling to preserve their top-flight status including Hertha Berlin and VfB Stuttgart.  Nevertheless both sides have performed creditably in Europe, going to show just how competitive a league the German Bundesliga is.

All eyes on Bayern

Much store is put by the title of “Winter Champion” in Germany, with the leader of the table at the halfway point often going on to claim the title.  The re-start of the season couldn’t be more apt.  Bayern, lying in third and the side many expect to go on to win the title, play Hoffenheim, the team who were Winter Champions last season, but slumped as dramatically as they had ascended the table to finish mid-pack.

Bayern re-commence the season as the form team after a lacklustre opening.  After a sequence of four disappointing draws in November, they rattled off four consecutive wins to finish the first half of the season as the side to beat.  They still have Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery to get back to full fitness, and have got rid of troubled Luca Toni.  Their outstanding performance in Europe at Juventus, which eased them through into the round of 16 of the Champions League, served further notice that Loius van Gaal is beginning to win the doubters round.

Bayern are two points off the leaders Bayer Leverkusen, who will prove stiff opposition to overhaul.  Leverkusen are yet to taste defeat in the first half of the season, are the leading goal-scorers in the league with 35 goals and have conceded the fewest.  Whilst Bayern also have European considerations, Bayer’s disappointing league form last season means they don’t have any extra-curricular activities with which to concern themselves, and are therefore free to concentrate on the league.  This freedom has been more than useful, and with last season’s leading scorer Patrick Helmes getting back to full-fitness, they will fancy their chances of holding out against a Bayern charge.

Magath back for more?

But Bayern won’t be the only threat to Bayer Leverkusen, as they seek to win their first ever Bundesliga title.  Schalke 04 currently separate the pair, and are just one point behind Leverkusen in second.  Coached by Felix Magath, who took Wolfsburg to the title last season, many expected Schalke to finally end decades of disappointment to claim their first title since the 1950’s.  Whilst things have run far from smoothly, Magath has succeeded in imposing a more pragmatic approach to the game.  This may be at odds with the rest of the league in terms of excitement, but could yield the long-suffering Schalke fans the Championship success they so desperately crave.

Hamburg are the polar opposite to Schalke, scoring nine more goals in the first half of the season, but also conceding six more.  However, their tilt at the title looks like faltering after a run of injuries up-front has ruled out both Mladen Petric and Paolo Guerrero leaving them  to rely on the out of form Marcus Berg for the goals.  They finished the first half of the season on a high beating local rivals Werder Bremen, but need to rekindle that form for the remainder of the competition, if they are to be a significant factor in the Championship race.

Borussia Dortmund are the surprise package of the 09/10 season.  After years in the doldrums, Germany’s best supported team, with average crowds of 75.000 for home games, look like they mean business under Jurgen Klopp.  They may have scored the second fewest out of any side in the top half of the table, but are just five points off the top of the table and have matches shortly coming up against Hamburg, Bayern Munich and Schalke.

What of Wolfsburg?

Last season’s winners Wolfsburg have endured an inconsistent first half of the season and find themselves in eighth place, some 11 points off the pace.  It has been five matches since their last victory, and with a consecutive run of matches against the top-four sides in February to worry about, it looks like their Championship success will remain a one-off for now.

The Winter Champions of last season Hoffenheim ended up finishing in seventh last season, and find themselves in the same position now.  They will be hoping they can reverse last season’s bad form and replicate the sort of ascent that Wolfsburg produced last season. 

Werder Bremen have thrilled and frustrated in equal measure thus far, but their effectiveness in attack decreased noticeably when they weren’t able to call on the service of Claudio Pizzaro.  The former Bayern and Chelsea striker has been in electric form over the first half of the season, but niggling injuries have sidelined him.  Furthermore recent news that he will miss the re-start doesn’t bode well for arguably Germany’s most exciting team.  Now some seven points off Bayer Leverkusen, a spot in next season’s Champions League may be the best they can hope for.

A relegation scrap

It’s not just at the top of the table that it’s beginning to get exciting, but also at the bottom.  Hertha were outsiders for Championship honours right until the end of last season, but the start of this was nothing short a disaster, leaving them languishing anchored to the foot of the table.  Indeed no side has ever started the season worse and survived, and they are still ten points adrift of safety.  However, under new boss Friedhelm Funkel, there are just one or two signs of recovery, and a 2-2 draw in the last home league game before Christmas against leaders Bayer Leverkusen suggested that all might not be lost yet.

VfB Stuttgart also recorded their worst start to a season since the mid-1970’s, and former Liverpool defender Markus Babbel was duly dismissed to be replaced by Christian Gross, previously of Spurs.  The Swiss manager had an immediate impact guiding Stuttgart into the last-16 of the Champions League and their recent recovery takes them out of the relegation zone on goal difference.  They still have much to do if they wish to preserve their status next season, never mind hoping for European football!

With everyone up to and including 11th-place Borussia Moenchengladbach less than five points clear off the drop-zone, the entire bottom half of the table is still in danger of finding themselves in a relegation scrap, so there will be plenty to play for as the remainder of the season unfolds.

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