Not much change in Dortmund…

5 Aug

The 49th instalment of Germany’s top professional league began much the way it finished last term – with a 3-1 home win for Deutscher Meister Borussia Dortmund.

The side they beat last May were of course Eintracht Frankfurt, who had to bare the ignominy of being relegated on the day their opponents lifted the Salad Bowl. This weekend, it was Hamburg who were blown out of the water by the incisive and thrusting style Jürgen Klopp has impressed upon his young side.

Dortmund were simply too good on the night for a young and very much ‘work-in-progress’ Hamburg. Nuri Sahin may be gone, Lucas Barrios and Marcel Schmelzer might be injured, but die Schwatzgelben nonchalantly disposed of Michael Oenning’s men within 48 minutes.

Dortmund were vibrant from the start. Quick, purposeful passing was backed up with pressing that bordered on harassment at times. Their midfield, on paper largely the same as last year but with Ilkay Gündogan in for the departed Sahin, popped the ball around swiftly like they’d never been away. Ex-Nürnberger Gündogan lined up alongside Sven Bender, but it was Shinji Kagawa who often dropped deep in order to create room high up the pitch.

And 2011/2s first goalscorer is....

This Dortmund side is beginning to draw tentative comparisons with a certain Catalan outfit. There are similarities with the way they conduct themselves off the ball, but Borussia’s first goal showed they are not afraid to go direct. A long punt upfield was controlled by Lewandowski, who turned and gave the ball to Götze. One pass, a hopelessly out of position Dennis Diekmeier, and two Kevin Groβkreutz touches later, the ball was in the back of the net.

By this stage, Dortmund were rampant. Kagawa hit the post after seemingly doing all the hard work. Minutes later Groβkreutz was again away down the left and his clever pull back found the Japanese in acres once again. This time Shinji pushed his shot wide of Drobny’s goal.

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The DFB Pokal and the Milk Cup

3 Aug

Last weekend, two cup competitions were taking place. One kicked off with 145 goals in just 32 games. The other was a youth tournament coming to a conclusion in Northern Ireland and saw Manchester United’s U-16s humbled in the final by Qatari side Aspire.

Schalke (minus Manuel Neuer) got their defence off to a good start. Thumping Teningen 11-1.

The first, of course, was the DFB Pokal. Won comprehensively in May by Schalke, 64 teams began the road to Berlin. The second was the Milk Cup. Not to be confused with the English League Cup sponsored by the Milk Marketing Board in the 1980s, that is the subject of this piece. This much maligned cup, renamed six times since 1982, is in desperate need of an overhaul.

Crowds are dwindling – despite the competition being split into north and south, only two of the 35 first round ties last year passed the 10,000 mark (Leeds and Southampton). Clubs, particularly in the Premier League, are happy to prioritise the league over the now called ‘Carling Cup’. The proverbial European carrot at the end of the stick appears not tantalising enough for many to take it seriously. The exception being Birmingham, who paid for Europa League football with their Premier League lives.

Next midweek, the 51st season of the English League Cup will kick off in earnest. Ok, Crawley have already seen off AFC Wimbledon in the prelims BUT I mean the first round proper. In the days to follow, numerous media sources – tenner says that the Beeb does a half-baked job of criticising crowds – will likely slate the competition. [Note: the attendance figures will be up on last year thanks to West Ham and a Nottingham derby]. Not one will offer up a well thought out plan to ‘save the cup.’

So here’s my attempt…

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The Bundesliga and Me #1 – Andy James

21 Jul

With just over a week to go before Borussia Dortmund kick off the new season at home to Hamburg, it’s time for another new feature on DieBundesligaUK.  Put simply, we put five questions to some prominent, English-speaking Bundesliga figures to find out a bit more about them and how they became involved in German football.

First up is editor of Bundesliga.com, Andy James. Andy studied in Nuremberg as part of his degree and took a chance by moving to Munich permanently after graduating. The move seems to have paid off as he now writes for FIFA.com on all things Germany, reports on German clubs and their progress in both European competitions for uefa.com and commentates for various international broadcasters…. I think that covers most of it, Andy? Anyway, you can follow Andy at @andybundi on Twitter. Let’s get started!

My earliest Bundesliga memory is…

Although I knew a fair bit about the Bundesliga from the Champions League and Championship Manager (obviously!) beforehand, I’d have to say that my first visual memory of it is when it used to be on Sky Sports in the early 2000s. I have a distinct memory of watching Claudio Pizarro and Roque Santa Cruz playing up front for Bayern. And Alan McInally was the pundit!

Andy has clearly had more success in Germany than Mr McInally did

 My favourite Bundesliga moment is…

I’m going to go for a recent one here: Nuri Sahin’s strike in Dortmund’s 3-1 victory over Bayern at the Allianz Arena last term. I think everyone was behind BVB owing to the fantastic football they’d been playing, but still there was a feeling that defeat in Munich would see their title charge disintegrate. Thankfully they were brilliant on the day and it was a victory all round for exciting football!

My favourite Bundesliga player of all time is….

It’s hard to look past the big stars of today, more of which are arriving all the time. Ribery and Robben are a class above, and I’m a big fan of Shinji Kagawa based on the six months of him we had last season. Going back to my childhood, I always liked Jürgen Klinsmann, Mehmet Scholl and Oliver Kahn – mainly from watching Champions League.

 My favourite Bundesliga ground is…

I would love to say the Signal Iduna Park (Westfalenstadion) but unfortunately I’ve never been there, yet. Stadium-wise Bayern is streets ahead with the Allianz – it’s modern, massive and, despite what some people say, that atmosphere isn’t too bad when FCB are playing well. The Champions League semi-final against Lyon in 2010 was particularly loud…

 I love the Bundesliga because…

The unpredictability factor. Who could have guessed that Dortmund would storm to the title last season with such a young side? Or that Hannover and Mainz would make it into Europe? It was one of the best seasons ever and a great one to be involved in. Furthermore, the quality is improving all the time – as evidenced by the Bundesliga overtaking Serie A in the UEFA coefficients recently. For fear of sounding boring, I also like how well-organised the league is and the way it is marketed, not to mention the emphasis on youth development. Even the Premier League could learn a thing or two on the latter, as well as the 50+1 rule which I think should become compulsory throughout Europe.

'I'm not listening': Not sure Herr Kind would agree with you there, Andy!

 

Many thanks again to a top man in Andy for his time and effort as he’s clearly a very busy bloke!

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