Archive | March, 2011

The Talking Points – Week 27

20 Mar

‘Gladbach gone?

Logan Bailly’s ill-timed punch in treacherous conditions gave Kaiserslautern all three points as Lucien Favre’s side slipped to their 9th and perhaps most catastrophic home defeat of the season. With 6 of their 7 remaining games against top half sides (the other is at home to Köln), avoiding a return to the 2nd tier after three seasons is fast approaching an impossibility for die Fohlen.

Relegation Rivals

Before the weekend began, I blogged a report on the possible permutations of the three crunch clashes that were to take place in week 27. On Friday night, Kaiserslautern were the first of the bottom 7 to reach 31 points. That put pressure on Werder Bremen (who surprisingly went on to win 3-1 at form side Nürnberg on Saturday), and of course added fire to Eintracht Frankfurt – St. Pauli and Stuttgart – Wolfsburg. 

As it happened, Eintracht won for the first time this year and St. Pauli slipped to their 5th successive defeat. Then on Sunday, Georg Niedermeier’s brilliant control and finish in the 94th minute gave Stuttgart a precious point and spoilt Felix Magath’s Wolfsburg return.

That all meant that with ‘Gladbach adrift at the bottom, Wolfsburg lie 17th with 27 pts, with St. Pauli in the play-off spot on 28. Niedermeier’s crucial goal meant that Stuttgart only slip to a neck-moistening 15th with Eintracht and Kaiserslautern the big winners on 31 pts apiece.

Interfering with play?

Last week, Eintracht Frankfurt finally scored in quite bizarre circumstances when Tzavellas’ long ball forward evaded everybody and everything but the Schalke net. This week, they may again be deemed fortunate to have broken their home duck.

The incident occurred in the 33rd minute when the ball was flicked on into the St. Pauli area. Alexander Meier, returning from an offside position (a good couple of yards too), practically shielded the ball for Theofanis Gekas who got goal-side of Dennis Daube and was subsequently ‘hauled’ down.

Let’s be honest… the ball went so close to Alexander Meier’s chest that it may well have brushed his red and black shirt. He must’ve been interfering because his run actually stopped Daube from reaching the ball. Unfortunately for Pauli, the referee, Günter Perl, somehow interpreted otherwise and booked the impeding Daube.

Make your own mind up here: 0:43 – 1.14

Ze Recordo

Ze Roberto had a good day on Saturday. Not only did he score and his side comfortably gave Michael Oenning the perfect start (along with repairing some of the damage done at the Allianz the week before,) he joined Sergej Barbarez on 330 Bundesliga appearances – the most for any foreign player.

After making his debut for Bayer Leverkusen in 1998, the defensive midfielder had two spells with Bayern Munich before his move to Hamburg in 2009. The 36 year old has been slightly more successful than his Yugoslavian counterpart, with 4 Bundesliga titles, all during his time at Bayern Munich.

Nuri Sahin’s penalties

Not quite sure how Christian Wetklo remained on the pitch after his Harald Schumacher-esque (okay, so it wasn’t that bad) assault on Lucas Barrios, but he did. And then, to add to Jürgen Klopp’s rage, he saved Nuri Sahin’s penalty meaning the young Turk has now been unsuccessful for the third spotkick running. It proved costly aswell, with Petar Sliskovic netting a very late equaliser for travelling Mainz, and then Leverkusen closing what could, at one stage, have been a 12 point gap, to a relatively measly 7 point margin with victory over die Schwatzgelb’s rivals, Schalke.

By James Challinor @JaChallinor @DieBundesligaUK

Huge weekend at the bottom – the relegation permutations of Week 27

18 Mar

Although no-one can go down this weekend, any weekend where the bottom 6 face each other can have incredible permutations for relegation come May 14th at 17.30ish. It’s shaping up to be one of the tensest, exciting relegation battles in recent memory.

This’ll hopefully guide you through what can happen this weekend as Gladbach host Kaiserslautern tonight, St Pauli travel to Eintracht Frankfurt and Stuttgart – Wolfsburg wraps up week 27.

The current situation at the bottom is:

Werder Bremen 29 pts

Stuttgart 28 pts

Kaiserslautern 28 pts

Eintracht Frankfurt 28 pts

St Pauli 28 pts

Wolfsburg 26 pts

M’gladbach 23 pts

So, the team-by-team scenarios for each side are as follows:

Werder Bremen (12th with 29 pts and an awful -18 goal difference) by no means out of it and they could be as low as 16th should they lose at in-form Nürnberg on Saturday afternoon, and…

  • Kaiserslautern win at ‘Gladbach
  • Eintracht and St Pauli draw

Stuttgart (13th with 28 pts, -3 GD) were boosted by their dramatic win at the Millerntor last Sunday evening. A win at home to Wolfsburg this Sunday evening would make it 4 wins in a row for Bruno Labaddia’s side and give them significant breathing space from the bottom two. Defeat coupled with the following could leave them gulping for air in 17th once again…

  • Kaiserslautern pick up a point or more at ‘Gladbach
  • Eintracht and St Pauli draw

Kaiserslautern (14th with 28 pts, -8 GD) are second in a clutch of sides on 28 points. They could almost certainly send ‘Gladbach down with a win at Borussia Park tonight. They should be confident of doing so, having beat die Fohlen 3-0 earlier in the season. A win could leave them 5 points above 17th. Defeat to the Green and Black would, along with the subsequent results would lead them in a collar-tugging 17th…

  • Eintracht and St Pauli draw
  • Wolfsburg win at Stuttgart

The dismal start to 2011 of Eintracht Frankfurt (15th with 28 pts, -11 GD) could get even worse if they let out of sorts St Pauli take all 3 at the Commerzbank-Arena on Saturday afternoon. They halted one unwanted streak last Saturday when they ended 793 goalless minutes at Schalke, but are yet to win this side of Christmas. If they win, they could jump to 12th. If they lose, they could end up in the bottom two for the first time since week 5, should:

  • Wolfsburg win at Stuttgart
  • Kaiserslautern avoid defeat by 3 or more goals at ‘Gladbach

St Pauli (16th with 28 pts, -17 GD) had a disastrous home defeat to Stuttgart last week, fresh on the back of their 5-0 thrashing at Nürnberg. They cannot afford to lose at Frankfurt this week. For one, it could give the home side fresh impetus for the remaining 7 games, and would leave them in 17th should…

  • Wolfsburg win at Stuttgart

Wolfsburg (17th with 26 pts, -9 GD) have had an interesting week. Hot on the heels of his departure from Schalke, Felix Magath has returned to become the long-term successor to Schteve McClaren, signing a contract through to June 2013. He’ll also take Dieter Hoeneß’s position of sporting director. Instant success for Magath could see them climb as 12th (defeats for Werder Bremen, Kaiserslautern, and a draw between Eintracht and St Pauli.) Defeat may leave them 5 pts off safety, if…

  • Werder Bremen beat Nürnberg
  • Kaiserslautern beat ‘Gladbach
  • Victory for either Eintracht or St Pauli

Borussia M’Gladbach (18th, 23 pts, -22 GD) have improved under Lucien Favre. Dante’s vital late equaliser has given them some hope when all looked lost. They need 3 points at home to Kaiserslautern tonight if they are to have any hope of staying up. They could find themselves 8 points adrift of safety if….

  • Werder Bremen beat Nürnberg
  • Stuttgart beat Wolfsburg
  • Victory for either Eintracht or St Pauli

The Extraordinary Freefall of Eintracht Frankfurt

13 Mar

It’s been a funny old season for Michael Skibbe’s Eintracht Frankfurt. In week 11, they were as high as 4th. A whole five places above reigning champions Bayern Munich. Some patchy form between then and week 16 saw them drop as low as 9th (week 14), but victory in week 17 saw them go into Christmas in a comfortable 7th with 26 points, just a win away from 5th place and a Europa League spot. To put this in perspective, it was their best Autumn Bundesliga points tally since three-points-for-a-win was introduced in 1995/6. Oh, and for reference, they were 14 points above Stuttgart in 17th.

That win in week 17 was against already crowned Herbstmeister, Borussia Dortmund, at a sold-out Commerzbank-Arena. Theofanis Gekas’ 87th minute left-foot strike at the end of a wonderfully flowing Frankfurt move dealt BVB their first defeat since the opening day, spoilt their previously perfect away record and halted their winning streak at 7. That was the 14th goal of the Greek’s season which saw him top the Bundesliga scoring charts at halfway.

Since then, it’s been a tale of woe. Defeat on penalties in the Pokal at Aachen 4 days later was a disappointing way to cap a progressive 2010, but nothing could have prepared the Eintracht fans for their start to 2011.  Four miserable home defeats [Hannover (0-3), ‘Gladbach (0-1), Leverkusen (0-3) and Stuttgart (0-2)] interspersed by more road cruelty at Hamburg (1-0) and Nürnberg (3-0) were given only temporary, light (and I mean light in the loosest possible sense) relief with 0-0 bore draws at Freiburg and at home to local rivals Kaiserslautern.

So, Saturday comes. They’re away at Schalke and unsurprisingly the first half is 44 minutes old and there are no goals. Then Raul, in a Robbie Keane-esque (there are others but that’s the first that comes to mind) manner, crept up on Ralf Fährmann, who rolls the ball out and shapes to clear. As he does so, Raul gets there first and Fährmann cleans him up. Jurado tucks away the injury time penalty and that should be that. Eintracht won’t score and it’ll be 3 points for the Champions League quarter-finalists from Gelsenkirchen. Time ticks on… 800 minutes without a Bundesliga goal is looming for Skibbe’s side.

Then, in the 70th minute, left-back Georgios Tzavellas launches a long-ball forward to top-scorer Gekas, who hasn’t scored since that win against Dortmund. Manuel Neuer anticipates Gekas controlling it and takes a step to his right, but the Greek doesn’t make contact leaving Neuer stranded as the ball rolls into the net. It ended a run of 793 Bundesliga minutes without a goal celebration for the Frankfurt fans, and of course, team.

Those 793 minutes have become the third longest scoreless streak in Bundesliga history – behind Köln’s 1034 (2001/2) and Saarbrücken (1992/3). Unsurprisingly, and perhaps ominously for Frankfurt, both sides were relegated.

The goal itself sets a new record in the Bundesliga. When Tzavellas let fly, he was all of 73 metres out, beating Köln’s Klaus Allofs’ 1986 record of 70 metres.

Frankfurt’s champagne, however, was put back on ice when Angelos Charisteas slotted home after Marco Russ’ flick-on from Neuer’s long kick with only five to go. 2-1 was the way it stayed with no more freak goals to rescue the Veltins’ visitors.

The defeat puts Eintracht further into the mire. They now sit only 3 points clear of the relegation zone and 2 above the play-off position. It is not beyond comprehension that they could sit level on points with that play-off place should Stuttgart pick up the maximum at Pauli on Sunday evening.

Should Frankfurt be able to beat the drop, Theofanis Gekas, who remains 3rd top scorer in the Bundesliga, needs to start finding the net with regularity again. Skibbe will hope Tzavellas’ strike will somehow rejuvenate his side’s wilting confidence. It needs to, and quick. Frankfurt’s next three opponents are in their immediate vicinity (home to St. Pauli, away at Wolfsburg and home to Werder Bremen). These three fixtures will surely either make or break their season, with tough games against Bayern, Mainz and Dortmund later on.

By James Challinor