(Elevation Note- I’m pleased to introduce Mark Rex our newest OE correspondent. He will be our guide to help us navigate the 2010-2011 Bundesliga season. He knows everything about German football. I know very little, therefore he gets to be on the German beat. Check out his band at: http://www.popcampaign.blogspot.com/)
This article is Hof tested, and Hof approved.
After the excitement of Germany’s performance in this summers World Cup, everyone has waited for the new domestic season with baited breath and this weekend that wait was finally over with the commencement of the latest installment of the Bundesliga, now in it’s 48th season.
Ok, so Oezil and Khedira made the big money moves to La Liga and the main managerial excitement involved ex-England flop Steve “Man with an Umbrella” McLaren (Wiki it) taking over at VfLWolfsburg. This is the man, lest we forget, that within a matter of months of taking over at former club FC Twente was talking in broken English during an interview (Youtube it for laughs). It’s not all doom and gloom though, Ballack (Chelsea to Bayer Leverkusen, free) is back and that coupled with the arrival of Raul (Real Madrid to Schalke 04, free) is bound to keep the entertainment levels high in one of the biggest Football Leagues in the world.
The opening match kicked off on Friday night and pitted reigning champions Bayern Munich against 08-09 champs, Wolfsburg. It was the first match in charge for the aforementioned McLaren and there ain’t no bigger baptism of fire than this. 69,000 crammed into the Alliance Arena to watch a Bayern team that boasts absolutely no changes from last season other than the return of German World Cup medalist Toni Kroos from Leverkusen (obviously now surplus to requirements with the above Ballack switch). This is in stark contrast to Wolfsburg who splashed the cash this summer, spending in excess of €19m.
Bayern got off to a flier thanks to a fine finish from Golden Boot winner Thomas Mueller after just 9 minutes. Munich continued to press with some fine play by Ribery showing no signs that his impending court trial is affecting his performance on the pitch. Bayern dominated until half time and could have went in 2 or 3 ahead if they had taken their chances. After the break, Wolfsburg were a changed side. They suddenly had a swagger and a will to win the game. After several missed chances (mainly thanks to some sloppy Bayern defending) they finally equalised in the 55th minute from a corner received successfully by the head of Edin Dzeko. The match then could have gone either way. Both teams made a couple of changes to try shake things up but it looked set for a draw, until, in the 92nd minute, Bavarian local hero, Bastian Schweinsteiger connected at the far post to a Ribery cross that sealed Wolfsburg’s fate. The stadium exploded as Bayern tasted sweet victory and Wolfsburg suffered a cruel fate. Their pain was no better explained than via the replayed television coverage of McLaren throwing his water bottle down in anger and mouthing an obscenity in perfect English.
Franck Ribery prepares to enter the game.
Saturday afternoon brought with it the emergence of funf neu (5 new) matches. The rise of 1899 Hoffenheim in German Football is a true David vs Goliath story and one that fairytales are written about. They continued their ascendance to the top of the game with a convincing 4-1 victory over SV Werder Bremen who are clearly at a bit of a loss with the departure of Oezil. It all started so well for Bremen who were awarded a penalty after just 3 minutes due to a handball by Marvin Compper. Captain Torsten Frings stepped up and made no mistake from the spot. However, Hoffenheim are not a team that allows a silly thing like having a tiny population of just 3,300 to stop them competing with the big boys in the Bundesliga and in turn they showed what they are all about by equalising in the 20th minute and then banging in three more in the space of eight minutes before Half-Time. Bremen couldn’t get back into it after that and were showing clear signs of fatigue after their impressive 3-1 victory in the Champions League Play-Off in mid-week against Sampdoria. It finished 4-1 Hoffenheim.
Newly promoted St. Pauli and 1. FC Kaiserlautern both won their first games back in the top flight 3-1. It is the first time that the new boys have both won their opening fixtures in Bundesliga history.
Kaiserlautern’s victims were 1.FC Koln (who played with just 10 men for 88 minutes of the match due to the sending off of Yousseff Mohammed) and St. Pauli saw away SC Freiburg with relative ease.
In 1997/1998 season, Kaiserlautern beat Bayern Munich in their opening fixture and went on to win the league becoming the first newly promoted team to do so in the Bundesliga. They will be hoping for a repeat this time round but in reality staying up would be a good achievement for both these sides this year.
In the other matches on Saturday afternoon, Borussia Moenchengladbach drew 1-1 with 1.FC Nurnberg and Hannover 96 beat Eintracht Frankfurt 2-1.
Saturday evening brought the Bundesliga debut of Raul with Hamburger SV vs Schalke 04. HSV dominated the first half and should have been ahead at the break when Ruud Van Nistelrooy hammered the crossbar with a free kick leaving Neuer to make a fantastic save by denying the rebound by Elia. However, just a minute after the break, Van Nistelrooy did score after a dream cross by Elia on the left wing. Soon after, around the 60 minute mark, Hoewedes was sent off for Schalke and things looked like caving in on them until on the 80th minute when Farfan netted from an Ivan Rakitic free-kick. However, they couldn’t hold on for the draw and Van Nistelrooy pounced again 3 minutes later to seal their fate and hand victory to Hamburg.
On Sunday afternoon, 1.FSV Mainz shocked Stuttgart after goals from their new strike duo of Allagui and Rasmussen after Stuttgart’s Cacau missed a penalty and that evening Bayer Leverkusen sealed a 2-0 away victory against Borussia Dortmund with goals from Barnetta and Renat-Augusto which meant a happy return to the Bundesliga for Michael Ballack after four years away.
For those of you who love a good stat here are the details of all the games this weekend:
20.08.10 20:30 FC Bayern München 2 : 1 VfL Wolfsburg
Mueller (9’) Dzeko (55’)
FC Bayern: Butt – Lahm, van Buyten, Badstuber, Contento – van Bommel, Schweinsteiger – Müller, Kroos (Pranjic 73′), Ribery – Klose (Gomez 74′)
Wolfsburg: Benaglio – Pekarik (Misimovic 46′), Kjaer, Barzagli, Schäfer – Riether, Josue – Ziani (Dejagah 77′), Cicero, Mandzukic (Grafite 88′) – Dzeko
Attendance in the Allianz Arena: 69,000
Bookings: 4 Yellow Cards: Mark Van Bommel (BM 33’) Peter Pekarik (VfL W 43’), Cicero ( VfL W 62’) Andrea Barzagli (VfL W 66’)
21.08.10 15:30 1899 Hoffenheim 4 : 1 SV Werder Bremen 4:1 (4:1)
Demba Ba (20’) Torsten Frings (3’ PEN)
Peniel Kokou Mlapa (37’)
Vedad Ibjsevic (41’)
Sejad Salihovic (43’)
1899: Starke – Beck, Vorsah, Simunic, Compper (Eichner 72′) – Weis, Gustavo, Salihovic – Mlapa (Thomalla 77′), Ibisevic, Ba (Vukcevic 62′)
Bremen: Wiese – Fritz, Mertesacker, Prödl, Pasanen – Frings – Borowski (Wagner 73′), Hunt (Marin 46′), Bargfrede – Pizarro, Almeida (Arnautovic 23′)
Attendance: 13,000 (Rhein-Neckar-Arena)
Bookings: 3 Yellow Cards: Tim Borowski ( WB 10’) Clemens Fritz (WB 66’) Christian Eichner (H 89’)
21.08.10 15:30 Borussia M’gladbach 1 : 1 1. FC Nürnberg
Idrissou (31′) Hegeler (15′)
Mönchengladbach: Bailly – Levels, Brouwers, Dante, Daems – Bradley, Marx – Reus, Arango (Hermann 83′) – Matmour (Bobadilla 64′), Idrissou
Nürnberg: Schäfer – Judt, Wolf, Nilsson, Pinola (Bieler 67′) – Hegeler, Simons – Ekici (Eigler 73′), Gündogan, Bunjaku (Frantz 86′) – Schieber
Attendance: 42,202 (Borussia Park)
Bookings: 2 Yellows Cards: Filip Daems (BM 80’) Raphael Schaefer (FCN 86’)
21.08.10 15:30 1. FC Köln 1: 3 1. FC Kaiserslautern
Novakovic (8′) Lakic (70′)
Köln: Mondragon – Brecko, McKenna, Mohamad, Salger Petit (Ehret 86′) – Lanig, Jajalo Yalcin (Pezzoni 14′) – Novakovic, Podolski (Freis 78′)
Lautern: Sippel – Dick, Amedick, Rodnei, Bugera (Jessen 46′) – Tiffert, Bilek Kirch (Ilicevic 46′), Moravek (Nemenc 78′) – Lakic, Hoffer
Attendance: 49,200 (RheinEnergieStadion)
Bookings: 1 Red Card : Mohamad (FCKo 2′)
3 Yellow Cards: Lukas Podolski (FCKo 78’) Florian Dick (FCKa 37’) Leon Jessen (FCKa 56’)
21.08.10 15:30 SC Freiburg 1 : 3 FC St. Pauli
Cisse (78′) Boll (83′)
Freiburg: Pouplin Mujdza (Williams 46′), Barth, Butscher, Bastians – Schuster Caligiuri (Nicu 56′), Makiadi, Rosenthal (Reisinger 89′), Jäger – Cisse
Pauli: Hain – Rothenbach, Thorandt, Zambrano, Oczipka – Boll, Lehmann – Bruns (M. Kruse 58′), Hennings (Bartels 68′), Naki (Sukuta-Pasu 80′) – Ebbers
Attendance: 24,000 (sold out – Badenova-Stadion)
21.08.10 15:30 Hannover 96 2: 1 Eintracht Frankfurt
Rausch (21′) Köhler (27′)
Ya Konan (75′)
Hannover: Fromlowitz – Cherundolo, Haggui, Pogatetz, Schulz – Pinto, Schmiedebach (Stindl 85′) – Carlitos (Stoppelkamp 3′), Rausch (Djakpa 74′) – Abdellaoue, Ya Konan
Frankfurt: Nikolov – Jung, Franz, Russ, Tzavellas (Korkmaz 65′) – Meier, Schwegler (Caio 78′) – Ochs, Köhler – Gekas (Halil Altintop 60′), Amanatidis
Attendance: 37,212 (AWD-Arena)
Bookings: 1 Yellow Card: Georgios Tzavellas (F 62’)
21.08.10 18:30 Hamburger SV 2: 1 FC Schalke 04
van Nistelrooy (46′ & 83’) Farfan (80′)
HSV: Demel, Westermann, Mathijsen, Jansen (Rincon 77′) – Jarolim, Ze Roberto – Pitroipa, Petric (Guerrero 70′), Elia (Kacar 79′) – van Nistelrooy
Schalke: Neuer – Matip (Uchida 59′), Höwedes, Metzelder, Hao – Papadopoulos (Schmitz 49′), Jones – Farfan, Rakitic – Raul (Moritz 63′)), Edu
Attendance: 55,000 (Imtech Arena)
Bookings: 4 Yellow Cards and 1 Red: van Nistelrooy (H 47’) Ze Roberto (H 84’) Benedikt Höwedes (FCS 53’) Benedikt Höwedes (FCS 60′ 2nd Yellow > RED)
22.08.10 15:30 1. FSV Mainz 05 2: 0 VfB Stuttgart
Mainz: Wetklo – Zabavnik, Svensson, Noveski, Fuchs – Holtby (Simak 89′), Karhan (Caligiuri 67′), Polanski – Soto – Allagui, Rasmussen (Szalai 72′)
VfB: Ulreich – Degen (Harnik 67′), Boulahrouz, 6 Niedermeier, Molinaro – Gentner, Kuzmanovic – Gebhart (Audel 57′), Träsch – Cacau, Marica (Pogrebnyak 75′)
Attendance: 20,300 (sold out – Bruchwegstadion)
Bookings: 5 Yellow Cards: Mainz: Bo Svensson (M 18’) Radoslav Zabavnik (M 20’) Christian Fuchs (M 38’) Christian Wetklo (M 70’) Georg Niedermeier (S 90+3)
22.08.10 17:30 Borussia Dortmund 0 : 2 Bayer 04 Leverkusen
Tranquillo Barnetta (19′)
Renato Augusto (22′)
BVB: Weidenfeller – Owomoyela (Rangelow 77′), Subotic, Hummels, Schmelzer – Kehl (Lewandowski 63′), Sahin – Großkreutz (Piszczek 67′), Kagawa, Götze – Barrios
Bayer: Adler – Castro, Reinartz, Hyypiä, Kadlec – Ballack, Vidal (Balitsch 81′) – Augusto (Schwaab 81′), Barnetta (L. Bender 76′) – Derdiyok, Kießling
Attendance: 73,300 (Signal-Iduna-Park)
Goals: 0-1 Bookings: NONE
And finally looking forward to next weeks Bundesliga Matches:
Date Home Away
27.08.10 20:30 1. FC Kaiserslautern : FC Bayern München
28.08.10 15:30 FC Schalke 04 : Hannover 96
28.08.10 15:30 SV Werder Bremen : 1. FC Köln
28.08.10 15:30 VfL Wolfsburg : 1. FSV Mainz 05
28.08.10 15:30 Eintracht Frankfurt : Hamburger SV
28.08.10 15:30 1. FC Nürnberg : SC Freiburg
28.08.10 18:30 FC St. Pauli : 1899 Hoffenheim
29.08.10 15:30 Bayer 04 Leverkusen : Borussia M’gladbach
29.08.10 17:30 VfB Stuttgart : Borussia Dortmund