Euro 2012: Germany Player ratings

Here are my ratings for the DFB squad in the Euro 2012 tourney. I’m using the German version which is low to high: 1=God, 3=decent, 6=Should play for Ireland…just kidding!! Basically, crapola

I can’t remember if there is a 3rd place match, but that’s worthless anyway, so here’s my ratings:

GK: Manuel Neuer            Grade: 3
It’s hard to gain a perspective on Neuer, as he was pretty solid, but generally didn’t have much to do. Neuer actually didn’t have any of his usual “wanker-itis” fits costing Germany a goal, so by and large, a decent tournament.

DF: Jerome Boateng        Grade: 3
Boateng was OK, but not spectacular. One of his better games was holding down Cristiano Ronaldo in the opener, but he was exposed, especially in the Italy match.

DF: Lars Bender               Grade: 2.5
Bender only got to play with Boateng suspended, but he did make the most of it, scoring the winner against Denmark and generally playing well.

DF: Matts Hummels         Grade: 2
Hummels was excellent except against Italy. He showed quickness and vision. Showed some danger in the opposing penalty box on set pieces.

DF: Holger Badstuber      Grade: 3.5
Generally solid, but he is kind of slow and prone to clumsiness when challenged. He certainly wasn’t up to holding down Balotelli. On the other hand, he was OK in most other matches, and has been improving at Bayern, so there may still be some additional upside. He reminds me of Beckenbauer’s waterboy, Georg Schwarzenbeck.

DF: Philipp Lahm             Grade: 3.5
This was not one of Lahm’s better tournaments. He had some decent moments, mostly when going forward. He was all over the place on defense, often getting beaten. What you want is a talented Berti Vogts. That’s Lahm, but he didn’t show it on defense this round.

DF: Per Mertesacker       Grade: DNP
Mertesacker is actually one of the big losers. I only mention him because of that. His lack of pace has been exposed at Arsenal and he’s basically been played off the park by Hummels and Badstuber. It looks like it will take injuries to get him back in the lineup.

MF: Sami Khedira            Grade: 2
Khedira had a strong tournament, solid in defense and going forward was quite dangerous. He was one of the few who didn’t crumble against Italy, constantly pushing hard.

MF: Bastian Schweinsteiger Grade: 4
A crap tournament for Schweini. Some of it may be due to his nagging injuries, but he was crap and possibly should have been yanked. He lost the ball a lot and had few ideas going forward, seemed slow and lumbering. This may be an exception, so obviously Löw has to give him the benefit of the doubt.

MF: Marco Reus              Grade: 2
Reus certainly improved his chances. One may have wondered whether his Gladbach success was an exception, but he indicated that he might be the real deal. Fast, strong in his dribbling, accurate in his shot. He had nothing to lose, and took his chance.

MF: Lukas Podolski         Grade: 4
Crap tournament for Poldi. 100 caps and he looked old and slow. His shots were all over the place, if he was scoring, you’d forgive the rest. Let’s hope he regains his killer instinct.

MF: Thomas Müller          Grade: 4
Müller wasn’t having a great tournament, and apparently Joggi Löw perceived that, as he wasn’t chosen for Italy. At times, he was dangerous down the right flank, but in general this year has not been a very good one, as his form at Bayern was below his capabilities as well. Seems to have lost his scoring touch.

MF: Mesut Özil                 Grade: 3
Others are marking Özil down, but overall, I didn’t think he was that bad. He showed creativity in flashes, but was quiet for periods. He often gets blamed for not scoring, but frankly he seems too wussy to bang the ball in the net. That’s really not an issue, as Germany has enough to score goals. Look, he’s not ever going to be Diego Maradona, but he adds another dimension to the German attack.

MF: Toni Kroos                Grade: 4
Kroos apparently complained a lot about sitting on the bench. Löw gave him his chance against Italy, and Toni basically dropped a turd. He was overmatched in midfield by the Italians, and didn’t add any creativity in attack. He did show some willingness to take shots, and of course it’s unfair to judge him on only a single match.

MF: André Schürrle         Grade: 4
Certainly didn’t help his chances, basically sucked.

F: Mario Gomez              Grade: 3
Gomez didn’t do much but put the ball in the net. What more do you want? He started out OK, but I think Löw might have made a crucial mistake in not letting him start against Greece. If he had banged in a couple there, he would have been ready for Italy. Instead, Gomez seemed bewildered by what had happened, and amazingly timid.

F: Miroslav Klose           Grade: 3.5
It’s the end of the long road. Maybe you’ll get a few worthless caps so you can pass Gerd Müller, but let’s be serious: you’re no Gerd Müller – it’ll take you twice as many matches to score those goals. Klose was a nice option off the bench and played decently when he was in. But he’ll soon be collecting his pension, so it’s time to move on.

Coach: Joggi Löw         Grade: 3
Löw deserves some credit for building this team and imposing an attacking style and attractive play. He’s promoted youngsters and got them working together – in fact, Germany was the youngest squad at the Euros! Early in the tournament, it was clear he made the right choices. For example, going with Hummels over Mertesacker proved to be dead on. But starting with Greece, it seemed like he wanted to prove he was real clever. No real loss there, because Germany was far superior he could have had Benny Lauth or some of the England squad out there. However his cleverness certainly seemed to screw with Gomez head. Then he was outcoached by Prandelli at the start, and the hole proved too deep to come back. Still, he’s got Germany on the right track. I think his main challenge is to find another option to challenge Gomez now that Klose probably is thinking retirement in MLS…

Euro: Deutschland crashes out!

Germany choked against the Angstgegner Italy 1-2 and is out of the Euro. It was actually a good game, and the DFB squad will be losing a lot of sleep over this one. They certainly had their chances to win, but sucked when it really counted, and the Italians were way too clever for them. So what else is new? Germany has won only 7 times in 30 tries against Italy, and *never* in an important tournament. The Germans virtually get “owned” everytime, and today was no different.

Coach Joachim Löw did make one change, bringing in Toni Kroos in place of Thomas Müller, perhaps with the idea of adding some more steel in the defense. Schweinsteiger continued, despite the earlier injury worries. The DFB squad pressed from the opening minutes, and came dangersouly close to scoring early when Hummels forced the ball in, Pirlo clearing off the line. Especially with Mesut Özil raiding from the right, Germany looked they wanted to blow Italy off the map. However, the Italian squad was well organzied and positioned. By no means was this a traditional catenaccio type squad. They did pack the midfield, and were tight in defense. But as the game wore on, they began to exploit some glaring weaknesses in the German defense. Especially Cassano on the left made Boateng look flat-footed. After a few decent long shots (no trouble for Neuer though), the Italians opened the scoring in the 20th. Cassano once again faked Boateng out of his jockstrap, and flipped in a delicate cross. Badstuber wasn’t paying attention and could only flail like a wanker as Balotelli rose and majestically headed home, no chance for Neuer. Italy had stunningly taken the lead.

Germany reacted with some fierce attacks, but Buffon had shaken off some early tentativeness and came up with some excellent saves. Then a classic sucker punch, as Montalivo (dangerous especially in the fierce half) launched a long ball that caught Badstuber and Hummels sleeping. Ballotelli raced through and despite a desperate lunge by Philip Lahm, the infant terrible of Italian football blasted a rocket into the net. Neuer just waved helplessly. At this point, most realists knew the game was over. In this form, no way Italy was giving back this game. However to their credit, Germany didn’t give up.

At half-time, Löw pulled two absolutely worthless players. Podolski had pretty much stunk the whole tournament, and this match was no exception. His only contribution was to probably knock out an Italian fan as he blasted some 50 rows into the stands on another one of his horrible misses. Mario Gomez was also terrible, looked like a tree stump out there, no movement, stumbling over his feet. So Marco Reus and Miro Klose came on. Reus especially added to Germany’s attack, and the DFB squad desperately assaulted the Italian goal. However the defense and Buffon were up to the task, the latter making another great save as he tipped a Reus-rocket off the cross bar. After about 30 minutes of attack, the Germans were beginning to run out of gas. Italy had a few chances to finish them off, but wasted them. Perhaps they were ordered not to embarass Angela Merkel too much because Italy is going to want a euro bailout soon. Germany finally launched some last gasp assaults at the end, and Italy gave up a handball penalty, Özil converting. But everybody knew the game was over. A deserved win for Italy, as Prandelli outfoxed Joggi Löw. Although several players were quite good, some key contributors failed, and finishing was terrible. Overall, however, it wasn’t a bad German performance. They were aggressive, attacked, controlled large portions of the match. This effort probably would have beaten just about anybody. But Italy knows how to play against Germany, and they sucker punched them like they always do.

Germany   -   Italy    1:2 (0:2)

Attendance: 55,540 (Warsaw)

0:1  Balotelli (20., Cassano)
0:2  Balotelli (36., Montolivo)
1:2  Özil (90. + 2, penalty)

Boateng (71. Th. Müller), Hummels, Badstuber, Lahm
Schweinsteiger, Khedira
Kroos, Özil, Podolski (46. Reus)
Gomez (46. Klose).

Balzarettii, Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini
Marchisio, Montolivo (64. Thiago Motta), De Rossi
Balotelli (70. Di Natale), Cassano (58. Diamanti).

Euro 2012: Greece kicked out of euro

Germany dominated Greece 4-2 to advance into the semifinals of the Euro championship. It wasn’t even this close, as the Greeks basically parked the bus to hold down the score line. Still, they managed to have a few minutes of joy when they shockingly tied the match on a clever breakaway. Still, they can’t complain now that they have to go back to the drachma…

The DFB squad came out with a surprise lineup, as Klose, Reus and Schürrle started. Perhaps Joggi Löw he could run out any lineup and still win, and basically he was proven right. Greece gave a valiant effort, but they were outclassed. Germany dominated from the start, controlling the ball and pressuring the Greek defense, which often seemed like they had 10 guys in the box. Despite a lot of pressure (and some luck when an early goal was discounted for a very nitpick offside), the Greeks somehow managed to hold off, until Philip Lahm banged in from outside the box. To give an idea of the lopsided affair, in the first half Germany completed 360 passes, Greece only 60.

The second half was more of the same, although Greece did get their shining moment. A blitz raid down the left and a perfect ccross, Boateng waving like a wanker, Samaras knocked home the equalizer. Didn’t really faze the DFB squad, and they just continued the pressure, and a few minutes later the outstanding Khedira smashed in a volley. Klose added another shortly as he outleapt everybody for a header, and Reus hammered home a rebound. Greece got a consolation penalty at the end when Boateng screwed up again and handled the ball.

Overall, a strong performance, but hard to evaluate, because Germany was clearly better. Khedira was outstanding, Reus, Lahm and Özil very good. On the negative, Boateng was largely crap, especially since he didn’t have much to do, and Schweinsteiger didn’t seem to be in the game, losing the ball frequently and making crummy passes. Maybe he should have been given the night off. I’d also say that Löw’s experiment with Schürrle didn’t pan out, so expect Podolski back after his day off, although Reus at least made his case. Klose was actually pretty good, although I would think Gomez probably still gets the nod.

Germany    -   Greece    4:2 (1:0)

Attendance: 38,751 (PGE Stadium, Gdansk)

1:0  Lahm (39., Özil)
1:1  Samaras (55., Salpingidis)
2:1  Khedira (61., Boateng)
3:1  Klose (68., Özil)
4:1  Reus (74., Klose)
4:2  Salpingidis (89., penalty)

Boateng, Hummels, Badstuber, Lahm
Schweinsteiger, Khedira
Reus (80. Götze), Özil, Schürrle (67. Th. Müller)
Klose (80. Gomez)

Torossidis, Papastathopoulos, Papadopoulos, Tzavellas (46. Fotakis)
Makos (72. Liberopoulos), Maniatis
Ninis (46. Gekas), Katsouranis, Samaras

Euro 2012: Germany workmanlike win

The DFB squad had a relatively decent 2-1 win against a plucky Danish side in the final match of the Group stage at Euro 2012. There were a few moments of nervousness late in the game with the match 1-1, and news filtering that Portugal was winning their match. In that case, a Danish goal could have sent the Germans out. But only a few minutes later the Germans sealed the win to win the group and advance to the quarterfinals against the once again surprising upstart Greece.

Joachim Löw brought out the same squad that had won both previous matches, although Leverksuen’s Lars Bender got the start at RB, since Jerome Boateng was “yellowed”. This would prove to be a fortuitous move, since Bender had an excellent match. (Not that Boateng hadn’t played well, but Löw has had trouble figuring out what to do the the right side). Germany started brightly, possessing the ball and pressuring the Danes. There seemed to be a bit nore urgency to finish this one off right from the start. Lukas Podolski crowned the effort as he hammered in a deflection off Mario Gomez. His 44th goal in 100th cap, the youngest german every to reach that mark. (Of course these days, there are a lot more opportunities).

If one had expected the Danes to give up, you’d have been wrong. Only a few minutes later Niklas Bendtner (whom EPL followers might think of as somewhat of a wanker, but actually had a good tournament) out jumped Badstuber to head back a corner towards the middle, and Krohn-Dejli headed home for the equalizer. The match continued with Germany having the edge, but the Danes remained dangerous on the counters.

The second half was largely a repeat of the first, with Germany dominating the ball and probing the Danish defense, but not being able to get the breakthrough. As the clock ticked on, there was perhaps a rising fear that a Danish goal might steal a win, and it certainly could have come through when Portugal took the lead against Holland. However, despite some decent chances on both sides, the German side didn’t panic, and on a breakaway Lars Bender slotted home to ensure Germany’s group win…btw, the first time in the Euros that Germany won all 3 matches in the Groups stage. (For that matter, 10 straight wins in the qualifiers too).

Overall, this was a pretty decent match for Germany. They seemed to have it under control, although one might wish for more of a killer instinct to knock out their opponent. They seem to being doing just enough to get the win. A courageous effort by Denmark, a good tournament, very positive football. If the Dutch hadn’t phoned in the whole tournament, they might have snuck into the next round.

Germany faces Greece in the quarters, which Löw’s squad will be heavily favored. But the Greeks will definitely be motivated and have been underestimated in all their matches so far. Perhaps we could raise the stakes and suggest that if Germany wins, Greece gets kicked out of the euro (aside from the Euro), and if the Greeks win, German taxpayers stop whining and fork over that bailout money, hehehe…

Denmark    -   Germany    1:2 (1:1)

Attendance: 32,990 (Lvov)

0:1  Podolski (19., Gomez)
1:1  Krohn-Dehli (24., Bendtner)
1:2  L. Bender (80., Özil)

Jacobsen, Kjaer, Agger, Simon Poulsen
Eriksen, Jakob Poulsen (82. Mikkelsen) , 
Zimling (79. Christian Poulsen), Krohn-Dehli

L. Bender, Hummels, Badstuber, Lahm
Khedira, Schweinsteiger
Th. Müller (84. Kroos), Özil, Podolski (64. Schürrle)
Gomez (74. Klose)

Regionalliga Süd

I forgot all about this division, which is basically disappearing as it gets split up next year. So here is the (4th division) Regionalliga Süd…

No relegation, and Stuttgarter Kickers were pretty much in control from the start. Good to see them moving to the 3.Liga. A bunch of B-squads obviously meant that the number of attractive matches were severely reduced. Of interest are clubs like Worms, who did very well, and Pfullendorf, who did not. Hessen Kassel is a pretty well-known club that goes into bankruptcy everytime you turn around, and they startover with some combination of “Hessen” and “Kassel” in their name. Waldhof Mannheim is another one of those teams that have seen better days (7 seasons in the Bundesliga, 1983-90).

If I recall correctly, the southwest, Baden-Württemberg and Hessen will be combined, and Bayern will have it’s own league next season. The former should be interesting, since the SW and the Hessen/BW have never been together before completely. Some of the SW teams played in the West this year, so perhaps more regional derbies will help things out.

 1  Stuttgarter Kickers	  	34    23    9 	 2    66:29  +37    78
 2  SG Sonnenhof Großaspach     34    21    6 	 7    78:40  +38    69 
 3  Eintracht Frankfurt II	34    21    4 	 9    69:41  +28    67 
 4  Wormatia Worms	  	34    16   10 	 8    57:48  +9     58 
 5  Karlsruher SC II	  	34    18    4 	12    56:48  +8     58 
 6  SpVgg Greuther Fürth II	34    15    9 	10    50:48  +2     54 
 7  1899 Hoffenheim II	  	34    15    7 	12    69:36  +33    52 
 8  SC Freiburg II	  	34    15    4 	15    49:49   0     49 
 9  FC Ingolstadt 04 II (N)	34    15    4 	15    46:50  -4     49 
10  1. FC Nürnberg II	  	34    11   11 	12    59:54  +5     44 
11  Hessen Kassel	  	34    12    6 	16    43:54  -11    42 
12  Waldhof Mannheim (N)	34    10    9 	15    40:46  -6     39 
13  1860 München II	  	34    10    8 	16    28:52  -24    38 
14  Bayern München II (A)	34     8   10 	16    43:54  -11    34 
15  FC Memmingen	  	34     7   12 	15    37:54  -17    33 
16  SC Pfullendorf	  	34     8    9 	17    40:65  -25    33
17  FSV Frankfurt II	  	34     8    4 	22    45:70  -25    28 
18  Bayern Alzenau (N)	  	34     6    8 	20    39:76  -37    26

Euro 2012: Germany downs Dutch

Germany defeated the Netherlands 2-1 to pretty much advance to the next round. The Dutch are basically out. The DFB squad controlled the first half and could have put the match away. The Dutch threw everything into attack in the second half in a desperate attempt to save the tournament.

The initial stages gave Holland a slight edge, as Bert van Marwijk trusted the same lineup that pretty much sucked in the opener against Denmark. Joachim Löw also sent out the same squad that prevailed precariously over Portugal in the opener. Obviously the Dutch could not afford another loss. Despite some advantage in ball posession, the Oranges were not able to really threaten the solid German defense, and as the half wore on, the Dutch advantage evaporated. The Germans were beginning to take advantage of a rather disorganized defense. A nice combo led Schweinsteiger to pass to Gomez in the middle, a deft spin and Stupor-Mario easilt slotted past Stekelenburg. Now Germany was clearly on top and slicing through the Dutch lines. Badstuber had a wide open point blank header that Stekelenburg made a brilliant reaction save. A few minutes later, Gomez was freed down the right and blasted into the net. 3 shots in the tournament, 3 goals…Klose who? Germany was now cruising and the Dutch were clearly beaten. Right at the whistle, Schweinsteiger’s free kick kept floating, forcing another fine save.

In the 2nd, van Marwijk brought on van der Vaart and Huntelaar in a desperate attempt to change the tide. The Dutch did regain their composure, but were unable to break through against the strong German defense. Finally van Persie blasted in to cut the lead, but if you expected an all out assault, you’d be disappointed. The last 15 minutes actually went back to Germany, as it appeared that Holland had shot their wad.

Germany now leads with 6 points, but has to make sure that they don’t get massacred by Denmark. If Portugal were to beat Holland, that could leave the DFB squad out cold in a three way tie with 6 points. Meanwhile, Netherlands needs to kick Portugal’s ass and hope that the Germans stomp the Danes….setting up a 3-way with three points.

Netherlands - Germany 1:2 (0:2)

Attendance: 37,750 (Kharkov)

0:1 Gomez (24., Schweinsteiger)
0:2 Gomez (38., Schweinsteiger)
1:2 van Persie (73., Robben)

van der Wiel, Heitinga, Mathijsen, Willems 
van Bommel (46. van der Vaart), de Jong 
Robben (83. Kuyt), Sneijder, 
Afellay (46. Huntelaar) van Persie

Boateng, Hummels, Badstuber, Lahm 
Schweinsteiger, Khedira 
Th. Müller (90.+2 L. Bender), Özil (81. T. Kroos), Podolski 
Gomez (72. Klose)

2.Liga: Reviews and Grades

1 SpVgg Greuther Fürth 34 20 10 4 73:27 +46 70

A solid season long performance from a club that has knocked on the door of promotion several times, only to fade down the stretch. This was clearly a stiffer GF, and they deservedly take the title and go up for their Bundesliga debut. Coach Mike Büskens got the most out of the squad, which started with a solid defense. Albanian Mergim Mavraj and German-Filipino(!) Stephan Schröck were two of the better 2.Liga defenders. The midfield was solid, probably Bernd Nehrig the best among a very consistent bunch. In attack, Canadian Oliver Occean was outstanding, with 17 goals. Sararer and Nöthe also added scoring punch. The late season addtion of oldtimer Gerald Asamoah proved to be an excellent move, as he added experience and scoring punch in limited action.

2 Eintracht Frankfurt (A) 34 20 8 6 76:33 +43 68

Everyone expected Eintracht to be there, and they can say “mission accomplished”. With their overall talent, it would have been a major disappointment if they didn’t immediately bounce back, and in the end it was comfortable. But there were some suspect performances, particularily the defenders were sloppy at times. It was the midfield that carried this club. Alexander Meier was the best player in the 2.Liga, and he also added 17 goals to lead the team. Veteran Benjamin Köhler was good (9 goals), and Sebastian Rode (21) looks like a young talent. Idrissou contributed 14 goals in attack, and Hoffer another 9, but with Gekas leaving midseason, attack will be an area Eintracht will want to strengthen for next season.

3 Fortuna Düsseldorf 34 16 14 4 64:35 +29 62

Fortuna completes their remarkable comeback and is back in the Bundesliga. They dropped out of the top flight 15 years ago…and 8 years ago could be found in the 4th division!! But they’ve climbed all the way back. They did it with some solid veterans and some young talent. Defender Jens Langeneke (34) was not only solid at the back, he added 9 goals. Oldtie Sascha Rösler (34) had 13 up front. Midfielder Max Beister (21) had 11 goals, and looks a major talent. Unfortunately outstanding defender Asani Lukimya is moving to Werder. Fortuna will have some work to do to survive the top, but they did everybody a favor by dumping Hertha out.

4 FC St. Pauli (A) 34 18 8 8 59:34 +25 62

The Paulistas were solid all season, but when they needed a win against the top, they fell short. By falling short, a lot of their players are leaving. Midfielder Max Kruse was very good (13 goals), is off to Freiburg. Young defender Lasse Sobiech looked a great prospect, but is off to Fürth (was on loan from Dortmund). Defender Moritz Volz heads to 1860, and effective midfielders Takyi and Naki say they’re leaving too. So a probable new-look Pauli for next season.

5 SC Paderborn 07 34 17 10 7 51:42 +9 61

Paderborn deserves top marks because nobody really expected them to contend. They fell off in the final stretch, but this was a fine season for the Westphalians. Nick Proschwitz was a one man attack upfront, with 17 goals. His absence in a couple of games due to injury might have put the breaks on their run. This was clearly a team that got the maximum out of their resources.

6 1860 München 34 17 6 11 62:46 +16 57

1860 surely expected to be a contender, but they quickly fell out of any race by sucking. Eventually they started playing decently, but hardly what was expected of them. Seems like they’ve been antagonizing their potentially huge fan base for too long. There were a few bright spots. Midfielders Stefan Aigner (11 goals) and veteran Daniel Bierofka were pretty good. Youngster Kevin Volland (19) scored 13 in attack, and generally was quite acceptable. Benny Lauth has made a career of not delivering, but he contributed 11 goals as well. The defense was generally crap.

7 1. FC Union Berlin 34 14 6 14 55:58 -3 48

Overall, Union did fairly well. They basically have little resources, and got a lot out of a team of nobodies. They fought pretty hard and ended up in a decent position. There’s probably not much more than they can expect.

8 Eintracht Braunschweig (N) 34 10 15 9 37:35 +2 45

Newcomers Braunschweig were pretty solid, but lack punch. Forward Dominick Kumbela was quite good, notching 10 goals, matched by midfielder Dennis Kruppke. Nobody else managed more than 2. However the Lions showed a stout defense, and that kept them out of trouble. This is a club that could potentially grow into a contender, with a decent fan base.

9 Dynamo Dresden (N) 34 12 9 13 50:52 -2 45

Dresden was similar to fellow promoted side Braunschweig, except on the offensive side. The Dynamo forwards (Pote, Dedic, Fort, Koch) combined for 38 goals. Unfortunately there was no scoring punch in the midfield, adding only 6. Most of the starters are reasonably young, so they could improve. Obviously there’s a huge pent-up demand for a decent eastern club, and it appears Dynamo has the inside track, with a potentially larger fan base than Union.

10 MSV Duisburg 34 10 9 15 42:47 -5 39

Disappointment combined with suckitude. The Zebras sucked out of the gate, and after around 25 matches, looked relegation material. They finished strong to leap out of relegation, but with a more expensive squad than many rivals, more was clearly expected.

11 VfL Bochum 34 10 7 17 41:55 -14 37

Bochum is one of the most disappointing teams in the 2.Liga. Perhaps they deserve an “F”. One positive is that they seem to have found a GK, Andreas Luthe, who was quite good. Their best field player was Japanese unknown Takashi Inui, who also led the team with (only) 7 goals. Bochum was hoping for Shinji Kagawa light, and he largely delivered. There were quite a few veterans, led by former international Paul Freier, but they all largely sucked. Sounds like a clean-house is needed for next season.

12 FC Ingolstadt 04 34 8 13 13 43:58 -15 37

This season was a tale of two Ingolstadts. The first sucked and was dead last. The second obviously received a kick in the ass and woke up, with a strong post-winterbreak. They proved to be a hard nut to crack and deservedly stay up.

13 FSV Frankfurt 34 7 14 13 43:59 -16 35

FSV will always struggle. They are a pip-squeak of a club, kinda like a fly on on the Eintracht-Elephant’s ass. But once again, they proved to be scrappy and managed to survive another campaign. They really don’t seem like they have any good players, although I guess GK Patrick Klandt was decent. Also, Bulgarian striker Ilijan Micanski proved to be a nice midseason acquisition, with 9 goals in 15 games.

14 Energie Cottbus 34 8 11 15 30:49 -19 35

I was a bit surprised that Energie sucked so much, as they have a reputation of getting a lot out of nothing. They do it by getting Walmart prices on discount East Europeans. However, this addition had lots of homegrown players, who were largely mediocre. But their imports largely sucked as well, so that’s a recipe for disaster. Bulgarian forward Dimitar Rangelov had done decently for the club in the past, so when he came on a loan, it was hoped he would do well. 12 goals, not too bad given the pathetic offense. But ex-Bundesligist Martin Fenin (Czech) sucked, as did most of the other imports, Croatian midfielder Banovic the least crappy. It will be interesting to see what happens, as Energie can often rise up from the ashes.

15 Erzgebirge Aue 34 8 11 15 31:55 -24 35

Not too shocked, because last season Aue played over their head (5th). Now the rest of the league saw them as they are…basically a crap team. Midfieler Jan Hochscheidt was pretty good, and forward Ronny König scored 9. The two combined for half the squad’s goals. Unless there are re-inforcements, Aue looks like they will be a certain relegation contender next season.

16 Karlsruher SC 34 9 6 19 34:60 -26 33

A disaster. KSC went into the toilet early, and never really came out. Horrible on both sides of the ball, they even had some name players that were clearly way past sell date (e.g. Delron Buckley, Christian Timm, Klemen Lavric) They had a very large squad, augmented with lots of young players, but didn’t really give them enough playing time. The veterans however got outfought by Regensburg, so KSC is down to the 3.Liga. I’d expect a massive rebuilding.

17 Alemannia Aachen 34 6 13 15 30:47 -17 31

Aachen is probably wondering how they got in this mess. They started crap, but then seemed to catch themselves, and 2/3 through the season were around 12th. Their problem was with a pathetic offense, they couldn’t win, and often settled for draw or close loss. They collapsed down the stretch and end with a disastrous relegation (although good for 3.Liga treasurers).
As far as the squad, everybody sucked, but again, the attack was pathetic, and that’s where you’d expect some results. Benjamin Auer, Romanian Sergiu Radu (bounced around with several Bliga clubs), David Odonkor (16 caps for Germany!!, once considered a very promising winger) could only notch 12 goals.

18 Hansa Rostock (N) 34 5 12 17 34:63 -29 27

Well, the first goal of any promoted club is to stay up. It was pretty clear that Hansa would struggle here, so no surprise that they sucked and finished last. They had a few veterans, who didn’t produce, and none of the youngsters they blooded really performed, so a predictable result, just like their fans rioting. They’ll regroup and we’ll probably see them in the 2.Liga again, perhaps with more purpose.

Euro 2012: Germany eeks opener

Germany hardly over-impressed, but managed to sneak by Portgual 1-0 in their group opener for the Euro 2012. A powerful header by Mario Gomez after 76 minutes provided the only goal. Overall, it was a less than stellar performance, as the DFB squad looked slow and plodding, dicking around in midfield without much attacking will or pace.

The strength was clearly the defense, which pretty much put a strangle hold on the Portgual attack. Matts Hummels was outstanding, winning everything in the air, and filling in when his teammates were beaten. A few times Cristiano Ronaldo was able to make his dangerous runs, but for the most part Jerome Boateng did a good job. Badstuber was generally solid, but captain Philipp Lahm was unusually ineffective. He wasn’t too challenged on the left flank, but his contributions moving forward were below his usual efforts. The midfield had a lot of possession, but it was here that things began to break down. Sami Khedira was probably the best, winning balls and pushing forward. But most of the others, like Schweinsteiger and Özil seemed content just to pass the ball around. Podolski was largely ineffective, and Thomas Müller managed a few runs down the flanks, but also was absent most of the time. Even Mario Gomez was largely invisible for large parts of the game.

For Portugal, they were content to defend until they fell behind, when they threw everything forward. Fabio Coentrao was their best player, all over the field. Pepe was pretty solid in defense. Their attack was usually snuffed out, and it wasn’t until late in the game that they got rolling. You got the clear impression that they were playing for a draw.

A somewhat fortunate win for Germany, but at least it gets them some critical points in the Group of Death.

Germany   -   Portugal    1:0 (0:0)

Attendance: 32,990 (Lviv, Ukraine)

1:0 Gomez (72., Khedira)

Boateng, Hummels, Badstuber, Lahm
Schweinsteiger, Khedira
Th. Müller (90. L. Bender), Özil (87. Kroos), Podolski
Gomez (80. Klose)

Pereira, Pepe, Alves, Coentrao
Moutinho, Meireles (80. Varela)
Nani, Postiga (70. Oliveira), Ronaldo

Bundesliga Grades and Review

Bundesliga review 2011-12

A bit late, but here’s my Bundesliga summary and grades…(Using US system, A,B,C,D,F…what ever happened to E?) I don’t think there are too many surprises, although I often rate weaker teams less stringently, since they’re simply not expected to do well. At the same time, if you have some talent on the squad, prepare to get ripped if you under perform.

1 Borussia Dortmund (M) 34 25 6 3 80:25 +55 81

Not much that you can complain about if you’re a Dortmund fan, at least from the standpoint of a Bundesliga campaign. The Neons started out slow, but then went into overdrive and even set a new Bundesliga record for most points in a season. Not only did they do the domestic double, but they man-handled rivals Bayern in all 3 matches (includes the Cup final thrashing). The only real negative was the failure to do anything but suck in Europe, although that doesn’t seem to bother many folks.
Coach Jürgen Klopp could probably not raise his profile any higher – he’s done a brilliant job and is the best coach in Germany. His “team first” philosophy has been embraced by his squad with enthusiasm, and the results clearly show. The defense built around veteran GK Roman Weidenfeller was superb, and Matts Hummels has emerged as Germany’s top central defender. But his colleagues Subotic, Schmelzer and Pisczek have all jumped into their national squads as well. All are under 26, so they should be coming in their prime in a couple of years. The midfield was awesome. Super-talent Mario Götze was brilliant when he played – but missed half the season. Japanese Shinji Kagawa was wildly popular and successful, and his legacy will be an almost 20 million profit from hi sell on to Manchester United. Youngster Ilkay Gündogan showed promise, Sven Bender and “Kuba” were workhorses, and veteran Sebastian Kehl was enjoying a second spring, outstanding all year. Up front, Robert Lewandowski emerged as a top striker, and even departing Lucas Barrios was very effective in his few appearances. With the exception of Kagawa, it looks like Dortmund will hold on to everybody, and of course is adding Marco Reus for next season.

2 Bayern München 34 23 4 7 77:22 +55 73

It is very fashionable to slam Bayern for failing on all fronts, but all things considered, they weren’t terrible. That is if you look at things objectively. They made the final of the Champions League, ousting Real Madrid on the way, and basically just choked allowing Chelski to steal that one. Of course they got their ass-kicked in the DFB-Pokal final by Dortmund, and despite an awesome start, they were quickly reigned in by the Neons and then made to eat crap. On the other hand, they did kick a few asses along the way, and played well enough to sneak another title, if the Neons had faltered. Things started all right, with oldie Jupp Heynckes kicking the prima-donnas in the ass, and Bayern had basically won the league after about 10 games. New signing Manuel Neuer was only decent, as his world class skills were balanced by some wankerish behaviour, usually costing Bayern a goal. The defense was unusually shaky, as only Holger Badstuber established himself as a force. Captain Philipp Lahm was solid, but not up to his usual world class level. Toni Kroos and Bastian Schweinsteiger were outstanding in the middle, and this is where Bayern was largely dominant. Frank Ribery was by far Bayern’s best player, and most of the other midfielders were solid. In attack, Mario Gomez was red-hot, and ended up with 28 goals, but Bayern lacked other options up front. Ivica Olic was crap, and his going away present was to suck in the Champions League final.

3 FC Schalke 04 (P) 34 20 4 10 74:44 +30 64

I partially expected Schalke to suck, and they had some issues until coach Huub Stevens returned and straightened things out. The Blues can’t win the big one, so they never looked like much of a threat to win, but they put things together and held on for a while. Automatic qualification into the Champions League and a good Euro-liga run were nice rewards. The biggest impact was the awesome form of striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who bagged 29 goals to lead the league and Spanish legend Raul, who added 15. Schalke really didn’t have any players that were consistently outstanding, but the overall result was better than the sum of the parts. The defense was shaky at times, and although the midfield had some young talent like Draxler, Matip and Holtby, the best midifieler was probably German-American Jermaine Jones, at least when he wasn’t getting banned for being a thug.

4 Borussia M’gladbach 34 17 9 8 49:24 +25 60

OK, many people picked Gladbach to go straight into the toilet, and with a young squad, that was certainly a likely scenario. Instead coach Lucien Favre motivated his troops and they got off to a great start, and managed to carry that momentum deep into the season. Of course they fell off, since they weren’t really that good, but they deserve top marks. The main issue is what does Favre do for an encore, as several players are getting sold off, as management looks to cash in. The biggest star was of course Marco Reus, who bagged 18 goals and jumped into the national squad. GK Marc-Andre ter Stegen was excellent, and also is getting a look-see from Joggi Löw. Patrick Hermann emerged as a midfield talent, as did Roman Neustädter. Veteran Juan Arango is still the free kick wizard, and oldtimer Mike Hanke seems to have found a home. The defense was nobodies like Dante, Daems, Brouwers and Stranzl, all significantly contributing. Gladbach’s main problem is that lots of their players are now leaving, so it remains to be seen what happens. Still, they’re in the Champions League playoff stages, and are assured of some Euro-football. I don’t think they could ask for much more.

5 Bayer Leverkusen 34 15 9 10 52:44 +8 54

The Aspirins ended up a respectable 5th, so why am I rating them so harsh? Basically they underperformed most of the season and played boring football. This squad has some talent, but they rarely showed it. The highlight of the season was the emergence of GK Bernd Leno, who was outstanding. Midfielder Lars Bender was probably the best field-player, although forward Stefan Kiessling did notch a respectable 16 goals. Look for a busy off season as Bayer jettisons several players. Amongst them will be Germany’s star of the 1990s, Michael Ballack, who is on his last legs. Maybe he can sign on with Wuppertaler SV. (He should take language lessons from Ahh-nold, based on his ESPN commentary role…)

6 VfB Stuttgart 34 15 8 11 63:46 +17 53

Stuttgart is a clear Jeckyl and Hyde, sucking then looking quite good. They came on strong and seemed to sort out their problems. Up front, Austrian Martin Harnik hit for 17 goals, although he wasn’t particularily impressive otherwise. Vedad Ibisevic came over from Hoffenheim midseason, and appears to offering another goal threat. William Kvist and Christian Genter did hard work in midfield. The defense had lots of holes, although Serdar Tasci was pretty solid and a  couple of others showed promise, and Sven Ulreich is another excellent young German GK.

7 Hannover 96 34 12 12 10 41:45 -4 48

The 96ers had a decent run in the Euro-liga, and managed to sneak back in for next season. Considering that they’re basically a bunch of nobodies, that’s pretty decent. Of course, they did this last season, so it shouldn’t be too much of a shock. For the most part, the players were inconsistent, playing well one week, and then stinking the next. New GK Ron-Robert Zieler however was excellent throughout, even getting a call-up into the national squad. The defense was full of veterans like Haggui, Pander, Pogatetz and Cherundolo, but was shaky at times. Midfieler Sergio Pinto was probably the best field player. In attack, again inconsistency. Norwegian Mohammed Abdellaoue did manage 11 goals, but often disappeared. Same could be said of cult figure Didier Ya Konan, who actually only managed 6 goals.

8 VfL Wolfsburg 34 13 5 16 47:60 -13 44

Felix Magath might foam at the mouth, but it didn’t have much effect, and indeed, some of his choices made it looked like he was pissing facing the wind. Ironically, it was some of the players that he stuck in the doghouse (like Patrick Helmes) that ended up saving Maggot’s ass. Magath did spend like a drunken sailor, undoubtedly causing VW to try and foist more crappy Jettas on the world. Wolfsburg ended up with a massive squad, many players jettisoned and newbies coming in (43 players went through this season). Nothing really seemed to work very well. Swiss GK Diego Benaglio was pretty good, forward Mario Mandzukic got off to a quick start, and ended up with 12 goals. However his performance got increasingly lame as the season progressed. Luckily for Magath, Patrick Helmes was back in the squad, and in only 16 outings managed 12 goals. That helped fuel a turnaround that probably saved Magath’s ass.

9 Werder Bremen 34 11 9 14 49:58 -9 42

This is a team that needs a kick in the ass. Werder kept pace early, but was clearly not up to the task, since they would get seriously bitch-slapped by every semi-contending club. Perhaps the successful Allofs/Schaaf mafia has run out of juice, so Werder might be headed for a complete rebuild. Injuries certainly weighed more heavily than hoped. Veteran defender Naldo was good when he played, but midifielder Tim Borowski was absent all season. Aaron Hunt was decent, but missed half the matches. Oldtimer Claudio Pizarro kept the attack going, 18 strikes, and was by far the most impressive field player. With the midfield basically flopping, the defense leaking and attack unclear, Werder really was all over the place. On paper, they should have done much better.

10 1. FC Nürnberg 34 12 6 16 38:49 -11 42

Der Club has sucked pretty often, but were tough enough this season, and with some luck, could have done much better. No one really covered themselves with glory, with mostly so-so performances. Young talent Daniel Didavi looked good in midfield, but he was on loan from Stuttgart. It’s not certain whether der Club will excercise the option to buy, since he suffered an injury at season’s end.

11 1899 Hoffenheim 34 10 11 13 41:47 -6 41

Once again the Hoppers were boring, but they proved that they’re strong enough to hold on. They might be struggling against relegation, and clearly their big spending days are over. But they could establish themselves as a small club playing above their head. Even some of the “old” players, such as Marvin Compper and Andreas Beck, who once were on the national team list, have fallen into mediocrity. Their best player was probably Bosnian midfielder Sehad Salihovic, who led the team with 9 goals. Scoring is definitely a problem, when you consider that the midfield outscored the forwards 18-7.

12 SC Freiburg 34 10 10 14 45:61 -16 40

SCF was considered too weak by most, but they hung tough early and grabbed enough points to ensure another season. And they made a nice profit selling on one-man-wrecking crew Papiss Cisse to Newcastle. Nothing spectacular, virtually all nobodies, but they made it work.

13 1. FSV Mainz 05 34 9 12 13 47:51 -4 39

Mainz was all over the place, sometimes playing quite well, and then turning around and sucking. Coach Thomas Tuchel did a good job with what he had, which is little talent, but a lot of desire. So Mainz didn’t really have any standouts, but they generally performed decently. The defense and midifeld all posted middle of the road performance, and at times the attack was acceptable. Mohammad Zidan gave a quick burst with 7 goals after a winter-break loan that helped them get on track, and then fizzled. Veteran midfielder Eltin Soto and defender Nico Bungert were pretty good all season long, and the goal keeping, with vets Christian Wetklo and Heinz Müller were solid.

14 FC Augsburg (N) 34 8 14 12 36:49 -13 38

I debated whether to give the Fuggers a top mark. Everybody – probably even their own fans – expected these Fuggers to claim one of the relegation spots, disappear and never be heard from again for about 30 years. But that will probably be next year. But this season, the Fuggers fought for every square inch of territory, ran after every ball, and kicked anything that moved. Veteran GK Simon Jentzsch did well, as did defender Sebastian Langkamp. The rest of the team, virtually all unknowns, showed that the whole was greater than the sum of the parts. The credit really goes to coach Jos Luhukay, who motivated his troops. But apparently he doesn’t believe in lasting fairy tales, since he resigned at the end of the season…

15 Hamburger SV 34 8 12 14 35:57 -22 36

Boy, what a crap season. You might think “Hey, they didn’t get relegated, so shouldn’t they at least get a D- ?” Au contraire, mes amis. This is HSV’s worst Budesliga season ever. Think about that, 49 straight seasons, more than any other club. They finished 3rd only 5 years ago, considered a possible contender. They’ve had single digit finishes for around the last 10 years. Management has systematically ruined this club to the point that they had to rely on other club’s suckitude to survive.

16 Hertha BSC Berlin (N) 34 7 10 17 38:64 -26 31

Worst managed club in the league. Well actually, they have lots of contenders. Hertha didn’t really exhibit the fight that one might have expected for a club struggling against relegation. GK Thomas Kraft was decent, but the field players were generally crap. Pierre Lasogga scored 8 goals, but otherwise gave weak performances. Luckily they got bounced out in the playoffs, so we won’t have to view these clowns next season. Perhaps if they clean house, they’ll be back soon with a club Berlin can be proud of…

17 1. FC Köln 34 8 6 20 39:75 -36 30

Hometown hero Lukas Podolski played a one-man show for most of the season, and his reward was being on one of the crappiest Köln squads ever. This club is the main contender with Hertha for worst managed club that craps all over their faithful fans. (Actually, Köln fans seem much more loyal than those fair-weather Berliners). Podolski was the only decent player in the field, and his 18 goals kept Köln afloat.The defense was the worst in the league, although GK Michael Rensing actually did quite well. With Prinz Poldi sold off to Arsenal and Rensing apparently let go, Köln might as well jettison the whole team, as they all sucked.

18 1. FC Kaiserslautern 34 4 11 19 24:54 -30 23

Well, I have to give you an “F” because K-town was basically never even in the race, basically sucking all along. Of course, there really isn’t much in terms of Bundesliga talent on the squad, so what do you expect? They generally played hard, but with little effect. But Augsburg clearly had less talent, and not only rang up 15 more points, but scored a ton more goals as well. FCK sucked from top to bottom, but the attack was pretty pathetic, only managing 24 strikes. So was there anyone who *didn’t* suck? Nope. Well, there was a guy that had some good outings and then transferred to 2nd division Ingolstadt.

Hertha thugs punished

OK, not that dramatic, but further reprecussions from the Fortuna-Hertha playoff. Several Hertha players were accused of assaulting the ref during the chaos, and the DFB decided that they needed to be punished. Ring-leader Levan Kobiashvili was slapped with a 7.5 month ban. This is one of the longest bans that the DFB has handed out for this type of issue. (Longer punishments for corruption and bribery…) The original request was for a full year, but the sentence was reduced, perhaps because Kobiashvili admitted he slapped/punched the ref.  Actually, since the ban is apparently retroactive, it’s really just a slap on the wrist: he’s banned until January 1, 2013. Still, a poor legacy for one of the Bundesliga’s longest serving foreigners: 336 matches. Other Hertha players received bans as well. Thomas Kraft (4 matches) and Andre Mijatovic (3 matches) were accused of “insulting” the ref. Finally, defender Christian Lell will get some sort of punishment as well, yet to be determined, for allegedly spitting on Fortuna defender Assani Lukimya-Mulongoti.

So Hertha sucks and gets relegated, loses their lame appeals and even gets some players punished for thuggery. Once again a great example of the crap management of this illustrious club.