(Random thoughts on recent events)
The Bundesliga gets a mixed bag for Euro competition, as some of the riff-raff drop out. Obviously the Champions League is the most important, and with Bayern München dominating Arsenal 3-1, the leaders are in good shape for the return. bayern truly controlled the match in London, and probably should have scored a few more. They should be able to waltz into the next round, as it’s hard to envision a scenario where they get taken up the Arse at home. Borussia Dortmund got a decent 2-2 draw at Shaktar Donetzk, putting them in a good position. Schalke also got a result, 1-1 at Galatasaray. So at least in the first leg, the Bundesliga did well.
In the Euroliga, it’s another story. Now despite this being a competition for “lusers”, you might as well get results here and get some payoff. Stuttgart advanced easily enough against Genk, but that’s ho-hum. Hannover got dumped by Anzhi Machachkala by only drawing 1-1 at home. Not a huge disappointment, although in general I think those Russian League teams are crap and should be beaten. The 96ers were decent at least. Gladbach was disgraceful and lose 0-2 at Lazio. I suppose Lazy-o is fairly decent, but this is a tie that could have been won as well. Finally, Leverkusen bowed out 1-2 at Benfica, not a shock either, but the Aspirins need to make up their minds whether they want to be considered elite or not.
With Bayern running away in the Bundesliga, the only interesting race is who’s getting the Euro spots for next season. Ideally, 3.Liga Kickers should win the Cup and get a spot . It’s pretty open, as Frankfurt has a tenuous hold on 4th. Actually, it would be funny if Jupp Heynckes not only sets a new Bundesliga record and wins the Champions League – only since he’s “retiring” and Pep Guardiola is taking over. Of course, after it was announced Heynckes was retiring and Guardiola was coming, Heynckes announced he really wasn’t retiring. It’s like “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” – “Bring out your dead!” – “Hey, I’m not dead yet, I’m feeling better” – “No you’re not” – THUMP!…(well you get the idea, if not google it for youtube…)
The other issue is relegation, and it appears that Hoffenheim will sink to the 2.Liga in a truly gutless-witless campaign. Augsburg shows fight, and should keep that playoff spot. The Hoppers is an interesting case of what happens when a moneybags owner sticks his nose in something he doesn’t know about. You see it in the EPL a lot, but Germany is different since there really is no owner. But Dietmar Hopp’s money gave Hoffenheim the boost they needed. However I think it’s pretty clear that the real architect was Ralf Rangnick. He installed an up-tempo, attacking style in 2008 when the Hoppers took the Bundesliga by storm. (Now several clubs do the same, like Dortmund or Mainz). Hopp’s money helped Rangnick buy good players, but I think once the criticism started coming in, Hopp got over sensitive and started the force the sale of players to “balance” the books. When talented Luis Gustavo was sold, Rangnick had had enough, and quit. The Hoppers have been on a downward spiral ever since and look hopeless. But not “Hoppless”, as Hopp is still around, insisting that he wanted to promote youth players, but of course Hoffenheim is probably the only Bundesliga squad where zero homegrown youth players have entered the squad. Still, now Hoffenheim is criticized for lacking a “Konzept”, i.e. having no clue what they are doing, as basically all the purchases since Rangnick left have been total flops and waste of money. Their demise this season is unlikely to elicit much sympathy from German football fans, despite some “celebrity” followers like Franziska Van Almsick, ex-star swimmer and now full-time “celebrity”.