Favorite team?

Here’s one everyone can participate in. What is your German football connection, in terms of clubs? Just reply to this post, could be somewhat interesting. (BTW, it’s OK not to put Bayern on the list)

1. THE TEAM I BLEED FOR
2. I like as long as no.1 isn’t involved

German teams only!!

I was thinking about about “3. Team I hate”, but decided to leave that off. Let’s keep it positive, at least for now :)

For me:

1. WUPPERTALER SV
2. Schalke

2.Liga, Round 20

(Details to follow)

 	
Energie Cottbus	      -   SV Sandhausen	        0:1 (0:0)   10,896

                     0:1  Jovanovic (86., Stiefler)

VfR Aalen	      -   Erzgebirge Aue	2:2 (1:1)    5,521

                     0:1  Könnecke (29., Sylvestr)
                     1:1  Pohjanpalo (33., Klauß)
                     1:2  Sylvestr (58., Könnecke)
                     2:2  Klauß (62., Hainault)

VfL Bochum	      -   FSV Frankfurt	        1:2 (0:0)   12,811

                     0:1  Rukavytsya (52., Leckie)
                     1:1  Aydin (67., Tiffert)
                     1:2  Wooten (70.)

1. FC Kaiserslautern  -   SpVgg Greuther Fürth	2:1 (1:0)   32,966

                     1:0  Jenssen (38.)
                     2:0  Dick (58., Matmour)
                     2:1  Mudrinski (78.)

1. FC Union Berlin    -   Dynamo Dresden	0:0 (0:0)   21,717 *

 	
1. FC Köln	      -   SC Paderborn 07	0:1 (0:0)   48,100

                     0:1  Meha (47., direct free kick)

Karlsruher SC	      -   FC Ingolstadt 04	1:1 (1:1)   14,010

                     1:0  van der Biezen (19., Hennings)
                     1:1  Mo. Hartmann (43., Roger)

Arminia Bielefeld     -   FC St. Pauli	        2:2 (0:1)   23,828

                     0:1  Thy (30., Trybull)
                     0:2  Nöthe (61., Buchtmann)
                     1:2  K. Przybylko (69., Appiah)
                     2:2  K. Przybylko (90. + 2, Appiah)

Monday:	
1860 München	      -   Fortuna Düsseldorf	1:1 (0:0)   20,100

                     1:0  Osako (63., Stoppelkamp)
                     1:1  Halloran (70., Liendl)
 	


 1  1. FC Köln	  	        20   11  6  3 	  32:11  +21 	  39 
 2  SpVgg Greuther Fürth (A)	20   11  2  7 	  36:24  +12 	  35
--------------------------------------------------------------------
 3  1. FC Kaiserslautern	20   10  4  6 	  34:21  +13 	  34
--------------------------------------------------------------------
 4  Karlsruher SC (N)	  	20    8  8  4 	  27:18  +9 	  32 
 5  1. FC Union Berlin	  	20    9  5  6 	  31:26  +5 	  32 
 6  FC St. Pauli	  	20    9  5  6 	  28:25  +3 	  32 
 7  SC Paderborn 07	  	20    9  5  6 	  33:32  +1 	  32 
 8  SV Sandhausen	  	20    8  6  6 	  18:17  +1 	  30 
 9  1860 München	  	20    8  5  7 	  19:22  -3 	  29 
10  Fortuna Düsseldorf (A)	20    7  5  8 	  22:30  -8 	  26 
11  FSV Frankfurt	  	20    6  6  8 	  29:30  -1 	  24 
12  VfR Aalen	  	        20    6  6  8 	  20:23  -3 	  24 
13  VfL Bochum	  	        20    6  5  9 	  19:22  -3 	  23 
14  FC Ingolstadt 04	  	20    6  4  10 	  19:27  -8 	  22 
15  Arminia Bielefeld (N)	20    6  4  10 	  29:38  -9 	  22
--------------------------------------------------------------------
16  Erzgebirge Aue	  	20    6  4  10 	  23:32  -9 	  22
--------------------------------------------------------------------
17  Dynamo Dresden	  	20    4  10  6 	  20:29  -9 	  22 
18  Energie Cottbus	  	20    3  4  13 	  21:33  -12 	  13


A = Absteiger just Relegated 
N = Neuling just promoted

1st line: Promotion to Bundesliga
2nd line: Playoff with 16th Bundesliga
3rd line: Playoff with no.3 of 3.Liga
4th line: Relegation to 3.Liga

3.Liga , Round 24

Heidenheim was finally slowed down, by Darmstadt. FCH wanted revenge for one of their two losses (0-1 at Darmstadt) and pressed hard, but in the end had to settle for a draw, a good result for the visitors.

Leipzig got a huge win at Erfurt, allowing them to strengthen their hold on 2nd. For Erfurt, they needed a win here, so this is a major setback. A large crowd was on hand to boost RWE, but in reality, the RedBulls looked the better team.

Rostock had a horrible start, conceding a penalty within seconds at Unterhaching. But somewhat surprisingly, Hansa got their act together and played superior football, getting a crucial away win to keep in the hunt.

Osnabrück’s Andriano Grimaldi nailed a hat-trick against hapless Saarbrücken, and Wehen mananged to squeeze by Burghausen. For the victors, the battle for 3rd remains open. For the losers, the relegation mire just gets deeper. I can’t see any way back for Saarbrücken, and Burghausen is gonig to need some points quick before it gets hopeless.

The other huge result was Kiel’s thumping win over Münster. The Hosteiners (actually the “Storks”) had been sinking and desperately needed a result, which lifted them from the relegation zone. Their spot was taken by Chemnitz, who were unable to achieve anything against Duisburg. The 3rd relegation spot is a dogfight…

Sunday was the Stuttgart mini-derby, and the Kickers continued their improved play, getting the win.

Total attendance was 49,281 (avg 4,928)

Chemnitzer FC	    -  	 MSV Duisburg	        0:0 (0:0)    4,146
SV Elversberg	    -  	 Hallescher FC	        2:2 (1:1)    1,236
VfL Osnabrück	    -  	 1. FC Saarbrücken	4:1 (1:0)    7,095
SpVgg Unterhaching  -  	 Hansa Rostock	        1:3 (1:2)    2,450
1. FC Heidenheim    -  	 SV Darmstadt 98	1:1 (1:0)    9,100
Jahn Regensburg	    -  	 Borussia Dortmund II	2:1 (0:1)    3,661
Rot Weiß Erfurt	    -  	 RB Leipzig	        0:2 (0:1)   11,240 
SV Wehen Wiesbaden  -  	 Wacker Burghausen	2:1 (1:0)    1,949
Holstein Kiel	    -  	 Preußen Münster	3:0 (2:0)    4,504
VfB Stuttgart II    -  	 Stuttgarter Kickers	0:1 (0:0)    3,900


 1  1. FC Heidenheim	  	24   16  6  2 	  42:14  +28 	  54 
 2  RasenBallsport Leipzig (N)	24   13  4  7 	  37:26  +11 	  43
--------------------------------------------------------------------
 3  SV Darmstadt 98	  	24   11  7  6 	  38:21  +17 	  40
--------------------------------------------------------------------
 4  Hansa Rostock	  	24   11  6  7 	  32:34  -2 	  39 
 5  SV Wehen Wiesbaden	  	24   10  7  7 	  29:30  -1 	  37 
 6  VfL Osnabrück	  	24   10  6  8 	  33:27  +6 	  36 
 7  Rot Weiß Erfurt	  	24   10  4  10 	  34:27  +7 	  34 
 8  Jahn Regensburg (A)	  	24    9  7  8 	  35:32  +3 	  34 
 9  MSV Duisburg (A)	  	24    8  9  7 	  30:29  +1 	  33 
10  Stuttgarter Kickers	  	24    9  5  10 	  28:28  +1 	  32 
11  VfB Stuttgart II	  	24    9  5  10 	  31:31   0 	  32 
12  Hallescher FC	  	24    9  4  11 	  26:28  -2 	  31 
13  SpVgg Unterhaching	  	24    8  7  9 	  32:41  -9 	  31 
14  SV Elversberg (N)	  	24    8  5  11 	  23:33  -10 	  29 
15  Holstein Kiel (N)	  	24    6  10  8 	  27:24  +3 	  28 
16  Preußen Münster	  	24    6  10  8 	  34:35  -1 	  28 
17  Borussia Dortmund II	24    8  4  12 	  31:39  -8 	  28
--------------------------------------------------------------------
18  Chemnitzer FC	  	24    6  9  9 	  24:32  -8 	  27
19  Wacker Burghausen	  	24    5  6  13 	  25:44  -19 	  21 
20  1. FC Saarbrücken	  	24    4  7  13 	  26:43  -17 	  19

A = Absteiger just relegated 
N = Neuling just promoted

1st line: Promotion to 2.Liga
2nd line: Promotion Playoff with 2.Liga 16th place
3rd line: Relegation to Regionalliga

BUNDESLIGA, Round 20

(More details after Sunday matches)

Nürnberg was hoping that their recent good form would carry them to an upset over Bayern in a Bavarian derby, and they started out brightly. However things turned into a nightmare quickly, as within 20 minutes starters Chandler and Ginczek had to subbed out and hauled to the hospital with injuries. This lack of concentration allowed Bayern to grab the lead, and despite a good fighting effort by FCN, the champions were just too clever and were not about to let the points disappear.

Dortmund may be back on track, despite their injuries. But it’s somewhat hard to tell, as they faced a stuttering Werder squad. Bremen ran arounda lot, but had no clue on offense. The Neons on the other hand were deadly and they ripped their hosts to shreds.

Gladbach is coming back to earth as they were stopped at home by Leverkusen in a tight match. They ran around a lot, but the visitors made better use of their possesion and ended up with a somewhat deserved victory.

Wolfsburg got back on track as they spanked Mainz. Kevin de Bruyne, the major winter signing to replace Diego looked pretty decent. It wasn’t an easy match, and the sole highlight of the 1st half was when Luiz Gustavo kicked Moritz in head with a Bruce Lee-esque flying leap. The Mainzer was sent to the hospital in blood soaked bandages (and somehow Luiz Gustavo avoided red). The VWs got things going in the 2nd half, including a rare goal by heretofore invisible Bas Dost. Kinda shows how Wolfsburg lost their thread. They used to have as forwards Grafite, Edin Dzeko, Mandzukic and even Helmes. Now they’ve got nobodies like Dost. But at least he did get a goal and the VWs hold a Euro spot. Mainz might as well forget this one…

Hamburg looks like they’re done. Another horrible outing as they got their balls kicked by Hertha at home. A desolate performance that leaves them firmly in a relegation spot. After the match, enraged fans attacked the HSV players, throwing anything they could find. Forward Jacques Zoua was hit in the head with something and had to be carted off to the hospital. Fans blocked the club house and demanded to “speak” to the players. Actually, Captain Rafael van der Vaart and German international Heiko Westermann actually came out and tried to reason. Basically Westermann admitted that “we suck” and I imagine van der Vaart pleaded that he isn’t the same since Sophie dumped him. GK Rene Adler was out there too, but don’t know what he could do, since he even stopped a penalty to prevent things from being even worse. After vandalizing some of the players cars, the fans were dispersed by security. With “fans” like these, certainly the squad doesn’t need enemies. HSV’s sorry-ass performance overshadows a confident Hertha effort, Berlin remaining in challenge for a Euro spot.

Frankfurt was a big winner this weekend, as they thumped Braunschweig in a relegation battle and gave themselves some breathing room. They were pretty much in control from start to finish in this “battle of the Eintrachts”.

Freiburg was largely outplayed at home by Hoffenheim, another relegation battle. Neither side was very good though, and a draw is a fair result.

On Sunday, Augsburg continued their fine season with a stunning away rout at Stuttgart. The Fuggers continue their best season in club history, setting a new Bundesliga record with 9 wins. They were in control for most of the game, and turned things into a rout when VfB’s Vedad Ibisevic got his ass tossed early in the 2nd half. Stuttgart is a disaster, sounds like they need to fire their coach again (which they do on a regular basis. Maybe the problem isn’t their coach, it’s their “talent”, which is considerable on paper.) On the other hand, Augsburg may be short on the techincal skills, but they have great team spirit and fight for every ball.

Schalke continued their good form as they dominated Hannover, pretty much doing whatever they want. The Blues need to be more efficient in front of goal, but this one was never in doubt, as the 96ers couldn’t even mount counterattacks.

Total attendance was 381,899 (avg 42,433) ,sellouts in Gladbach, Bremen, Nürnberg

Bor. Mönchengladbach  -   Bayer 04 Leverkusen	0:1 (0:0)   53,379 *

                     0:1  Son (62., Sam)

VfL Wolfsburg	      -   1. FSV Mainz 05	3:0 (0:0)   23,520

                     1:0  Rodriguez (59., penalty, Dost)
                     2:0  Dost (66., Olic)
                     3:0  Luiz Gustavo (75., Knoche)

Werder Bremen	      -   Borussia Dortmund	1:5 (0:2)   42,100 *

                     0:1  Lewandowski (26., Schmelzer)
                     0:2  H. Mkhitaryan (41., Lewandowski)
                     0:3  M. Friedrich (48., Reus)
                     0:4  H. Mkhitaryan (62., Reus)
                     0:5  Lewandowski (85., Hofmann)
                     1:5  Aycicek (89.)

1. FC Nürnberg	      -   Bayern München	0:2 (0:1)   50,000 *

                     0:1  Mandzukic (18., Alaba)
                     0:2  Lahm (49., Mandzukic)

SC Freiburg	      -   1899 Hoffenheim	1:1 (0:0)   22,300

                     1:0  Schmid (68., Mehmedi)
                     1:1  Modeste (85., Schipplock)

Eintracht Frankfurt   -   Eintr. Braunschweig	3:0 (3:0)   40,500

                     1:0  Flum (7., S. Jung)
                     2:0  Meier (43., Flum)
                     3:0  Aigner (44., S. Jung)

Hamburger SV	      -   Hertha BSC	        0:3 (0:3)   48,593

                     0:1  Allagui (15., Ramos)
                     0:2  Ramos (23., Cigerci)
                     0:3  Ramos (38., J. van den Bergh)

Sunday:
VfB Stuttgart	      -   FC Augsburg	        1:4 (0:2)   40,200

                     0:1  Milik (35., To. Werner)
                     0:2  Hahn (43., Halil Altintop)
                     0:3  Hahn (56., Ostrzolek)
                     1:3  Rausch (62., Leitner)
                     1:4  To. Werner (64., Ostrzolek)

FC Schalke 04	      -   Hannover 96	        2:0 (2:0)   61,307

                     1:0  Farfan (39., Kolasinac)
                     2:0  M. Meyer (44., Uchida)

 1  Bayern München (M, P)	20   18  2  0 	  53:9 	 +44 	  56 
 2  Bayer 04 Leverkusen	  	20   14  1  5 	  37:20  +17 	  43 
 3  Borussia Dortmund	  	20   12  3  5 	  47:24  +23 	  39
 4  FC Schalke 04	  	20   11  4  5 	  39:29  +10 	  37
--------------------------------------------------------------------
 5  Bor. Mönchengladbach	20   10  3  7 	  36:25  +11 	  33 
 6  VfL Wolfsburg	  	20   10  3  7 	  33:24  +9 	  33
--------------------------------------------------------------------
 7  Hertha BSC Berlin (N) 	20    9  4  7 	  31:24  +7 	  31
 8  FC Augsburg	  	        20    9  4  7 	  30:29  +1 	  31  
 9  1. FSV Mainz 05	  	20    9  3  8 	  29:35  -6 	  30 
10  Hannover 96	  	        20    7  3  10 	  29:35  -6 	  24 
11  1899 Hoffenheim	  	20    5  7  8 	  40:43  -3 	  22 
12  Eintracht Frankfurt	  	20    5  6  9 	  24:34  -10 	  21 
13  Werder Bremen	  	20    5  5  10 	  24:45  -21 	  20 
14  VfB Stuttgart	  	20    5  4  11 	  33:41  -8 	  19 
15  SC Freiburg	  	        20    4  6  10 	  20:36  -16 	  18
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16  1. FC Nürnberg	  	20    2  11  7 	  24:36  -12 	  17
--------------------------------------------------------------------
17  Hamburger SV	  	20    4  4  12 	  33:47  -14 	  16 
18  Eintracht Braunschweig (N)	20    3  3  14 	  11:37  -26 	  12

M = Meister, defending Champion 
P = Pokal, defending Cup winner
N = Neuling, newly promoted

1st line: Champions League
2nd line: Europaliga (+ Cup winner)
3rd line: Playoff with 2.Liga 3rd place
4th line: Relegation to 2.Liga

Is Bayern dominance a good sign?

OK, calm down, obviously not the way they are dominating things right now, although even the current situation does have some silver linings.

Recently the DFL announced record turnover for the Bundesliga clubs, I think it was something like 2 billion euros. Virtually all the clubs were in good shape, making profits. The stadiums in Germany have the highest average attendance in the world. Even the weaker clubs in the Bundesliga play close to capacity. So far, so good.

However in terms of growing as a financial power, the Bundesliga still has a way to go. They’re probably about 3 billion euros behind the English Premier League, and well behind Spain and even Italy as well.

The *international* market is where the future massive growth will come, and it is here that Germany has work to do. If you just look at international TV contracts, the Bundesliga is dwarfed not only by the EPL, but also the Serie A and Spanish La Liga. They might even be behind the French Ligue Un. Take the USA for example, the Bundesliga rights are held by GolTV, which was dropped by DirectTV, one of the major satellite providers. It’s also often not available on many cable carriers. Any of the other leagues are readily available just about everywhere. Hell, even MLS is more readily available. Hopefully, when the current contract is up, the rights will be sold to someone who broadcasts everywhere. Of course it’s not just the USA, it’s other countries as well. The EPL contracts in small places like Singapore are perhaps larger than he total value of the Bundesliga international contract.

Aside from accessibility (i.e. English language), the superior production values of the EPL matches is an advantage. But these are areas that can perhaps be overcome, since Spain and Italy are in a similar situation.

One of the key areas to understand in international marketing however is that it is all about star-power. It’s the big massive clubs that attract the international fan. Whereas for locals, it’s about where you live, were born, family tradition etc., in the international market nobody really cares. Fans are picking the clubs for the most part on success and stars. So in the EPL, outside of England, it’s all about Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool. The latter hasn’t won much recently, but they have a long tradition of star players and success at a time when football was becoming more internationalized. Nobody cares about Stoke or Sunderland, and nobody cared about Man City either until they started spending billions. (OK, some Americans “support” worthless teams like Fulham because they happen to have had some lousy American player, but what happens after he gets dumped? Goodbye.) In Spain, it’s Real Madrid or Barcelona. Italy, Juventus, the two Milans. So unless you were born or live there, it’s all about winners. (I used to like Spurs in the Klinsmann/Ginola era when they played all out attack and didn’t know how to play defense because I liked their players and style. But largely they sucked, and I would say most folks would have passed on them…)

In Germany, it’s all about Bayern München. Bayern is what will draw the international fan. With Bayern dominating the world right now, there are legions of new fans getting interested in attaching to the winner. The more Bayern wins and crushes the opposition, the more their stock rises. Of course, these are the type of fans that “real” fans like to denigrate, but their dollar/euro is every bit as valuable. And besides, interest in Bayern also can mean greater familiarization with the rest of German football, which is a good thing.

When I was young, I hated Bayern. That’s because it was what we did in our region. My loyalty was to home town Wuppertal, which actually got promoted to the Bundesliga. (And as some of you know, I still stick with them, although 5th division football is a bit tough to swallow…) Some of the more established regional clubs, like Schalke, were my second choice, except when they played WSV of course. Grudgingly we would OK Gladbach, since having them win would be preferably to the Bavarians, but that was about it. However now I have respect for Bayern, since they’re the ones really putting the Bundesliga back on the map.

Now in the future, there is some hope for some competition. Borussia Dortmund is the most logical. Their campaign fell apart this season as Bayern bought their best player(s), but mostly because of injury. If BVB can continue to improve and maybe win a Champions League title, they could rise. For other clubs, potentially Schalke, which has a huge domestic following but usually chokes when it counts. Leverkusen plays good football and is solid, but nobody wants to root for a corporation, so they’re out.

The future growth of German football will need to happen on an international level. The local market is pretty much full – thankfully, since it’s the best in the world. But the German clubs need to increase their financial strength in order to keep their stars and attract others. The only source of this income will be international marketing, since Germany has wisely resisted the English method of allowing oli-sheiks and corrupt swindler robber barons to buy clubs as toys. And Germany hasn’t followed the Spanish method of under the table government subsidies.

Right now it’s Bayern that is attracting the new fan, as they rampage and pillage through the Bundesliga. (Of course what is different than a similar situation in a worthless league like Scotland is that Bayern also rampages and pillages through Europe and smacks down the other giants.) These fans will buy Bayern kits, declare their ever-lasting Bayern loyalty etc. Maybe even make a pilgramage to the Allianz. Not unlike world-wide ManU, Madrid or Barsa fans. But as more money trickles into the league coffers, hopefully this will allow some of the others like Dortmund, Schalke to start building up followings too.

BUNDESLIGA, Round 19

More of the same as Bayern München keeps rolling along. Having got a last minute win midweek in a 2-1 make-up win at Stuttgart, the champs destroyed Frankfurt at home. Nothing to see here, move along…

Schalke is one of the big winners so far. The Blues won their second in row and have climbed into the top 4. This was a win against direct rivals Wolfsburg, so it was important. The team also got better by dumping Jermaine Jones off to Besiktas in Turkey just before the transfer window closed. Jones was a promising player, but often played too much like a thug, thus missing his chance to rise. And obviously his career was going nowhere, as evidenced by the fact he decided to play for the US national team since he wasn’t good enough for Germany. Oh well, the number of fouls that Schalke commits should go way down. Wolfsburg also made a bold move, as they dealt playmaker Diego to Atletico Madrid. He’s been excellent ever since the VWs had dumped Felix Magath as coach, but perhaps it’s an indication that Wolfsburg intends to rebuild. As for the match itself, Schalke was the better team, but Wolfsburg made them struggle for the win.

Dortmund was clearly technically superior in Braunschweig, but they had a hard time as the hosts were imposing their physical play on the match. BVB did end up with a deserved win, but Braunschweig did a good job. The Neons are obviously going nowhere, not only since Bayern has run away, but alos their injury list almost has them half-strength. They are just concentrating on holding a Champions League spot. It’s pretty hopeless for Braunschweig, but I think everybody – including their fans – knew they weren’t strong enough. Nevertheless, they give 100% every match, and are likely to return the the top-flight soon.

Leverkusen had a difficult match with Stuttgart, but were able to get the win. Stefan Kießling has had “Ladehemmung” (sort of Constipation, hehehehe), having not scored in months. But he finally let it go, and eventually the Aspirins came out on top.

Hannover has also gotten on track inn the restart, as under new coach Tayfun Korkut, they got another win, this time over Gladbach.

Mainz had little trouble with a lame Freiburg squad that was taking the afternoon off. The Mainzers didn’t do much, but it was enough. Their Korean imports got the goals as the get closer to challenging for a Euro spot. Freiburg slumps into the relegation playoff.

In a critical relegation battle, Hoffenehim kicked Hamburg’s ass. HSV was horrifyingly inept, and the Hoppers did whatever they wanted. You’d think with the worst defense in the league that the hosts would have given up something, but their defense was barely threatened, and HSV took over the title as the worst. After the match HSV star Rafael van der Vaart tried to protect the coach (Bert Marwijk), saying it was all on the players, and they lacked “class”. Nice of him to say, but although yes the players sucked, certainly when they look like disorganized “Lumpen”, the coach bears some responsibility? And Marwijk’s record so far is worse than he predecessor, Torsten Frings. Obviously HSV, somewhat affectionally called the “Dino” (dinosaur) by the press and fans is in trouble of breaking their record: They are the only club that has played every Bundesliga season since the start in 1963 – never relegated. (Bayern’s never been relegated either, but they were a 2nd division club when the Bundesliga started).

Der Club can’t stop winning! FCN has perhaps decided that streaks are better if you win rather than not win. They ddn’t win for a record 17 straight, but now have bounced back for back-to-back threes. Visiting Berlin, Nürnberg was usually on their back foot, as Hertha controlled the match and pressed. But unlike in 2013, the 2014 edition of der Club kept their head in the game, defended well and patiently waited their opportunities. A huge win that actually lifts them out of relegation spots. Hertha was perhaps a bit unlucky, but they’ve had a hard time against Nürnberg recently – no wins in last 6 tries.

Augsburg is a team that is on the verge of establishing themselves. The Fuggers were everybody’s first pick for relegation when they came up two seasons ago, but miraculously survived. Same for last year. Now this season is so far the best in club history and their latest win even allows them to dream of a Euro challenge. FCA has been doing it with blood and seat, fighting for every ball. The difference was pretty clear as they faced the somewhat diletante laden Werder Bremen side. They even spotted them a goal before delivering the beat-down.

 	
Eintracht Braunschweig  -   Borussia Dortmund	1:2 (0:1)   23,325 *

                       0:1  Aubameyang (31., Lewandowski)
                       1:1  Kessel (54., Hochscheidt)
                       1:2  Aubameyang (65., Reus)

FC Schalke 04	        -   VfL Wolfsburg	2:1 (1:0)   61,142

                       1:0  Felipe Santana (9., K.P. Boateng)
                       1:1  Arnold (65., Perisic)
                       2:1  K.-P. Boateng (81., Neustädter)

Bayer 04 Leverkusen     -   VfB Stuttgart	2:1 (1:1)   28,714

                       0:1  Leitner (12.)
                       1:1  Kießling (26., Rolfes)
                       2:1  Derdiyok (84., Sam)

1899 Hoffenheim	        -   Hamburger SV	3:0 (2:0)   25,603

                       1:0 Roberto Firmino (4., Volland)
                       2:0 Süle (44., Salihovic)
                       3:0 Beck (60., Roberto Firmino)

1. FSV Mainz 05	        -   SC Freiburg	        2:0 (1:0)   27,247

                       1:0  Park (24., Moritz)
                       2:0  Koo (86., Geis)

FC Augsburg	        -   Werder Bremen	3:1 (1:1)   28,313

                       0:1  Callsen-Bracker (3., own goal, Junuzovic)
                       1:1  To. Werner (11.)
                       2:1  Halil Altintop (49., Hahn)
                       3:1  Hahn (55.)

Hannover 96	        -   Bor. Möncheng'bach	3:1 (0:0)   47,000

                       1:0  Rudnevs (57., Huszti)
                       2:0  M. Diouf (82., Huszti)
                       2:1  Mlapa (84., Younes)
                       3:1  M. Diouf (90., Schlaudraff)

Sunday:
Hertha BSC	        -   1. FC Nürnberg	1:3 (1:1)   37,438

                       1:0  Ramos (4., Ronny)
                       1:1  Feulner (20.)
                       1:2  Drmic (68., Ginczek)
                       1:3  Drmic (90. + 4, penalty, Ginczek)

Bayern München	        -   Eintracht Frankfurt	5:0 (2:0)   71,000 *

                       1:0  M. Götze (12., Mandzukic)
                       2:0  Ribery (44., Mandzukic)
                       3:0  Robben (67., M. Götze)
                       4:0  Dante (69., Ribery)
                       5:0  Mandzukic (89., Robben)



 1  Bayern München (M, P)	19   17  2  0 	  51:9 	 +42 	  53 
 2  Bayer 04 Leverkusen	  	19   13  1  5 	  36:20  +16 	  40 
 3  Borussia Dortmund	  	19   11  3  5 	  42:23  +19 	  36
 4  FC Schalke 04	  	19   10  4  5 	  37:29  +8 	  34
--------------------------------------------------------------------
 5  Bor. Mönchengladbach	19   10  3  6 	  36:24  +12 	  33 
 6  VfL Wolfsburg	  	19    9  3  7 	  30:24  +6 	  30
--------------------------------------------------------------------
 7  1. FSV Mainz 05	  	19    9  3  7 	  29:32  -3 	  30 
 8  Hertha BSC Berlin (N)	19    8  4  7 	  28:24  +4 	  28 
 9  FC Augsburg	  	        19    8  4  7 	  26:28  -2 	  28 
10  Hannover 96	  	        19    7  3  9 	  29:33  -4 	  24 
11  1899 Hoffenheim	  	19    5  6  8 	  39:42  -3 	  21 
12  Werder Bremen	  	19    5  5  9 	  23:40  -17 	  20 
13  VfB Stuttgart	  	19    5  4  10 	  32:37  -5 	  19 
14  Eintracht Frankfurt	  	19    4  6  9 	  21:34  -13 	  18 
15  1. FC Nürnberg	  	19    2  11  6 	  24:34  -10 	  17 
--------------------------------------------------------------------
16  SC Freiburg	  	        19    4  5  10 	  19:35  -16 	  17
--------------------------------------------------------------------
17  Hamburger SV	  	19    4  4  11 	  33:44  -11 	  16
18  Eintracht Braunschweig (N)	19    3  3  13 	  11:34  -23 	  12

M = Meister, defending Champion 
P = Pokal, defending Cup winner
N = Neuling, newly promoted

1st line: Champions League
2nd line: Europaliga (+ Cup winner)
3rd line: Playoff with 2.Liga 3rd place
4th line: Relegation to 2.Liga

3.Liga, Round 23

Interesting and not-so interesting matches in the 3.Liga today. First, in the latter category, runaway leaders Heidenheim had no problem ripping Dortumnd II and building out their lead. Looks like no stopping them for the 2.Liga. However who goes with them is once again becoming a fierce battle. Leipzig was riding RedBull’s money, but have been stubbing their toes in the restart. They were at a dead-heat in Duisburg, but the Zebras pulled out a win in the dying seconds. This is a nice result for Duisburg, who have been floating around aimlessly, probably still in shock from their relegation.

Darmstadt was given a reprieve last season when Offenbach got their license forfeited, and 98ers stayed up. They’ve decided to make it count, and with a double from Dominik Stroh-engel (17 goals leads the league), they’ve crept ever closer. They’ve got a tenuous hold on 3rd, but they’re definitely a threat to Leipzig and the 2nd automatic spot.

Meanwhile in Rostock, a typical encounter. Violence on and off the field, 3 ejections, crap thrown on the field and likely riots outside. Osnabrück pressed but were not able to get the win, despite the two man advantage till injury time. (When one of their own when beserk and got his ass tossed too). Both teams needed a win, but obviously given the circumstances, Hansa has to be a bit happier, having salvaged a point. Wehen got a lucky late goal at Münster, so they’re not out of the race yet.
Erfurt also remains within striking distance, but they were pressed by Burghausen, which looks rejuvenated after the winter-break.

A late goal gave Kickers Stuttgart another key home result, and they’ve climbed slowly away from relegation. Halle is another that has done well recently to escape the bottom area.

The only team that hasn’t seemed to have received the message is Saarbrücken, who continue to suck and are dead last. They were somewhat unfortunate against Stuttgart-II, but this famed club looks like it’s about to drop into the Regionalliga…

Total attendance 53,635 (avg 5,363)

 	
SV Darmstadt 98	      -   SpVgg Unterhaching	3:1 (2:1)    5,300
Hansa Rostock	      -   VfL Osnabrück	        1:1 (1:1)    8,500
1. FC Saarbrücken     -   VfB Stuttgart II	0:1 (0:0)    3,159
Stuttgarter Kickers   -   SV Elversberg	        2:1 (1:0)    3,330
Hallescher FC	      -   Holstein Kiel	        1:0 (1:0)    6,981
Preußen Münster	      -   SV Wehen Wiesbaden	0:1 (0:0)    6,864
Wacker Burghausen     -   Rot Weiß Erfurt	1:1 (1:1)    2,100
MSV Duisburg	      -   RB Leipzig	        2:1 (1:0)   11,012
Chemnitzer FC	      -   Jahn Regensburg	0:3 (0:1)    4,665
Borussia Dortmund II  -   1. FC Heidenheim	0:3 (0:2)    1,724

 1  1. FC Heidenheim	  	23   16  5   2 	  41:13  +28 	  53 
 2  RasenBallsport Leipzig (N)	23   12  4   7 	  35:26  +9 	  40
--------------------------------------------------------------------
 3  SV Darmstadt 98	  	23   11  6   6 	  37:20  +17 	  39
--------------------------------------------------------------------
 4  Hansa Rostock	  	23   10  6   7 	  29:33  -4 	  36 
 5  Rot Weiß Erfurt	  	23   10  4   9 	  34:25  +9 	  34 
 6  SV Wehen Wiesbaden	  	23    9  7   7 	  27:29  -2 	  34 
 7  VfL Osnabrück	  	23    9  6   8 	  29:26  +3 	  33 
 8  VfB Stuttgart II	  	23    9  5   9 	  31:30  +1 	  32 
 9  MSV Duisburg (A)	  	23    8  8   7 	  30:29  +1 	  32 
10  Jahn Regensburg (A)	  	23    8  7   8 	  33:31  +2 	  31 
11  SpVgg Unterhaching	  	23    8  7   8 	  31:38  -7 	  31 
12  Hallescher FC	  	23    9  3  11 	  24:26  -2 	  30 
13  Stuttgarter Kickers	  	23    8  5  10 	  28:28   0 	  29 
14  Preußen Münster	  	23    6  10  7 	  34:32  +2 	  28 
15  Borussia Dortmund II	23    8  4  11 	  30:37  -7 	  28 
16  SV Elversberg (N)	  	23    8  4  11 	  21:31  -10 	  28 
17  Chemnitzer FC	  	23    6  8   9 	  24:32  -8 	  26
--------------------------------------------------------------------
18  Holstein Kiel (N)	  	23    5  10  8 	  24:24   0 	  25 
19  Wacker Burghausen	  	23    5  6  12 	  24:42  -18 	  21 
20  1. FC Saarbrücken	  	23    4  7  12 	  25:39  -14 	  19

A = Absteiger just relegated 
N = Neuling just promoted

1st line: Promotion to 2.Liga
2nd line: Promotion Playoff with 2.Liga 16th place
3rd line: Relegation to Regionalliga

3.Liga, Round 22 – restart

The restart of the 3.Liga was somewhat similar to the Bundesliga: the runaway leader continued happily, while the challengers got stopped, and some of the lower clubs showed that they want to turn things around.

Leaders heidenheim had no problems, as Marc Schnatterer nailed a hat-trick for the win. But RedBull Leipzig stubbed their toe sensationally at home and lost to tail-end Burghausen. Hansa Rostock was even worse as they got owned in Stuttgart, undoing some of the hard work they had done to climb into contention. A fierce battle in Osnabrück ended in a draw, which allowed Darmstadt to claim 3rd place.
Erfurt bit their teeth out against a stubborn Münster and were unable to move up. Wehen continues to fall (firing you coach doesn’t always work), as they got bitch-slapped at home by Halle.

However perhaps the most interesting was the Saarland-derby in Elversberg. Consodering that Saarbrücken is well-known and an ex-Bundesligist, and Elversberg is just some village, it’s not really a derby, but the excitement knew no bounds. So for the first time in club history, the home ground was totally sold out and packed to capacity. The fans weren’t disappointed, as SVE overran their more famous brethren in route to a historic win.

Total attendance 46,701 (avg 4,670), legendary sellout in Elversberg

 	
SV Wehen Wiesbaden   -   Hallescher FC	        0:3 (0:1)    2,451
VfB Stuttgart II     -   Hansa Rostock	        4:1 (0:1)    1,400
Jahn Regensburg	     -   MSV Duisburg	        1:1 (0:1)    3,069
Holstein Kiel	     -   Stuttgarter Kickers	0:0 (0:0)    3,931
SV Elversberg	     -   1. FC Saarbrücken	3:1 (1:0)    8,200 *
VfL Osnabrück	     -   SV Darmstadt 98	1:1 (1:1)    7,287
SpVgg Unterhaching   -   Borussia Dortmund II	2:1 (1:1)    1,400
1. FC Heidenheim     -   Chemnitzer FC	        3:0 (1:0)    7,400
RB Leipzig           -   Wacker Burghausen	0:1 (0:1)    7,328
Rot Weiß Erfurt	     -   Preußen Münster	0:0 (0:0)    4,235



 1  1. FC Heidenheim	  	22   15  5   2 	   38:13  +25 	  50 
 2  RasenBallsport Leipzig (N)	22   12  4   6 	   34:24  +10 	  40
--------------------------------------------------------------------
 3  SV Darmstadt 98	  	22   10  6   6 	   34:19  +15 	  36
--------------------------------------------------------------------
 4  Hansa Rostock	  	22   10  5   7 	   28:32  -4 	  35 
 5  Rot Weiß Erfurt	  	22   10  3   9 	   33:24  +9 	  33 
 6  VfL Osnabrück	  	22    9  5   8 	   28:25  +3 	  32 
 7  SV Wehen Wiesbaden	  	22    8  7   7 	   26:29  -3 	  31 
 8  SpVgg Unterhaching	  	22    8  7   7 	   30:35  -5 	  31 
 9  VfB Stuttgart II	  	22    8  5   9 	   30:30   0 	  29 
10  MSV Duisburg (A)	  	22    7  8   7 	   28:28   0 	  29 
11  Preußen Münster	  	22    6  10  6 	   34:31  +3 	  28 
12  Jahn Regensburg (A)	  	22    7  7   8 	   30:31  -1 	  28 
13  Borussia Dortmund II	22    8  4   10    30:34  -4 	  28 
14  SV Elversberg (N)	  	22    8  4   10    20:29  -9 	  28 
15  Hallescher FC	  	22    8  3   11    23:26  -3 	  27 
16  Stuttgarter Kickers	  	22    7  5   10    26:27  -1 	  26 
17  Chemnitzer FC	  	22    6  8   8 	   24:29  -5 	  26
--------------------------------------------------------------------
18  Holstein Kiel (N)	  	22    5  10  7 	   24:23  +1 	  25 
19  Wacker Burghausen	  	22    5  5   12    23:41  -18 	  20 
20  1. FC Saarbrücken	  	22    4  7   11    25:38  -13 	  19

A = Absteiger just relegated 
N = Neuling just promoted

1st line: Promotion to 2.Liga
2nd line: Promotion Playoff with 2.Liga 16th place
3rd line: Relegation to Regionalliga

BUNDESLIGA, Round 18, Restart

The Bundesliga restarted after winterbreak. Before we get to the games, maybe a review of things that happened during the break, which was largely nothing, unless you count Bayern winning the worthless FIFA World Club title. There was an interesting “Fankongress” in Berlin, which was basically a bunch of fan groups and some officials getting together to discuss “fan issues”, mostly surrounding new proposals to enforce greater security. This is largely supported by the clubs and police, and opposed by the fan groups. The meeting was supposed to be a summit, but started on the wrong foot when one major police official refused to attend and instead sent a telegramm bsaically stating that “Organized perpetrators travel throughout the land and cause problems”. The “Fan representatives” declared that this was outrageous, so of course on the opening of the congress, at a “friendly” between Koln and Schalke, some 300 hooligans fought and somebody ended up in the hospital with life threatening injuries. Just goes to show that the fans can organize all they want, but there are enough idiots to spoil it for everybody…(For some further background, you can see an older article here: http://www.abseits-soccer.com/essays/fans.html)

Anyway, the Bundesliga started pretty much the way it ended, Bayern winning and everybody else sucking. Many hoped that in-form Gladbach could stop the Bavarian juggernaut, but in reality, it went to form. To be sure, Gladbach tried hard, and forced Bayern GK Manuel Neuer into some sharp saves (plus they almost had a goal from another “Neuerism”). However, in general Bayern dominated the game and when Mario
Götze scored after only 7 minutes, you really knew what would happen. Gladbach just needs to forget about this and move on.

Dortmund is self destructing, the incredible injury toll continues to mount, and after only 6 minutes, it was Jakub Blaszczykowski (“Kuba”) who went down with looks like a severe knee injury. (He wasn’t really touched, must have just twisted it.). Now the Neons did go ahead and grab the lead, and continued to pressure Augsburg, who couldn’t get into the game. But unlike Bayern, Dortmund can’t kill off a game, and wasted enough chances for two or three wins, and basically lost their way. Augsburg fought back in to tie and withstood desperate BVB attacks to steal a point.

Leverkusen is another that got bitch slapped. The Aspirins were clearly in control at struggling Freiburg. They gave up a goal, but had the lead at half and were dominating. What could could be easier? Well, the Breisgauer came out breathing fire in 2nd half, running around like wild-men and fighting for every inch. The Aspirins looked like they just wanted to go home. So SCF managed to fight their way to a draw and then actually won the match in the last second. Hurray for them and critical points in their relegation battle. Shame on Luserkusen, once again demonstrating that they have the technique, but seem to lack heart.

Wolfsburg hadn’t lost in 9 matches, and looks like one of the teams that will challenge for Europe. Hannover is in crisis and hadn’t won on the road all year. The VWs dominated the match in this derby. So the result? Of course the 96ers win! As mentioned, Wolfsburg dominated, but committed capital crimes on defense and were duly punished by Hannover.

Stuttgart has no one to blame but themselves for their loss to Mainz. They jumped out to an early lead and looked confident, but then dicked around and Mainz struck back. Despite some continued VfB pressure, Mainz was in good shape and then countered near the end to get a nice away win, their first ever Bundesliga win in Stuttgart.

They finally did it! Nürnberg got their *first* win of the year. OK, it was their first game of 2014…but the minor problem they faced is that the Bundesliga season is 2013-14, and they hadn’t won any in the 2013 part. Der Club blasted Hoffenheim, albeit the scoreline was a bit too high. The Hoppers attacked and created chances, but FCN was well organized and countered with deadly effect. This is a huge result, as now perhaps with the monkey off their back, FCN might be able to climb out of the depths, as several other clubs are sucking.

Frankfurt was somewhat lucky to get a win against Berlin. Hertha looked the better team, but Eintracht’s best player, Alex Meier, pulled out a win after a defenders fell asleep.

Hamburg is in total crisis, and they got their ass ripped by Schalke. HSV was lame from the start and the visitors ran around and did whatever they pleased. Schalke decided to score a couple of goals – they must be thrilled that Huntelaar is back after injury and opened the scoring – and basically just kicked HSV in the balls.

The northern derby between Bremen and Braunschweig was pretty entertaining, despite the scoreless result. Partially incompetance, as both sides missed chances, but the refs also denied a Bremen goal on “offsides” and the Lions hit the post. Probably fair that they both get goose eggs though…

Total attendance 391,070 (avg 43,452), sellouts in Gladbach and Dortmund

 	
Bor. Mönchengladbach   -   Bayern München	0:2 (0:1)   54,010 *

                      0:1  M. Götze (7., T. Müller)
                      0:2  T. Müller (53., Hand penalty)

Borussia Dortmund      -   FC Augsburg   	2:2 (1:0)   80,645 *

                      1:0  S. Bender (6., Reus)
                      1:1  S. Bender (56., own goal, Hahn)
                      2:1  Sahin (66., direct freekick)
                      2:2  Ji (72., Hahn)

VfB Stuttgart	       -   1. FSV Mainz 05	1:2 (1:1)   38,000

                      1:0  Abdellaoue (11., Ibisevic)
                      1:1  Okazaki (40., Moritz)
                      1:2  Saller (87., Park)

VfL Wolfsburg	       -   Hannover 96	        1:3 (1:1)   28,139

                      0:1  Rudnevs (28., M. Diouf)
                      1:1  Olic (35., Arnold)
                      1:2  Bittencourt (50., M. Diouf)
                      1:3  Bittencourt (72., Huszti)

1. FC Nürnberg	       -   1899 Hoffenheim	4:0 (2:0)   36,079

                      1:0  Chandler (23.)
                      2:0  Drmic (41.)
                      3:0  Ginczek (49., Frantz)
                      4:0  Drmic (70., Kiyotake)

SC Freiburg	       -   Bayer 04 Leverkusen	3:2 (1:2)   22,100

                      0:1  L. Bender (4., Can)
                      1:1  Mehmedi (27., Sorg)
                      1:2  Rolfes (35., KCastro)
                      2:2  Schmid (53., direct free kick)
                      3:2  Klaus (90., Schmid)

Eintracht Frankfurt    -   Hertha BSC	        1:0 (1:0)   41,600

                      1:0  Meier (36., Russ)

Werder Bremen	       -   Eintr. Braunschweig	0:0 (0:0)   41,040

Hamburger SV	       -   FC Schalke 04	0:3 (0:1)   49,457

                      0:1  Huntelaar (34., Farfan)
                      0:2  Farfan (53., Felipe Santana)
                      0:3  M. Meyer (56., Farfan)



 1  Bayern München (M, P)	17   15  2   0 	   44:8   +36 	  47 
 2  Bayer 04 Leverkusen	  	18   12  1   5 	   34:19  +15 	  37 
 3  Borussia Dortmund	  	18   10  3   5 	   40:22  +18 	  33
 4  Bor. Mönchengladbach	18   10  3   5 	   35:21  +14 	  33
--------------------------------------------------------------------
 5  FC Schalke 04	  	18    9  4   5 	   35:28  +7 	  31 
 6  VfL Wolfsburg	  	18    9  3   6 	   29:22  +7 	  30
--------------------------------------------------------------------
 7  Hertha BSC Berlin (N)	18    8  4   6 	   27:21  +6 	  28 
 8  1. FSV Mainz 05	  	18    8  3   7 	   27:32  -5 	  27 
 9  FC Augsburg	  	        18    7  4   7 	   23:27  -4 	  25 
10  Hannover 96	  	        18    6  3   9 	   26:32  -6 	  21 
11  Werder Bremen	  	18    5  5   8 	   22:37  -15 	  20 
12  VfB Stuttgart	  	17    5  4   8 	   30:33  -3 	  19 
13  1899 Hoffenheim	  	18    4  6   8 	   36:42  -6 	  18 
14  Eintracht Frankfurt	  	18    4  6   8 	   21:29  -8 	  18 
15  SC Freiburg	  	        18    4  5   9 	   19:33  -14 	  17
--------------------------------------------------------------------
16  Hamburger SV	  	18    4  4   10    33:41  -8 	  16
--------------------------------------------------------------------
17  1. FC Nürnberg	  	18    1  11  6 	   21:33  -12 	  14 
18  Eintracht Braunschweig (N)	18    3  3   12    10:32  -22 	  12


M = Meister, defending Champion 
P = Pokal, defending Cup winner
N = Neuling, newly promoted

1st line: Champions League
2nd line: Europaliga (+ Cup winner)
3rd line: Playoff with 2.Liga 3rd place
4th line: Relegation to 2.Liga

Editor Note: Vacation

I’m on vacation and visiting relatives in Goiania, Brazil (Well represented in Brazilian football, Goias in Serie A, Vila Nova and Atletico Goianense in Serie B. There’s also EC Goiania in, err, Serie Z…)

Anyway, the only site impact is that my laptop blew up and sometimes internet is spotty, so things may not return to normal until mid January….

Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year!