Bundesliga Thread

Anyone following the Bundesliga at all this season on Setanta?

I know there were debates about its merits before on the old Board but it’s a cracking league - high tempo football with technically skillful footballers and great atmospheres at most of the matches. No question that the terracing makes a world of difference to the noise levels.

League this year is very interesting with Bremen, Schalke, Bayern and Stuttgart all within 4 points of eachother at the top going into the winter break. Hamburg are second bottom unbelievably despite all their big name signings like Van der Vaart, Ljubola, Kompany, Sorin etc.

Anyway awful time to be posting this thread because they’re just going into a winter break but advise ye to start watching it - usually Friday evening live games and delayed games on Saturday or Sundays on one of the Setanta channels.

I already watch way too much football but lately I’ve more free time on my hands so I’m watching a fair bit of this. I watched Werder Bremen win 6-2 at Eintracht Frankfurt the week before last and it was a cracker. They repeat full games during weekdays too! I don’t know an awful lot about the teams outside the top 4 and Hamburg but it looks like it’ll be a good title race with 4 teams in the hunt. Was always a big fan of Kuranyi from when he was up front for Stuttgart so I class Schalke as interesting outsiders - they also have the wonderful Peter Lovenkrands.

Kuranyi has been very disappointing over the past couple of seasons. It would have been hard to imagine a couple of years ago that he wouldn’t make the world cup squad but his form fell apart completely. Coupled with an arrogance and petulance it has made him a not very likeable character in my book.

I’ve no time for Schalke, they’ve always had a right wing element to their support, and I’ve always gravitated towards Dortmund in the derby. Loved them when they had Kohler and Sammer and Reuter at the back, Lambert and Moeller in midfield and Chapuisat up front. What a team! Then Ricken looked like he’d be a superstar (great CL final goal with his first touch) but it’s all fallen to pieces in the years since.

I’ve been surprised by the success of Stuttgart so far this season. In recent years they have lost Kuranyi, Hleb, Lahm (they had him on loan for a season), Ljubola and without signing any huge household names they’ve re-emerged as a Bundesliga contenders.

Did Stuttgart have financial problems to explain getting rid of all their big players or are they just a selling club?

They just had players and managers who perceived them as being a small club so decided they wanted out. Ljubola went on strike for more money, Bayern wanted Lahm back, Kuranyi got too big for his boots, Hleb they got serious cash for so I suppose they were happy to cash in.

I think Magath was making noises about leaving for ages before he took the Bayern job and it created an impression of a club that had peaked so fair play to them for bouncing back after Sammer’s less than impressive spell in charge.

I was just about to suggest Stuttgart’s Fernando Meira as a quality centre half for Celtic but he’d probably cost in excess of 5m which I don’t see us spending. I thought he was superb for Portugal in the world cup and he’s the type of player we should be after.

What happened to Dortmund? Have they gone to the wall?

No, they nearly went bust and had to sell their stadium (they’re playing there under a lease agreement now afaik) and let players like Rosicky and Odonkor go but they’re still competing in the Budesliga. Watched them lose 3-1 at Schalke last week - Alexander Frei scored a cracker of a consolation goal.

Ivan Klasnic of Werder Bremen needs a kidney transplant. Good player, a bit inconsistent. Terrible news for him.

A kidney transplant? Fook me. Is that career threatening?

They’ve found a replacement organ and they reckon he might be back playing again this season. :smiley:

I know a lad with one kidney.

And no, I’m not kid’ney. It’s the truth.


Salihamidzic: a heartening success story

Where would Hasan Salihamidzic be today if he hadn’t escaped Sarajevo the day before it was besieged?

Jonathan WilsonJanuary 31, 2007 10:25 AM
Goodbyes are never easy. Some players vanish in the snapping of a ligament, others disappear in a puff of transfer window smoke, some linger too long, raging weakly against the fading of the light. Others announce their departure in advance, and enjoy what is effectively a farewell tour. At times that can rankle, but no one will begrudge Hasan Salihamidzic his protracted farewell from Bayern Munich as he prepares to join Juventus this summer.

His 30-year-old body weakened by two serious cruciate injuries, Salihamidzic may struggle to last a full 90 minutes these days, but this is a player once described by his former coach Ottmar Hitzfeld as “the life and soul of the team”. Yet it almost didn’t happen at all. Salihamidzic owes his career to a piece of extraordinarily fortunate timing 15 years ago.

He was brought up in Jablonica, about 30 miles east of Mostar on the road to Sarajevo. Every morning, he would get up at 6am and run for 90 minutes before school (although, if Frank Lampard is to be believed, that is de rigeur for would-be footballers). After classes, he practised the piano, and then caught a bus into Mostar to train with Velez. In 1991, he even took the prize for the best pupil in his elementary school with fives (the top grade) in every subject. He was, in short, one of those sickening people who are good at everything.

In April 1992, shortly after the EU had recognised Bosnia’s independence, Salihamidzic was called up to play for the Yugoslavia U-16s against the CIS. The squad was to meet in Belgrade on May 1, so, on April 30, Salihamidzic’s father, Ahmed, drove Hasan and his team-mate Vedran Pelic to Sarajevo to catch a plane to the Serbian capital. At Bradina, they were held up for four hours by a Serb check-point as soldiers sought assurances from the Yugoslav Football Federation that Salihamidzic’s invitation was genuine. By the time they reached Sarajevo, it was dark, but they hurried to the airport anyway, and caught the last flight that night. It was the last scheduled passenger flight to leave for four years; by the following morning, the city was besieged.

Unable to fly back from Belgrade after the game, Salihamidzic, Pelic and another Bosnian, Edis Mulalic, trained with Red Star, waiting for the situation back home to improve. After 10 weeks, as it became apparent that the siege was not going be lifted any time soon, they set out by land, returning to Bosnia through Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia. Back in Jablonica, Salihamidzic began to work as a bartender, while his father desperately sought a club for him in western Europe.

Finally, thanks largely to the efforts of Ahmed Halilhodzic, who had been born in Jablonica before emigrating to Germany (his cousin Vahid Halilhodzic went on to coach Lille and PSG), Hamburg offered the Yugoslavia U-16 international youth terms.

It took three months to secure exit papers, after which Ahmed Salihamidzic put his son in a car to Zadar in Croatia, from where he took a bus to Hamburg. Ahmed Halilhodzic’s wife Djula was supposed to meet Salihamidzic at the bus-station, but when he arrived, he couldn’t see her. Gradually people drifted away, until he was left alone. Tired and frightened, he went to the bus station’s small caf, where, so intimidated he could barely speak, he whispered the only two words of German he knew: “Bitte limonade.” The waiter, though, could not understand him, so he tried again. “Bitte limonade.” “Pa tako mi reci brate!” (“So, speak to me, my brother!”) the waiter replied; he was a Bosnian Croat. It was an auspicious start.

Living first with Ahmed Halilhodzic and then in the club’s academy, Salihamidzic quickly settled, and, when he turned 18, was offered professional terms by Felix Magath, the famously hard taskmaster. Magath, of course, has since joined Salihamidzic at Bayern, and the bond between the two is obvious.

In those early days, though, the war continued to be a concern. “This coach, Magath, is really good,” he wrote to his parents. “He’s teaching me properly, but he never wants to talk to me. He never asks if I miss my family, how they’re getting on in the war… I miss my sister a lot, but also I miss my father’s criticism. He always knew what was best for me. I think a lot about my mother - I’m a mama’s boy. I can’t wait to see her, and to sit on her knee.”

In his first season as a professional, Salihamidzic played nine times for Hamburg, making his reputation with a stunning performance away to Eintracht Frankfurt on the final day of the season. Needing a victory to qualify for the Uefa Cup, Hamburg won 4-1, Salihamidzic scoring twice and setting up the other two. The following night, he was a guest on a chat show on ARD TV, who, unbeknownst to him, had sent a camera crew to Jablonica on the day of the game to interview his family. When Salihamidzic saw the piece, he began to cry; when, later, contact was made for a live link-up, he all but broke down.

“My son has three basic characteristics - hard work, ambition and a desire to progress,” Ahmed Salihamidzic said. “He has two faults: he’s too ambitious and he can’t stand to be beaten. When he’s lost a match, he switches his phone off for two or three days and nobody can talk to him. Maybe that’s a good thing, maybe that’s the reason he’s so successful.”

Successful he has undoubtedly been. Appropriately for the man who would become the footballing figurehead of his nation, he scored Bosnia-Hercegovina’s first goal as an independent nation (albeit in a 4-1 defeat). Since joining Bayern in 1998, he has won six league titles, four cups and a Champions League. The move to Italy feels like the beginning of the end, but he deserves his farewell tour.

Jonathon Wilson is the author of Behind The Iron Curtain: Travels In Eastern Europe. To order it, click here.

I see Klasnic’s body rejected the kidney transplant and there’s no news on what happens from here.

I hadn’t seen that Bandage - he’s in big trouble I’d imagine.


Why Bayern had to sack Magath

Forget the back-to-back doubles: Felix Magath’s eccentric behaviour and tactical neglect sealed his fate at Bayern.

Raphael HonigsteinFebruary 1, 2007 02:04 PM

Bundesliga teams never simply draw matches. One of our many lovable national customs demands the use of a phrase unique to German football terminology; the voice on the radio or TV will always insist (with a hint of regret) that both sides “trennten sich unentschieden”. They “parted company undecided”.

It is unsure if this quirk can survive much longer after Wednesday’s extraordinary hat-trick: three trite, uneventful draws decided everything - or, to be more precise, the fate of three managers at three of the league’s most successful clubs. At Gladbach, Jupp Heynckes’ unhappy tenure was brought to an end following another drab draw in the relegation battle. Shortly before midnight, Thomas Doll had lost the last remnants of sympathy on the Hamburg board. Their 1-1 draw with Energie Cottbus leaves them holding the “red lantern” - the German version of the wooden spoon - in the dark hole at the bottom of the table. But the biggest drama was naturally once again played out under the sunny Bavarian sky.

The morning after a thoroughly depressing 0-0 stalemate with lowly Bochum at the Allianz Arena, after which Bayern were booed off, Felix Magath took training and left, only to be asked back to Sbenerstrasse for a meeting with the board in the afternoon. The 53-year-old went to have his hair cut and returned to find his head on the chopping block. Afterwards, chief-executioner Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, known as “Killer Kalle” for his cold and sometimes downright ruthless demeanour, told the press about a “regretful move” that had been necessary in view of the club’s league position. After one point from six in 2007, Bayern find themselves in a fourth spot that would entitle them only to participate in the Uefa Cup: “the losers’ cup”, according to president Franz Beckenbauer, and obviously quite beneath them.

Bild, Germany’s biggest tabloid, first broke the news of Magath’s marching orders. Their columnist Beckenbauer, who is away on business in Dubai and was not consulted before the decision, had tipped them off. The paper described the event as “a panic move”, but in fact only the timing really surprised. Magath was always likely to be relieved of his position at the end of the season.

Despite winning unprecedented back-to-back doubles, he had long lost the faith of his players and the board. It wasn’t so much the two bad results after the winter break but the veritable smorgasbord of inadequacies on show that hastened his departure. Systematic play was nonexistent. The entire team looked befuddled, gripped by a sense of insecurity.

Magath is not to blame for the disastrous transfer policy that is the root cause of Bayern’s malaise - that responsibility lies with the board. But he compounded matters by not talking enough to his players. His policy of professional distance did not lend itself to the integration of new, young recruits like Lukas Podolski and it precluded the implementation of a modern tactical concept. “Not the end of an era,” wrote Sddeutsche Zeitung today in recognition of the team’s arrested development under Magath.

In fairness, Magath’s emphasis on physical fitness did enable Bayern to overrun their rivals. At their best, in the spring of 2005, they played a powerful, muscular attacking game. That might have been enough to “dominate a domestic competition who are falling behind in Europe by the minute” (Klner Stadt-Anzeiger) but, in the Champions League, Magath’s tactical shortcomings were sadly evident. After the humiliating 4-1 defeat by AC Milan last season, a number of senior players privately complained about the lack of a coherent strategy. Magath “the Lord of the Medicine Balls” (SZ), failed to see the point. “Tactics are something for bad players,” he quipped a few weeks ago.

It’s easy to forget that Magath was hailed as “the super-brain of the Bundesliga” when he took over in Munich in 2004. A well-read, incredibly charming and witty man, he could talk for hours about football’s similarities with chess, a game he taught himself in the late 70s. He had a reformist agenda; his declared aim was to shake Bayern out of their passive, slow style that characterised the last year of his predecessor Ottmar Hitzfeld. He managed to do that in his first season but then everything started to fall apart in the Dubai training camp of January 2006.

Inexplicably, Magath spent 10 whole days without speaking to anybody - not to the players, not to the board - and, after the Milan debacle, relations had become so strained that the board were debating his replacement. In one episode, he spent a whole hour in a car next to general manager Uli Hoeness without saying anything, then snapped: “If you want to fire me, you only have to tell me.”

Winning a second German Cup final in May narrowly saved his neck but, in November, Hitzfeld was already quietly offering his services before an impressive win away to Leverkusen convinced Hoeness to stick with the current regime a bit longer. But Bayern’s football only became more horrid and totally devoid of any vision. “Bayern’s ambitions are global, yet the means and the football remain German,” criticised the Stadt-Anzeiger.

For Frankfurter Rundschau, Hitzfeld’s return only proves “Bayern’s lack of imagination”, but there were hardly any alternative candidates of the required stature. The club hope that the new old boss will be eager to prove a point after almost three years in semi-retirement. “I feel at home here, as if I’d never been away,” he said at his first press conference today. Bayern have not ruled out prolonging the engagement beyond this season; worryingly for their supporters though, the names of Sven-Goran Eriksson and Gerard Houllier have also been mentioned.

In the end it’ll certainly need more than one new body to reanimate the comatose giant; Bayern will have to ditch their prudent attitude and start spending big on players. Der Tagesspiegel puts it succinctly: “Instead of changing the manager, they will only be helped by a change of ideology.”

Results: Bayer Leverkusen 0-2 Werder Bremen, Bayern Munich 0-0 VFL Bochum, Borussia Monchengladbach 0-0 Nurnberg, Hamburg 1-1 Cottbus, Hannover 96 5-0 Hertha Berlin, Mainz 1-0 Borussia Dortmund, Schalke 04 2-1 Alemania Aachen, VfB Stuttgart 3-2 Arminia Bielefeld, Wolfsburg 2-2 Eintracht Frankfurt.

I was wondering about Hitzfeld. So was he actually out of a job since leaving Bayern? It says there he’s back after being in ‘semi-retirement’.

Yeah he didn’t have a job - I think he turned down Germany, not 100% sure but nobody really went after him with any conviction.

He’s a superb manager with a fantastic record.

He took over a very mediocre and unsuccessful Dortmund team brought them to second in the Bundesliga in his first season, next season a UEFA Cup final, next season a Cup Winners Cup win and their 4th ever Bundesliga. They retained the Bundesliga and then the following season won the Champions League. He had some problems with the Board then and got moved to an upstairs role.

So he moved to Bayern and won the league in his first season and got to a CL final (that United won). He then won a double and CL semi-final (beaten by R Madrid who won it). Another Bundesliga the next season and then they won the CL. He won the league again the next season but left (a sort of mutual consent thing) the next season when they weren’t going well.

That record is simply outstanding.

Great weekend for Schalke - along with Hamburg my least favourite team in the Bundesliga. They beat second place Werder Bremen 2-0 (Lovenkrands with both of them) and in the Setanta match on Friday night Nurnberg beat Bayern 3-0. That was a cracking game. Hitzfeld brought Hargreaves back (who played reasonably well) and really went for it second half with 3 forwards but Nurnberg were class on the break.

Schalke are now 3 ahead of Bremen with Stuttgart a further 4 behind and then another 4 back to Bayern.

Schalke were beaten at home by Leverkusen yesterday but their nearest challengers Stuttgart and Werder Bremen both drew. Bayern had a 2-1 win which brings them back into outside contention 9 points behind Schalke.