Posts Tagged ‘Bayern Munich’

The Champions League climax no one saw coming is final-ly (sorry!) upon us.

This was supposed to be the ultimate El Clasico; the grandest game on the grandest stage.

Not one, but two teams decided to spoil the party. And it could be even better for it.

Bayern’s role in the final was always set to be hosts. However, while it had long been known the game would be played at their home, no one expected them to be in.

Chelsea, meanwhile, thwarted their modern rivals Barcelona. They came through far from unscathed, but came through nonetheless.

Both sides have had casualties, mostly because of suspension. David Alaba, Holger Badstuber and Luis Gustavo miss out for Bayern. Chelsea’s losses were even greater: Ramires, Branislav Ivanovic, Raul Meireles and, of course, John Terry are all forced to sit this one out.

The defence of both teams is where the suspensions have stung the most, and could well have the greatest impact on the game. The loss of Badstuber and Alaba means the left half of Bayern’s back four is missing.

Philipp Lahm will switch to left back, where he is equally as excellent, but the incoming Rafinha at right back and Daniel van Buyten at centre half are less so, and the likes of Juan Mata and Didier Drogba will more than fancy their chances against them.

It’s the same story for Chelsea, who will likely see a centre back pairing of David Luiz and Gary Cahill, and are set to be in for a tough night against the freescoring Mario Gomez. Similarly, Franck Ribery will be licking his lips at the thought of running at Jose Bosingwa.

In midfield, meanwhile, Frank Lampard and Michael Essien will need to turn the clock back and play like their old selves against a midfield duo of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos. The former is rightly regarded as one of the best central midfielders in the world, and Kroos – who has had a stellar season – will surely be in time.

It’s likely to be a fairly tight affair, and Chelsea will need to be at their Barcelona-beating best to come away with their win. In my opinion, especially given the fact they’re virtually the away side, that will be a bridge too far.

Key Man: Toni Kroos. Talk will be of Gomez, ‘Robbery’, Mata, Drogba and so on. But it’s the young midfielder who is capable of pulling all the strings.

Prediction: Bayern Munich 2-1 Chelsea

Who do you think will win? Make a prediction in the comments section below…

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The Bundesliga is over for another season (*sigh*), and we at Das Boot are jumping on the bandwagon that is end of season awards. Vote below to have your say on Player, Young Player and Manager of the Year.

 
 

The relegation battle will reach an epic climax this weekend, with two teams fighting to avoid the automatic drop.

Hertha Berlin are at home to Hoffenheim, and it is literally a must win game, anything else and they will be on their way to 2. Bundesliga.

FC Koln, meanwhile, face the daunting task of welcoming Bayern Munich to the RheinEnergieStadion. They can afford to draw, or even lose, but must hope that Hertha do the same.

The chances of Koln getting something from the game, however, look slim; they have the league’s worst defence, while Bayern have the second best attack.

Hertha, meanwhile, will be slightly more confident of getting the necessary win against mid-table Hoffenheim, although their home form has let them down this season: three wins, three draws and 10 defeats. Markus Babbel’s side, by contrast, have picked up twenty points on their travels this season, the 7th best record in the league.

The fact that these two sides are struggling will come as a surprise to anyone who was only watching before the winter break.

After the first 17 games of the season, Koln were 10th with Hertha in 11th, having picked up 21 and 20 points respectively. In their last 16 games, The Billy Goats have managed nine points, The Old Lady just eight.

Form suggests neither side will win, which would mean relegation for Hertha. History seemingly can’t pick between the two: the Berlin side were only promoted last year; Koln have been relegated three times in the last decade. 

Die Alte Dame slipped into the 17th position they currently occupy after matchday 26, following a 6-0 defeat to Bayern. Die Geißböcke first occupied 16th after matchday 28. Neither has moved since. In fact, since Hertha’s fall into the relegation zone, they have managed only one win between them.

Koln could be helped by the fact that Bayern will be focusing on their two upcoming cup finals, although Hoffenheim don’t exactly have much to play for either. It’s down to the wire, and it certainly looks too close to call.

Allan Edgar, of Bundesliga Football, did give us his prediction however. He said: “Köln to me are likely to be automatically relegated – they have been in freefall and not even the outgoing Lukas Podolski will be able to save them it seems. Hertha Berlin I consider to have enough in their arsenal to fight the drop. If they finish in the play-off spot I would envisage them seeing off the challengers from 2. Bundesliga.”

Arjen Robben returns to the Bernabeu tonight, looking to knock his former club out of the Champions League.

He will have every right to feel aggrieved at his departure from Real Madrid; after all, he played a huge role in winning them the league in his first season.

He joined Los Merengues from Chelsea for a fee mooted to be around £24m in 2007, and his impact, while not immediate, certainly cannot be underestimated.

He scored five goals that season, but all of them came in the last four months of the campaign.

Corey Fiske, of Real Madrid Football Blog, said: “The fact that he almost single handedly brought Real Madrid to a league title after an awful start to the campaign…speaks volumes of his talent.”

Madrid narrowly missed out on a league title in his second season, one that would prove to be his last. That was despite another string of fine performances individually, which saw him score eight goals in 37 games.

The second coming of Florentino Perez, and with him Los Galacticos II, meant that Robben, in his view, forced out. By his own admission, he “didn’t want to go” but “the club wanted to sell me.”

He has a remarkable habit of winning the league title in his first season, having done so at PSV and Chelsea as well as Madrid, and a move to Bayern Munich saw that trend continue.

He scored 16 league goals that season, 23 overall, to help propel Bayern not only to the league title but also the Champions League final – albeit one they lost.

His second season was partially derailed by injury, and it was clear to see as Bayern lost their grip on the league to Borussia Dortmund, and were knocked out of the Champions League – by Inter, the same team who’d beaten them in the previous final – in the last 16.

This season, he has been instrumental in the progress to the Champions League semi final, and his importance has become plain to see.

Edson Karimi, of Red Robbery, said: “Is Robben better now? The stats say yes; 0.6 goals per match for Bayern as opposed to 0.2 for Madrid.

“He certainly is more important for Munich and any hope for a FCB win can only come true if Robben plays at his best.”

Fiske, however, has a slightly different view. He said: “[Robben] is a great player, but maybe he should have been more, on level with a Messi or Ronaldo, but because of his physical frailty, and I dare say his mental frailty, he will never be one of the best. His selfish play can affect a team, and its no question he can have an adverse affect on games.

“He has done well at Bayen too, but would anyone say he is an important player of the club, or merely an excellent player that is on the squad? That’s how I viewed his time at Real.”

Tonight, the stage is set for Robben to prove Madrid wrong. Only time will tell if he’s up to the challenge. Whether he is or not could well decide who wins.

Below is a reminder of what Robben is capable of in the Champions League:

 

They’ve just won the league title for the second time in as many seasons; have a fantastic manager; a hungry, youthful squad; and the hottest property in world football on their books.

Taking that into consideration, along with their vastly improved financial state, impressive stadium and one of the best fanbases in Europe, and the future of Borussia Dortmund looks as bright as their kit.

Next season looks to be an even better one than the current for Die Borussen, with Marco Reus joining for a fee of around £17.5m for Monchengladbach. The 22-year-old is capable of playing in any one of the four attacking positions Dortmund’s formation uses, meaning he should slot straight into the side.

BVB Offside’s Clarissa Judmann said: “I think that getting Reus was a real statement of intent by Dortmund. It is also a sign that Dortmund is willing to keep improving and spend money…we are challenging Bayern.”

The core of the team should remain unchanged, with the likes of Nevan Subotic, Mats Hummels and Sven Bender not looking like going anywhere for a while yet.

The biggest boost, however, is that Mario Gotze has signed a contract running until 2015, which means he’ll almost certainly be playing at Westfalenstadion for next season at the very least.

On the flip side, though, are the reports that Shinji Kagawa may well be leaving the club. He has played a massive role in both title wins – especially in Gotze’s absence this term – and his departure would be a big blow, although not as big as it would be if Reus weren’t coming in.

Judmann said: “If we get a really good offer for him, I think he [Kagawa] might be sold. But, with Reus, Kuba [Jakub Blaszczykowski] and a fit Götze we have enough players for that positions anyway.”

All-in-all, they look very much like they’ll be challenging for the title once again this time next year. But what of Europe? After a failed campaign this year, they know they need to improve to truly become a force to be reckoned with.

Bayern Munich’s president, Uli Hoeness, said: “Dortmund will not be knighted by me until they have played a super season in the Bundesliga, and have played successful in international competition.”

That may be part sour grapes, and part mind-games (the two sides meet in the German cup final on May 12) but there is a truth to it.

However, if they can keep ahold of most of this squad, and make a couple of key signings, then Hoeness may be ‘knighting’ them sooner rather than later, and certainly sooner than he would like.