Posts Tagged ‘Bayern’

He’s overshadowed in the Bundesliga by Mario Gomez, while at international level the spotlight falls on Robin van Persie, but is Klaas-Jan Huntelaar the best striker in the world?

This does not include Lionel Messi, nor Cristiano Ronaldo. Firstly, because neither are what you would class as an ‘out-and-out’ striker. Secondly, because they are out of this world.

The five top scorers across Europe, with the two mentioned above taken out of the equation, are van Persie, Gomez, Huntelaar, Zlatan Ibrahimovich and Wayne Rooney.

The table below shows their games and goals in their respective leagues, cups and European competitions this season, as well as their goals per minutes and the percentage of their team’s league goals they have scored.*

PREMIER
LEAGUE
DOMESTIC
CUP
EUROPE
NAME APPS GOALS APPS GOALS APPS GOALS GOAL/MINUTE % of team goals (league)
Van Persie 33 27 2 2 8 5 107.2 40.90
Gomez 30 25 4 2 11 12 88.6 36.23
Ibrahimovic 26 23 4 2 8 5 107.9 37.09
Rooney 30 24 2 2 7 5 106.4 29.26
Huntelaar 29 24 4 5 12 14 91.4 36.36

As demonstrated in the table above, only Gomez and van Persie have scored more league goals than ‘The Hunter’. Huntelaar also has more goals in domestic cups, and has scored more in Europe – although all of his have came in the Europa League, as opposed to the more prestigious Champions League.

Only Gomez has a better goals per minute ratio, and both players have considerably better ratios than the rest of their ‘rivals’. While the Bayern man scores more often, it is the Dutchman who has contributed more – albeit marginally – to his side’s league goals tally this season.

At international level, it would appear Huntelaar is again more valuable. He has scored 31 goals in 50 appearances for Holland, compared to his fellow countryman van Persie’s 25 in 62. Wayne Rooney has 28 in 73 for England, while Gomez has played 51 times for Germany, scoring 21 times. Zlatan Ibrahimovic has the worst goals/game record at country level, with 29 goals in 75 appearances for Sweden.

Stefan Bienkowski, of Bundesliga Football and Four Four Two, said: “The only out-and-out striker I could perhaps see above him would be Gomez, but Huntelaar does seem to have more strings to his bow. The Dutchman is often found cutting back and can fit in to the build-up play as well as any playmaker.

“His form and goals have been pivotal for Schalke this season. The club rest very comfortably in third place, which can be put down entirely to the amount of goals the team have amassed this season. Alongside Raul, the Dutchman has flourished and their ability to score certainly saves a rather average defensive record, from any blushes.”

*Stats courtesy of Soccerway.

Neuer: Two challengers for his jersey

Manuel Neuer is currently in possession of the Germany number 1 jersey, and is widely regarded as one of the best goalkeepers not just in Germany, but the world.

That being said, however, he may well face some competition soon in the form of two 19-year-olds by the names of Bernd Leno and Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

The two goalkeepers have seen their stock rise remarkably this season, and are firmly established as first choice goalkeepers for their respective sides, Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Mönchengladbach.

Leno came through the ranks at Stuttgart, for whose reserve side he made over 50 appearances.

Ter Stegen, meanwhile, was rather remarkably signed by Die Fohlen at the tender age of four. Since then, he rose steadily through the ranks and established himself in the reserves and often back-up to first choice ‘keeper, Logan Bailly.

Leno found himself unable to break into the Stuttgart first team, but did sign a contract extension in May, which was to keep him at the club until 2014, perhaps a sign of how highly he was rated.

Similarly, ter Stegen found his path to the first team blocked, even when many fans believed he should have been the man between the posts, as opposed to Bailly. His fortunes, much like the club’s, would turn around with the appointment of Lucien Favre.

Leno, not long after signing the aforementioned extension, joined Leverkusen on loan as a replacement for the injured Rene Adler. Since then, he has become the youngest German goalkeeper to appear in the Champions League; and his short-term loan deal has been turned into a permanent one that runs until 2017. Such is his rival’s form, Adler has announced he is to leave Leverkusen when his contract expires.

Ter Stegen finally got his chance towards the end of the 2010/11 season, and ended up playing a part in their avoiding relegation. Since then, he’s been handed the number one jersey (literally and figuratively), while Bailly has been sent out on loan. Mönchengladbach boast the second best defence in the league, and that is in no small part down to ter Stegen.

If it weren’t for Neuer, at least one of them would probably have German caps to their name by now. As it stands, it surely won’t be long before they both do. They may have to wait a while for a chance, Neuer himself is only 25, but it’s a chance that will undoubtedly come. And it’ll be interesting to see which one of them takes it.

“Apart from Gotze, [the most exciting youngster in Germany] is probably Bernd Leno.” – Raphael Honigstein, German football correspondent for The Guardian. @Honigstein.

“Among the many young goalkeepers in Germany, for me, Marc-Andre ter Stegen is the most exciting. He’s incredibly mature for his years.” – Clark Whitney, goal.com German editor. @Mr_Bundesliga.

Who is the better of the two is difficult to say, but you can have your say in the poll below.

Kroos: Schweinsteiger’s long-term replacement?

Toni Kroos is, arguably, the reason more hasn’t been made of the absence of Bastian Schweinsteiger.

That’s not to say Bayern don’t miss him – any side would miss a player of his ability; nor is it to say Kroos is a better player – because he isn’t…yet.

But by the looks of things, he’s certainly on his way, and while Schweinsteiger’s injury may not have benefitted Bayern, it has benefitted Kroos.

Kroos was born in the town of Greifswald, and first emerged through the youth team of his local side – Greifswalder SC (now Greifswalder SV 04). Due to the club’s links with Hansa Rostock, it wasn’t long before he made the move there. And it was at Rostock he was spotted by Bayern Munich.

Kroos was snapped up in 2006 – aged just 16 – and moved to Bayern’s youth team. However, such was his potential, he was making his debut by the age of 17.

His ability didn’t go unnoticed by his senior teammates. Miroslav Klose said of him: “When you see in training, the talent he already has at such a young age, he really is a world-class player. These thoughts were echoed by legendary ‘keeper Oliver Kahn, who said: “He’s the best I’ve seen for years at youth level.”

In January 2009 he was sent on loan to Bayer Leverkusen for 18 months, a move that would ultimately be the making of him. He established himself in the Leverkusen side almost immediately, but it was the following season – his first (and only) full one with the side – that he really made an impact.

He featured in 35 games for Leverkusen in the 2009/10 season, scoring nine goals and helping Leverkusen achieve a 4th place finish. Unsurprisingly they wanted to keep him; even less surprising is that Bayern said no.

Heynckes: big impact on Kroos' career

Since then he’s gone from strength to strength, and, especially since Jupp Heynckes – who he played so well under at Leverkusen – took over, he has began to establish himself as a first team regular.

As mentioned, the injury to Schweinsteiger has perhaps benefitted him. He’s since been deployed in a slightly deeper role, and after perhaps initially looking slightly uncomfortable, now appears to be reveling in it.

The same can be said at international level. He’s came along at a time of plenty for German football, especially in terms of attacking midfielders, yet still made the squad for the 2010 World Cup and is almost certain to do so for Euro 2012.

As stated, he isn’t on Schweinsteiger’s level yet. But if he keeps going the way he is, he may not be long before he reaches it, and perhaps even surpasses it.

“Just a few years ago, Kroos was arguably Germany’s biggest talent. He joined Leverkusen on loan and, under Heynckes, played an incredible season. Hopes were high but when he returned to Bayern with coach Louis van Gaal, he struggled. But now that Heynckes is back, Kroos is better than ever. Probably the closest you’ll get to a playmaker in modern football, his passing is world-class. The only thing Kroos lacks is speed, aside from that he’s brilliant. A superstar in the making.” Bayern Munich blog Red Robbery. Twitter: @redrobbery

“Toni Kroos is looking Schweinsteiger-esque, and when you compare the two at age 21, Kroos is a much better player. The question now is whether he can round off his game with a bit more defensive class; if he can, he will be world class.” – Clark Whitney, goal.com German football editor. Twitter: @Mr_Bundesliga