Posts Tagged ‘Mario Gotze’

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.

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Borussia Dortmund’s reign continued as they succeeded in winning back-to-back Bundesliga’s for the first time in 16 years.

A 2-0 victory over Borussia Monchengladbach at Westfalenstadion was enough for Die Schwarzgelben to clinch the title with two games to spare, despite Bayern winning earlier in the day to keep their slim hopes alive.

The league win completes what has been a remarkable turnaround in fortunes for the club, the culmination of the work done by Jurgen Klopp since his arrival.

Having won the Bundesliga in 2002, and becoming the first German club to be publicly traded on the stock market, Dortmund went into a decline in both football and financial terms.

There was some very poor management money-wise, which saw the selling of the stadium, the worth of shares in the club plummeting, players forced to take a pay cut and the club on the brink of bankruptcy.

There was also poor management on the field, perhaps caused by those events off it, with the side flirting with relegation in both 2007 and 2008.

Klopp: A kiss is the least he deserves.

Klopp took charge in 2008, and in his first two seasons they finished 6th and 5th respectively, a notable improvement, with thanks to some astute signings such as Kevin Grosskeutz, Sven Bender and Lucas Barrios.

In the summer of 2010, Klopp showed exactly how shrewd an operator he really is, with Robert Lewandowski, Lukas Piszczek and Shinji Kagawa all arriving – the latter for just £350,000. And, after handing him a debut the season before, he promoted a little known midfielder by the name of Mario Gotze to the first team.

The attack grabbed the headlines, as Gotze burst onto the scene to become one of the most talked about teenagers in world football, but it was arguably at the back the first title was won. They conceded just 22 goals in the Bundesliga, 17 less than the next best defence, Mainz 05.

Talk turned to how they could possibly retain the title, with most fancying Bayern Munich to recapture their crown. That looked all the more likely when Nuri Sahin left for Real Madrid, but the arrival of Ilkay Gundogen and the return from loan of Moritz Leitner made for more than suitable replacements.

Along with that, Lewandowski also replaced Barrios as the first choice striker, while Mario Gotze has spent large chunks of the season on the sideline. Despite this, the hunger, desire and style of play have not only remained, but improved. They’ve conceded 23 goals thus far, the second best in the league and an impressive feat in a league that has the highest goals-per-game ratio of the top league’s in Europe, while they’re also the joint top scorers.

They haven’t been beaten since September, with a league record of 25 games unbeaten. Lewandowski has been a revelation up front, scoring 20 league goals and seven assists, while Kagawa has 13 goals and six assists.

With a proven record of developing young talent – both from home and abroad, and the success of the past two seasons providing a platform to build upon, the future certainly looks bright, and they’ll very much be in the hunt for a third straight title next year – something not achieved since Bayern between 1999 and 2001.

Clarissa Judmann, of BVB Offside, described the factors of both the team’s resurgence, and this season’s league win. She said: “[Factors for Dortmund resurgence]: Getting the financial house in order, getting lucky on the transfer market – I don’t think that anyone would have predicted players like Kagawa and Piszczek to be such big successes – and we also made ourselves into one of the prime German addresses for young players. Jürgen Klopp is an excellent, excellent coach when it comes to working and motivating with a young team and he is one of the major factors of our success too. Overall, there is currently a coherent strategy being worked at Dortmund, which is a big draw for players.

“[The biggest factors this season have been]: The return to form of Shinji Kagawa after his injury, being able to substitute Sahin well with Bender, Kehl and Gündogan, keeping most of the team together, Lewandowski stepping up big time, and the early European exit probably helped.”

To read more about what the future holds for Dortmund, click here.

Podolski: Gonna be a Gunner?

Lukas Podolski is all set to leave the comforts of Koln for life in London this summer.

If reports are to be believed, then Podolski will join Arsenal for approximately £10.9m and £100k+ per week.

The big question is not necessarily whether he can cut it in the Premier League, but whether he can cut it at any club that isn’t FC Koln.

This is because a move to Arsenal won’t be the first time ‘Poldi’ has moved to a ‘big’ club; they won’t even be the biggest side he has left Koln for.

In 2006, following Die Geißböcke’s relegation to 2.Bundesliga, the frontman moved to Bayern Munich in a deal reportedly worth €10m.

At the same time, he was bursting on to the international scene, with some standout performances at the 2006 World Cup – including thee goals – helping Germany to third place and himself to the Best Young Player award.

While many struggle to replicate their club form for their country, it was the opposite for Podolski, as he failed to repeat his efforts for Germany in the colours of Munich.

Despite his poor form with Bayern, he continued with his contrasting performance for the national side. Germany finished as runners-up at Euro 2008, with Podolski scoring three goals for the second major tournament in a row, and being named in the 23-man squad of the tournament.

His three-season stint in Bavaria ended with a very poor return of 26 goals in 106 games in all competitions (15 in 71 in the Bundesliga), and he moved back to Koln for a similar fee to the one they originally sold him for.

His move back to Koln should have been the return of the king, but in his first season it was more like the clown prince than Prinz Poldi (as he is known in Cologne) as he scored just three goals in the entire season.

Despite that, he was still selected for Joachim Löw’s 2010 World Cup squad, scoring two goals from his now familiar position on the left to help Germany reach the semi-finals.

Since then, though, he has looked better than ever, and is currently enjoying his best season in the Bundesliga. He so far has 16 goals, which is his highest tally, and one that will surely be added to.

At 26, he is at somewhat of a crossroads. He is, domestically, in the form of his life, but at international level his place has perhaps never been under greater threat – such is the rise to prominence of the likes of Mario Götze and Marco Reus.

A move to Arsenal will give him the chance to prove the doubters wrong, that he can do it not only outside of Cologne but outside of Germany as well. And it could just be the thing that keeps him ahead in the national team pecking order.

He will fit well into Arsenal’s system, presumably playing on the left of the two or three behind Robin van Persie (if he stays), in the role that has been occupied by Gervinho this season.

He certainly has the ability to succeed. Whether he does or not will all come down to his mentality. He’s shown signs of maturing this season; next year will be the time for him to prove it.

“Poldi can lack tactical discipline and is used to being number one at Cologne. If he can settle in North London, accept that he is a cog in a larger wheel and do as he is told then he has the ability to make a significant contribution to the Arsenal team.” Terry Duffelen, German football blogger and co-host of the podcast Bundesliga Show. Twitter: @bundesbag.

The video below shows Arsenal fans exactly what they’ll be getting:

 

Mesut Ozil – practically a veteran at 23

Germany have perhaps the greatest pool of young talent currently available to any football playing nation.

However, it wasn’t always this way, and much like the other articles in this series, the way Germany turned things around following their Euro 2000 disappointment is very much something England could and should be looking at.

Just over a decade ago, having looked at poor performances from the national side, clubs in financial meltdowns and an ever-increasing number of foreign players, it was commissioned for 121 national talent centres, for players aged 10-17, to be built throughout Germany; while every club in the top two divisions had to have a youth academy.

Clark Whitney, German football editor of goal.com, said: “There is nothing serendipitous about the quality and quantity of young talent coming from the German first and second divisions. In 2000, after an aging Germany side utterly failed at the European Championship, the DFL made strict requirements for all 1. and 2. Bundesliga clubs to have youth academies, with very specific guidelines regulating their quality.

“There are also periodic sessions in which crops of youngsters are brought together to be trained in the style of the senior national team. The result is a large number of talented players who are well-nurtured, and take very little time to integrate into the senior national team.”

The benefits are clear for all to see. In recent years Germany have won the U17, U19 and U21 European Championships, and are one of the favourites for the senior tournament this summer.

The likes of Mesut Ozil, Mario Gotze and Thomas Muller and regarded as superstars, yet not one of them is older than 23. Similarly, the likes of Mats Hummels and Marco Reus are ready to burst onto the world stage, and there are plenty more waiting-in-line.

By contrast, England still call upon the likes of Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Scott Parker, John Terry and so on – all of whom are at least 30. There are some exceptions – Jack Wilshere, Phil Jones, Kyle Walker to name a few – but, ultimately, the English national side continues to be an ageing one, filled with players who have experience, and contributed to, past failures.

The fiasco that was no qualifying for Euro 2008, and the woeful performances in 2010’s World Cup were both supposed to lead to a youth revolution, but it is to the old stars Fabio Capello has turned, suggesting the younger players are not good enough.

Germany looks like having a side to challenge for at least the next decade. England may take that long before even attempting to catch-up.

You can follow Clark on Twitter: @Mr_Bundesliga.

It could have been an England shirt.

Every club makes mistakes when it comes to young players. Lewis Holtby was Borussia Monchengladbach’s.

Having joined their youth team at age 11, he was told at 14 that he was “too small and too slow.”

Holtby made the move to Alemannia Aachen, and following their relegation from the Bundesliga, he made his debut at the age of 17, although he was far from a regular.

He did establish himself in the first team the following season, and it wasn’t long before scouts from many a Bundesliga club were looking at him. The side that did get him was Schalke 04.

After half a season with The Royal Blues, he was sent out on loan to VfL Bochum to gain more experience. Gain experience is exactly what he did, playing 14 times, scoring twice and showing a lot of potential.

That potential began to turn into something substantial and consistent with a second loan move, this time to Mainz 05 for the duration of the 2010/11 season. It was, ultimately, the making of him.

Given plenty of freedom and with little expectation, he shone at Mainz, playing 30 games and establishing himself as something of a creative force, in particular one with an eye for a pass.

His form didn’t go unnoticed by the national side. He was handed the captain’s armband of the U21 side, and a full cap came at the end of the 2010/11 season in the Euro 2012 qualifier against Azerbaijan.

The ended any aspirations the English FA may have had of persuading Holtby to pledge his allegiance to the country of his father’s birth. However, we may yet see Holtby in England, as like his father (a soldier from Liverpool, who was stationed in Monchengladbach) he is an Everton fan, and has made no secret of his desire to play for them.

As it stands at club level, he is progressing very nicely at Schalke, with the only criticism being he needs to add more goals to his game. At international level, his biggest problem is competition – with the likes of Gotze, Kroos, Ozil et al chances are going to be few and far between. Next time he gets one, he needs to take it.

Dynamic operator in the midfield who brings out the best of those around him. Terrific work-rate. Fast-tracked into the national side to keep him out of the clutches of the dastardly English – that’s how highly he’s rated.” John Dobson, journalist. @dopsonjp

The video below shows some Holtby highlights…