The best of German football from the Bundesliga and beyond
One can sort of understand why Bayern boss Louis van Gaal opted to only give his two flying wingers, Arjen Robben and Franck Ribéry a 45 minute run-out in their home game against VfB Stuttgart last weekend.
Firstly, it was a game they ought to have won, even with an under-strength team (i.e. Without their influential wide men playing the full 90).
Secondly, because the UEFA Champions League is without doubt the biggest prize on offer to Bayern.
And thirdly because, in coming up against arguably the current best out and out striker on the planet in 'Wazza' Rooney, they would need as much firepower as possible to cancel out his inevitable goal, which of course he scored after just one minute at the Allianz Arena.
Dreadful Demichelis defending (x2).
But, on the other hand, surely FC Bayern need to be going on an all-out title charge for the remainder of the season, right? I mean, one title success in the past three seasons is simply not good enough for the Manchester United of Germany.
A few first half goals against Stuttgart and he could've rested them for the final half, or last 30 minutes, instead of throwing them on when the rest of the team was looking leggy and off-form from the first whistle.
The Bundesliga is different from the English Premier League in that there is only one real megarich club, whereas the EPL has Sheikh Mansour's Manchester City, Roman Abramovich's Chelsea, plus other proven massive spenders such as Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Aston Villa and even Sunderland.
Manchester United, incidentally, are only the seventh highest NET spenders in the Premier League over the past five years. See below.
And, although the standard of the Bundesliga is rapidly improving - just look at what has happened to Stuttgart and Wolfsburg since they won the league title in 2007 and 2009 respectively. There have been no wholesale changes to the squads, particularly the Wolves' squad, yet they are no nowhere to be seen in the title race this season.
Granted, Mario Gomez made his way from Stuttgart to Bayern after they won the league, but one player doesn't make a squad. Bayern simply spend, massively, on a yearly basis, and don't achieve anywhere near as much as they ought to...
Well, after going on a complete tangent for a few minutes there, I'm definitely sticking to my guns and saying Bayern should be winning the title year-in, year-out.
So that brings me to my conclusion that yes, Louis van Gaal's choosing to leave out Ribéry and Robben from the start against Stuttgart was a complete balls up. Only my opinion, of course…
Predictably, a fresh-again Ribéry scored Bayern's first as they came back from a goal down to defeat the English champions, yet Oranje winger Robben missed the game completely after an injury incurred towards the end of that defeat to Stuttgart.
With Bayern's defeat came Schalke's stunning victory away to third placed Leverkusen, or Neverkusen as their name ought to revert back to very soon.
Kevin Kuranyi is playing like a man reborn, having fired in his sixteenth and seventeenth goals of the season to all but end Leverkusen's title challenge. The Bundesliga trophy, it seems, may just be heading its way to Schalke's Veltinsarena trophy cabinet.
Will Kuranyi be going to the World Cup two years after leaving the squad?
Also, it seems as though FC Köln have been reading The Fundesliga. Well, either that or they've suddenly discovered how to score goals again (apart from Lukas Podolski – he's still playing terribly).
Two goals from on loan Manchester United player Zoran Tosic, with strikes in between courtesy of Petit and Milivoje Novakovic, have almost certainly assured the away team of their Bundesliga place for next season as they defeated relegation-doomed Hannover 96 1-4.
Hamburger SV are in danger of missing out on European football completely next season as they went down 1-0 away to Borussia Monchengladbach, with northern rivals Werder Bremen pulling away from them in fifth and leaving FC Nürnberg with relegation pie all over their faces as they won 4-2.
At least one player on Man Utd's books had a good week in Germany...
The key game this coming weekend sees league leaders Schalke hosting FC Bayern, with the home side knowing that, with just five games remaining after the weekend's fixtures, they can open up a decent five point lead on their rivals. Might van Gaal's decision to rest deadly duo Robben and Ribéry against Stuttgart have cost them the title?
Winnable home games for FC Nürnberg (v Mainz) and SV Freiburg (v Bochum) may leave Hannover deep in the relegation mire come Sunday evening. They've got Hamburg away, while FC Köln can more or less relegate Hertha Berlin when the two sides meet on Saturday.
BUNDESLIGA RESULTS Fri 26 Mar: VfL Bochum 1-2 Eintracht Frankfurt; Sat 27 Mar: FSV Mainz 0-2 VfL Wolfsburg, FC Bayern München 1-2 VfB Stuttgart, Hertha Berlin 0-0 Borussia Dortmund, Hannover 96 1-4 FC Köln, Werder Bremen 4-2 FC Nürnberg, Bayer Leverkusen 0-2 Schalke 04; Sun 28 Mar: 1899 Hoffenheim 1-1 SC Freiburg,Borussia M’gladbach 1-0 Hamburger SV.
This weekend's fixtures, along with The Fundesliga's predictions:
SaturdayBorussia Dortmund 2-1 Werder BremenFC Köln 1-0 Hertha BerlinEintracht Frankfurt 1-1 Bayer LeverkusenFC Nürnberg 2-0 FSV MainzSC Freiburg 1-1 VfL BochumSchalke 04 2-2 FC Bayern MünchenVfB Stuttgart 2-0 Borussia M’gladbachSundayHamburger SV 3-1 Hannover 96 VfL Wolfsburg 2-0 1899 Hoffenheim
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"And thirdly because, in coming up against arguably the current best out and out striker on the planet in 'Wazza' Rooney"
One has to reconsider this. Arguably but wrongly. Torres is the best striker. Statistics prooves- with minutes/goal compared. And with qualitative incompetency of rest of Liverpool squad this season, Torres' performance outshines Rooney.
Valid point, Ituralde. I actually agree that Torres is the superior player (as a striker), but that's inconclusive logic used:
A striker has many other responsibilities aside from scoring goals. You cannot therefore possibly say one is better than another based purely on goals per minutes, I'm certain Rooney has far more assists this season and has led the line at times with performances and skills Torres cannot. By your logic of 'more goals = better striker', Darren Bent is a better striker than Diego Forlan. This is untrue, you must consider the strength of the all round performance and surrounding conditions before making such a conclusion.
Besides, when fully fit and on song, Didier Drogba is ccurrently the best out and out striker in world football in my opinion. He has all the pace and amazing ability of Torres/Rooney, but with the devestating physicalality on top. He is unplayable when in form. If only he'd stop diving and generally being a bit of a moron...
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