The best of German football from the Bundesliga and beyond
With the Bundesliga title wrapped up last week following their victory over relegated Hertha Berlin at the capital city's Olympiastadion, Bayern München paid the stadium a second successive visit on Saturday, as they aimed to take home more silverware by beating defending DFB Pokal champions Werder Bremen.
And yet, despite the holders’ scintillating end-of-season form, there were no real surprises as the Bavarians effortlessly brushed them aside 4-0 and sent a clear statement of intent to José Mourinho and Inter Milan; you're next.
Going into the game it was Bremen who sat atop the Bundesliga form table; four wins from five and just three goals conceded in the process, with their opponents a place and a further conceded goal behind.
But it was just all too easy for Louis van Gaal's men in Berlin, with yet another inspired Arjen Robben performance leading to an emphatic Bayern victory. The Dutchman scored a penalty, Ivica Olic tapped one in, Ribéry slotted one home and 'Schweini', Bastian Schweinsteiger, finished the scoring off to make it 4-0, and secure FC Bayern's eighth domestic double. Highlights here.
Ribéry played his part – aside from getting kicked all over the field and having Torsten Frings sent off (to be fair, though, he did deserve it...) – but will that be his last ever performance in the red and white of Bayern? He's suspended for Saturday's Champions League showdown with Inter. Might he be following José Mourinho to the Bernebeu next season?
Aside from Bayern dominating the headlines this week, though, the big news in Germany is that national team captain, Michael Ballack, will miss the World Cup in South Africa following his injury at the hands of ex-Bundesliga player Kevin-Prince Boateng in last weekend's FA Cup final.
According to the Guardian newspaper, following a chat with Boateng's father, the Portsmouth midfielder's apology following the game might not be as sincere as first thought – he has apparently never forgiven Ballack for an argument they had four years ago during a Bundesliga match when KPB scored a goal, to which Ballack told him “You've scored one goal, and you think you are the best”. I'm not sure I believe that though, I definitely don't think I'd hold a grudge for that long, for something so trivial...
In any case Joachim Löw has so far failed to call up a replacement, with many Bundesliga and Germany fans scratching their heads as to why Torsten Frings hasn't been called upon; the national team's midfield is suddenly not looking so world-beating at the moment. Surely Schweinsteiger won't be asked to perform the Ballack role? Please no!
Back to domestic matters now, and full back Phillip Lahm is in bullish mood ahead of Saturday's mega clash with Inter, telling the Munich club's official website that they're “determined to win the treble. The double is great, but the treble is even better”, while club president Uli Hoeneß reckons the team is even better than when they last won the Champions League in 2001.
Can't disagree with that. Ribéry and particularly Arjen Robben would, barring an incredibly small handful, walk into any European team's starting XI at the moment, while Olic up front is in the mood for some UEFA Champions League Golden Boot action. If only they had a top goalkeeper, though... Oh, and definitely expecting a new centre back to be brought in in the summer. Apart from that!
Bayern's opponents, Inter, will themselves fancy their chances at the weekend though, fresh from securing a domestic double of their own after claiming the Scudetto in Italy's Serie A. Post your predictions below, please!
Meanwhile the Fundesliga is thoroughly delighted that FC Nürnberg have successfully negotiated their two-legged playoff against 2. Bundesliga's third-placed team Augsburg to keep their position in the top league next season. A 1-0 home win followed by a 0-2 away one – goals from Ilkay Gündogan and a Maxim Choupo-Moting penalty - keeps them in with the big boys next campaign.
So that makes it, officially:
Down from Bundesliga: Bochum, Hertha Berlin
Up from 2. Bundesliga: Kaiserslautern, St Pauli
Saturday's Champions League fixtures, as well as the Fundesliga's prediction:FC Bayern München 2-1 Inter Milan
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