Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Bundesbag Prologue

Bundesliga fixtures announced

No sooner have the Mannschaft returned to a heroes welcome (the Germans have acquired a taste for gallantry - Good PR) but the Bundesliga have published their fixtures for the season. What better way, then, for the Bundesbag to introduce itself to Some People Are On The Pitch than with a look ahead to the first weekend of the season?

The big kick-off begins Friday 15th August at the Allianz Arena when Champions Bayern face Martin Jol's Hamburg (and I hereby promise never to call them "Martin Jol's Hamburg" ever again... honest). Hamburg had a disappointing end to the last season and only sealed a UEFA Cup place on the last day when they spent most of the campaign in the Champs League places.

The honour of representing Germany in the European elite is Bayern (naturally), second place Bremen and (subject to pre-qualifying) Schalke. Bremen's injuries were shocking last time out and if they can keep hold of Diego while not troubling the medical men then they may yet challenge Bayern for the title, although the Bavarians will still be heavy favourites to repeat their title success under new coach Jurgan Klinsman. Schalke sacked their coach Mirko Slomka towards the end of last season and realistically Fred Rutten's new club should be looking to establish themselves as Germany's third Champions League club. Royal Blues fans may disagree. The Gelsenkirchen club host mid-table Hannover on the first day while Bremen travel to relegation battlers Bielefeld.

There's always an extra frisson of excitement for anyone heading into a new league (unless you've been relegated of course) and for promoted clubs Borussia Monchengladbach, Koln and Hoffenheim this will be no different.

'Gladbach should never really have been relegated the season before last. They won the 2 Bundesliga at a canter and must be confident of survival, perhaps even doing a Karlsruhe (starting really well before falling back to mid-table at the end). Their first match is at home to the 2006/07 Champions Stuttgart who may have lost Mario Gomez by then.

FC Koln were the inaugural Bundesliga Champions back in 1964. Latterly they've become a yo-yo club. They face a tough trip to Wolfsburg who surprised everyone by doing something quite interesting last season and qualified for the UEFA Cup. Felix Magath seems to have galvanised the Volkswagen owned Wolves and may splash the cash before the season starts. Wolfsburg may be a team to keep an eye on.

Of the three promoted teams it's 1899 Hoffenheim that will raise the most eyebrows. As recently as 1990 Hoffenheim were a non-league team. Then former player and Software billionaire Dietmar Hopp bought the club. Under the management of Ralf Ragnick they were promoted to 2 Bundesliga for the first time in 2007. Not content with this extraordinary rise they capped off an historic first season with promotion to the top flight on the last day.

Hopp has also financed a new stadium which will seat 30,000 people. The trouble is it won’t be ready until 2009 so until then they’ll have to stay at their current ground which only seats 5,000. Hopefully the club and its supporters will stay realistic and acknowledge that building a football club is a long process. As it is, they start with a winnable trip to Cottbus who performed a Houdini act to get themselves out of trouble last season.

The other two UEFA Cup qualifiers (Intertoto notwithstanding) Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund face each other on the first Saturday. Leverkusen will play in Europe because of their league position last season. BVB qualify as runner-up to the all-conquering Bayern in the German Cup. Less worthy qualifiers are harder to imagine and their "success" was not enough to save manager Thomas Doll from the chop. More is expected from the new manager Jurgen Klopp and his amusing name will only take him so far.

As the Bundesbag did last season, Some People Are On The Pitch will bring you a round up of the action every week. It won't make you an expert (we're not) but you will be able to bluff your way through a conversation with Rafael Honigstein... for about ten seconds.


BVBorussia said...

Thanks for your work.You could add an Analysis of the german transfermarket
in the next weeks.New stars arriving like Engelaar,Farfan,Barzagli and perhaps Hleb,Thiago Neves and Valon Behrami.
It would interest me how the development of the Bundesliga and the teams in it are seen outside Germany...
In my opinion the Bundesliga will be really interesting next season:
Bayern,Bremen and Schalke playing for the title and behind them there will be some very strong teams like
Wolfsburg,Hamburg,Leverkusen,Stuttgart and Hannover(very good transfer policy this year) and i hope dortmund(some interesting new players) will come to their old strength step by step...
It will be interesting to see how Mönchengladbach ,Cologne and Hoffenheim will do.In my opinion they are stronger than cottbus,bielefeld and karlsruhe.In the mid-table will be Frankfurt,Hertha and Bochum (and i fear: Dortmund).Look at the new squads(
and tell us your view in the next weeks.

Duffman said...

Thanks for your comment BVB. I'll keep an eye on the transfers and assuming I can add anything of worth, I'll post again before the season starts.

BTW, how do you think Tamas Hajnal will do this season at Dortmund? He looked pretty useful at Karlsruhe last season when I saw him.

BVBorussia said...

Hajnal?One of my friends was at the first training (together with 9000 other supporters) and told me that Hajnal was the best player...
I hope Federico(came 1 year ago from Karlsruhe where he was replaced by Hajnal :) ) will fight back and they will get stronger in this way.I think our midfield will be interesting:Nuri Sahin comes back,Tinga,Blasczykowski,Federico,Hajnal,Kringe and Kehl will fight hard to be in the starting line-up.The same in the defense:R.Kovac,Subotic,Santana and Hummels are all good central defenders.The attack will be Frei and Petric(Klimowicz and Nelson Valdez on the bench).
Perhaps we can make it to the Uefa-cup directly...

Chris O said...

Duffman - Do you think there's any danger of the unthinkable happening: Borussia Monchengladbach going down *again*?

Duffman said...

Its been a pretty mediocre decade for 'Gladbach Chris.

However, their stadium is only a few years old and I understand that they are a pretty well-off club. The thing is you could say the same thing about Nurnburg and they were relegated last season.

I think BVB's on to something with his predictions. Cottbus and Bielefeld are dicing with death. Not sure about Karlsruhe though.

I'm going to go for 'Gladbach to stay up.


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