Arminia Bielefeld 1-3 Hertha BSC

The first-half formations.

Hertha Berlin comfortably beat Arminia Bieleffeld to notch up their 13th win of what so far has been a very professionally conducted 2. Bundesliga campaign. The home side created a nervy last few minutes for their guests when Josip Tadić scored in the 85th minute after their first incisive through-ball of the match ( courtesy of Christian Müller). But the away side fully deserved the win, and now go into next week’s derby against Union statistically on top of the league, and metaphorically on top of the world.

In February 2009, Hertha had the chance to top the Bundesliga if they won away at bottom-placed Arminia. But the visitors were held to a draw by the plucky hosts, and their title challenge disintegrated not long after. In a form of déjà vu, the sides met again nearly two years to the day, placed at polar opposite ends of the table – Ewald Lienen’s side cut adrift, bottom of the table with a mere eight points, and Markus Babbel’s Hertha top of the table. The only difference being this time, the teams are competing in the second tier of German football.

Hertha took control of proceedings immediately in this game by pressing the ball higher up the pitch, and taking the sting out of early Arminia energy by patiently giving everyone a touch of the ball, and keeping the home side at bay. Going forward, Babbel’s side – playing with a midfield diamond – had the hustle and bustle of the Colombian Andy Carroll, Adrián Ramos, the left-wing-veering playmaker Raffael, and interchanging wide-midfielders and full-backs. Continue reading

AZ 6-1 VVV

The first-half formations.

Kolbeinn Sigþórsson grabbed a quintuple as Gertjan Verbeek’s AZ side grabbed their first win at home since November.

Graziano Pellè got an 89th-minute winner when these sides met at De Koel earlier this season, but there was never any danger of AZ needing a late clincher this time. The game was sealed just shy of the quarter-hour mark, but perhaps that was unsurprising – Venlo have been on a torrid run of form in the league recently, with no win since November 5, and now 25 goals leaked in their last eight games. AZ, on the other hand, came into this tie having drawn both games played after the winter break, but clearly saw it as a good opportunity to stop the rot. A win against the side second-bottom and eight points from safety has temporarily lifted AZ up to fourth, and given the Eredivisie what would appear to be a new free-scoring superstar-in-waiting to fill the boots of Luis Suárez. Continue reading

MSV Duisburg 2-0 Kaiserslautern

The first-half formations.

Duisburg beat Kaiserslautern in the quarter-finals of the DFB-Pokal as Milan Šašić got one over his former employers. Goals from Branimir Bajić and Goran Šukalo in either half saw the second division side beat their top-flight visitors comfortably at the noisy Schauinsland-Reisen-Arena. They’ll now join fellow 2. Bundesliga side Energie Cottbus in the last-four of Germany’s premier cup competition.

Kaiserslautern came into the game on the back of a 5-1 defeat at the hands of an Arjen Robben-inspired Bayern. Duisburg were also eager to eliminate an iffy result out of their system – they drew 1-1 away at lowly Ingolstadt on the weekend.

Kaiserslautern took a while to line-up their back-four, all of whom seemed incapable of communicating to one another, making simple forward passes under minimal pressure, or gauging how close they were to their colleagues on either side, and goalkeeper Tobias Sippel. However, they were let off by the fact that The Zebras only managed to carve out one chance from Lautern’s blunders, and Stefan Maierhofer’s woeful finish illustrated why he failed to make the grade at either Wolves, Bristol City or Bayern. Continue reading

Three of Germany’s biggest Asian talents

Shinjio Kagawa and Atsuto Uchida have been generating the headlines this season with their accomplished performances for BVB and Schalke respectively, but they aren’t the only talented Asian players currently plying their trade in Germany. Here are three more.

Heung-Min Son

After scoring in a pre-season friendly against Chelsea, Heung-Min Son was prevented from starting the Bundesliga season in attack for Hamburg.

He finally debuted professionally at the end of October in a DFB-Pokal tie against Eintracht Frankfurt, and has since then found himself catapulted into the unrelenting glare of the football spotlight.

Since that game in the German cup, the South Korean attacker has made three starts and four substitute appearances for Hamburg – six of which have ended in defeat. Continue reading