Schalke-Bayern Munich preview

Manuel Neuer makes his return to Gelsenkirchen tomorrow night as Bayern Munich travel to Schalke. The visitors are in great form coming into this game, and their summer signing from Schalke, Neuer, has now kept six consecutive clean sheets for the 2009/10 Bundesliga champions. Both Bayern Munich and Schalke played in European competition during the week, with Ralf Rangnick’s side drawing 0-0 at Steaua Bucharest in the Europa League, and Jupp Heynckes’ winning 2-0 at Villareal in the Champions League. Even right-back Rafinha scored in that game, and the Brazilian defender is another player making his return to the Veltins-Arena after leaving for Genoa two seasons back.

He and his defensive colleagues will have their work cut out keeping Raúl corked tomorrow, while Rafinha is going to be in for a tough afternoon in his one-on-one duel against the in-form Peruvian Jefferson Farfán too. Nevertheless, all eyes will mainly be at the other end of the pitch, with Franck Ribéry and Mario Gómez in scintillating form, the pair scoring goals and assisting them for fun so far this season. Continue reading

Kaiserslautern 3-1 Mainz

The first half formations.

Kaiserslautern bettered their 2011/12 goals for tally by 150 per cent as they won their first game of the season against Mainz in the Rheinland-Pfalz derby. Mainz can’t stop conceding goals at the moment, and despite some positive and slice attacking play, couldn’t score enough goals to render their weaknesses at the back irrelevant. Kaiserslautern, though, played with a real energy and determination throughout, and hadn’t looked this sharp tactically all season. The result lifts Marco Kurz’s side out of the relegation zone (meaning that the ‘-burg’ teams, Frei-, Augs- and Ham- now occupy those places), and two positions behind 13th-placed Mainz.

Match preview here.

Mainz, set up in a relatively flat-looking 4-4-2, instantly looked to get the ball down the channels, from where they could cross for their two box-bobbing strikers. As per usual, they pressed high and in numbers when out of possession, and even mixed things up with how they used the ball on the wings. For example, in the third minute, Zoltán Stieber halted his charge down the chalk, drew the Kaiserslautern midfield across and onto him, before slipping the ball in to Elkin Soto, who’d nipped into the gap left behind the hosts’ midfield and very deep defence.

Nevertheless, the visitors didn’t have it all their own way early on, as when Kaiserslautern got on the ball, they didn’t mess about, and either passed or ran it into or towards the final-third as hurriedly as possible. Continue reading

Alemannia Aachen-SpVgg Greuther Fürth preview

It’s a top against bottom clash in 2. Bundesliga tomorrow lunchtime, as SpVgg Greuther Fürth travel north to take on Alemannia Aachen. If Greuther Fürth hadn’t thrown away the 2-0 lead they held at home to Eintracht Frankfurt on the opening day of the 2011/12 campaign, they’d be sat on top of the league with 21 points from a possible 21 right now. Nevertheless, they have bounced back strongly after that agonizing round one setback, knocking lowly Eimsbütteler TV out of the cup with a 10-0 scoreline and winning every league game since the Frankfurt setback.

Aachen, on the other hand, are yet to win a game, and have scored just one goal all season – 16 less than their guests for this clash. Coach Peter Hyballa was sacked on Monday and replaced – temporarily – by the man in charge of the U23 team, Ralf Außem. The former had managed to stop the rot a little at Aachen, as the club have drawn the last three games played. However, for a side supposedly built around their attack, these games have all finished 0-0; which, despite keeping their relatively impressive goals conceded tally down to eight, hasn’t done much for their hopes of ejecting out of bottom spot. Continue reading