Bayer Leverkusen 3-0 Hamburg

BAYER Leverkusen cruised to a victory over Hamburg this afternoon in the final round of 1. Bundesliga fixtures before the winter break. Goals from Stefan Kießling and André Schürrle gave the second-placed home side a deserved 2-0 half-time lead against their visitors, who struggled to get into the game. The away side’s players weren’t helped by the system being deployed by their coach, Thorsten Fink, with Leverkusen’s coaching duo Sascha Lewandowski and Sami Hyypiä playing an extra man in midfield, and getting their players to pressurise the right areas of the pitch.

Hamburg improved slightly at the start of the second half, but still failed to test the home side’s goalkeeper, Bernd Leno. They clearly missed the talismanic, creative presence of club poster-boy Rafael van der Vaart, but also looked tired both mentally and physically – last weekend’s trip to Brazil for a friendly game against Grêmio surely didn’t help Fink and the players’ preparation. With just under 25 minutes to play, Kieβling – the division’s top-scorer – wrapped up the points, and thereafter, the game petered to a close. Although Bayern Munich have run away with the title already, this afternoon’s three points secured Leverkusen’s grip on a Champions League qualification spot, and it’ll take some doing for two teams to knock them out of the top three after the break. Hamburg, meanwhile, end the first half of the season in the top half of the table, and although today’s loss will have left a sour taste in the mouths of everyone associated with the club, they still have a great chance of returning to the Europa League next season.

Match preview here.

The formations that started the match

Bayer Leverkusen (4-3-3, from right to left): Leno; Hajime Hosogai, Philipp Wollscheid, Ömer Toprak, Sebastian Boenisch; Lars Bender, Simon Rolfes, Jens Hegeler; Gonzalo Castro, Kießling, Schürrle

Hamburg (4-4-2 diamond, from right to left): René Adler; Dennis Diekmeier, Michael Mancienne, Heiko Westermann, Lam Zhi Gan; Milan Badelj; Per Ciljan Skjelbred, Dennis Aogo; Tolgay Arslan; Artjoms Rudņevs, Heung-Min Son Continue reading

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Nuremberg 2-0 Hertha Berlin

Nuremberg defeated Hertha Berlin to ruin Michael Skibbe’s first game in charge of the capital city club. Alexander Esswein and Dominic Maroh were the match-winners for the struggling Franconian side in a game low on quality and chances: a situation caused primarily by the Frankenstadion’s terrible pitch. With his side not only losing, but also failing to impress with their new negative tactics and showing little in the way of creativity or goal threat, this really was a poor start to life for Skibbe at Hertha. Dieter Hecking’s team, who played the better football, leapfrog the capital city side as a result of this win, leaving Hertha just four points clear of the drop-zone (with Kaiserslautern and Mainz, two of the sides below them, still to play this weekend).

Match preview here.

Starting formations

Nuremberg (4-2-3-1, from right to left): Raphael Schäfer; Jens Hegeler, Maroh, Philipp Wollscheid, Adam Hloušek; Almog Cohen, Timmy Simons;  Daniel Didavi, Christian Eigler, Esswein; Tomáš Pekhart

Hertha Berlin (4-2-3-1, from right to left): Thomas Kraft; Christian Lell, Roman Hubník, Christoph Janker, Levan Kobiashvili; Andreas Ottl, Peter Niemeyer; Patrick Ebert, Adrián Ramos, Ronny; Pierre-Michel Lasogga Continue reading

Nuremberg-Hertha BSC preview

The Bundesliga is back after a month-long winter break, with new coaches and fresh signings joining the familiar faces to kick off the 18th round of fixtures. One of the Saturday afternoon ties sees Hertha Berlin travel to Nuremberg, with new coach Michael Skibbe taking charge of the visitors for the first time in a league match. Nobody associated with either of these sides will be able to sleep soundly in their beds until more points are on the board, with Nuremberg sitting in 15th spot having accumulated just 18 points, and the capital city outfit a mere four places and two points ahead of them. Continue reading

Hertha BSC 0-1 Nuremberg

The formations in the first half.

Bundesliga newbies Hertha Berlin and last year’s surprise package Nuremberg contested a drab opening round game which the away side won courtesy of the game’s only real moment of magic from substitute Jens Hegeler. Both sides lacked a creative spark throughout the match, which Nuremberg just about edged due to their XIs inherent understanding of not only their wing-based game plan, but also of their colleagues’ movements.

Match preview here.

Referee Peter Gagelmann got things under way at the Olympic Stadium, setting in motion a not particularly quick or unbalanced few minutes of play. There was space for both midfields to work in, although there was more cohesion about Nuremberg in the early stages, and, quicker of both thought and feet, they soon began to keep Hertha penned in their own half. Continue reading