Freiburg 0-2 Borussia Dortmund

Borussia Dortmund kept their hopes of retaining the 1. Bundesliga title alive with a win in tremendously difficult conditions at Freiburg. A snow downpour for the duration of the game – plus a good coating that had fallen before proceedings began settling strongly – made the match a bit of a farce, but BVB coach Jürgen Klopp won’t mind, as his team are now nine points behind league-leaders Bayern Munich (who have a game in hand at home to Bayer Leverkusen tomorrow).

All afternoon, the weather conditions played havoc for defenders and attackers alike in gauging where the ball was going to land at any given point, if it moved at all. But, Freiburg and Dortmund both had spells where they adapted, putting their opponents under pressure, and it was the hosts who had the much stronger first-half, with anaemic Dortmund barely troubling home goalkeeper Oliver Baumann. However, after the break, the visitors – playing three days after a famous win in the Champions League against Real Madrid – looked slick and strong, and took the lead in the 53rd minute when Neven Subotić headed in a Marco Reus free-kick.

Seven minutes from time, Mario Götze sealed the three points against a Freiburg side who didn’t create enough chances in the second-half, and failed to convert those they did during the first 45 minutes. Despite today’s home defeat, something Freiburg don’t experience very often, coach Christian Streich will still be satisfied with the start his side have made to the 2012/13 season – 11 points from their opening nine games. They go to Borussia Mönchengladbach next weekend, while Dortmund host Stuttgart.

Match preview here.

Starting formations

Freiburg (4-4-1-1, from right to left): Baumann; Jonathan Schmid, Matthias Ginter, Diagné Fallou, Mensur Mujdža; Karim Guédé, Cédric Makiadi, Julian Schuster, Daniel Caligiuri; Max Kruse; Erik Jendrišek

Borussia Dortmund (4-2-3-1, from right to left): Roman Weidenfeller; Łukasz Piszczek, Subotić, Mats Hummels, Marcel Schmelzer; İlkay Gündoğan, Sebastian Kehl; Reus, Götze, Kevin Großkreutz; Robert Lewandowski Continue reading

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Freiburg-Borussia Dortmund preview

They may have beaten Real Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday night, but Borussia Dortmund travel to a Freiburg side who sit just one point behind them in the table this weekend. Jürgen Klopp’s reigning 1. Bundesliga champions currently trail league-leading Bavarian giants Bayern Munich by 12 points after just eight games, with inconsistent away form being Dortmund’s major problem.

However, last weekend’s home loss in the Revierderby against Schalke emphasised just what a difficult period Dortmund are currently enduring domestically, with Klopp’s decision to play a three-man defence in that game backfiring. The return to his usual 4-2-3-1 in the 2-1 victory over Real Madrid means that such an experiment is extremely unlikely to be risked again tomorrow.

Freiburg, meanwhile, are floating along nicely, although given the limited resources at coach Christian Streich’s disposal, he’ll be thinking the sooner his side can reach the 35-point mark, the better. After last weekend’s 2-0 win over woeful Wolfsburg, Freiburg only need another 24 points from the 26 matchdays left to play to achieve that target, and who would bet against them at this stage to earn a fifth successive season in 1. Bundesliga? Continue reading

Borussia Mönchengladbach-Nuremberg preview

TWO teams who underwent vastly contrasting summer transfer campaigns go head to head in the third round of the 2012/13 1. Bundesliga season this weekend. Whereas Borussia Mönchengladbach lost three of their best players, Nuremberg had a relatively quiet summer, keeping the squad pretty much intact. Both sides have made decent starts to the latest league season, with Gladbach beating Hoffenheim and drawing away at local rivals Fortuna Düsseldorf, and Nuremberg winning away at Hamburg before holding reigning champions Borussia Dortmund to a draw at home last weekend (a game in which Dieter Hecking’s side had more than enough chances to win).

An international break has seen the German top-flight campaign have a two-week break since then, but you imagine both Hecking and Gladbach coach Lucien Favre will have appreciated the time this has given them to work with their players on the training ground; particularly the latter, whose side had played two Champions League games, a DFB-Pokal tie and two 1. Bundesliga matches in the space of 14 days. Continue reading

Borussia Mönchengladbach 1-2 Hoffenheim

Borussia Mönchengladbach turned in an awful performance to suffer a second defeat in the space of four days, although Hoffenheim were worthy winners. From the first minute, Lucien Favre’s side showed signs of fatigue from their penalty shootout exit – to Bayern Munich – at the semi-final stage of the German Cup, and were lazy in their passing and movement for the majority of the match thereafter. Markus Babbel’s side, on the other hand, looked sharp and hungry throughout, and didn’t lose belief despite falling behind – very undeservedly – in the first half. Gladbach’s performance did improve in the second half – primarily because they put everything they had into sitting in their own half. But, Hoffenheim kept coming and coming, and struck twice in the final quarter of the match to take all three points. Favre’s side never looked like equalizing thereafter, and will now have to spend the next few days mentally and physically getting over their worst week of the 2011/12 season. The mood on the Hoffenheim bus, meanwhile, will be jubilant, as this win means they are now six points above the final relegation spot, which is currently occupied by Hamburg.

Match preview here.

Starting formations

Borussia Mönchengladbach (4-4-2, from right to left): Marc-André ter Stegen; Tony Jantschke, Roel Brouwers, Dante, Filip Daems; Patrick Herrmann, Thorben Marx, Roman Neustädter, Juan Arango; Igor de Camargo, Marco Reus

Hoffenheim (4-4-1-1, from right to left): Tom Starke; Andreas Beck, Isaac Vorsah, Marvin Compper, Fabian Johnson; Boris Vukčević, Daniel Williams, Tobias Weis, Sebastian Rudy; Sejad Salihović; Ryan Babel Continue reading

Borussia Mönchengladbach-Hoffenheim preview

Champions League qualification hopefuls Borussia Mönchengladbach will be looking to forget their midweek German cup heartache as they host a Hoffenheim side who remain too close to the relegation zone for comfort. Gladbach suffered a penalty shootout defeat to Bayern Munich – a side they have beaten twice this season – on Wednesday at the semi-final stage of the DFB-Pokal, thereby ensuring that the club’s dream-like campaign will end without silverware. Hoffenheim can only fantasise about being where Lucien Favre’s side are, however, as even since Markus Babbel took over as coach at the Sinsheim side a few weeks ago, results haven’t exactly improved.

Like Holger Stanislawski, his predecessor on the Hoffenheim bench, Babbel is struggling to get the team going after club patron Dietmar Hopp commissioned the sales of several star players in the January transfer window (in a move that suggests the board have now perhaps realised their folly, sporting director Ernst Tanner left the club this week). One of those players was creative-midfielder Gylfi Sigurðsson, who is currently in fantastic form for Wales’ second-biggest club, Swansea City, in the English Premier League. Another, Vedad Ibišević, scored twice last weekend as Stuttgart – the side Babbel played for and then coached between 2004 to 2009  comfortably defeated an invention and confidence-lacking Hoffenheim team by two goals to one. It’s not just players who have been sold this season giving Babbel headaches either – Ryan Babel has intimated that he is ready for a new challenge, Roberto Firmino has been out of form for months now after a scintillating start to the current Bundesliga campaign, and Sejad Salihović was recently handed a two-week suspension for a breach of club discipline by Babbel, who is not yet even a quadragenarian. Continue reading

Borussia Mönchengladbach 1-0 Mainz

Borussia Mönchengladbach scraped a 1-0 victory over a Mainz side who were much the better team for most of a game light on chances. However, with both Marco Reus and Marc-André ter Stegen picking up injuries, whether this proves to be a Pyrrhic Victory is another matter. The home side’s goal came after an early moment of brilliance and piece of link-up play between Marco Reus and Patrick Herrmann, and the three points means Lucien Favre’s side will spend the winter break four points above Werder Bremen in fourth spot, not to mention a mere four points behind league-leaders Bayern Munich. Mainz, who had coach Thomas Tuchel sent off in the second half, ultimately paid the price for their poor final ball, because in every other aspect of their play, the visitors were impressive. Tuchel’s side will now spend the winter break in 14th spot, just two points above the relegation zone.

Match preview here.

Starting formations

Borussia Mönchengladbach (4-4-2, from right to left): ter Stegen; Tony Jantschke, Martin Stranzl, Dante, Filip Daems; Herrmann, Håvard Nordtveit, Roman Neustädter, Juan Arango; Reus, Mike Hanke

Mainz (4-3-1-2, from right to left): Christian Wetklo; Zdeněk Pospěch, Niko Bungert, Bo Svensson, Malik Fathi; Julian Baumgartlinger, Jan Kirchhoff, Eugen Polanski; Yunus Malli; Sami Allagui, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting Continue reading

Borussia Mönchengladbach-Mainz preview

Borussia Mönchengladbach go into the final game of a tremendous first half of the 2011/12 Bundesliga season knowing a win could see them spend the winter break in second spot. Their guests tomorrow afternoon, Mainz, are nearer to the wrong end of the table, and could end the weekend in or just above the relegation zone if they lose here and the teams below them pick up points. The sides’ respective positions are in marked contrasts to where they finished in the 2010/11 season, with Mönchengladbach staying up by the skin of their teeth after beating Bochum in the relegation play-off, and Mainz leading the league and spending most of the seasons in the Champions League spots before being edged out at the death and into a still-very-respectable Europa League berth. Continue reading