The penultimate round of the 2011/12 Bundesliga season sees a desperate relegation-battling Cologne travel to Rückrunde heroes Freiburg on Saturday afternoon. Cologne, four points behind Augsburg in the relegation play-off place, have to win at Freiburg – and hope Borussia Mönchengladbach defeat or draw with Augsburg – in order to keep up their hopes of avoiding the drop. A draw at the MAGE SOLAR Stadion simply won’t be good enough, as Cologne are 16 goals worse off than Jos Luhukay’s Bavarian side. Despite being bottom of the league at the conclusion of the first half of the season (Hinrunde), Freiburg have been the fifth best team in Germany’s top-flight since the winter break, and last week’s 0-0 draw away at Hannover secured their place in the 2012/13 Bundesliga. Continue reading
Struggling Freiburg host hit-and-miss Hannover in the Bundesliga this afternoon. Despite being second-bottom in the league, the hosts have actually scored more goals than their eighth-placed guests, who are still battling on two fronts this season given their participation in the Europa League (both sides, however, have already been dumped out of the DFB-Pokal). Nevertheless, Hannover’s line-leader Mohammed Abdellaoue has as many goals (eight) as the highly sought-after Freiburg man, Papiss Demba Cissé, and the away side have a better head-to-head record against today’s hosts than any other side in the division. And, when the sides last met in Freiburg back in April, Hannover won 3-1. Continue reading
Hamburg remain bottom of the table despite beating fellow strugglers Freiburg in a mistake-laden game at a sunny Badenova-stadion. Interim coach Frank Arnesen needed to guide the north German side to a two-goal margin victory to haul themselves out of 18th spot, but the win at least moves the club level on points with Freiburg and Augsburg. However, if the home side hadn’t been so wasteful in front of goal in the second half, they would have won this game comfortably. Despite producing a wonderfully disciplined first half performance, Hamburg’s defence fell to pieces in the second half, and were ultimately bailed out by their deadly attackers. HSV have now won two of their last three games, and incoming coach Thorsten Fink will have seen enough from this performance to suggest that his new team are too good to go down.
The game started quite slowly, with most of HSV’s players getting a touch as Freiburg sat off. Despite Papiss Cissé doing well to win a corner in the second minute after his side stopped Hamburg’s attempts at going forward, the hosts’ made nothing of it. Both teams struggled to string passes together, and the game was rather bitty overall in the opening five minutes. However, in the sixth minute, a scoop over the top saw former HSV man Anton Putsila released down the right, only for his subsequent sharp, half-volley cross to be cleared by a well-positioned Jeffrey Bruma. Between the fifth and tenth minute, Heung-Min Son started to impose himself on the game; the South Korean dropping deep and pulling wide to link play or flick through others, and showing great movement to evade the man in stripes tasked with shackling him. At the other end, Cissé was also showing some nice touches to help get his side’s widemen into the game, but what the hosts lacked was someone in the box supporting the Senegalese striker for the crosses that followed. Continue reading
Two teams from polar opposite ends of Germany but very similar positions in the Bundesliga table meet later on this afternoon in an early-season six-pointer. Rock-bottom HSV make the seven-hour trip south to Freiburg, knowing that a two-goal margin victory would be enough to leapfrog their hosts into the heady heights of 16th position. Despite a two-week international break – during which both clubs saw players called up to represent countries in a variety of continents – making the sides’ last league fixtures seem like they took place a lifetime ago, the players and staff at Hamburg will remember far too clearly what it felt like to be beaten 2-1 at home to Schalke, and will be keen to make amends. Although their newly-appointed coach, Thorsten Fink, won’t be on the bench for this fixture, it nevertheless provides the perfect opportunity for those selected to show the new man what they can do. Continue reading
Bayern Munich stormed back to the top of the Bundesliga with a professional performance against an alarmingly weak and lacklustre Freiburg side. Mario Gómez and Franck Ribéry were the goal-getting stars of the show, but not one man in red had a bad game – something that can’t be said for their white-shirted opponents, who look set for a season-long relegation battle.
The home side took hold of possession immediately, their initial tactic being to get Franck Ribéry on the ball; either by him coming deep to collect it, or through being fed on the overlap. The Frenchman had the trickery, pace and guile to truly trouble Stefan Reisinger and Maximilian Nicu early on, but Freiburg took advantage of their energy tanks still being full by flooding back in droves and covering the balls which entered Oliver Baumann’s box.
Bayern, who didn’t have to press that hard to force turnovers whenever deep and panicky Freiburg got their hands on a loose ball, took just seven minutes to go 1-0 up. Leaving a huge gap outside the box for Bastian Schweinsteiger to take the ball in and have a look, no pressure was applied on the German international who picked out Thomas Müller on the box edge – surrounded by bodies, but taking possession as if he had all the space in the world. He slipped in Toni Kroos through the left-hand side of the box, and the youngster squared for a Mario Gómez tap in! Continue reading
One of the Bundesliga’s oldest coaches comes face to face with one of the newest on Saturday afternoon as Bayern Munich take on Freiburg. Jupp Heynckes’ Bayern side cemented their position at the top of the Bundesliga table before most of the squad jetted off across the world to represent their respective countries during the international break; Marcus Sorg’s Freiburg side, meanwhile, have dropped eight points from the four games played so far in the 2011/12 Bundesliga season.
Despite starting the campaign with a 1-0 home defeat to Borussia Mönchengladbach and a scrappy injury-time victory against Wolfsburg, Bayern have hammered eight goals past Hamburg and Kaiserslautern in the two domestic games since, and also convincingly put FC Zurich to the sword to cement their place in the Champions League group stage. Continue reading
The 2011/12 Bundesliga season is up and running at last, Dortmund comfortably beating Hamburg by three goals to one last night. Twelve more of the division’s sides get their campaigns under way today, including two lesser lights who could find themselves embroiled in a relegation battle as the season progresses.
Augsburg may have been knocking on the promotion door for the last few second division seasons, but this is the first time they’ve ever actually graced Germany’s top-flight, and the side who finished as runners-up to Hertha BSC last season have barely strengthened their squad since achieving Bundesliga status in May. Players like Axel Bellinghausen and Gibril Sankoh were solid enough in the 2. Bundesliga, the latter in particular putting in an heroic season-long effort to give Jos Luhukay’s Augsburg a league-best defensive record, but the players brought in to top up the squad include the likes of Sascha Mölders and Lorenzo Davids – decent players, a duo I’ve seen on a few occasions, but hardly the kind of signings needed to shake off the favourites for the drop tag. Continue reading