Tag Archives: Bundesliga

1. Bundesliga 2013-2014 Season Preview

The new Bundesliga season kicks off on August 9th, and more attention than ever will be on the teams after Borussia Dortmund’s and FC Bayern Munich’s strong campaigns in the 2012-2013 UEFA Champions League, from which Bayern Munich emerged as champions despite being given a difficult time by Dortmund. Meanwhile, the league remains as competitive as ever, with Bayern Munich crowned the 2012-2013 Bundesliga champions after two seasons of bare trophy cabinets. So here is the rundown on the teams that you can expect to see in 2013-2014, the players, the transfers, and how they can be expected to perform in the coming year.

1. FC Nuremburg

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Season Review

1. FC Nuremburg underwent a change in coach during 2012-2013, as longtime coach, Dieter Hecking, departed for VfL Wolfsburg and was subsequently replaced by youth coach Michael Wiesinger. While the season was by no means one for Nuremburg’s history books as they ended it in tenth place, they performed better following Wiesinger’s instatement. Nonetheless, Nuremburg suffered due to their lack of forward options – the team’s top scorer was none other than defender Per Nilsson

2013-2014 Preview

With the new season just around the corner, Nuremburg has worked to resolve their inadequacies in attack through a series of intelligent purchases in the transfer market. However, Nuremburg will have an even tougher time replacing defensive stalwarts Timmy Simons and Timm Klose, who departed for Club Brugge and VfL Wolfsburg, respectively. Coming into the squad are Swiss international forward Josip Drmic from FC Zürich, talented Polish forward Mariusz Stepinski from Widzew Lodz, and finally strikers Nick Weber and Daniel Ginczek from Borussia Dortmund. Austrian international Emmanuel Pogatetz has come in from VfL Wolfsburg to reinforce the defense, as has talented youth Martin Angha, who arrives for free from Arsenal FC.

(Top 3 Talents for 2013-2014)

Key Player

Nuremburg’s key player for the upcoming season is undoubtedly Hiroshi Kiyotake. The Japanese international not only contributed with ten assists in the league, but also chipped in with four goals as well. If Nuremburg wish to avoid another season of disappointment, they will need Kiyotake to be just as influential.

1. FSV Mainz 05

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Season Review

In 2012-2013, FSV Mainz suffered a tale of two halves. Following a successful first half of the season and a sixth place finish by the time of the winter break, Mainz suffered a severe dip in form, with star striker Ádám Szalai (now at FC Schalke) scoring only four of his thirteen goals in the second half of the season and leading to a thirteenth place finish. Ultimately, Mainz’s struggles could be attributed to a lack of depth, compounded by injuries to a number of key players throughout the season. Nevertheless there were highlights within the dim, as Danish international Niki Zimling, German international Nicolai Müller, Austrian international Julian Baumgartlinger, and German youth international Shawn Parker all performed well, cementing their importance to the team.

2013-2014 Preview

Going into the new season, Mainz coach Thomas Tuchel will be happy with the business conducted during the transfer window. While the team was unfortunate to see some vital players of previous seasons depart, talented replacements were acquired for impressive prices. Defender Jan Kirchhoff made his departure to Bayern Munich after his contract expired, playmaker Andreas Ivanschitz likewise made his way to Levante in Spain, and the aforementioned transfer of Ádám Szalai to Schalke for eight million euros could be seen as a blessing in disguise given the player’s frequent injury concerns. Replacing Szalai in the attacking department is the underrated trio of Dani Schahin (who arrives from relegated Fortuna Düsseldorf), Sebastian Polter (from VfL Wolfsburg), and Shinji Okazaki (from VfB Stuttgart). Meanwhile the defense has been fortified by the arrivals of Joo-Ho Park from FC Basel and Julian Koch from Borussia Dortmund, and the midfield has found its reinforcements in the form of Johannes Geis and Christoph Moritz from SpVgg Greuther Fürth and Schalke 04, respectively.

(Top 3 Talents for 2013-2014)

Key Player

The key player for FSV Mainz in the coming season will be none other than the mercurial winger, Nicolai Müller. Having recently made his debut for the German national team, Müller will undoubtedly want to help lead his team back into European contention having gone two seasons without.

Bayer 04 Leverkusen

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 Season Review

Bayer Leverkusen enjoyed a highly successful 2012-2013 season, as they impressively finished in third place, ten points ahead of fourth-placed Schalke. Regular team members Gonzalo Castro, Simon Rolfes, and Lars Bender performed admirably in midfield, while young introductions to the squad Daniel Carvajal and Philipp Wollscheid helped shore up an occasionally leaky defense. In attack, Stefan Kießling and André Schürrle led the lines with aplomb, as Kießling ended the season as the Bundesliga top scorer, accepting the coveted Torjägerkanone.

2013-2014 Preview

With the departure of star attacker André Schürrle to Chelsea FC and the anticipation of a new season in the UEFA Champions league, Leverkusen has had to undergo a rebuilding process. Heung-min Son and Robbie Kruse have been brought in from Hamburg SV and Fortuna Düsseldorf, respectively, while Giulio Donati (Inter Milan) and Konstantinos Stafylidis (PAOK Saloniki) have arrived to replace the outgoing Daniel Carvajal (Real Madrid) and Michal Kadlec (Fenerbahce SK). Three further signings in Roberto Hilbert (from Besiktas JK), Andrés Palop, and Emir Spahic (both from Sevilla FC) have all been brought in for their experience at the highest level. However, with so many new faces, there are doubts that Leverkusen will be able to continue their strong form.

(Top 3 Talents for 2013-2014)

Key Player

The key player for Bayer Leverkusen is newly signed Heung-Min Son. Signed for ten million euros, Son is expected to replace the outgoing Schürrle, but he has all the potential to perform even better. If he performs to this potential, then he could help Leverkusen replicate, if not better, their third-place finish.

Borussia Dortmund

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Season Review

Borussia Dortmund had a poor 2012-2013 season by their recent standards. While they invested much of their attentions into their Champions League campaign, they suffered more than anything from a lack of depth. While they were able to demolish much of the competition simply through the quality of their first team, their players were often running on fumes during important matches. Even Mario Götze (now at Bayen Munich) played over fifty matches despite being having suffered injuries multiple times during the season. Nonetheless, Dortmund were able to retain Champions League status with a second place finish.

2013-2014 Preview

Dortmund has had to rebuild its forward line follow the departure of Mario Götze to Bayern Munich and Robert Lewandowski’s publicly announced intention to follow him in a year’s time. Armenian attacking midfielder Henrikh Mikhtaryan has arrived from Shakhtar Donetsk as a capable replacement for Mario Götze, while Patrick Aubameyang has arrived from AS Saint-Étienne as a preemptive replacement for Lewandowski. In addition, Dortmund has purchased Sokratis Papastathopoulos from Werder Bremen to provide cover for Lukasz Piszczek during the latter’s rehabilitation following hip surgery. Moritz Leitner has departed Dortmund as well, leaving on loan to VfB Stuttgart in search of playing time, while Leonardo Bittencourt has made a similar move to Hannover 96, albeit permanently with a buyback option.

(Top 3 Talents for 2013-2014)

Key Player

Borussia Dortmund will undoubtedly be counting on Marco Reus to be their key player in the 2013-2014 season, as he will be looking to continue the form that helped lead the team to the 2012-2013 Champions league final. However, with the departures of two of his partners in crime, Reus will be forced to take on more of the burden should injuries befall contributing members of the squad.

Borussia Mönchengladbach

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Season Review

2012-2013 was a satisfactory, if somewhat disappointing campaign for Mönchengladbach that left many fans wondering what could have been. New recruits Luuk de Jong, Alvaro Domingues, and Granit Xhaka failed to inspire, while Patrick Herrmann, Juan Arango, and Havard Nordveit continued their impressive forms. Nonetheless, an eighth place finish to the season was strong enough to represent the team’s second best finish in seventeen years, and gave the squad something to build off of as they enter the 2013-2014 season.

2013-2014 Preview

Mönchengladbach suffered during 2012-2013 from a lack of reliable forward options, and therefore has been working to quickly resolve that problem. While Belgian forward Igor de Camargo has departed the team for TSG Hoffenheim, Mike Hanke left for SC Freiburg on a free transfer, and Tolga Cigerci has returned to VfL Wolfsburg following his loan spell, German international forward Max Kruse has arrived from SC Freiburg for barely over two million euros, and Brazilian attacker Raffael has come from Dynamo Kyiv. With the additions of these forward options, the team is ready to battle for another chance at a European spot.

(Top 3 Talents for 2013-2014)

Key Player

Newly signed German international forward Max Kruse will undoubtedly be the key man for Borussia Mönchengladbach during the 2013-2014 campaign, as he looks to continue the form that put him into the running for a chance with the national team. If nothing else, Kruse will almost assuredly represent the bargain purchase of the summer for two and a half million euros.

Eintracht Braunschweig

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Season Review

Eintracht Braunschweig surprised everybody on the way to their second-placed finish and subsequent promotion to the 1. Bundesliga. However with team captain Dennis Kruppke, Congolese striker Dominick Kumbela, and former VfB Stuttgart defender Ermin Bičakčić all having standout seasons, Braunschweig was able to justify their position by seasons end.

2013-2014 Preview

Eintracht Braunschweig acted quickly in the transfer market to bring in reinforcements to their side that severely lacked top-tier experience. Arriving at the club are experienced forward Torsten Oehrl from FC Augsburg, Canadian forward Simeon Jackson on a free transfer from Norwich City, and Marco Caligiuri from Mainz 05. Most notably, however, Omar Elabdellaoui was purchased from Manchester City following an impressive loan spell that took place during the second half of 2012-2013.

(Top 3 Talents for 2013-2014)

Key Player

Omar Elabdellaoui will be looking to make a name in the 1. Bundesliga in the coming season, and by doing so become the key player that Braunschweig fans will be looking for. Elabdellaoui’s time with Feyenoord and Manchester City have prepared him for a high-pressure environment, and he will be expected to let his talent shine.

Eintracht Frankfurt

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Season Review

2012-2013 was a memorable one for Eintracht Frankfurt, as the newly promoted team rose through the rankings with panache, finishing comfortably in sixth place – strong enough for a position in the 2013-2014 Europa league. Players who had previously flown under the radar in the 2. Bundesliga were gathered by coach Armin Veh, and, along with a handful of Frankfurt academy graduates, took much of the Bundesliga by storm. Players such as Bastian Oczipka, Takashi Inui, Sebastian Jung, Sebastian Rode, Stefan Aigner, and Kevin Trapp impressed throughout the season, but the star of the Frankfurt show was longtime Frankfurt player, Alexander Meier. Meier led the team in goals scored, and was an engine that capably drove the Frankfurt team up the league standings.

2013-2014 Preview

Following their successful 2012-2013 season, Frankfurt have had the opportunity to polish up the squad prior to their foray into Europe. Gone are the experienced heads of Oka Nikolov (Philadelphia Union), Heiko Butscher (VfL Bochum), and Martin Amedick (SC Paderborn), while forward duo Olivier Occéan and Karim Matmour follow through the exit (both to 1. FC Kaiserslautern). Coming into the squad, however, are Johannes Flum and Jan Rosenthal (both from SC Freiburg), as well as the former Hoffenheim duo, Stephan Schröck and Joselu. Former Eintracht Frankfurt player Marco Russ also makes an emotional return from VfL Wolfsburg to the team of his youth. Should the new signings perform as is expected of them and gel comfortably with the rest of the squad, Eintracht Frankfurt could well enjoy their sophomore season back in the Bundesliga.

(Top 3 Talents for 2013-2014)

Key Player

The creator-in-chief for Eintracht Frankfurt during the 2012-2013 season was none other than Japanese international Takashi Inui. With his dizzying runs into the box coupled with his eye for shot, Inui brings with him a sense of class to Frankfurt reminiscent of Jay-Jay Okocha’s time. Inui will undoubtedly look to be even better in the upcoming season, as he will have the chance to demonstrate his talents for an even larger audience.

FC Augsburg

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Season Review

After taking just nine points during the first half of the 2012-2013 season, few expected FC Augsburg to mount a comeback, but they did so in style, ultimately finishing just above the drop zone in fifteenth place thanks to a win on the last day of the season. With summer signings Aristide Bance, Andreas Ottl, and Knowledge Musona disappointing, it was up for winter signings Dong-Won Ji and Andre Hahn to help Sascha Mölders and Ja-Cheoul Koo pick the team up.

2013-2014 Preview

Despite their sufferings during the 2012-2013 season, Augsburg is yet to truly replace the outgoing pair of Ja-Cheol Koo and Dong-Won Ji, who are returning from their loan spells to VfL Wolfsburg and Sunderland A.F.C., respectively. Coming into the squad on loan are young Greek attacker Panagiotis Vlachodimos from Olympiakos FC, as well as the talented midfielder Raphael Holzhauser from VfB Stuttgart. Turkish international and Bundesliga veteran Halil also arrives on a free transfer from Turkish club Trabzonspor. It has to be seen, though, as to whether these transfers will be able to capably replace the figures that they are meant to, or if Augsburg will be forced to suffer another year near the bottom of the Bundesliga table.

(Top 3 Talents for 2013-2014)

Key Player

FC Augsburg’s key player will yet again be the veteran striker, Sascha Mölders. His goals have been vital in the last two Bundesliga campaigns, and they will almost assuredly be needed again if Augsburg are to avoid relegation.

FC Bayern München

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Season Review

Bayern Munich blew the record books out of the water in 2012-2013, as they stormed to the Bundesliga title, losing only once in the process. Longtime players like Franck Ribéry, Thomas Müller, Philipp Lahm were vital to Bayern’s finish, and holes in the side that had previously been detrimental to the club’s hopes were ably filled by Javier Martínez, Dante, and David Alaba. Finishing the season a full twenty-five points ahead of second placed Borussia Dortmund has risen expectations, though, and it is yet to be seen as to whether the forced retirement of Coach Jupp Heynckes will be detrimental to the team’s chances in 2013-2014.

2013-2014 Preview

2013-2014 will see a new coach in Pep Guardiola taking over the reigns of Bayern, having watched with glee as the club acquires reinforcements for the new season. Forward duo Nils Peterson and Mario Gomez have departed for Werder Bremen and ACF Fiorentina, respectively, while Anatoliy Tymoschuk has returned to former club FC Zenit St. Petersburg in Russia. Coming into the squad are the world class midfield talents of Mario Götze and Thiago Alcántara from Bundesliga rival Borussia Dortmund and Champions league rival FC Barcelona, respectively. Central defender Jan Kirchhoff also arrives on a free transfer from FSV Mainz 05.

(Top 3 Talents for 2013-2014)

Key Player

Bayern Munich’s key player to their success in the coming season is co-captain and midfield engine Bastian Schweinsteiger. The German international was pivotal to the team’s success and looks to be again in the coming year, despite the competition for places in the team’s lineup.

FC Schalke 04

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Season Review

FC Schalke 04 suffered from many inconsistencies during 2012-2013, else they may have been more successful in the league, only cementing their Champions league status for another year on the last match day. Highly dependent on Julian Draxler’s strong form throughout the season, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar failed to replicate his strong form from the previous year, and the club was forced to bring in veterans Raffael and Michel Bastos on loan in order to revive any hopes for European places.

2013-2014 Preview

This summer has seen Schalke 04 undergo an identity crisis, yet seemingly for the better. Gone are Spanish midfielder José Manuel Jurado and oft-injured loanee Ibrahim Afellay, as well as bit players Christoph Moritz and Ciprian Marica. Reinforcements have been noticeably younger in attempts to rejuvenate an aging squad. Ádám Szalai arrives from FSV Mainz 05, while talented German duo Leon Goretzka and Christian Clemens arrive from VFL Bochum and 1.FC Köln, respectively. A defensive reinforcement also arrives in the shape of Felipe Santana from Borussia Dortmund, as Santana seeks more first team opportunities.

(Top 3 Talents for 2013-2014)

Key Player

The key player for Schalke 04’s campaign to be a successful one is undoubtedly German international attacker Julian Draxler. At times he dragged his team along during 2012-2013, but he succeeded in helping the team to Champions league qualification, where he will be able to demonstrate his talents once again.

Hamburg SV

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Season Review

After a stuttering start to the 2012-2013 campaign, Hamburg SV made an attempt at recovery, but ultimately failed in their quest for a European qualifying spot due to their inability to perform at home. The season could well be defined by winning the double over reigning Bundesliga champions, Borussia Dortmund, but losing easily to other teams, most notably 9-2 against Bayern Munich. Nonetheless, there were standouts within the team, as Rene Adler stood steadily in goal, Rafael van der Vaart had an adequate comeback upon his return, and Heung-Min Son struck up a fine understanding with fellow forward Artjoms Rudnevs, leading to a seventh place finish for Hamburg SV.

2013-2014 Preview

Hamburg will be going into the new season with the same goal of European football in mind, but it remains to be seen how they replace their outgoing talisman, Heung-Min Son, who leaves for Bayer Leverkusen. Jacques Zoua has been brought in from FC Basel in hopes that he will be able to take up some of the scoring load, Swiss international defender Johan Djourou has arrived on loan from Arsenal FC, and talented young defender Lasse Sobiech has been brought in from Borussia Dortmund to replace the outgoing Jeffrey Bruma, who leaves for PSV EIndhoven.

(Top 3 Talents for 2013-2014)

Key Player

Rafael van der Vaart will be the key player in Hamburg’s 51st Bundesliga season. While satisfied with his performances overall, van der Vaart will be looking to help his team maintain some consistencies in the coming season, and to help younger players such as Hakan Calhanoglu become vital parts of the Hamburg SV machine.

Hannover 96

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Season Review

Hannover 96 started the 2012-2013 season as one of the most impressive sides in the league, but injuries to midfield maestro Szabolcs Huszti and defensive midfield linchpin Leon Andreason left holes too large to be filled in the Hannover side. Nonetheless, Hannover still ended the season in ninth and can expect to better it in the coming season.

2013-2014 Preview

Hannover 96 faced a mini-exodus of players following the 2012-2013 season, as Konstantin Rausch departed for VfB Stuttgart on a free transfer, Sergio Pinto similarly leaving for Levante UD, and Mohammed Abdellaoue following Rausch out the door to VfB Stuttgart. Reinforcements were quick to be procured, however, as standout SpVgg Greuther Fürth performer Edgar Prib arrived to shore up the central midfield, young attacking midfielder Leonardo Bittencourt arrived from Borussia Dortmund, and defender Salif Sané arrived from AS Nancy-Lorraine to replace the outgoing Johan Djourou, whose loan period expired.

(Top 3 Talents for 2013-2014)

Key Player

Star Hannover 96 striker Mame Biram Diouf will be key to Hannover’s 2013-2014 campaign, as he looks to continue the form that has put some very large clubs on notice. Scoring twelve goals during 2012-2013, Diouf will be looking to better his record and help Hannover back into European contention.

Hertha BSC Berlin

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Season Review

the 2012-2013 2. Bundesliga season featured Hertha BSC steamrolling the competition en route to first a first place finish and automatic promotion back into the 1. Bundesliga. Featuring a squad full of top-tier experience, Hertha lost only twice in league play, yet only reached top gear two-thirds through the season. Nonetheless, standout players Adrian Ramos, Thomas Kraft, and Ronny will be looking forward to a season amongst the best, while youngsters John Anthony Brooks, Nico Schulz, and Pierre-Michel Lasogga will be raring to test themselves in the new season.

2013-2014 Preview

In anticipation of the new season, Hertha BSC has wisely sought out players with Bundesliga to add to an already talented squad. Japanese international Hajime Hosogai has been brought in from Bayer Leverkusen to bring additional steel to the midfield, while Alexander Baumjohann has been brought in from 1. FC Kaiserslautern to compete for a spot in attacking midfield. Sebastian Langkamp and Johannes van den Bergh have also been brought into the defense following their release from FC Augsburg and Fortuna Düsseldorf, respectively.

(Top 3 Talents for 2013-2014)

Key Player

The key player to Hertha BSC’s success in the coming season will ultimately be Ronny, who scored eighteen goals and assisted fourteen more during the 2012-2013 season. Ronny, whose older brother Raffael will be playing for Borussia Mönchengladbach in the coming season, will be looking to replicate his form against his Bundesliga opponents.

SC Freiburg

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Season Review

SC Freiburg was a force to be reckoned with in 2012-2013, as coach Christian Streich helped transform a squad that was largely unproven into a cohesive and tactically advanced team that ended the season in fifth place and a place in the 2013-2014 Europa league. Attackers Max Kruse, Jonathan Schmid, and Daniel Caligiuri played to their strengths on the break, while Johannes Flum and Cedrick Makiadi patrolled the midfield with an air of strength about them. However, with the departure of all the aforementioned with the exception of Schmid, Freiburg faced an intimidating overhaul before the upcoming 2013-2014 season.

2013-2014 Preview

The departures from Freiburg’s close-knit squad were abundant, with the most notable being Max Kruse’s decision to join up with Borussia Mönchengladbach. Following him out the exit was Daniel Caligiuri, who leaves for VfL Wolfsburg, while Cedrick Makiadi departs for SV Werder Bremen. Midfield duo Jan Rosenthal and Johannes Flum, both integral parts of Freiburg’s successful season, make their way together to Eintracht Frankfurt, where, like SC Freiburg, they will be competing in the 2013-2014 Europa league. Replacing these vital components will be up to new loanees Admir Mehmedi, Francis Coquelin, and Vaclav Pilar from Dynamo Kyiv, Arsenal FC, and VfL Wolfsburg, respectively. In addition, Freiburg have been quick to secure the services of Swiss midfielder Gelson Fernandes from Sporting LIssabon, French defender Christopher Jullien from AJ Auxerre, young talent Felix Klaus from SpVgg Greuther Fürth, and experienced forward Mike Hanke from Borussia Mönchengladbach. Whether or not all of these new faces will be able to transform into a functional team, however, remains to be seen.

(Top 3 Talents for 2013-2014)

Key Player

One of the few remaining faces from the 2012-2013 season, Jonathan Schmid, will be key to SC Freiburg’s success if they are to have any in 2013-2014. He was the second greatest threat behind Max Kruse during the 2012-2013 season, and he will be forced to step up and become a leading figure at the club this coming year. If successful, the man born in Strasbourg may even find a call up to the French national team a possibility in the future.

SV Werder Bremen

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Season Review

2012-2013 was a season of disappointment for all Werder Bremen fans, as longtime coach Thomas Schaaf finally found his reign at the club come to an end after fourteen years. High profile players such as Eljero Elia and Marko Arnautovic failed to impress, and the squad was resigned to depending on Chelsea loanee Kevin de Bryne for most of the season’s highlights. Finishing in fourteenth place, Werder will be expected to improve all possible aspects of their game if they are to prevent possible relegation in the coming season.

2013-2014 Preview

Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Kevin de Bruyne were the only names to depart from Bremen thus far in the transfer window, as they made their way to Borussia Dortmund and Chelsea FC, respectively. Nils Peterson, who impressed while on loan from Bayern Munich, made his loan stay permanent, while Cedrick Makiadi was brought in from SC Freiburg to reinforce the midfield. Italian defender Luca Caldirola also arrives from Inter Milan as a replacement for the outgoing Sokratis. Werder Bremen face a tough task if they are to survive another year in the top flight, and will need to rely on their existing squad if they are to improve in the coming year. The potential is there, nonetheless, and new coach Robin Dutt will be looking to bring it out as soon as possible.

(Top 3 Talents for 2013-2014)

Key Player

Key to Werder Bremen’s 2013-2014 campaign will be starting forward Nils Peterson, who has made the central forward position his own with his vital goals. The expectations on his shoulders will be higher than ever, though, as he enters his third year in the Bundesliga top flight.

TSG 1899 Hoffenheim

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Season Review

TSG Hoffenheim barely survived their 2012-2013 season, necessitating two late Sejad Salihovic penalties to earn a spot in the relegation playoffs against 1. FC Kaiserslautern. Against Kaiserslautern, however, Hoffenheim finally clicked, and maintained their Bundesliga status thanks to a team largely based on the youth players that had been neglected for so much of the season. Regardless, Hoffenheim’s summer signings Eren Derdiyok, Tim Wiese, and Afriyie Acquah did little to justify their wages, justifiably being left out of the team near the end of the season. Hoffenheim will undoubtedly be looking to improve as they enter their sixth consecutive season in the Bundesliga.

2013-2014 Preview

2013-2014 will be a season of transition for Hoffenheim as Markus Gisdol looks to reinstate the philosophy of youth development and intelligent transfers that brought the team up to the 1. Bundesliga in the first place. Exiting the squad are Igor de Camargo (to Standard Liège), Daniel Williams (to Reading FC), and the duo of Joselu and Stephan Schröck (both to Eintracht Frankfurt, the former on loan). Tarik Elyounoussi from Rosenborg BK and Anthony Modeste from FC Girondins de Bordeaux are the only notable arrivals at the squad, but a plethora of young talent from the reserve squad has been introduced to the senior side. Should Gisdol successfully reclaim the sense of unity that was so apparent during Hoffenheim’s inaugural season in the 1. Bundesliga, there is every chance that they could make a mark in the 2013-2014 season.

(Top 3 Talents for 2013-2014)

Key Player

Hoffenheim’s key player to the new season will surely be Roberto Firmino. The playmaker failed to demonstrate his full potential in 2012-2013, but if used properly could be highly influential in all proceedings. He will undoubtedly be looking to improve his form, as there are few that doubt his talent, but many that question his ability to remain consistent.

VfB Stuttgart

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Season Review

VfB Stuttgart’s 2012-2013 season was one in which the team struggled against sides near the bottom of the table, yet somehow managed to find results against some of the top sides. The goals of Vedad Ibisevic played no small part in the highlight wins of the season against FC Schalke and Eintracht Frankfurt, but it was apparent that what Stuttgart lacked was quality in depth.

2013-2014 Preview

Stuttgart have had a busy transfer season thus far by anybody’s standards. While Shinji Okazaki has left for FSV Mainz, Tim Hoogland (FC Schalke), Felipe (VfL Wolfsburg), and Federico Macheda (Manchester United FC) have all returned from their loan spells to their parent clubs. Meanwhile, reinforcements have arrived in the shape of Sercan Sararer from SpVgg Greuther Fürth, Mohammed Abdellaoue and Konstantin Rausch from Hannover 96, and Moritz Leitner from Borussia Dortmund. Further additions in Daniel Schwaab from Bayer Leverkusen and Marco Rojas from Melbourne Victory have been brought in to add valuable depth to the squad.

(Top 3 Talents for 2013-2014)

Key Player

VfB Stuttgart will be counting on key player Vedad Ibisevic to continue his run of form that he demonstrated int he throughout 2012-2013. The Bosnian attacker was as the center of all that was positive in Stuttgart’s play, and will be happily anticipating the start of a new season with valuable additions to the squad.

VfL Wolfsburg

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Season Review

VfL Wolfsburg began the season under the guidance of controversial coach Felix Magath, but after eight match days were at the bottom of the table. Shortly thereafter, Dieter Hecking took over the coaching reigns and helped lead the club to a respectable, in unspectacular, eleventh place finish. Nonetheless, players like Ivica Olic, Diego, and Makoto Hasebe demonstrated their class in the vital stretches of the season, while youngsters Maximilian Arnold and Robin Knoche demonstrated strong potential with the first team.

2013-2014 Preview

In an attempt to trim their 45-man squad down to a reasonable level, Wolfsburg have allowed many players to leave for little or no return. A quintet of central defenders have departed Wolfsburg, as Simon Kjaer leaves for LOSC Lille Métropole, Marco Russ returns to Eintracht Frankfurt, and Emanuel Pogatetz departs for 1. FC Nuremburg, while the duo of Sotirios Kyrgiakos and Alexander Madlund have been released from their contracts. The arrivals of midfielder Daniel Caligiuri from SC Freiburg, defender Timm Klose from 1. FC Nuremburg, and goalkeeper Max Grün from SpVgg Greuther Fürth should supplement the still crowded Wolfsburg squad. Dieter Hecking will undoubtedly be expecting his side to make it to European positions in the upcoming 2013-2014 season.

(Top 3 Talents for 2013-2014)

Key Player

Key to Wolfsburg’s ambitions is the world class Diego. When he is in the Wolfsburg lineup, he brings the team to a higher level, and demonstrates his irrefutable talent. Furthermore, with the introduction of the talented youngster, Maximilian Arnold, Diego has the opportunity to pass along his knowledge to a player that has the talent become a valuable partner in the upcoming season.

If you like Ludwig Gerdes’ writing, you can find more of his work at www.urbanetalente.com or follow him on twitter @urbanetalente

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Scouting Report: Bastian Oczipka

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Photo: Bundesliga.com

Recently, the name Bastian Oczipka has been mentioned as a target for Paolo Di Canio’s Sunderland A.F.C. during the 2013 summer transfer window.

The German left-back has seen his stock rise eight-fold since his 500,000 euro transfer to Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt prior to their successful 2012-2013 season, finishing third in the running for best in his position in the Bundesliga for 2012-2013, and yet he remains a highly undervalued potential target at only 4,000,000 euros.

Eintracht Frankfurt shone for great stretches of the 2012-2013 campaign, eventually ending the season in sixth place: a place good enough to qualify for a Europa League spot. However this was a result that was far beyond the estimations of even the most hopeful punters. The starting team was built with a combination of academy graduates and intelligent transfers, with the most expensive purchase being Germany youth international goalkeeper, Kevin Trapp for the princely sum of 1,500,000 euros. Yet despite the relative unknown quantities of his team mates, Oczipka rarely received the plaudits he deserved. Those instead went to the likes of Takashi Inui, Sebastian Rode, Sebastian Jung, and the aforementioned Trapp. Nonetheless, through a simple statistical analysis it is shown that there is more to Bastian Oczipka than meets the eye.

Player Profile

Bastian Oczipka was born on January 12, 1989 in Bergisch Gladbach, in what was then West Germany. He joined local club SV Blau-Weiß-Hand at the age of five, only to transfer to SSG Bergisch Gladbach two years later. Another two years passed, and in 1999 a ten-year old Oczipka was accepted into the Bayer Leverkusen youth football academy. There, he moved up the ranks, and won the U-19 Bundesliga in 2007, scoring in the final against a Bayern München side containing the likes of future German internationals Holger Badstuber, Thomas Müller, and Toni Kroos.

Upon Oczipka’s graduation from the Bayer Leverkusen academy, he was sent on loan to Hansa Rostock for the 2008-2009 season in the 2. Bundesliga. At Hansa Rostock, Oczipka made 42 appearances, assisting 4 goals. However, halfway through the 2009-2010 2. Bundesliga season, Oczipka was recalled by Bayer Leverkusen, who subsequently sent him out on loan to FC St. Pauli. At St. Pauli, Oczipka helped the team gain promotion to the Bundesliga for the 2010-2011 season, for which he remained at St. Pauli. In all, Oczipka appeared 36 times for St. Pauli, scoring one goal and assisting six others, but was unable to prevent the club from being relegated, largely due to an ankle injury suffered in February of 2011.

Despite his ankle injury causing him to miss the final fourteen match days of the 2010-2011 season, Oczipka impressed enough to be recalled to the senior Bayer Leverkusen squad prior to the 2011-2012 campaign. However, Oczipka was never able to fully recover from his injury at Bayer Leverkusen, as he missed all of pre-season and, when healthy, was often passed over in favor of Michal Kadlec, now of Fenerbahçe S.K.

Ultimately Oczipka made a mere nine Bundesliga appearances during the 2011-2012 season, starting only once, before gladly accepting a transfer to newly promoted Eintracht Frankfurt.

Style of Play

A simple observation led to a comparison of statistics, which in turn led to a starting realization: Bastian Oczipka is performing in a nearly identical manner to Fábio Coentrão circa 2009-2010, a period shortly before Coentrão was voted the Portuguese League Breakthrough Player.

When observing both players in action, the similarities are remarkable. Both players play as left-sided wing backs, overlapping regularly and more comfortable supporting the forward progression of play without neglecting their defensive duties. Both players are left-footed and comfortable crossers of the ball, as witnessed during both S.L. Benfica‘s successful 2009-2010 season as well as Eintracht Frankfurt’s 2012-2013 season. In addition, when either Fábio Coentrão or Bastian Oczipka made an assist in the 2009-2010 Primeira Liga or 2012-2013 Bundesliga, respectively, their teams did not lose. The similarities are quite amazing.

Fábio Coentrão

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Bastian Oczipka

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If these statistics are supplemented by their market value trends, it is apparent that the two most observable differences between are the relative ages at the time of the breakthrough (24 for Oczipka v. 22 for Coentrão) and the injury suffered by Oczipka in 2011.

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Market Value Comparison

Regardless, Oczipka is obviously undervalued at 4,000,000 euros, when Coentrão’s market value at a comparative time period was 5,600,000 euros.

So, why would a club such as Sunderland A.F.C. be in the market for a player like Oczipka? A more appropriate question may be why aren’t more clubs looking at a player who has the attributes and talent of Coentrão but at a fraction of the price.

 

If you like Ludwig Gerdes’ writing, you can find more of his work at http://www.urbanetalente.com or follow him on twitter @urbanetalente

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Player Profile: Daniel Ginczek

ginczek

Recently 1. FC Nürnberg signed striker Daniel Ginczek to a three-year contract from Borussia Dortmund for an undisclosed fee. Ginczek has been given the number 11 shirt previously worn by the Nürnberg great Marek Mintal, who was Bundesliga scoring champ once and 2. Bundesliga scoring champ twice during his time with Der Club. Thus there are already expectations for Ginczek, who during last season’s loan spell at 2. Bundesliga side FC St. Pauli scored 19 times in just 33 matches in all competitions.

Ginczek was born in Arnsber, Germany on April 13th, 1991. He played youth football for his local club, SC Neheim, joining the club when he was just four years of age. Ginczek stayed there for over a decade before he made the move to Borussia Dortmund in 2007 when he was 16. The 6 foot 2 striker continued to develop his game in the youth system there until he got promoted to the reserve team. In 66 Dortmund reserve matches, Ginczek found the back of the net 28 times.

Borussia Dortmund would send him on loan for the entire 2011-2012 season to VfL Bochum, where he, unfortunately, did not live up to his full potential, scoring five times in 29 matches. His true quality showed last season for FC St. Pauli.

Ginczek’s spectacular change of pace, his ability to slow down and speed up again really confused defenders and allowed the striker to blow by them with ease. Daniel Ginczek’s right foot is the stronger of his two, as he scored 16 of his 18 league goals from his right last season, but he can score spectacular goals with both of his feet. Ginczek took 108 attempts on goal last year and created 159 chances for Hamburg’s iconic cult club.

The German striker has played for every level of the German national team thus far with the exception of Jogi Löw’s senior team, totaling 20 matches of youth international play. During his time in the youth ranks, Ginczek has performed very consistently, scoring at all of levels except for the U-17s, where he only made two appearances.

Mintal, who recently became a coach for Der Club spoke of the significance of passing on the number 11 at Nürnberg
This is completely normal in football, “I now begin my career as a coach, which is a new chapter in my football experience. In turn, there is a new generation of young players who want to follow in the footsteps of the predecessors. I have always enjoyed wearing that jersey and scoring so many goals in the number 11 shirt
Ginczek is aware of the tradition he will try to continue.”

Ginczek replied with this when he was asked about the significance of the shirt number at the club,”Of course I know what Marek Mintal has done for the club. He has experienced tremendous years here at Nürnberg. I will try everything that I can to at least build on his accomplishments”

In six weeks, Ginczek will begin to get his chance

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Germany dominate Spain in the first league of the Champions League Semi-final

Robert Lewandowski

This past week we saw two German clubs took down the two biggest Spanish clubs and two of the biggest clubs in the world at this moment in Real Madrid and that one club, I’m forgetting their name right now, oh right Barcelona. Now, the way that Bayern Munich have been playing the last couple of weeks, well really the whole season, you can easily make the case that the biggest club in the world for this season is Bayern Munich, especially after the way they manhandled Messi and company.

On Tuesday, Bayern Munich rolled over Barcelona with goals from Thomas Müller (2x), once in the first half, just 25 minutes in, and the second one eight minutes before stoppage time. Arjen Robben and Mario Gomez scored the other two goals for the Bundesliga Champions. One thing that really stood out to me was how they stifled the attacking movement of Lionel Messi, Pedro, and Alexis Sánchez. Munich’s defense it seemed like it was swarming to the ball whenever Barcelona was able to get into the attacking third of the pitch. Victor Valdes could do nothing to stop Müller’s first goal, as Robben’s cross found Dante inside the box and flicked it into the path of Müller, who just glided the ball into the back of the net.

To me, Robben was the man of the match on Tuesday as he was involved in all of Bayern Munich’s goals either by scoring, assisting them, or being a apart of the initial build up just as he was with the second goal. Robben crossed in a corner which Müller again got on the end of it, but an unmarked Mario Gomez finished it off by sweeping the ball in from right below the crossbar and into the back of the net. In the 72nd minute of the match, Robben capped off a superb bit of individual display after he got around the back of Jordi Alba before slotting the ball inside the far post. Bayern got one foot into the final for the second year in a row when Müller tucked in a ball from close range.

The Germans continued their dominance of Spain Wednesday night when Borussia Dortmund’s Lewandowski scored four goals against Real Madrid. Yes, that is correct, you’re reading that right. He scored FOUR AGAINST REAL MADRID. And oh, were three of his four goals ever so beautiful (one was not so as nice because it was a penalty kick, but nonetheless, it was good goal). Oh, and some guy named Cristiano Ronaldo scored the away goal for Madrid, you may have heard of him before. Lewandowski’s first goal of the match would come before the ten minute mark and put Dortmund up early as Götze swung in a superb cross that Lewandowski stretching out his left leg completely to redirect it into the net, after losing Pepe.

Ronaldo equalized the match right before halftime and gave Madrid a slight advantage, with scoring that ever important away goal. Hummel’s terrible back pass was pounced on by Higuan who squared it up for Ronaldo, who proceeded to slot the ball into the back of the net. Lewandowski completely took the match over in the second half. His second goal of the evening came in the 50th minute of the match after Reus’ pass hit the pole, even though Real Madrid were calling for offside, Lewandowski kept his cool and kept it low and past Diego Lopez.

Time and time again, on Wednesday night, Lewandowski was at the right place at the right time. His third goal of the match Schmelzer fumbled on the shot, but it somehow found Lewandowski who dragged the ball away from Pepe and fired it into the top of the goal. Xabi Alonso shoved Marco Reus in the back, deliberately, which gave Dortmund the chance to get their lead to three as Lewandowski converted the spot kick easily and finished off the Spanish champions at home by the final score of 4-1. Polish international, Robert Lewandowski became the first player to score four goals in the Champions League since Mario Gomez did it against Basel last season.

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FT: Juventus 0-2 Bayern Munich

It seems like no matter who the German giants from Bavaria play this season, they dominate them without so much as breaking a sweat. These last two legs against Juventus were no different and showed just how much they wanted to get back to the Champions League final.

I am sure that last year’s final is still very fresh in their heads. They had the chance of doing something special last season, which was to win the trophy on their home season. However, the dream was not fulfilled as they were defeated on penalties by the club from southwest London, Chelsea FC.

In the group stages, Bayern Munich destroyed the opposition for the most part. They only dropped 5 points out of the possible 18, which included a defeat to BATE Borisov away from home and a draw away to Valencia. Don’t get me wrong, they played some good teams in Lille and Valencia, but a 6-1 score line victory against Lille really has set the tone for the rest of their season. Bayern Munich’s domestic league form hit midseason form, right from the get go when they pounced Greuther Furth 3-0 away from the Allianz Arena. The second week of the season, Bayern poured on 6 goals against underperforming Vfb Stuttgart.

Juventus really took the match to them early on and seemed like they would be able to come back and force extra time and potentially beat Bayern Munich, but unfortunately, tonight was not their night.

The first chance of the game came in just the second minute of the match when Marko Vucinic’s tame shot was held relatively easy by the German international goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer. Unfortunately for Bayern Munich, Mario Mandzukic will miss the first leg of the semi-final for picking up a harsh yellow card in the first half.

Van Buyten had the first real opportunity of the match at the quarter hour when his header from Bastian Schweinsteiger went just wide of Buffon’s goal. Moments later, the bearded legend, Pirlo, struck a rocket from 20 yards out that Neuer pushed aside. For the rest of the half, the two sides were exchanging chances like that for the rest of the half.

The last real chance of the first half was when, Bayern’s Thomas Muller tried a half-volley from a couple of yards outside the penalty box was sent wide and did not really trouble the Italian keeper. Jerome Boateng made an early appearance, in the 35th minute, as Van Buyten seemed to have picked up an injury and could not carry on.

In the second half, it was all Bayern Munich. Their defense tightened up and retained possession rather easily. Arjen Robben hit the post and nearly put the game in doubt in the 57th minute of play. Eventually, the recently crowned Bundesliga champions would score. Schweinsteiger’s curling free kick in the 65th minute was met by Javi Martinez, but was saved by Buffon. Buffon let the rebound fall to Mandzukic who poked it into the back of the net. Bayern would get another from Pizarro deep into stoppage time, but it did not really matter as the Bundesliga champions were well on their way to the semi-finals.

What’s next for them you ask?

Well, the task does not get any easier that is for sure. Their potential matchups will be against either Borussia Dortmund, the reigning Bundesliga champions, Real Madrid, the reigning La Liga champions, or Barcelona, well, you know what they are capable of. But if Bayern Munich play the way they have been playing, there is no doubt that they could win the Champions League this year.

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Player Profile: Julian Draxler

Listed at only 1.87 m long, this young German attacking midfielder is already causing heads to turn whenever he comes on the pitch with his powerful long distance shots. He has yet to really break into the national team, but with a country loaded with young talents, it will, undoubtedly, take some time before he is a regular fixture in the national team.

Draxler made his debut for Schalke on January 15th, 2011. At this time, he was the fourth youngest player to make his debut in the Bundesliga. The following week he, he made his debut start for the German side against making him the second youngest to ever start in the Bundesliga behind Nuri Şahin. He appeared in 30 of the 34 matches that helped Schalke get into the Champions League. Draxler made his debut on the international side for the German U-21 scoring a goal on his debut in a 4-1 victory over Cyprus U-21 in a qualifier for the 2013 European U-21 Championship. He made his debut for the national side, in a loss to Switzerland, less than a year later than that.

He can score goals with both his left foot and his right, while hitting them from some distance. Draxler is very gifted at reading the game; he usually makes the right pass at the right time. Another outstanding feature of his is his ability to hold onto possession for long periods of time, similar to that of the Argentinian superman Lionel Messi. Perhaps his weakest ability is crossing the ball into the box, but that will surely get better as he ages and his game develops more.

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Borussia Dortmund 3-0 FC Nurnberg

Jakub Blasczczykowski scored two times in the first 25 minutes of match to give the home side, Borussia Dortmund, an early two nothing lead over Nurnberg.

Blasczczykowski’s, the Polish international, first goal of the match came in the 18th minute when he converted home from the spot after Timo Gebhart was deemed to have fouled Lukasz Piszczek inside the 18 yard box.

Just three minutes later, the Polish international scored his second, left unmarked in the box, after he hammered in Mario Gotze’s low cross.

Nurnberg’s last shot of the match was right on the stroke of the hour mark when Feulner fired from range but nothing came of it.

Lewandowski finally got his goal in the 88th minute of the match when he hit the ball into the roof of the net which was set up rather easily by Marco Reus.

With this win, Borussia Dortmund are now in second place in the Bundesliga.

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