ITV2′s counteraction to Thursday’s political-asphyxiation comes in the fishy form of Jaws 2, and Jaws 3. In a post-Wolfsburg 2008/09 tenor, Schalke and Leverkusen thought it safe to frolic in the sea. Alas, the German Jaws that is FC Bayern show that when all thought it safe to linger in the water, the fanged-monster pounces! Jaws enjoys eating people; ITV2 likes dire schedules; Bayern win. All three are unalterable parameters in life.
The penultimate set of fixtures saw Bavaria’s finest (all but) crowned champions, and Bremen (all but) seal the final Champions League spot. Berlin were officially relegated, but Freiburg secured their spot in the division! In the words of the skinny one from Kenan & Kel… “Aww, here goes!”
Bayern Munich 3 – 1 Bochum
The tale of one week, two trebles. Olić’s trick with the hat saw Lyon eliminated at the Champions League semi-final stage. Nevertheless, he was back to his usual self vs Bochum: industry, graft, lays, movement, awful finishing. Given the amount of potent positions he finds himself in, it’s difficult to determine whether the Croatian might not be the world’s cleverest player. However, a solution might be that if one non-stop sprints and has two of the world’s best players to feed off, any fool could do the job.
Thomas Müller’s triple (18′, 20′, 69′) was less surprising: he was on a hot-scoring streak earlier on in the campaign. His first two goals arrived in quick succession: Robben, Lahm and Ribéry were pivotal, and the strikes illustrated the torment they put full-backs Matias Concha and Phillip Bönig through. The third was a slalom through the mannequins and a tidily placed pass-finish. I’ve often thought of he and Olić as mere bodies over players. Think of the basket in the snakecharmer trichotomy. You have Schweinsteiger playing the flute, and Rob-Rib as the serpents. Akin to the basket the serpent enters from, the front two’s primary function is to generate a path to goal for the wonder-wingers. I wouldn’t say that these hat-tricks have altered that perception; but they go to show that there’s more than one reason Klose and Gómez remain sidelined.
As for Bochum: new coach, old rubbish. Heiko Herrlich walked the plank in the week, so former Polish playmaker Dariusz Wosz took charge. He clicked ‘VOID’ on the old regime’s 4-4-1-1, and went for a flat 4-4-2 at the Allianz. Dedič joined Šesták in the front-line; although the former’s insatiable appetite for sprint-tracks and slide-lunges meant his team defended too many set-pieces. The pressing the Slovenian and his strike-partner enacted from halfway did little to stop Demichelis from bringing the ball up, or the lively and incisive Ribéry getting and going from deep.
Although winger Paul Freier was handed a rare start, he rarely saw the ball (and off it, was too easily bypassed). Bochum’s tactics centred on cynical Heerwagen rolls to the box-edge positioned centre-backs. Cue lots of aimless sidewards passing, before a hit n’ hope upfield, or a rare carry. The resulting pass and move from these carries always saw one cog fail to shift into position, or an errant releasing ball. Their consolation came via a quite sublime Fuchs free-kick (85′). If only his set-piece crosses had been as decent… Bochum continue to be the league’s worst side and look destined to go down. Their plight didn’t deter the post-game celebrations of a side verging on a treble (15/05 – DFB-Pokal final. 22/05 – Champions League final).
Schalke 0 – 2 Werder Bremen
As Raphael Honigstein reports, silver medal was widely celebrated by supporters of perennial losers, Schalke 04. The Gelsenkirchen side’s negative brand of football can at times be overstated. As demonstrated in the opening exchanges of this game, Schalke are an exciting sight in full-flow. With flair players such as Sánchez, Farfán, Rakitić and Rafinha, Die Königsblauen hardly want for spark. Unfortunately, such exhilaration tends to be all too fleeting: fitting in with the system and all that. When excitement’s appearance doesn’t bring goals, Felix Magath’s outfit can become ripe for the taking.
Not that you can blame them for being taken against Werder Bremen (even if Benedikt Höwedes’ sloppy pass did result in the square for Almeida to score at 64′). When Mesut Özil’s in the mood – and has ridden that first shackle – a trojan horse full of Moore’s and Beckenbauer’s wouldn’t stop him. Unsurprisingly, Die Mannschaft’s soon-to-be South African starlet wanted to impact – Mirko Slomka-era Schalke showed him the door in 2008. Fed with back to goal, the left-footed trap preceded some pinball-flap feet and weaves through and under the surrounding oppositional throng. His work wasn’t done yet: a drop of the shoulder off the box-edge engineered a shot from a more favourable, central angle. The pass-place homed across goal and into the bottom corner (55′).
Hannover 6 – 1 Borussia M’gladbach
Blimey. I know they’ve nowt to play for – but it’s hard to believe that Michael Frontzeck won’t have Die Fohlen in for double sessions after this shambles. Patrick Hermann’s alertness to seize upon a lax Eggimann backpass was the only bit of positivity to take from this thumping (69′). Bailly was persistently beaten at his near-post. Bradley stood off and let playmakers make. Meeuwis was slow to track. The defence might actually have been asleep. And Rob Friend’s idea of dropping back to help equated to minimal marking.
Hannover 96 found that goals are like Pringles – once you pop, you can’t stop! Three goals in 10 minutes (17′, 23′, 27′) saw Haggui back-head in a Bruggink ball; Pinto leather one in from centre-mid; Ya Konan dart to place a header. They had a break: but it took Mike Hanke 12 minutes to finish a cuppa and Kit-Kat before he stabbed in. Sealing the victory, Chahed ghosted to the box-edge to fire in a canny Schmiedebach lay-on (54′), and finally, the talismanic Bruggink scooped over a slider prior to slamming in (74′). They’re by no means safe: but without these points and the heavy chip-away at a dire goal difference, Hannover would already be gone.
FC Köln 2 – 2 SC Freiburg
Woohoo – Freiburg are safe! One of the league’s most attractive sides partied like Prince in 1999, and it’s great to see them stick around. Their build-up is clever, floor-based, and fluid. Their movement and hunger levels are astounding, and in Pouplin, they boast one of the league’s most underrated net-tenders. He displayed his credentials here once again with what may have been save of the season. Sprinting/dropping to his left, a well-executed header was arrowed to the Frenchman’s right-hand corner. In an instant, Pouplin adjusted, leapt, and got a strong, to-safety hand on the certain-goal. Are you watching, Domenech?
An entertaining game was gifted 4 goals thanks to 4 mistakes/moments of intelligence. First off, Bastians allowed Zoran Tošić do what Zoran Tošić does and does and does. Take at AMR-chalk; step-in on his left (only) foot; unleash a thunderbolt (9′). Credit to the Serb as he didn’t stop at that. His whipped near-post corner saw the visitors in hibernation, and Sebastian Freis bolted to steer it in before necks were craned (84′). Lax Matuszczyk guarding of Barth on a corner saw the latter send a header across goal. Idrissou poached that (31′), before being handed another goal on a plate: Lazy line clearing from Die Geißböcke saw a speculative volley fly in (57′).
Bayer Leverkusen 1 – 1 Hertha Berlin
The draw that relegates the capital city side. They dominated proceedings at BayArena; as we’ve become so used to witnessing in 2010. Unfortunately, the same old problem persisted – they can’t score (enough). Ramos and Gekas take up some outstanding positions, but waste them with panicky foot-actions. Raffael may have benefited from the Greek’s good perception to rifle in the opener (12′), yet all too often, his and Cícero’s clever ghosts are neglected or not found by the profligate front-men. Luck plays a part too: woodwork, honourable decisions to stay upright when tripped (Ramos), and Adler brilliance likewise.
The Leverkusen ‘keeper – both he and Drobný performed adeptly – may be missing out on the World Cup, but Manuel Friedrich threw himself into Germany contention by heading in the equalizer (59′). A well-timed dart saw him free to tower that one goalwards: but a strong leap soon after so nearly saw him add #2. Alas, the ball-hit bar vibrated at a rate faster than the pulses of Berliners everywhere. This period was a culmination of the home side’s gradual creeping-in to the affair. They might well have taken all three points had Patrick Helmes been a tad more sure-footed in front of goal. The instinct was there; the finishes weren’t.
Borussia Dortmund 1 – 1 VFL Wolfsburg
Dortmund would have won by a double-figure margin were it not for the athleticism and bravery of Diego Benaglio. Hands, slides, takes – you name it, the Switzerland international did it. His penalty save from Şahin was fantastic; the ongoing battle with Barrios furious. After seemingly using all their luck on winning that aforementioned dot-shot (Kevin Großkreutz tripped on his own step-overs!), the Westfalenstadion faithful had to wait until 81′ to holler at the net’s ripple. Valdez, goal-line stationed a few yards from the left-hand post, pulled-back to the other corner of the six-yard-box for lanky local lad Marco Stiepermann to finally thwart Benaglio!
Neven Subotić and Mats Hummels have begun to look rather shaky as a unit, and neither was present to prevent Džeko from opening the scoring. Grafite, the match’s hungriest customer, displayed his power and neat-feet as he surged down the pitch with the ball. His cross found the Bosnian 2-feet beyond the penalty-spot. Facing away from Weidenfeller, the trap and body adjustments were all rather awkward. Undeterred, the striker nonchalantly placed a backheel beyond the Dortmund custodian (69′)! Dortmund won’t be in the Champions League next season now, but it’ll take a balls-up of epic proportions for them to miss out on the Europa League.
Hamburg 4 – 0 Nuremberg
This result makes it difficult to draw a conclusion in LAL (Life After Labbadia). This was no throwaway pre-summer clash: Nürnberg are barely clinging to their spot in the top-tier. Hamburg, less than 48 hours after a Europa League exit at the hands of Fulham, were simply rampant. For all the brilliance of Trochowski and Pitroipa, one player stood out more than most. I doubt they’ll be printing many PINOLA 25 replica jerseys in Der Altmeister’s club-shop this week. The Argentinian full-back was the most shambolic of a shambolic XI; one that created a single half-chance all game (Marcel Risse).
The scoring began when Trochowski duped the former Atlético Madrid defender on a through-ball; looking one way, releasing Pitroipa through the other. The lively Burkinabè made no mistake. Thereafter, things got worse. Two embarrassingly casual air-traps by Pinola allowed Demel time to cross for Petrić (25′), and van Nistelrooy to skip over Schäfer (73′). In between that madness, Trochowski further asserted his resplendent guile and vision; veering in to dink another ace ball on for the bald Croatian striker (19′).
VfB Stuttgart 2 – 2 Mainz
Something of a nothing-game, but Die Nullfünfer’s André Schürrle stood out in this relatively even, rain-sodden contest. His pacy right-footed carries down either flank generally resulted in thunder-strikes that had Lehmann scrambling. Former Stuttgart man Jan Šimák worked the match’s opener mind. Seemingly corked by the corner flag, he worked a pull-back to deliver a quick whip-in. Quite brilliantly, Malik Fathi charged out to meet it and cocked one leg behind the other to softly shepherd the ball back across goal (53′)!
Mainz’s #14 soon got the goal his play deserved. Dinking over Lehmann, the semi-halted ball was met by the hungrier, supposedly Tesche-guarded Mainz man (64′). A quickfire brace (72′, 74′) from Ciprian Marica – beneficiary of a defensive mix-up involving Heinz Müller, and the penetrative square-off by freshly contracted-up Cacau – saw Stuttgart snare a point in their final home fixture of the season.
Eintracht Frankfurt 1 – 2 Hoffenheim
The definition of an end-of-season nothing-game! Nonetheless, it was played with competitive tempo and intent. Ricardo Clark, Sebastian Jung, and Patrick Ochs worked a clever triangle early on for the hosts, who eventually shot themselves in the foot by too willingly surging on the counter. They grabbed the lead in spectacular fashion midway through the first period. Schwegler sped one way, went back to the other, and unleashed a fearsome right-footer fully 30-yards-out (20′).
Ibišević & co. left it late to steal all three points. The striker didn’t get on the scoresheet himself, but impressed in the rarely utilised unselfish side to his game. Bosnia’s second best forward seemed to relish assisting others for a change. An Eduardo-led counter that fed a three-pronged attack set Hoffenheim on their way. Maicosuel was fed at RCF, and he squared for Prince Tagoe’s easy tap-in (80′). The Ghanian was back for more eight minutes later, easily outmuscling Chris to place a right-footed bobbler over the ‘keeper.
|12||1. FC Köln||33||38|
Going from top to bottom, here are Round 34s permutations. NB: If teams are tied on points, goal difference settles the ranking. If that’s equal, goals scored becomes the deciding factor. In the eventuality of that being level, head-to-head record is summoned.
- A draw at home to Hamburg will be enough to secure Champions League football for Bremen…
- … unless Leverkusen win at M’gladbach by a 5-goal margin.
- Both have secured at least a place in the Europa League, win, lose, or draw.
- A draw away at Freiburg’ll nail Dortmund’s (GD +14) spot in that competition.
- Should they lose, a Stuttgart (GD +10) win at Hoffenheim that overturns the 4-goal deficit sees them reach Europe.
- A Hannover win at Bochum keeps the former in the division, and automatically relegates the latter.
- A draw ensures that Hannover cannot be automatically relegated…
- … but were Nürnberg to beat visitors FC Köln, Hannover would contend the relegation play-off.
- If Bochum and Nürnberg win, Hannover are automatically relegated.
- In that situation, goal difference (-28 and -27 respectively) judges which of the Boch-‘berg pair faces Augsburg.