Tag Archives: Bundesliga

1.FC Union Berlin: Making History

It’s easy to get disillusioned with football these days, and I don’t just mean the big stuff like the corruption, the ridiculously huge  (and ever growing) transfer fees and the domination of the big teams. Not to mention the fact the past year has kind of sucked, Germany are “re-building,” the DFB continue to screw up and make stupid decisions (their latest mishap being to align themselves with Volkswagen – yeah, because that’s totally a good image for the national team) and Freiburg escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth. But every once in a while something comes along that reminds you why you fell in love with the game to begin with, this season that thing is Union Berlin.

Despite all of that I was really looking forward to the relegation play-offs this year, because it felt like it wouldn’t be the formality it’s been in previous seasons. Whether it was Union Berlin or Paderborn that ended up in third place Stuttgart have been so bad this season it seemed a pretty good bet that either of the former had a really good chance of winning the tie. As  things turned out it was Union Berlin who finished in third and had to face VfB Stuttgart.  I was rooting for them for more than one reason, first of all I always root for the opposition against Stuttgart, secondly Union are a really cool team with a terrific set of fans and thirdly their crazy goalkeeper Rafal Gikiewicz used to play for Freiburg. Well he only actually played three games for Freiburg but two of them were really important games.

Rafal played three times for Freiburg, twice in the league and once in the DFB Pokal. He came on to replace Schwolow when he was injured in the Leipzig game, and took his place in the following game against Dortmund. He played in the second round of the DFB Pokal in a 3-1 win over Dynamo Dresden. The Dortmund game is memorable especially for being the one in which Freiburg took the lead (through two Petersen goals) and kept it until the third minute of extra time when Dortmund equalised. That second Petersen goal was voted as goal of the season on Sportschau. Rafal himself is well acquainted with late goals in extra time, for he scored one himself for Union Berlin against 1.FC Heidenheim earlier this season. He’s a great keeper (the 14 clean sheets he’s kept this season show that), something he didn’t get to showcase much at Freiburg. So I’m happy he’s found a place at Union Berlin, not least because it gives me an extra excuse to watch them.

As I mentioned above, the relegation play-offs can feel like something of a formality, they tend to go only one way. In the past ten years a 2.Bundesliga side has won the relegation play-off just twice,  1.FC Nürnberg and Fortuna Düsseldorf being the two teams. Of course both those teams had previously been in the top flight, whereas for Union it’s the first time ever. The odds are obviously stacked in favour of the Bundesliga team, but this year’s play-off has proved that sometimes karma does work. Because Stuttgart truly deserved to get relegated and Union deserved to be promoted. Stuttgart have been so consistently terrible that relegation is no surprise, the only reason they weren’t relegated directly is that Hannover and 1.FCN have simply been worse.

Funny how things end up, Stuttgart and Hannover were relegated together in 2016, promoted together in 2017 and now once again in 2019 are relegated together. 1.FCN on the other hand return to the 2. Bundesliga after just one season in the top flight. Something which SC Paderborn know all about.  At the moment Paderborn are the living embodiment of fairy tale football. Promoted to the Bundesliga for the first time ever in 2014, then relegated in 2015. That was followed by relegation from the 2. Bundesliga and then from the 3.Liga. It’s only thanks to 1860 Munich’s troubles that they weren’t playing in fourth tier of German football in 2017. They made good use of their reprieve and earned promotion back to the 2.Bundesliga.

And now after five years away they’ll be in the Bundesliga again, for the second time in their history. How long they’ll get to stay there I don’t know, I expect they’ll be top of everyone’s lists for potential relegation candidates. Hopefully they’ll be better prepared this time, and won’t self destruct quite so spectacularly should that happen. Union Berlin, I wouldn’t like to make any predictions there. They played well in the DFB Pokal against Borussia Dortmund, that’s true. But there’s a big difference between doing that once and playing in the Bundesliga every week against such teams. Whatever happens I’m sure their fans will enjoy it and that they’ll be a terrific addition to the league.

Weird thing is I dreamt about Stuttgart’s coach yesterday, I don’t remember why I was talking to him or where I was, but I remember what I was saying. I was asking him if he could talk without giving a motivational speech every time he opened his mouth.  Which I suppose kind of summons up the arrogance of Stuttgart, they thought with few motivational speeches and battle spirit they could get through it. But all those millions spent and they couldn’t defeat Union Berlin, they didn’t lose either game but they didn’t win either. They just didn’t do enough, too little too late – which pretty much sums up their whole season.

Meanwhile Union have some celebrating to do, something they got started with the second the game ended as the pictures below show. The first picture is of their delightful mascot, who very fittingly is a knight. A knight who it seems can’t quite believe his new Bundesliga status:

Are you watching, Jogi?

I originally got the idea for this post just after Petersen scored the equalizer, back then the post was a little happier. But of course that goal turned out to be meaningless and Freiburg lost yet another game. As disappointing as that is (and obviously losing to Stuttgart makes it doubly so) it takes nothing away from Nils’ goal, yet another work of art from him. The title of the post is actually kind of funny. I got the idea right after he scored and wrote it down so I wouldn’t forget, and then the commentator goes and says pretty much the same thing. Though as it turns out the commentator in question is an idiot. Not long after that goal he was musing about whether or not Freiburg could hold onto Nils in the summer. He obviously didn’t read what Nils said just the other month when he signed his new contract, that he’s very happy in Freiburg. And I know talk is cheap but he’s always proved to be a man of his word. Besides he’s 29 years old, even with his prolific scoring rate he’s not going to be getting a lot of offers at his age.

Anyway, back to Nils. Just what does he have to do in order to get on Jogi’s radar? He’s the highest scoring German in the Bundesliga with 13 goals, a fact that’s made even more impressive by Freiburg’s pitiful goal tally this season. They’re struggling yet he’s still finding opportunities and scoring. Which brings me to my main point. Before the game in his interview Jogi was talking about the importance of players and teams acting instead of just reacting, of creating chances rather than just waiting for something to happen. Well that’s exactly what Nils did tonight and what he did against Dortmund too. Nils is a reliable team player, often creates his own chances, scores a decent amount of goals and is useful coming off the bench too, being the all time Bundesliga top joker scorer. Even so I don’t actually expect him to be going to Russia this summer, I just think he deserves a mention is all. When asked about it he said that he’s already made his holiday plans, then again any other answer would have made him look arrogant. Realistically speaking being picked for the Olympic side in 2016 was most likely the closest he’s ever going to get to having an international career. It would certainly be ironic if Nils ended up overtaking Jogi as Freiburg’s best all time goal-scorer. Jogi has the record with 81 league goals, Nils so far has 53. It’s not impossible.

Nils Petersen goal – SC Freiburg v VfB Stuttgart 2017/18

Hansi Flick SSN Interview 20/07/17

50,000 Bundesliga goals 17/02/2017

If Freiburg had played on Friday it might have been Nils Petersen that had the honour of scoring the 50,000th goal in the history of the Bundesliga. But as luck would have it this would be the weekend their game is the top game meaning they don’t play until Saturday evening. Maybe if things went perfectly Nils could score goal number 50,014. As things stand it was instead Karim Bellarabi who with his first goal of the season got the honour, recieving a specially made cake and trophy as well. I may not feel like writing much but this is the kind of landmark you can’t ignore, regardless of who the player in question is. Still as least as it wasn’t Stefan Kiessling, anyone would be better than him scoring such a goal.

Karim Bellarabi goal – FC Augsburg v Bayer Leverkusen 2016/17 – 50,000th goal in the history of the Bundesliga

karim-bellarabi-augsburg-v-leverkusen-2016-17-1 karim-bellarabi-augsburg-v-leverkusen-2016-17-2 karim-bellarabi-augsburg-v-leverkusen-2016-17-3 karim-bellarabi-augsburg-v-leverkusen-2016-17-4 karim-bellarabi-augsburg-v-leverkusen-2016-17-5

Advent Calendar Day 21: Snow King Florian Strikes Again

I wasn’t sure I could enjoy any part of this evening’s games, indeed it took a little while before I could focus on what I was watching. I still felt a little guilty about being so easily distracted but I guess that’s normal. Whilst Tuesday’s round of games were a little disappointing and maybe didn’t offer sufficient distraction Wednesday was very different. I’m certainly glad I chose not to watch the news before the game (a mistake I made the previous night), had I done so it may have ruined what came after. Both games which were of most interest delivered not only on their promise of distraction and entertainment but in giving me exactly what I wanted. Three points a piece for Bayern and Freiburg from their respective games, and Leipzig being given no chance of resuming their brief stay at the top of the table. They I’m very happy to say are not the winter champions. It pains me to say they were last season, with them having a three point lead on Freiburg in the 2.Bundesliga table but they couldn’t repeat the feat in the top flight. I didn’t get my Christmas wish last year but I have now, it may seem unambitious in comparison to what Leipzig are aiming for but I don’t care. Freiburg are in the top half of the table and will stay there for another month. They are very far off from the position they were in two years ago, back then they were in the relegation zone and it’s where they spent the winter break. It’s nowhere near where they are now:

bundesliga-table-md16-2016-17

In their final game before the Christmas break in 2014 they played Hannover and drew 2-2, conceding a late goal which thanks to a technical fault I didn’t get to see. Matter of fact I still haven’t seen that goal, I guess some things you don’t need to see. There is one good thing from that game, the two players who scored the goals, Mike Frantz and Marc-Oliver Kempf are still part of the squad. This time round they faced Ingolstadt who are doing their best to do what Freiburg were doing two years ago, avoiding relegation. As the title suggests it was Florian Niederlechner who scored the winning goal, actually he scored both of them. It didn’t snow but that doesn’t matter, I like calling him a snow king. Nils didn’t start again which is always disappointing, even more so is that he didn’t get to add to his tally when he did come on. In his absence it fell to Niederlechner to take the penalty, and in scoring those two goals he got his first Bundesliga brace. It wasn’t an easy game and they worked hard for those three points, Schwolow like he did in the previous two games at his best to keep the score as it was towards the end. One final thing I have to mention about Hannover, neither they nor Stuttgart get the honour of being winter champions either. Both of them being overtaken in the table by Eintracht Braunschweig. Something which makes me happy for two reasons, firstly Braunschweig are my promotion pick for the season and secondly I don’t want them getting something Freiburg didn’t get.

Speaking of getting something Freiburg didn’t Bayern did that and then some, putting three goals past Leipzig and not just beating them but taking them apart. I know it’s wrong to enjoy someone else’s misfortune (not least when it’s Freiburg who face Bayern next) but I make an exception when it comes to Leipzig. As always Neuer celebrated the goal as he usually does, the GIF isn’t quite as good as the other celebatory ones of him but I had to make it:

manuel_neuer_celebrates_bayern_v_rbl_2016_17Same as I had to add some pictures of Florian and one of Nils to complete the set:

florian-niederlechner-ingolstadt-v-sc-freiburg-2016-17-1 florian-niederlechner-ingolstadt-v-sc-freiburg-2016-17-2florian-niederlechner-ingolstadt-v-sc-freiburg-2016-17-3florian-niederlechner-ingolstadt-v-sc-freiburg-2016-17-4 nils-petersen-ingolstadt-v-sc-freiburg-2016-17It’s funny in a way, I’m totally focused on football after being unable to stop thinking about bad stuff and now the football is over. I’ll have to find something else to occupy myself with until the 20th January. It’s not as bad as it sounds though, it’s only 29 days without football. To be more precise without German football. The time will most likely fly by, if these past few weeks are anything to go by I won’t even notice it, let alone remember.

I don’t know how much of that I’ll remember but for the next few days there’s one thing I can’t forget, the last few days of the advent calendars. Day 21 saw defender Marc-Oliver Kempf make his appearance which is excellent timing on his part, seeing as how I was just talking about the Hannover game in which he scored the first goal. Though to be honest there’s not a bad time for him to make his appearance, he’s the kind of person I’d always be happy to see. In the Dortmund calendar was midfielder Felix Passlack whose last appearance for Dortmund was in the crazy 8-4 win against Legia Warsaw, in fact he scored the seventh goal. And because it’s Marc-Oliver’s day I think the GIF of him and Grifo dancing should make a reappearance, it’s so good it should be used twice:

Grifo_Kempf_dance_SC_Freiburg_v_1860Marc-Oliver Kempf – SC Freiburg v KSCMarc-Oliver Kempf & Nils Petersen – Braunschweig v SC Freiburg 3SC Freiburg - Meister der 2.Bundesliga 2015-16 - Christian Streich & Marc-Oliver Kempf20161222_033427-1

Advent Calendar Day 19 & 20: Not Again

This year has felt like a sort of groundhog day type year, the same stuff over and over again, and I don’t just mean in terms of the mistakes I’ve made. I wish I just meant that. With Monday’s night events it feels all so very familiar, indeed the same things are said all over again. The same hatred and racism is brought to the fore. Lots of things are said but little changes. A lot of people are ignorant of what’s going on in the wider world and they want it to stay that way. Syria seemed like a place far away and so the events there could be ignored, except now such things are happening right on Europe’s doorstep. And some people’s answer, to ban all refugees from entering Europe. To refuse to help the very people who are trying to escape things like this. I don’t know, nothing makes any sense, I’m not sure anything ever did. I just don’t understand how anyone could be so blinkered and ignorant not to care what’s going on there. The fact it’s so faraway should make no difference, nor that the people are of a different nationality or religion. People are people no matter where they’re from. It certainly doesn’t feel right to be celebrating Christmas whilst all this is going on.

Monday was not a good day anyway, and it become less of one because of what I woke up to. Just when you think you have a shot at getting back on track something else goes wrong. In reality I don’t think it had a shot of going right, I just wanted to believe it could. Everything feels just about as pointless as it’s ever done, yet I can’t stop writing or doing any of this. I’ve seen what happens when I do that, no matter how pointless it seems you have to carry on. A few days ago (I’m not sure which one exactly) I was watching The Counsellor, I don’t know why I decided to rewatch it, I didn’t think much of it the first time round. I felt drawn to it for some reason. I saw it at the cinema when it was released with a friend. Before seeing it I thought it would be good and they thought the opposite, after seeing it our positions were reversed. They said it was better than they expected and I was disappointed with it. I’m not sure I can articulate why exactly, I do however know why it angered me. The main character doesn’t care about the violence in Mexico when he has the potential to make money from it, he only cares when it affects him, when it’s someone he loves that gets hurt. Which is kind of like the situation now I suppose. The majority of people don’t care what’s happening somewhere else as long as it’s not affecting them. I’m not sure why it bothers me so much or why I can’t stop thinking about all this, maybe it’s because I’m often accused of lacking empathy, clearly that’s not true.

I have plenty of distractions but none of them are working, I don’t feel much like watching football, I couldn’t focus on tonight’s game in which Dortmund drew 1-1 with Augsburg. I don’t think the game made any difference, had I watched Gladbach’s game I probably would have felt the same. It’s a good thing I didn’t watch their game in fact, I would have felt even worse. After losing again there’s a good chance Gladbach will be parting ways with Andre Schubert before Christmas. I hope Wednesday’s game does a better job of distracting me, though at the same time it feels wrong but then almost everything does. Even writing this but I had to, I couldn’t not write it. As suffocating as routine is it can be comforting too, and sometimes it’s a little of both. Truth is without routine I wouldn’t know what to do.

Speaking of routine that brings me to the final part of the post, the advent calendars. Behind door number 19 in the Freiburg one was summer signing Janik Harberer and in the Dortmund one Andre Schürrle. And behind door number 20 was Julian Schuster and Roman Weidenfeller. Harberer scored his first Bundesliga goal the weekend before last against Leverkusen, he also got the assist for Niederlechner’s equaliser against Schalke last weekend:

janikhabererscfreiburgteampresentationJulian Schuster goal celebrations 1Schuster - 5th goal - Pokal 1st round 3Julian Schuster – SC Freiburg v FSV Frankfurt 120161221_002851-1

Sven Bender & Matthias Ginter at Borussia Dortmund v Mainz 2016/17

Sven Bender at Dortmund v Mainz 16-17 Matthias Ginter at Dortmund v Mainz 16-17 1 Matthias Ginter at Dortmund v Mainz 16-17 2