Coming into MD9 Dortmund were without a win in three games, their last win being a 3-0 defeat of Leverkusen on MD5. They followed that up with two draws against Hoffenheim and Darmstadt, and then of course the 5-1 humiliation at Bayern. MD9 served up a game almost as special as that one, with it being Thomas Tuchel’s first return to Mainz as an opposition coach. His homecoming of sorts was a success as far as Dortmund were concerned, they got back to winning ways with a 2-0 defeat of Mainz. Nothing showy, just an effective and efficient win and I’m happy to say Roman Bürki played better than he did against Bayern. He had better luck then Weidenfeller did anyway. Last season Dortmund played Mainz on a Friday evening too, eventually the game ended 4-2 in Dortmund’s favour. But not before Dortmund went 1-0 down courtesy of a very humiliating goal which involved Weidenfeller almost falling into one of his own defenders and the ball then being put in the net by a very alert Elkin Soto who made good use of the keeper being way off his line.
Thankfully no such curse befell Bürki and he made a strong start to the game, making a good save against Muto just five minutes in:
He wasn’t particularly busy throughout the first half but then neither was his opposite number Karius. Though it turned out not to matter because you only need to slip up once against Dortmund and they make you pay. Which is exactly what happened in the 17th minute. One misplaced pass intercepted by Mkhitaryan, two moves later and goal, Marco Reus slotting it home past Karius for his third of the season. The first half provided a few chances for both teams but nothing clear cut, the number of attempts on goal was far outweighed by the number of tackles.It was a closely contested affair to say the least, Sokratis in particular being his usual imposing self in defence for Dortmund. Matthias Ginter made a few important decisions too, in particular this clearance. Bürki probably would have got there anyway but why take that chance:
Marco Reus got an opportunity just inside the box to make it 1-o before the end of the first half but he failed to capitalize on the chance, the lay off from Aubameyang was decent but Reus’ initial pass could have been better. As could much of the passing in the final third throughout the first half. Dortmund went into the half time break with a hard earned 1-0 lead, but they didn’t deserve to be 2-0 up. They were handed an opportunity right at the start of the second half to make it 2-0 when Nico Bungert was judged to have brought Aubameyang down. It’s a penalty which should never have been given, not only did Bungert play the ball but the initial contact was outside the box. It’s perhaps karma then that the penalty was saved by Karius, according to the commentator he’s saved his last four penalties, so maybe more than just karma there.
After that the second half continued in a similar vein to the first with there being few real chances for both side. One such chance for Mainz when Muto found space between Park and Hummels was however effectively dealt with by Bürki:
Dortmund got the chance to double their lead in the 61st minute after a well placed pass from Ginter to Kagawa but Karius seemingly did enough to put him off and his effort went wide. They had a few more chances in the following ten minutes but most of them off target. Aubameyang however had a good chance in the 76th minute but was unable to take it, Bungert doing just enough to put him off. They finally made it 2-0 in the 82nd minute, Aubameyang setting up Mkhitaryan. The goal was nice enough but it’s not that I care about, what I care about is the reaction from Thomas Tuchel. Sokratis went over to celebrate with him, hugging him. What’s funny is he was trying to get away and Thomas Tuchel wouldn’t let go. It was such a great moment that pictures alone wouldn’t suffice, so I made a GIF too:
Random Freiburg related fact I have to mention, Florian Niederlechener made a substitute appearance for Mainz in this game, coming on in the 83rd minute for Muto. It’s funny, the future Freiburger (temporary of course – he’s only on loan) against former Freiburger’s Matze Ginter and Roman Bürki.
Elsewhere in the Bundesliga Bayern followed up their demolition of Dortmund with a surprising 1-0 win over Bremen, not surprising they won, just the scoreline. Holding Bayern to just the one goal is an impressive feat, though it makes no difference of course. Whilst beating Bayern would probably be expecting too much Bremen could certainly have done with the points. They could at least be grateful that both Augsburg and Hoffenheim lost.
Normally when I upload stickers I do so in the order I got them, today I’m making an exception. That’s how special getting Florian Niederlechner’s sticker is. His and the SC Freiburg badge were at the top of my wish list for this season’s album, now all I need is a double of each for the wall and I’ll be happy. It’s funny I got Florian’s sticker today because his parent club Mainz played this afternoon. It’s even more amusing that I got two Darmstadt players and their badge because it was them Mainz drew with earlier.
The Freiburg badge was in between two players who have a Freiburg connection, Salomon Kalou who last season scored a very late and extremely important equaliser for Hertha against them and defender Sascha Riether who used to be a Freiburg player, in fact up until last season. I also got the Bundesliga ball and a shiny version of Robert Lewandowksi, he came out of a packet before Niederlechner yet he goes after him. He may be the best striker in this post but he’s not the most important one:
Writing this post before catching up on the others means my Bundesliga posts will be out of order but that doesn’t matter. The only person it bothers is me and I’m being an idiot about it, as I am with most things. I can’t put it off forever after all. MD24 was of course “die englische Woche” and it wasn’t short on drama. Two matches on Tuesday night and then seven on Wednesday. The big result of Tuesday night was Wolfsburg beating H96 4-0 with Andre Schürrle getting his first Bundesliga hat-trick. The fourth goal was scored by Julian Draxler and was nothing less than they deserved. I got a kick out of the result because the day after Freiburg beat Arminia Bielefeld 4-1. I like it, that Freiburg win by 4 and H96 lose by 4. H96 seeming to be rooted to the bottom of the table with just ten games left to play. Their chances of being relegated looking increasingly likely despite the bringing in of experienced coach Thomas Schaff. I wonder if at this point he wishes he’d stuck with Eintracht Frankfurt. No doubt they too are similarly ruing their bad luck in not being able to hold onto him. For the first time all season they’ve slipped into the bottom three thanks to Bremen beating Leverkusen 4-1 thus repeating their feat of defeating them in the quarter finals of the DFB Pokal. One fact worth mentioning about Bremen is they haven’t managed to keep a clean sheet all season, they are the only team in the Bundesliga to not have done so. This is particularly important in light of this week because were it not for an own goal by Papy Djilobodji they would have likely kept their first clean sheet of the season.
With Hoffenheim continually improving under new coach Julian Nagelsman it’s not at all difficult to picture Eintracht Frankfurt falling into 17th place and getting stuck there. As far as Bremen goes I wouldn’t dare to make any such predictions, I could see them getting stuck in the relegation battle as easily as I could see them just scraping through again.
I know some people think the Bundesliga is kind of boring, that it’s just a case of watching Bayern win yet another title. This season it’s a case of Bayern v Dortmund and then the best of the rest, Dortmund have a 15 point lead on third placed Hertha. This season it’s looked like a case of Bayern well on their way to yet another title. But this week has added a little bit of intrigue to the story. For the first time all season Bayern lost at home, losing 2-1 to Mainz. The game went as you would expect it to, Bayern completely dominating yet unable to make the most of their considerable chances. Mainz being forced to pretty much defend for close to 90 minutes on the other hand did make the most of their limited chances. Elsewhere in the league Dortmund ground out a 2-0 win away at Darmstadt, meaning the gap between them and Bayern is reduced to just five points. The final twist in the tale is that this weekend der Klassiker round two takes place with Bayern visiting Dortmund who will be looking to defend what Bayern just lost, an unbeaten home record. Dortmund unlike Bayern still remain unbeaten at home, given the 5-1 thrashing Bayern handed out in the reverse of the fixture there’s a good chance that will no longer be the case come Saturday.
I wonder who’s going to start in goal for Dortmund on Saturday, the last time round Bürki played as he’s done for every league game so far baring Thursday night. But he did not have a great game, that’s putting it mildly, it was awful in truth. It’s kind of ironic I got Roman’s sticker today, Bürki that is. Weidenfeller isn’t in this season’s album. Ironic because it’s the day after the one league game Bürki didn’t play. I also got Thomas Müller’s sticker:
Videos, post-match interviews from both Bayern and Dortmund’s games with Manuel Neuer, Robert Lewandowski, Erik Durm and Thomas Tuchel:
Pictures from Bayern’s game, first two GIFs of a very angry Manuel Neuer:
Almost there now, the Bundesliga is back and in full swing. Now all I need is for the 2.Bundesliga to resume and everything will be back to normal. Freiburg play their final pre-season friendly this Sunday, their first game back at home. They’ll be playing Amir Abrashi’s former team Grasshopper Club Zurich. It’s their final test before the league resumes and they play Bochum on the 5th February. I’m grateful they’re playing on a Friday the first week back, it’ll take a while to get used to having to get up early on the weekend again. There won’t be any time to waste in readjusting after that, Freiburg don’t play on a Friday for the next three weeks afterwards. They won’t be playing on a day which isn’t Saturday or Sunday until March when they have a midweek game right at the start of the month. By then everything really will be back to normal, more of the DFB Pokal, the Champions League and the Europa League. Not to mention the international break in March. There will be plenty of games to watch, too many in fact. But then it’s better to have too much to do than too little. One game I am really looking forward to is the clash with RB Leipzig on the 7th March. Once again the tie gets the honour of being the game of the week and thus they play on the Monday night.
Tonight the second weekend of the Rückrunde kicked off with Mainz playing host to Gladbach. Both of them were looking to bounce back from a defeat, Mainz in particular needing a win after only taking one point from their last three games. They certainly worked hard for the three points they collected tonight, keeper Karrius in particular having another excellent game. His save in the 71st minute was nothing short of outstanding, so good was it in fact that I needed to make a GIF of it:
Hopefully when Freiburg’s season resumes I can get back into a good routine in regards to sleeping patterns. Because in truth this week has been something of a disaster. Not only do I not remember a great deal of it but I’m not happy with how much I’ve gotten done either. I’m sure if I’d gotten more than one good night of sleep along the way I could have done more. I’ve had plenty of ideas story wise and I’ve made lots of notes, I just don’t feel like actually doing anything with them yet. So I’ve only gotten started on one of them, I have nine pages so far of “Hansi’s Busy Day.” Other than that my major achievement of the week is collecting all 100 steel ingots in Fallout 3. I’m also thinking about the video I’ve got planned in celebration of Jogi’s birthday next week, it’s close to completion. I’ve got about a minute left to find pictures for. The one for Hansi’s birthday is already done ironically, given his birthday is towards the end of the month.
Getting that finished is my number one priority, everything else can be dealt with afterwards. I know I should be trying to think a little more long term but it’s just not possible right now. This week getting dressed has been enough of a challenge, I’m not looking for extra ways to put pressure on myself. I’m trying not to beat myself up about the fact that I don’t think I’ve gotten out of bed before 10:00am this week. The one day I know I was up in the morning doesn’t count because I’d been up all night, so it was a question of still being up rather than getting up.
I think I may have done a little too much last week and gotten a little too excited about the return of the Bundesliga. I probably should have skipped seeing The Hateful Eight. I’m certainly paying the price for it now.
The one advantage to being too tired to do anything means I haven’t really talked to anyone. Which in theory should mean I have nothing to obsess over right now. But I do thanks to the internet and my own impulsiveness. Though I’m trying not to see if that way. Instead of focusing on it as just a mistake to obsess over I’m trying to see it as something I can learn from. Whether I did anything wrong or not I don’t know and I have no way of being sure. I have to make my peace with that. I did what I did and there’s no going back on it. Working out if I’ve done something wrong or not and just what that might be is not what I’m trying to work on. What I’m trying to work on is that sometimes the answers you seek aren’t there, sometimes you just have to let it go.
One thing I can’t stop thinking about is an article someone mentioned online, about asylum seekers being made to wear wristbands in order to receive food and being threatened with being reported to the authorities if they didn’t comply. Apparently the practice has been stopped now and the company in question has apologized. I find that of little comfort because they only did that after it was reported on in the media. If it hadn’t been brought to their attention no doubt they would have continued with the practice. Whilst the idea in itself is somewhat troublesome it’s not what I found most troubling about the whole thing. What bothered me the most is the comments I read online. It’s troublesome that many people don’t see a problem with it. Not only do some people not see a problem with visually identifying people in such a way but even suggesting they should just be grateful they’re being helped at all.
It’s troubling they can’t see how dangerous it is, that separating people out that way is never a good thing and can easily lead to other more troublesome practices. I found it disturbing personally because of another similar idea a while back in relation to disabled people. A local politician got this harebrained scheme about how disabled people, particularly those who don’t have visible disabilities should wear some kind of identification to identify them as such. When they were of course roundly criticized for it they claimed not to see the problem, claiming that it would be helpful for other people to know, like if they were in a situation they needed help and couldn’t tell people they had a disability or that they required assistance. I don’t buy their explanation, not least because what they describe already exists. I have something to serve that very purpose, it’s an autism alert card which has on it all the relevant details plus emergency contact information should it be required. The point is it’s a card I keep in my pocket, I use it when I choose to. I don’t wear it round my neck or have it pinned to my jacket for everyone else to see. Because in no world should anyone have to do that, to tell everyone they encounter about their disability or that you even have one. It’s your right whether you chose to disclose it or not, you don’t have to tell everyone you meet. Their crazy idea would take away that choice.
Not to mention it could have disastrous consequences. In a perfect world no-one would get picked or on or pushed around for any reason. Meanwhile back in the real world ideas like these wristbands and wearing identification of that sort can be a short cut to getting more attention than you’d like drawn to you. The last thing you need is another reason to stand out. I know that from personal experience at school and college. Whatever school I’ve gone to I’ve found that being associated in any way with the special needs class puts a target on your back that it’s impossible to get rid of. Personally I’m not bothered about that or ashamed of it any way, I wasn’t then and I’m not now. I really don’t care and if someone was willing to judge me on that basis then they’re not worth knowing anyway. What I do care about is getting hassled.
The other reason I can’t stop thinking about it is because of a book I just finished reading called “Ajax: The Dutch, the War.” It tells the story of Dutch football throughout WW2 and beyond, it also looks at the relationship between certain clubs, the role Antisemitism still plays in Dutch football and how political changes in Holland affect such things. One of the most interesting topics the book addresses is whether or not the Dutch were good or bad during the war. Like other countries in Europe they had a system set up to deal with collaborators and to assign appropriate punishment to those deemed to have worked with or for the Germans, particularly when they didn’t have to. One of the myths about Holland during WW2 is that they tried hard to save their Jewish population and also that the population was heavily involved with the Resistance. In actuality the Dutch were surprisingly efficient about co-operating with the Germans and their efforts to help got them a special mention by the Germans in correspondence regarding the operation. Despite the reality the myth was somehow propagated that the Dutch were good. In truth the majority of the Dutch population was not particularly good or bad. For most people life simply carried on as normal.
It’s a fascinating read and I’ve learnt a lot from it, not just about the Dutch clubs and the culture of Dutch football but about politics in Holland too. Also I learnt a few new things about WW2, particularly in relation to Denmark. I’d heard the oft repeated myth that King Christian wore the Jewish star in solidarity with the Jews. It’s a myth because the star was never imposed in Denmark. But there is a bit of truth in the myth. What actually happened was that King Christian said he would wear it in the event it was introduced. Trivia aside there was another interesting point the book made. Denmark saved the majority of it’s Jewish population, helping them escape across the Sound to neutral Sweden. And the ones they didn’t get out of the country they still helped, making sure they stayed at Theresienstadt instead of being sent to a death camp. But Danes don’t like to talk about it or make a big deal about it. The book mentions a quote from the first major book written on the subject which praises the “special character and moral stature of the Danish people.”
Unsurprisingly Danes were embarrassed by that kind of talk, it is quite over the top. What bothers me about it is the idea that saving someone makes the Danes or anyone else special for doing that. The idea that helping out a fellow human being is in some way special or remarkable. It should be normal, but I know that’s a very naive way of seeing things.
Getting back to the point, the author mentioned the Danes to make a comparison. His point is that the Dutch for years told a false story of having done all they could to help the Jews, yet the Danes did actually do it but they didn’t like to talk about it. In a way I do understand why the Dutch or anyone else would have liked to tell themselves they and their fellow countrymen did something to help. It’s certainly more palatable than the truth. To admit to yourself that you didn’t even try to do anything. From that perspective it makes sense someone might not want to be honest about the past. A review I read criticized the book for being too angry and too over-critical of the Dutch. I don’t agree with that at all, but if the author were a little angry I think it’s understandable. After all why wouldn’t someone be angry about what happened during WW2, I know it made me angry to read about policeman willingly helping German soldiers rounding up people. Not because they were threatened, not them or their families. Nor were they threatened with being sent to a camp or to work in Germany. No, the only punishment which awaited them was losing their holiday time. If that doesn’t make you angry then I think you should question why that is.
Are you a sports fan? Tell us about fandom. If you’re not, tell us why not.
Much to my mother’s disappointment I think in one way or another I was always destined to be a sports fan of some kind. I grew up around two sports mad uncles who introduced me to football and Formula 1 and there was no looking back. My mother can’t complain, I mean I have three brothers, what did she expect?
Though I have to point out she’s not complaining quite so much now. Not when she gets to spend some time watching Jogi, Hansi and Thomas Tuchel. Getting her interested in the game itself, absolutely impossible. But at least now she doesn’t have to pretend quite so much to be interested.
I’ve followed a football team before, both club and country. Germany were the first country I showed an interest in but they weren’t the only one. Not so long ago I also retained a fondness for Denmark and it has to be said still do. But I never followed a Danish league team or even considered doing so. To that I went to the Bundesliga which admittedly was not the only logical choice, after all they speak German in both Austria and Switzerland but that wasn’t going to work.
It would surprise no-one who knows me that in trying to pick a team to follow I attempted to use logic to decide. A very stupid thing to do because such things are more than about logic as the process showed me. I made a list of the German teams whose existence I was aware of. If I remember correctly Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Gladbach, VfB Stuttgart and Eintracht Frankfurt were all on the initial list. As were Paderborn. Freiburg were on there but not in the way I’d like, they were on there as more of an afterthought. In a I’ll watch them when I can kind of way, because they were a Jogi team. As it turns out they had their own ideas about that.
Which is an accusation which gets thrown my way quite a bit in real life, that I only fell in love with Freiburg because they are the home team of Joachim Löw. Such an accusation has no basis in fact because it was actually Bayern I picked first. But I quickly realised it wasn’t true love, that I wasn’t particularly upset about having to miss a game here and there. And that truth is I’m a bigger fan of Manuel Neuer than the club itself. I’m more of a reluctant fan than a true one. Bayern for me are a Hansi team. But they aren’t my team.
That honour goes to Freiburg and to them alone. I made my choice on the 22nd November 2014, that day they played Mainz and drew 2-2. It was a scenario which I’ve since become accustomed with, of them taking the lead and then throwing it away just a few minutes before time. They can be frustrating that way sometimes. The same weekend I saw Bayern defeat Hoffenheim 4-0. It was during their game that I made the decision, at some point during that game I realised I was bored. When Bayern play more often that not it doesn’t feel like a competition. It’s pointless predicting who’s going to win, it’s more like guess the score. That’s not always the case, after all last season they lost to all of their closest rivals and this season to Gladbach. But still it didn’t feel right, I could watch Bayern every week guaranteed in high definition with no problems whatsoever, same for Dortmund. Yet it wasn’t right. I’m never bored when Freiburg play, I never feel like I don’t care about the result. It’s their stadium I dream of when I daydream, it’s their fan-song that I know the tune to and am slowly learning the words to. It’s three Freiburg shirts I own, not three Bayern ones. Well I own three I can wear, I own two other very special ones. One which I bought as a lucky charm of sorts, the so called promotion shirt. And another which is just as special, it’s a match-worn shirt of former Freiburg defender Matthias Ginter:
Though Bayern are still a part of the story and I don’t mean because of Manuel Neuer. As luck would have it one of my favourite Freiburg players Nils Petersen is a former Bayern player who scored his first goal for them in a 7-0 victory over Freiburg. You just can’t make this stuff up. Truth is whether Nils Petersen had stayed or gone back to Bremen he would forever more be a legend, you don’t score a winning goal against Bayern in the 89th minute and get forgotten about. I know the victory is overshadowed by the fact they were relegated the following weekend but I can never forget the excitement of that weekend:
On the subject of videos, Manuel and Jogi, Christmas greetings from the two of them courtesy of first Sportschau and then the DFB:
To get back to how I fell in love with Freiburg that Mainz game wasn’t the first one I saw, though in a twist of fate the first I did see had the same score-line, a 2-2 draw with Hertha BSC. A little painful now given that’s where Vladimir Darida ended up. I’m happy to say that Freiburg at least won the reverse of the fixture and strangely enough Jogi was at both games. But the decision wasn’t made till the day of the Mainz game. It wasn’t a really a decision as such, more of a realisation. I mean if I were serious about being a Bayern fan how come I didn’t buy any shirts or at least some kind of fan t-shirt, I think I knew that really they weren’t for me.
Following a football team is a most curious business, equally curious is the perceptions of other people as to how and why you “chose” your team. In the first few months of being a Freiburg fan I got a lot of stick because firstly no-one had ever heard of them and secondly of course the accusation of it being part of my fascination with Jogi. So it was no surprise when they were relegated from the Bundesliga last summer that I was asked if I was going to go back to following Bayern. A question which I tried my best to answer politely. Naturally the answer was no. I wasn’t going to abandon them just because they got relegated. I know a little of their history, I know they’ve gotten relegated quite a few times, it’s a part of who they are. They can sum it up better than I can:
With two people in particular I mind I have to point out the flaw in their logic, they say I picked Freiburg because they are a Jogi team yet they frequently say that these days I like Hansi more than Jogi. That makes no sense, if I liked him more, which I have to admit some days is true, then how come I’m not a Bayern fan? The answer, I just didn’t fall in love with them. It’s not often I use those words, not in real life anyway, but I never hesitate to say that I unreservedly love Freiburg. I don’t love them any less because they got relegated or because they had to let Roman Bürki leave or because they aren’t the autumn champions as most people assumed they were going to be this year. I love them and for me that’s enough. Normally I need some kind of reason for something, I always need to make sense of it, to deconstruct it so I can know the how and the why. Not here, not with them, watching them makes me happy and that is all I need to know. I appreciate the uncomplicated nature of it, there’s not much in my life that’s uncomplicated, a fact which is sometimes my own fault I have to say. And whilst watching them is not always an easy task, whilst I sometimes have to go troublesome lengths to see them play, they are always worth it.
They are perfectly suited for me, I don’t need to explain why but I can. One of the reasons is that they are a club with a very realistic outlook. They know who they are and what they stand for. They know what is and isn’t in the realms of possibility. They know they’re not Bayern and they don’t waste any time trying to be something and someone they’re not. This can be summed up perfectly by Christian Streich’s response to a question after the 1860 game on Sunday. He was asked if he was thinking of returning to the Bundesliga the following season, he said no, that he’s thinking only of the Bochum game after the winter break, that’s tough enough.
Now that more than year’s gone by and I’m still sticking with them I find myself on the receiving end of a different kind cf comment from the football fans I know in real life. A comment to the effect of “well at least you’re not a Bayern fan.” I take it they mean at least I just didn’t jump on the bandwagon, that is I didn’t just pick the most popular or the biggest team in the league. Like I said it’s a curious business. Especially when the comment in question comes from a Liverpool fan.
One final thing I have to mention, only now do I realise how important and ironic it is that Freiburg played Mainz the day I decided. Mainz is of course the first team Thomas Tuchel coached. It’s Thomas Tuchel who is now in charge of Dortmund, it’s he who took Roman from Freiburg, a fact which I most displeased about at the time. He has another former Freiburg player in his side too, Matthias Ginter. Two facts which mean I spend as much time watching Dortmund as I do Bayern. I know you’re not mean to like both but I can’t pick between Matze and Roman on one side and Manuel, Philipp and Thomas on the other.
What I should have said was one final relevant thing to mention because there is one more thing I have to include in this post. It’s not strictly relevant to the topic of today’s daily prompt but it most definitely belongs here. A while back as a bonus question one of them asked if you kept a notebook beside your bed and if you did to note down the very first thing you thought upon waking the next morning. That night I went to bed thinking of Manuel Neuer but ended up dreaming about Sebastian Koch. Leading me to wonder what I had to do in order to dream about Manuel. Turns out the answer to that question is thinking about Hansi Flick being in Israel. That and a very late night. I finally got my dream about Manuel Neuer but I’m not sure it’s the one I wanted. A dream in which Manuel Neuer is my one true love, sounds great, what’s the catch? The catch is in the dream I had a child with him. I blame Matze for this, as sweet and fun as he is I blame him. Bringing a child into Jogi and Hansi’s story has proved a lot of fun, that I can’t deny. But now it’s creeping into my dreams, not so much. There’s no real life message for me to take from that dream. Just a reminder to finish Matze’s Christmas adventure. If there is one thing I’m sure about it’s that children are not part of my own adventure.