With the domestic season drawing to a close it seems like a good time to finally get around to opening the two Germany albums I got last year. especially seeing as how I don’t have my hardback copy of the Euro 2016 album yet. The main selling points of these two is that there’s Jogi stickers and a few Hansi ones. Though annoyingly Hansi doesn’t get a page to himself, in the 2010 album he shares a page with Andreas and Oliver. In the 2012 edition they dispensed with this completely, there’s just one page for Jogi, though Hansi is in some of the stickers. One other thing which displeased me was the fact I got both of Hansi’s stickers before I even started, they were inside the album. I would have liked to find them in the packets myself. I know it’s not the first time I’ve seen the stickers, I have a copy already which is signed by Hansi but it still would have been nice.
Pictures of both albums and my favourite stickers so far, the stickers are in the order I found them, they aren’t ordered by who I like the most:
On Sunday Freiburg confirmed their return to the Bundesliga winning their fourth 2.Bundesliga title. But before that came the penultimate weekend of the Bundesliga. Bayern’s hunt for the title has some parallels with Freiburg’s campaign, for one thing it’s their fourth title in a row. For another they both got to confirm their title whilst playing against a neighboring club, Freiburg playing host to Heidenheim and Bayern visiting their newly promoted southern neighbours Ingolstadt. Interestingly enough their manager Ralph Hasenhüttl will be taking over as head coach at RB Leipzig next season in their first ever season in the top flight. The one difference however between Freiburg and Bayern’s quest is that they didn’t get to officially celebrate last weekend, well they did celebrate but they don’t have their trophy yet. The reason being in theory at least Dortmund could have snatched the title from them. That however is not possible after their surprise 1-0 loss to Eintracht Frankfurt. I always intended to watch Bayern’s last game of the season live and now I most definitely will. It will be a lot of fun, getting to watch Bayern celebrate their title win as H96 officially get relegated.
Random Freiburg fact I have to mention, the first time they were promoted to the Bundesliga was 1993. Promoted alongside them was a team named VfB Leipzig. Also one of the teams relegated from the second tier that year was Darmstadt who are now in the top flight after 33 years in the lower tiers of German football.
Getting back to Bayern and their game Ingolstadt were no pushovers for the champions elect. Bayern took the lead after just fifteen minutes through a Robert Lewandowksi penalty. Ingolstadt however had plenty of fight in them and in fact they almost equalised just two minutes before Bayern scored their second goal. Strangely enough Ingolstadt did get a goal, through a penalty in the 42nd minute. Despite all the goals coming in the first half the second was still more than watchable. Ingolstadt haven’t always been the most watchable of sides this season but this was a most entertaining game, it’s easy to see why they’ve never been in any real danger of getting stuck in the relegation battle this season, unlike Darmstadt who were promoted alongside them last year. They didn’t defend perfectly however, it could have been three or four nil for Bayern but they had a little bit of luck, that and Douglas Costa took far too long and made everything more complicated than it needed to be.
Elsewhere in the Bundesliga there was nothing complicated about Eintracht Frankfurt’s surprise 1-0 victory over Dortmund, they scored early on and spent the rest of the game successfully holding Dortmund at bay. Their victory did not come about without a bit of luck however, in the first half Mats Hummels wrongly having his goal deemed as offside. I wanted Frankfurt to win this one, I know normally I’m rooting for Dortmund but I was willing to make an exception for this one game. Especially seeing as how Dortmund’s dream of snatching the title from Bayern was always just that, whereas survival for Frankfurt is a very real possibility. And I would most like Freiburg to be visiting the Commerzbank Arena next season and for Niko Kovac to still be in charge, not forgetting Lukas Hradecky in goal of course. The other result of interest to me was Stuttgart losing 3-1 to Mainz, that is a result I wanted to see and I thought they would lose too. Yet I feel sort of bad about it which is very strange, especially considering who I feel bad for. The person in question being Kevin Groβkreutz who got very emotional after the game. I’m no fan of him so it was a huge surprise to me that I felt somewhat sorry for him. That loss however is fantastic news for both Werder Bremen and Eintracht Frankfurt. It also means nothing less than a win can save Stuttgart on Saturday, they have to beat Wolfsburg or they’re relegated. They escaped the same fate on the final day of last season against Paderborn, repeating that feat against Wolfsburg is a whole other story. Eintract Frankfurt play Werder Bremen. A win for Bremen would see Frankfurt in the play-off place, whereas a draw would see them stay as they are. That’s not a result I’d like to bet on and not just because I’m fond of both sides. I really have no idea who’s going to win. The only thing I’m certain of is that the final day of the season will be no less nail-biting than it was last year. Freiburg aren’t involved but I still have a horse in the race so to speak.
Pictures from Bayern’s game:
Business as usual is the phrase which sums up not just the cup this season but the league too. Bayern dominating as usual, Dortmund well on their way to getting back to their best and nowhere is that more obvious than in the cup. Once more it’s the very familiar scenario of Bayern v Dortmund, going head to head in Berlin. The stage is set for either Pep Guardiola to win the treble with Bayern before departing for Man City or for Thomas Tuchel to win his first ever trophy, not just in charge of Dortmund but his first trophy ever with a senior team. I guess I’m a little disappointed, I didn’t care so much about Hertha not getting to the final but I wouldn’t have minded seeing Bremen get there. Even though it would have meant Bayern not reaching the final for a second year in a row. Semi-finals are always a bit of a let down, sort of a crash landing back to reality. For one thing it’s a reminder that the season is almost over and whilst there’s one very good reason to wish this season to end sooner, namely Freiburg getting promoted at the same time I feel like I don’t want it to ever end. As much as I want to see Freiburg getting promoted (and they are well on course for that to happen) part of me wishes I could just skip the summer and go right to the start of next season.
Bremen can at least be relatively satisfied with their performance against Bayern, after all they only lost 2-0 and the score was only that because of the penalty. Bremen conceding was more of an inevitably than anything else, they are the only team in the Bundesliga to have not kept a clean sheet all season. Still they came to Munich ready to fight and they did so, they were no pushovers for Bayern. The most amusing moment of the night was when Neuer almost gifted them a goal. He came out to meet a back-pass and it didn’t go quite as planned, but he got back on his line in time to catch the resulting shot whilst barely breaking a sweat. He certainly didn’t look panicked but then I’m not sure he ever does. Dortmund had it easier against Hertha, beating them 3-0, a score-line which most likely flatters them a little. My highlight of the evening was taken away before the game even started because former Freiburg player Vladimir Darida wasn’t in the squad. I thought it was kind of neat, two former Freiburg players on either side, Roman Bürki for Dortmund and Darida for Hertha. Three if you count Matze Ginter of course, but I was just counting those who were there last season. On the subject of Matze Ginter he was on the bench, so I didn’t take pictures from Dortmund’s game, choosing to do so from Bayern’s instead. But I did at least get two new Jogi videos so I’m not complaining too much.
Sometimes after midweek games the weekend which follows can be a little slow, lacking in both goals and excitement. That wasn’t the case the weekend just gone, though ironically there were no goals in the biggest game of all. But then it didn’t need any, what it lacked in goals it more than made up for in terms of excitement. In one way it’s a good thing there were no goals because if there had been no matter who the goalscorer was it could not have bettered Pizarro’s goal against H96.
As for the other games on Saturday in total they racked up 26 goals with three high scoring games. Stuttgart’s 5-1 defeat of local rivals Hoffenheim, Bremen beating H96 4-1 and finally Leverkusen drawing 3-3 with Augsburg but only thanks to a last minute penalty. The Stuttgart game is interesting because the last time they scored five goals in a game was also against Hoffenheim, back in 2013 when they beat them 6-2. In charge of Stuttgart at the time was none other than Thomas Schneider. Bremen’s game was special and not just because they totally destroyed H96 which naturally I found most enjoyable. The main reason for it being special is Claudio Pizarro scoring his 100th goal for Bremen, because being the Bundesliga’s oldest scorer of a hat-trick at the age of 37 just wasn’t enough. Not only that but he’s the top scorer of the Rückrunde so far, having scored eleven goals. The only other draw of the weekend was Eintracht Frankfurt’s 1-1 draw with Ingolstadt, a result which turned not to be enough to save Armin Veh’s job. No big surprise there, with seven games without a win and the fans having turned against him weeks ago it seemed all but inevitable.
Getting back to Dortmund the result of their game was anything but inevitable. I knew only two things for certain going into this game, that it wouldn’t end up quite as one sided as last time and it wasn’t going to disappoint. After the quarter finals of the DFB Pokal I was musing whether or not it would be good to see someone else in the final this year, a nice change from the Dortmund-Bayern match-up. I’ve changed my mind on that, I want them to go head to head once more. It’s tricky because I’d love for Bremen to get there too, but I think seeing a replay of this game especially seeing as it’s Guardiola’s last season at Bayern would be epic.
To be honest I wasn’t so concerned with the result as I was Roman Bürki not embarrassing himself like he did in the reverse of the fixture. He had a much better game this time round though he still had a few shaky moments in the opening minutes of the game, making two mistakes just a minute apart. I’ve seen the game twice and yet all that’s sticking in my head is not just Bürki’s mistakes but also the two great saves he made, one denying Costa the chance to score and secondly Vidal. The second one in particular goes some way to making up for the goal he almost gifted Müller in the first half. There is one non-goalkeeper moment I remember and that’s Erik Durm’s nice little turn and subsequent shot on goal in the 18th minute. Had that been a goal it would have been incredible, he scored midweek against Darmstadt but scoring against Bayern would have been a whole other world:
Obviously there were other important moments in the game but in the excitement the rest is forgotten and to be honest overshadowed somewhat by Freiburg’s victory over RB Leipzig on Monday night. No matter how great Dortmund’s game was nothing compares to that, not even getting the half-time interview with Jogi. What I lack in words I can more than make up for in terms of videos and pictures, getting nine videos from this week’s game:
I may be playing catch up in other regards but not in the case of this season’s new Bundesliga album.This time round I’ve gotten it not long after it was released. It’s a lot less fun knowing Freiburg aren’t in there but doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy it. Though I can’t help feel this collection is doomed from the start. The reason being my limited edition Thomas Müller sticker was not in the starter pack as promised, neither were the customary four packets of stickers. Given the way the packet was ripped open it’s obvious someone somewhere along the line helped themselves to Thomas and the others. Stupid limited edition stickers, I’ll have to get all of them online because they only come with certain German magazines.
Other than that and Freiburg only getting two stickers, the badge and kits I quite like this season’s album. I’d like it a lot more if they had a picture or a sticker for the coaches. That’s weird, Topps make the Premier League album too and that has a picture of the coach yet the Bundesliga one doesn’t. One feature I do like is the section for the all time top goal scorers and players who’ve played the most games. There’s a downside to that however, because if Freiburg hadn’t gotten relegated Jogi would be on there. The other positive about the album is each team has four pages instead of two meaning there’s more stickers to collect, 439 this season instead of 300. The major source of frustration is that I’m still waiting for a Freiburg sticker of Nils Petersen. Last season I had to make do with his Bremen one, this season I have nothing. At least I will have one of striker Florian Niederlechner because despite him being loaned out to Freiburg he’s included on Mainz’s page. Plus there is of course Roman Bürki’s Dortmund, not to mention Matze’s. Neither of which I have yet. This isn’t something I like, more I’m amused by it. Freiburg share their page with FSV Frankfurt, Vincenzo Grifo’s former team.
In my first few packets I got Köln’s badge, Andre Schürrle, Aytac Sulu, Arminia Bielefeld’s kits, Philipp Lahm and Lukas Hradecky. Köln is of course a Hansi team. As for why Andre Schürrle’s so special to warrant a mention, I just thought it was funny to get his sticker a few days after his hat-trick against H96. To make it even funnier I got both their team stickers. Bielefeld is of course who Freiburg defeated 4-1 yesterday afternoon. And Philipp Lahm needs no introduction, Hradecky is on the notables list simply for being a good keeper. And Sulu just for being very likeable.
Seeing as how I’ve not been able to properly get started on my winter soldier story I thought I’d have a sticker day instead. I finally got round to sorting out my stack of Champions League stickers in which Manuel Neuer was lurking and to open some World Cup 2010 ones. But the best of the lot came in the last of the Deutschland sammelt Deutschland packets. I finally have number 200, Joachim Löw’s sticker. I was worried I’d never get it, down to the last sixteen packets and he was in the ninth of the ten I opened:
Opening and sorting those stickers is only one of two constructive things I’ve done today. As well as this I wrote three new Matze pages, it’s proving to be slow going. As it turns out fictional three year olds are almost as much work as real ones. Of course it would have been difficult to get anything else done seeing as I’ve only just gotten up. But I’m not despairing over that, today and tomorrow aren’t so important. Thursday is the big day this week when Dortmund play Porto in the Europa League, the first knockout stage. I love the symmetry of sorts there. Dortmund are playing Porto who got knocked out by Bayern in last season’s Champions League and Bayern are playing Juventus who knocked out Dortmund last season. Even when Bayern and Dortmund aren’t in the same competition they’re connected somehow. I was disappointed when I realised Bayern weren’t playing this week but now I’m not. Because they’re playing next week, on the 23rd which is perfect because it’s the day before Hansi’s birthday. Who knows I might get a story out of it. As for getting good night’s sleep this is just a glitch, I’m not reverting back to a vampire schedule. I want to but I’m not going to let that happen. Nor am I obsessing over the meaning of it all. Instead I’m focused on something quite different, a figurine I came across of Bucky. I badly want it but I don’t know if I should allow myself to spend so much money on something which I won’t actually get any use out of. Making my decision all the harder is the fact I have another figurine made by the same company of Hans Landa, and it is awesome. So I know it would be worth the money in terms of how great it will look. I’ll probably end up getting it if I can get the money together in time. I couldn’t resist the Landa one after all.
There was plenty of excitement in the second set of games but ultimately no real surprises. Joining Bayern and Bremen in the next round are Bayern and Hertha BSC. Bayern for their part I’m pleased to say beat Bochum 3-0. Though it was by no means an easy game for them with Bochum getting off to a much better start and getting their first opportunity in just the seventh minute but Terrode put it wide. Lucky too since Neuer watched it sail past the post. Had it been on Terrode’s other foot he may have been in trouble. After taking a little while to get going Bayern eventually took the lead in the 38th minute through Robert Lewandowksi. But there was plenty more drama to come with Arjen Robben being brought down in the box just a few minutes later. Bochum were down to ten men and Bayern had a penalty, at this point you would think they had the game all wrapped up. But no, Thomas Müller’s penalty was saved and Bayern were left waiting until the 61st minute to double their lead. Bochum for their part battled hard considering they were down a man and still had a few more chances. The game was finally put to bed right before the final whistle with Lewandowski getting his second of the night.
Hertha BSC and former Freiburger Vladimir Darida triumphed over 2.B side 1.FC Heidenheim. They didn’t have it easy either, going 1-0 down after just ten minutes. They managed to equalise just four minutes later , with Ibisevic doubling their lead five minutes later. Hertha were in control by that point and had no trouble in adding to their tally in the second half. Though they conceded a penalty just eight minutes from time which could have resulted in a very interesting end to the evening’s events but it wasn’t to be.
So there’s no lower league teams left this year. It’s the top three of the Bundesliga with Bayern, Dortmund and Hertha. And coming up the rear in 16th place Bremen. Hertha will face Dortmund and after their 0-0 draw with them last weekend they’ll certainly be seeing this as a game they can win. It wouldn’t be completely unthinkable for Bremen to beat Bayern either, extremely unlikely but certainly not impossible. Their clash is made all the more interesting by Claudio Pizarro playing for Bremen again, he’s won the competition six times, five times with Bayern and once with Bremen. The games are to be played on the 20th and 21st of April. Dortmund and Bremen is the final I’d like to see. It would be Thomas Tuchel’s first DFB Pokal final were that to happen.
Yesterday it was Thomas Tuchel who provided the night’s amusing moment, today it’s Manuel Neuer. Not once but twice. First him doing his usual thing and living up to his nickname of the ever wandering Neuer. The second moment was him doing something else which is by now familiar but that never stops being funny, him running to find someone to celebrate with:
Full match of Bochum v Bayern, including the pre-match and post-match:
Full match of Heidenheim v Hertha:
Robert Lewandowski interview:
Manuel Neuer interview:
1.FC Heidenheim v Hertha BSC highlights:
Pictures from Bayern’s game: