In a new series on our favourite teams, Ben Sibley fondly recalls the Bundesliga-winning Wolfsburg side of 2008-09…
Published in 2008, page 88 of the fifth edition of Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting states that “A fire naturally occurs when the elements [heat, fuel and oxygen] are present and combined in the right mixture”.
In August of the same year, Zvjezdan Misimović joined fellow Bosnian Edin Džeko and the Brazilian Grafite at Wolfsburg – managed by Felix Magath. Magath, shocked by the decision of Wolfsburg’s outrageously-talented but homesick Marcelinho to return to Brazil, believed Misimović was the ideal replacement – he was signed for just under £4m and tied down to a four-year deal.
Misimović was a wonderfully gifted attacking midfielder and had enjoyed an eye-catching 07/08 season in a Nurnberg team that lost half of its league games and couldn’t escape relegation to 2. Bundesliga. He had the technique that ensured his vision and reading of the game was utilised regularly and ruthlessly. All he needed was a player on a similar wavelength – he ended up with two. Continue reading →
In his first piece for The False Nine, Arsenal fan Chris Lockie fears the spectre of the returning loan player…
There’s a moment in every ropey action movie when the bad guy, thinking he has the hero over a barrel, suddenly twigs that it’s all about to go sideways. The hero produces an unlikely trigger device from nowhere, hastily added to the script by studio executives demanding sequels, and the villain’s facial expression changes from smugness to panic as realisation dawns. Worst thing is he’d just told the hero his evil masterplan. Really must stop doing tha- booooooooom.
That changing facial expression is well known to any football fan whose club makes hearty use of the loan system. One minute you can be happily Googling ex-players and chuckling at the footballing backwaters they now prowl, only to spy on Wikipedia the dreaded words ‘on loan from’. Cue the immediate switch from triumph to alarm as you realise there’s a chance your former centre back who coughed up a goal per game to the opposition with his trademark lunge may actually be coming back to terrorise your subs bench. Continue reading →
Last season ended on a bitter-sweet note for Borussia Dortmund, with the near-glory of a memorable, all-German Champions League final and the loss of Mario Götze. Scott Jenkins takes a look at how Jürgen Klopp is moving on to face the new challenge of Pep Guardiola’s reign at the Allianz Arena this year…
Tuesday 23rd April is a date that will live long in the minds of Dortmund fans. Just one day before the club’s Champions League semi-final clash with Real Madrid, Mario Götze announced that he would be moving to the club’s Bundesliga rivals Bayern Munich for €37million at the end of the season.
Media outlets across the globe questioned whether Borussia would be able to focus on the fixture and how the impact of Götze’s impending departure would affect the squad. Pundits predicted Jürgen Klopp’s men would be put to the sword, rattled by the departure, with Madrid not only boasting the phenomenal Cristiano Ronaldo but the self-styled “The Special One” managing from the sidelines. If any coach was able to take advantage of such a scenario and twist the knife, it was Jose Mourinho.
The news of Götze’s defection cut the normally enigmatic Borussia Dortmund manager, Klopp deep. Losing perhaps your best player, a potential world beater developed from the club’s own academy no less, would have hurt any coach, especially one so committed to nurturing and entrusting young talent as the former Mainz defender. Klopp later admitted in an interview with The Guardian that the loss felt like a heart attack, causing him to cancel the public events he had planned for that evening as he had been rendered speechless.
However, if anything the news that Dortmund would be losing their wonderkid to the all-dominant Munich monopoly galvanised Die Schwarzgelben, instilling a now-or-never sense of destiny to their European campaign. Though they had been written off against the reigning La Liga champion, 90 minutes later the scoreboard told a different story: “Borussia Dortmund 4 -1 Real Madrid”. Continue reading →
Germany’s top division is the league of the moment, hailed as an emerging power by the great and the good of the European game. While others lose themselves to the hype, Scott Jenkins takes a step back to reassess the recent plaudits and ask what took everyone so long?
Before we start on this journey, I want you to cast your minds back to a time before Gareth Bale won both the Player Of The Year and the Young Player Of The Year awards. A time before QPR and Reading had been relegated and long before Sky Sports News had reached fever point over Arsenal’s prospective guard of honour (did anyone other than them actually care?). Instead I want you to return to last Thursday…
It’s the morning after the nights before. Those nights in question are of course Tuesday 23rd April where Bayern Munich (München to any German readers) destroyed Barcelona 4-0 and Wednesday 24th April when we all witnessed Borussia Dortmund’s 4-1 triumph over Real Madrid. Two Champions League Semi Final first legs, one aggregate score reading “Germany 8-1 Spain” and football’s biggest superstars left dejected, facing their greatest adversity of the season at its worst possible time. Continue reading →
It’s the football transfer that has shocked the world. Paddy Spicer Ward laments the departure of Mario Götze to FC Hollywood…
I have become somewhat disillusioned by the world of modern football. I am referring to the announcement that Mario Götze is to leave Borussia Dortmund this summer and join Bundesliga rivals Bayern Munich.
The move by Munich to trigger Götze’s minimum fee release clause of €37m will make him the most expensive German footballer ever. I am however really trying to find a logical reason for Götze to want to leave Dortmund, that isn’t motivated my money. I can’t find one, and this has started to trouble me. Continue reading →
No contenders please, we’re English. James Dutton looks at a Champions League quarter-final lineup harking back to its halcyon days…
The bell tolls. Last orders gents.
There has been something of an overreaction to the lack of English teams remaining in this season’s Champions League. Of course this is the first time since 1995-6 that there has been no English representation at this stage. Blackburn Rovers were the sole flag bearer then and endured a miserable experience. Until Manchester City’s woeful performance this season, it was the worst English campaign in Champions League history.
Though it is significant that this is the first time since the expansion of 1999-2000 that any number of English entrants have failed to progress beyond the Last 16, that ship sailed long ago for the other top European leagues. La Liga in 2005, Serie A in 2001, 2002 and 2009 and the Bundesliga in 2003, 2004 and 2006.
Many have been ready and willing to proclaim the respective deaths of Italian and German football since the turn of the millennium but neither prediction has come to pass. Boom and bust is part and parcel of the sport. Continue reading →
David Wild takes issue with the idea that the Premier League is in decline…
The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated – Mark Twain
The First knockout rounds of the Champions League draw to a close this week. It is widely expected that for the first time since 1995-96 there will be no English team in these quarter finals. Combine this with what some domestic observers see as a steady decline in league quality over the past three years and we perhaps should begin to fear for the health and future of the English Premier League.
This season in particular is one where performers like Brad Guzan are praised for their top tier class, despite conceding 49 goals in 26 league games. The decline of the Premier League can perhaps most strikingly be found in the defensive statistics. Continue reading →