Never Mind The Ballacks

  • Dortmund, Mainz come back from the dead

    Back in September 2010 Mainz and Borussia Dortmund were setting the new Bundesliga season alight. Their young teams were displaying an attacking brand of football that was bringing in wins galore and plaudits from around Europe.

    These two very different clubs, both led by youthful coaches, started the last campaign in stunning style: tiny Mainz (who finished the season in fifth place) equalled a Bundesliga record by winning their first seven matches, while sleeping giants Borussia Dortmund won six straight before running away with the title.

    This season's start wasn't so pretty: both teams

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  • Stuttgart enjoying Labbadia love affair

    It is not
    all that surprising that in a city renowned for the chic of the cars it
    produces that its football team should have a coach equally nattily turned out.

    Bruno Labbadia's
    sartorial elegance means he always looks as if he has just stepped off the
    pages of a catalogue. Looks can, of course, be deceptive, but it seems the
    Labbadia style suits Stuttgart down to the ground.

    While his
    image as a heartthrob for middle-aged German housewives has remained intact,
    the dapper 45-year-old's reputation as an up-and-coming coach was in need of
    something more than an injection of Botox to revive it

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  • The Death of the Dinosaur?

    Click on the official Hamburg website, and a clock proudly counts the time, right down to the second, that 'the Dinosaur' has been in the Bundesliga.

    But the only team never to have been relegated from the German top tier is in danger of seeing its record, like the extinct animals it is associated with, consigned to history.

    It's only early in the season - I know - but like Mark Knopfler, Hamburg are in dire straits. "I'm stunned, more or less speechless," said Sergej Barbarez, an HSV legend and former boardroom mover-and-shaker. "They're bringing tears to my eyes. At the moment, I'm seriously

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  • Lahm to the Slaughter

    Germany is mourning the death of its greatest ever comedian.

    Bernhard Victor Christoph Carl von Bülow (thankfully, better known as Loriot) died last week aged 87, having been credited as the man who taught Germans how to laugh at themselves.

    That's a quality national team captain Philipp Lahm and coach Joachim Loew could use right now.

    In one of Loriot's most famous sketches, two strangers find themselves in the same hotel bath, having apparently wandered into the wrong room by complete accident.

    "I don't wish to appear rude, but I would really like to be alone," says one of the men. "Would

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  • Magath oversteps the mark

    Even when under pressure, coaches are loath to criticise their players in public.

    Players are under enough scrutiny from media and fans, so the thinking goes, that added pressure from the boss is counterproductive or even harmful.

    German football was made cruelly aware of the vulnerabilities of top footballers two years ago, when national goalkeeper Robert Enke of Hannover committed suicide after suffering from depression.

    So alarm bells rang earlier this week when Hannover's current second choice keeper Markus Miller announced that he was mentally ''exhausted'' and would be checking

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  • The buying game

    Decisions in the transfer market can make or quite literally break clubs, and in the first game since the close of the window, Bundesliga fans got a look at some of the new faces who will cause them either untold joy or misery in the coming months.

    As ever, Felix Magath was the man who racked up the biggest credit card bill with 12 in and a symmetrical 12 out at Wolfsburg. His most recent purchase, Rasmus Jonsson, looked good value for money on his debut as Wolfsburg used the stick-like Swede - "He could eat a bit more," according to Magath - to beat Schalke.

    The visitors, too, did their bit

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  • Return of the ‘Judas’

    Enraged Schalke supporters who gathered outside the players' entrance before Sunday's match against Bayern Munich were in for a shock.

    The blue-and-white clad army arrived early to let their former hero Manuel Neuer, now of Bayern, know exactly what they thought of him - but were instead diverted by a procession of Star Wars characters promoting a new DVD.

    Their presence dampened a decidedly nasty atmosphere (a photo op with Darth Vader can do wonders for crowd control). And it helps that from the outside, the Veltins Arena looks more like an unappealing shopping mall than a football stadium.

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  • Breno case clouds Bayern success

    Bayern Munich were probably
    the most impressive team in the Champions League this week but as any pessimist
    will tell you, every silver lining has a cloud, or in the Bavarians' case a
    roaring fire.

    Bayern outplayed Premier
    League moneybags Manchester
    City, their 2-0 win a
    just reward for an outstanding display at the stadium that will host this
    season's final.

    In England, the result was
    overshadowed by Carlos Tevez's one-man strike, but Bayern fans were aghast this
    week after defender Breno was held in police custody, accused of burning down
    his own house.

    The Brazilian defender, who

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  • Bayern’s budget winner

    Believe Uli Hoeness, and Bayern's last three coaches are a little like the good, the bad and the ugly of German football.

    Like any club president, Hoeness keeps a close eye on finances and this week he revealed how the good, Jupp Heynckes, is keeping down costs.

    "He has a flip chart with five marker pens, which cost €2.50 each. He draws the opponent's formation on the chart and says a few things about it,'' Hoeness explained to regional newspaper Donaukurier.

    Far from their image, Bayern are in fact racking up points on a shoestring budget. ''We are winning games with Heynckes for €12.50,''

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  • Why can’t Matthaeus get a job?

    One of the great maxims of football is that great players don't
    necessarily make great coaches and Lothar Matthaeus seems to be doing his level
    best to prove it.

    It's been another ignominious week for the legendary player: after a
    painstaking analysis of ''70 coaches,'' Hamburg named Matthaeus's former Bayern
    underling Thorsten Fink as their new boss.
    Coaching a great Bundesliga club like Hamburg has long been a dream for Matthaeus,
    but Hamburg Chief Executive Carl-Edgar Jarchow laughed off
    suggestions that the former German national captain had been a member of the
    not-so-exclusive club of

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