Never Mind The Ballacks

  • Mönchen-glad-to-be-back

    There is a sketch in the British comedy programme 'The Fast Show' where a 'sports journalist' reads out the football results in which the team 'Borussia Munchen Munchen Munchen Munchen Munchen Glad to be Bach' secure a goalless draw.

    Cue big laughs all round. The comedy rendering of Mönchengladbach's name aside, for much of last season the idea of 'Gladbach keeping a clean sheet was equally hilarious. No-one is laughing now with last season's cannon fodder potential league leaders ahead of Friday's game with Wolfsburg.

    The reason is the club's Hollywood-ian renaissance under Lucien Favre.

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  • Gloves and gaffes

    There is a touching scene at the end of every ice hockey game when the goalie is congratulated by all his team-mates, regardless of the result. 'Rightly so,' you might say, 'the man's just spent 60 minutes having a piece of vulcanised rubber lashed towards him at frighteningly high speeds.'

    Football goalkeepers get no such solidarity, despite the flights of fancy of the modern-day football making them look foolish at times.

    Manuel Neuer couldn't blame the flight of the ball for the goal he conceded on his Bayern debut, but certainly didn't need Philipp Lahm to say: "When he comes out, he has

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  • Bayern go on the defensive

    It may be one of the oldest adages in football, but new Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes isn't afraid to make it his rallying cry for the new season.

    "Attack wins you games, defence championships," the veteran said ahead of the new Bundesliga season. Indeed, Bayern's defense will probably decide the destination of this season's title.

    While Borussia Dortmund were running away with the league last time out, Bayern had a miserable time, suffering their worst ever start to a season and firing coach Louis van Gaal after a series of public slanging matches. Only a superb finish secured them third

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  • Bundesliga end of season gongs

    The Eurovision Song Contest brought Düsseldorf if not the entire continent to a standstill last weekend. The Bundesliga Blog Gongs may not quite hold the same lustre and definitely boast significantly less lycra, but with all the impartiality of an Olympic figure skating judge, we have unilaterally decided to hand out some silverware of our own.

    The Golden Boomerang for Best Comeback

    Frozen out at Hannover at the season's start, contender Jan Schlaudraff came in from the cold and, er, thawed out nicely, to stretch the metaphor to breaking point. He doesn't win it though, nor does another

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  • Which firemen will douse the flames of relegation?

    When spring is in
    the air, struggling Bundesliga clubs have a habit of calling on Die
    Feuerwehrmänner - 'firemen' coaches hired to stave off the catastrophe that is
    relegation to the second division.

    The season ends
    this weekend and three firemen are in the spotlight: Christoph Daum of
    Eintracht Frankfurt, Borussia Monchengladbach's Swiss coach Lucien Favre and
    Felix Magath (pictured) of Wolfsburg.

    Come Saturday
    night, one will be a hero, one a villain and one left biting his nails for
    another 10 days to come.

    The three clubs
    had high hopes for this season so it's a surprise to see them all in

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  • Out of the frying pan, into the fire?

    Dortmund proved last weekend that their catering corps is among the Bundesliga's best, but the question remains whether the club's chefs - and Jürgen Klopp's title-winning players - can make the step up to mix it with the créme de la créme of Europe next season.

    The press food at the Westfalenstadion is staple German fare, including top-rate Currywurst. While not quite as good as that dished up at Bayern Munich and - reportedly - Leverkusen, it is vastly superior to that of Werder Bremen. The northerners do edge out their Ruhr Valley rivals in terms of pastries and coffee, you'll no doubt be

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  • Hannover take aim at Bayern bullies

    It's hardly a fair fight, but the battle between Hannover 96 and Bayern Munich for a Champions League place is full of suspense, surprise and no little controversy.

    Rarely has a third-placed Bundesliga finish carried so much interest.

    Despite their weekend wobble at Borussia Monchengladbach, Borussia Dortmund surely have too many points in the bag to be denied the title.

    Leverkusen look a shoo-in for second, but the race for third - which offers a place in the qualifying round of the Champions League - is up for grabs.

    The fact that little Hannover are one point ahead of the mighty Bayern with

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  • Local rivals set to Ruhr star exits

    Ruhr rivals Borussia Dortmund and Schalke are in line for glory this season but both are set to lose their most important player.

    Bundesliga champions elect Dortmund are being forced into selling gifted playmaker Nuri Sahin, while Schalke goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, another local boy made good, said this week that he wants to leave the Champions League semi-finalists.

    Dortmund's 3-0 win over Freiburg on Sunday virtually wrapped up the Bundesliga title but much of the focus was not on the pitch but on the legendary South Terrace.

    Not for the first time, Borussia fans unfurled giant banners

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  • Controversial keepers kick up a stink

    Controversial German goalkeepers are nothing new but never has their notoriety been so great, with Thomas Kraft, Jens Lehmann and Co. making waves in the pressroom, the boardroom, the courtroom - and even the psychologists' couch.

    During a typically busy week of managerial changes (just the three Bundesliga clubs this time) goalkeepers have been at the forefront.

    No more so than at Bayern Munich, who sacked coach Louis van Gaal with immediate effect after a frustrating 1-1 draw at Nuremberg. Bayern, desperate for points to reach the Champions League next season, were cruising to victory

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  • The Crazy World of Schalke 04

    Any doubts that Schalke are the most curious football club in Europe were laid to rest after the Royal Blues' jaw-dropping 5-2 win at Inter.

    Schalke's bizarre week began when their relegation six-pointer at St. Pauli was abandoned after the referee was whacked on the head by a beer mug thrown by home fans. The team travelled to Milan, where they humiliated the European champions, in the process setting a set a record for goals scored by a German team in Italy. And in a delicious irony, they complete a frantic eight days this weekend by playing the team led by the nightmarishly unpopular coach

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