Never Mind The Ballacks

  • Hard-up Hannover teaching big boys a lesson

    Hannover and Schalke meet this weekend with one club cosseted comfortably in second place while the other is looking nervously over their shoulders with a six-point gap between themselves and the bottom three.

    The scenario is most likely the one you would have expected at the start of the season, but there's just one small glitch - the teams are the other way round. While Schalke have struggled Hannover - incredibly - have soared. The trauma of last season, Robert Enke's suicide and their desperately near brush with the drop, now seem a lifetime away.

    Working with largely the same squad as

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  • Bundesliga bickering disrupts Christmas calm

    The Bundesliga's Christmas break has come to an end but there has been no peace, and precious little goodwill, since the holiday began.

    One long-serving coach jumped ship after a player was sold behind his back, while another was given the thinnest vote of confidence. The boss of Germany's biggest team unleashed the wrath of Franz Beckenbauer. One foreign player didn't take kindly to losing his captain's armband and another went on a one-man strike.

    It was a very unhappy Christmas at Hoffenheim, a club often held up as one of the best-managed clubs in Germany.

    Having a billionaire owner

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  • The numbers game… makes Dortmund champions

    A German mathematician has worked out that there is 87 per cent probability that runaway league leaders Dortmund will be Bundesliga champions. But what about that pesky other 13 per cent?

    It's true that there are lies, damn lies and statistics, but coaches and players often say that the table doesn't lie - and a quick glance at the Bundesliga suggests Andreas Heuer, the brains behind the mathematical prediction, is hardly sticking his neck out.

    The usual likelihood a Herbstmeister goes on to win the league is - so Heuer tells us - around 55 per cent.

    "Dortmund are almost unbeatable at the

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  • Cologne robbed twice in Rhein derby

    Football merchandising has become a key part of the game, but it seems Leverkusen are not about to open their own luxury boutique if Jupp Heynckes has anything to do with it.

    "When we got to 3-1, we tried to shut up shop. I don't often see that from my team," said an astonished Heynckes, whose players - ironically - appeared to have adopted an open-all-hours approach in their Rhein derby with Cologne. "We're going to have to talk about it."

    The former Borussia Monchengladbach forward was clearly aghast any team of his should do something close to resembling defending, though he needn't have

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  • Schalke: Let the fear begin

    Runners-up last season, Schalke were hotly-tipped to bring a first Bundesliga title back to Gelsenkirchen, but after a calamitous first 14 games of the season, Die Knappen - the miners - have dug themselves into a very big hole indeed.

    Predictions that Felix Magath's men would be among the Bundesliga's bottom-feeders with Santa Claus warming up his sleigh would have seen those holding such views whisked off to a secure environment. However, with Schalke currently 15th, a point above the bottom three, ahead of this weekend's encounter with Bayern, all Magath wants for Christmas is nine points

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  • Buy, Buy, Bayern?

    Bayern Munich are in all kinds of trouble on and off the pitch, but is buying new players the solution?

    "We talked at the hotel, and it was love at first sight."

    Louis van Gaal's candid admission this week did not reveal anything about the Dutch coach's private life. But it did speak volumes about his relations with Bayern's best players who, it seems, he is doing his level best to disenchant.

    Sarcasm has long been one of van Gaal's best-loved tactics, but his decidedly unromantic chat with Franck Ribery in a Bavarian hotel was a risky move.

    It came after a friendly against Unterhaching, set

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  • Storm clouds surround McClaren

    England fans might find it fitting that in the week Fabio Capello's team slumped to a listless Wembley defeat, Steve McClaren could still be seen pitchside, under pouring rain, unable to believe just how his side had thrown away a match.

    Three Novembers ago, McClaren was in his last days as England coach, hunched up under an oversized umbrella and watching his charges lose a decisive Euro 2008 qualifier against Croatia at Wembley. The 'Wally with a Brolly' was born.
    The Yorkshireman has swapped Wembley for Wolfsburg - but there are still some very dark clouds on the horizon.

    On Saturday, his

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  • Have The Eagles landed?

    In the thrill-a-minute war-time adventure Where Eagles Dare, Richard Burton led a crack team of troops into the impregnable Schloß Adler - Eagle Castle.

    Michael Skibbe is unlikely to have to grip perilously to an icy cablecar to reach his objective, but the Eintracht Frankfurt coach looks intent on guiding his squad - 'Die Adler,' the Eagles - into the previously unattainable territory of the Bundesliga's top three.

    Such heady heights were last scaled in 1993, and the club's best finish in a last decade punctuated by relegation is ninth in 2008. Heading into Week 12, however, Skibbe's side

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  • Internal divisions hit giants

    Win, lose or draw, Germany's Champions League teams are squabbling more than scoring.

    This week Bayern maintained their unstoppable European form, but their win was overshadowed by an unseemly spat between club coach and president.

    Schalke drew, then saw their most decorated player come under fire from the man who surprisingly brought him to Gelsenkirchen.

    And to complete a taxing week for club spin doctors, but a fruitful one for headline writers, Bremen's woeful team was slammed by their own sporting director after a humiliating defeat.

    Under normal circumstances Louis van Gaal, Felix Magath

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