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Winter madness

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Cologne and Mönchengladbach are trying to get out of the ditch they are in by buying new players. Will the clubs shopping spree make a difference for the second half of this year’s Bundesliga?

This winter has seen few exciting signings so far. Bremen sold Hugo Almeide and replaced him with a young, Swedish striker nobody has heard of, while Bayern managed to snatch Luiz Gustavo from Hoffenheim.

The clubs that have been the most active so far are 1. Fc Cologne av Borussia Mönchengladbach. Both clubs are obviously trying to get out from the bottom of the table, but will their new signings be able to deliver the goods and bring relieve to the fans?

Will the madness ever stop?
As I mentioned before on this blog, the Fc is always creating controversies. It is almost a law of nature that one controversy happens in Cologne every few month. This time around the coach Frank Schaefer managed to piss of his captain Mohamed, by giving the captain’s armband to Lukas Podolski.

Furthermore Cologne decided to buy a total of four new players in this transfer window. It seems to be the action of a team in panic, trying to see what is working. Let’s take a look at the players the team from the Rhine-city of Cologne has decided to buy.

Michael Rensing has a point to proove.

Replacing Faryed Mondragon in the goal is former Bayern goalie Michael Rensing. (Mondragon managed to create a controversy of his own this season when he said he was as badly treated as Jesus.) Rensing is a solid buy. He is a capable shot saver, and has a decent area control. Having left Bayern has certainly left a bitter taste in Rensing’s mouth. Rensing is a keeper who wants to proove a point. If he prooves his point, he might turn out to be one of the best signings of this transfer window.

The next siging is a unknown man for most football fans in Europe: Tomoaki Makino. The Japanees defender is said to be a solid center back, and has impressed new sporting director Volker Finke. Finke knows Makino himself from his time in Japan.

Polish winger Sławomir Peszko is the Fc’s third signing. Having seen Peszko a few times playing for the national team, I must say that he certainly brings the speed and a goalscoring ability that Cologne has been lacking on the wings. However, one cannot be sure that Peszko will adjust to the Bundesliga imediatly.

Last, but not least, Christian Eichner: the defender from Hoffenheim is already a known quantity in the league, and has been a solid player for a number of years.

While Eichner is a solid signing, there is certain risk factor over the other three signings. I am afraid that restructuring the team in mid-season isn’t the best moves. Not selling some of the weaker players besides Mondragon will probably create some tension in the team. Cologne might have shot itself in the leg. As so many times before.

A defender, a kingdom for a defender
Gladbach have certainly had trouble of their own. Raúl Bobadilla seems to have fallen out of favor, and the strain of bad lack concerning injuries has followed the club throughout the season. However, the club is now trying to lift the club from the bottom and into mid-table.

Håvard Nordtveit makes a return to the Bundesliga.

Signing two defenders, while letting one go is a sound investment. Martin Stranzl was a good defender while he played for Stuttgart, I am sure that the Austrian international will make an imediate impact at Gladbach. Håvard Nordtveit has for a long time been regarded to be one of the most talented Norwegian defenders. Arsene Wenger remarked that he has never met a more mature 16 years old when he signed the west-Norwegian. Having had a loan spell at Nürnberg last season, Nordtveit is used to the Bundesliga.

However, the signing of Mike Hanke might not be a wise choice of the management. Hanke is known to be an unpleasent character when he is sitting on the bench. He is certainly talanted, but his form has varried through the years. It will be exciting to see if he makes an impact at Borussia.

However, I am still convinced that Borussia will be playing at the second highest level next season. Having had bad luck all season long. Furthermore, most people would agree, their underlying problem seems to be in midfield. Nothing has been done to strengthen the midfield, and the club’s unwillingness to part ways with Micheal Frontzeck has already caused a huge amount of damage.

Update on the Bundesliga for newcomers segment of this blog: I will not be able to finnish the segment before friday’s match due to me leaving Norway for a few days. However, I will return next week and I am optimistic that the segment will be finnished before the 19th round of Bundesliga action.

Do you think that these winter signings will make an impact? Leave a comment below.


The Stuff dreams are made of?

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The Stuff dreams are made of?

Borussia Dortmund look like the certain winner of this seasons
Bundesliga title, but can the team stave off Bayern Munich and
Bayer Leverkusen’s attempts to catch them in the second half of
the season?

Many fans of Dortmund look fondly back on the glory days of the 90’s. Lars
Ricken’s goal that snatched the west-Germans first Champions League title,
the last minute win of the Bundesliga title in 1995 and the successful
campaign to defend the title a year later is the stuff dreams are made of.

The golden years: Borussia Dortmund won the league two times in a row, before taking home the Champions League trophy in '97.
Good old days: Andreas Möller lifts the Champions League trophy.

Matthias Sammer, Andreas Möller, Karl-Heinz Riedle and Jürgen Kohler were among the players
that made the Borussia side of the 90’s one of the most formidable Bundesliga teams to this day.

A return to glory?

While the golden age of the 90’s have seemed to be something of a distant
past in recent years, the fans of the West-German side that was named after a
local brewery had much to cheer for this season. Most goals scored and
fewest goals conceded show that the team certainly has made the most of the
autumn season. In addition to that is Borussia Dortmund the team that has
created the most chances in this years Bundesliga campaign.

Their offensive playing style was helped by the arrival of Shinji
Kagawa, who has probably been the best signing of this summer’s
transfer window. Furthermore have the young guns like Grosskreutz
and Sven Bender grown into their own. While last years Borussia side
reeked of talent, this year’s side is filled with players good enough to
play on the international level for their countries.

The defense around Subotic and Hummels hasn’t made any crucial mistakes
so far this season, and has kept Borussia keeper and vice-captain Roman
Weidenfeller out of trouble. It is noteworthy that Hummels is one of the
league’s few central defenders that hasn’t been shown a single yellow card for
the first half of the season, which makes Dortmund’s record for the fewest
goals conceded in the first 17 games of the season even more impressive.

Besides the two defeats(against Leverkusen in the first round and Eintracht
Frankfurt in the 17th round) has nothing gone wrong so far. Can this good
fortune last for the rest of the season?

Besides the injuries of team captain Sebastian Kehl and Egyptian striker
Mohamed Zidan has Borussia Dortmund managed to get through the first half
of the season without any serious injuries. This is a big part of the explanation
for why they have been able to perform so well, week after week.
However, this will most certainly change in the second half of the season.

Having had a limited amount of money to spend after big spending
sportingdirector Micheal Meier almost led the club into bankruptcy, Borussia’s
squad has in recent years often lacked the depth that is necessary to win a Bundesliga title.
This is not so much the case today as it was a few seasons ago, but the team has to avoid to
get a number of key players injured for a longer periode of time.

Nuri Sahin has proven to be one of the key players for this season. In addition
to stabilizing the midfield defensively,the young turk has also proven to be a
valueble asset up front. Borrusia’s midfield will be servilely weakened if Sahin
is forced out of the side with a long term injury.

Subotic and Hummels have really impressed most experts with their
cool, calm and collected defensive efforts so far this season. The
problem for Borussia is that nobody is able to stand in for these guys.
The team has a lack of talented central defenders behind these two. Is
one of them (or both) injured, then the team will face a difficult
struggle in defense.
Defensive wall: Mats Hummels

Brickwall: Mats Hummels has had a tremendous season so far.

Shinji Kagawa has proven to be impossible to deal with for most of the
league’s defenders. Almost all defenders in the league fear the brilliant
Japanese. Dortmund hasn’t really got any player of his caliber sitting on the
bench. Mohamed Zidan might be able to fill the gap that would occur to a
certain extent. If Kagawa disappears, some of the magic up front will most
definitely disappear.

Before the season started most experts said that Borussia Dortmund would
have a hard time replacing an injured Lucas Barrios. Fortunately for the yellow
and black jersey’s has the purchase of Lukas Lewandowski made this less of a

Catch them, can you?
Borussia will undoubtedly face more injuries in the second half of the season.
This might result in a run of bad form. The other teams behind them might be
able to catch up. But will they be able to get past them?

The number one favorite to take home the salad bowl(Bundesliga
trophy) has in the past always been Bayern Munich. So far this season
have the Bavarians struggled with injuries, and bad form. Being 14
points behind they do not seem to be close enough to get into the fight
for top position. And as many players have put it: they do want to
concentrate on reaching the second place, to qualify directly for the
Champions League. It is noteworthy that the team didn’t win the title
after the two last World Cups(02/03 and 06/06).

The other team that might be able to force Dortmund off the top spot in the
league is Leverkusen. Never having won the Bundesliga, and with a bunch of
second places in the league the team seems to have the forces of God working
against them at critical junctures. If they win the first game after the winter
break(against Dortmund) they might be able to stir up the fight for the
championship. Having only taken 13 points from their home games so far this
season it is crucial that Leverkusen improves its home form. Otherwise the
title won’t be coming to the BayArena.

Mainz and Hannover have impressed so far this season. But both clubs haven’t
got the depth in their squad to present a serious challenge to Dortmund in the
second half of the season.

One can never be certain about what will happen in football. Heck, this why so
many people around the world adore the sport so much. Having said that: it
will take a giant blow up from Dortmund’s side to screw this up.

And this is why I will go so far and predict that this season will be the stuff the
dreams of the past years have been made of for Dortmund fans. 

Will Dortmund take home the title?