If you had tipped VfL Wolfsburg for the Bundesliga title at the beginning of the season, you would have been declared crazy. If you had been crazy enough to put money on it, you would have been, well, crazy rich. Even Wolfsburg’s coach Felix Magath admitted that before the season he never would have thought that “Wolfsburg have a chance to be German champions.” But on Saturday Wolfsburg won the championship for the first time in their history; sending players and fans absolutely crazy as they all danced around the pitch in a beer-soaked, chaotic frenzy.
Wolfsburg only needed a point at home against Werder Bremen, but instead opted to annihilate them, taking out any potential for excitement in the title race early on with two goals in the opening quarter of an hour. It was their second 5-goal haul in a row, taking their goal tally to 80 for the season. Not satisfied with simply landing a comfortable and secure win, Wolfsburg’s strikers Grafite and Dzeko both scored to take their individual tallies to 28 (Grafite) and 26 (Dzeko), meaning they beat the 53-goal record that Bayern Munich strikers Gerd Müller and Uli Hoeneß set in the 1971/72 and 1972/73 seasons. Grafite and Dzeko’s combined tally of 54 goals becomes even more impressive after a brief look at the table reveals those two scored more goals than both fourth-placed Hertha BSC and fifth-placed Hamburger SV.
The architect of Wolfsburg’s success is their coach Felix Magath. Over the past two years Magath has spent more than 60 million euros on 35 new players to form his championship-winning team. Players have come and gone, as Magath searched for the perfect formula. And this season – particularly in the second half – the many pieces of the puzzle came together. He has managed to mould a team that, when in full flow, play some breath-taking attacking football. Their 5-1 demolition of Bayern, with a couple of Goal of the Season contenders, stands out as one of the highlights of the season.
The most important addition to the Wolfsburg team has been Zvjezdan Misimovic. Grafite and Dzeko had both been bought the previous season, but struggled to make a real impact scoring 11 and 8 goals respectively. In came the playmaker and Bosnia and Herzegovina captain Misimovic to provide some service from midfield. A clever move by Magath, as Misimovic has been a hit in his first season, providing a whopping 20 assists and chipping in with 7 goals of his own. To put his 20 assists in perspective: Last season Bremen’s Diego managed to lay on 11 goals for his teammates to top the charts for assists.
“It’s a dream, unbelievable. German champions. I never thought that I would be German champion after just two years. Now we will celebrate a lot – the whole night,” said Edin Dzeko.
Bayern are runners-up
Bayern Munich’s stand-in coach Jupp Heynckes admitted, “VfL are deserved German champions. Especially in the second half of the season they played the best football. Congratulations to the team, to the club and above all to Felix Magath who did a good job. I realized for the first time that you can also be pleased about a second place.”
Heynckes was pleased, because Bayern had to get at least a point against VfB Stuttgart on the final day of the season to ensure that they qualify for the Champions League. They went ahead early courtesy of a Boulahrouz own goal in the 15th minute. Van Bommel doubled the lead in the 60th minute, only for German international Mario Gomez to pull one back three minutes later with his 24th goal of the season. But despite Gomez having a good chance to equalize in the 74th minute, it never looked like Stuttgart would steal an away win to climb into second place. And so the result remained unchanged and Bayern ran out 2-1 winners.
Karlsruhe lend hated rivals Stuttgart a helping hand
Stuttgart were lucky, because they could have slipped down to fourth position and lost out on the chance of playing the Champions League qualification match that the third place entails. This is because Hertha BSC managed to lose 4-0 away against Karlsruhe, a result their defender Pal Dardai called their “worst performance of the season.”
Karlsruhe were fighting to maintain an outside chance of climbing up into 16th position, which equates to a play-off match against the third-placed team in the second Bundesliga. Unfortunately for Karlsruhe, Energie Cottbus beat Bayer Leverkusen 3-0 at home to grab that spot for themselves. Armenia Bielefeld, who had started the afternoon in 16th position and had the best chances of maintaining that position on paper, could only manage a 2-2 draw at home against Hannover 96. If they had won 3-2 they would have ousted Cottbus by just one goal.
Last ticket for Europe decided by 91st minute offside goal
The other interesting battle taking place, was between Borussia Dortmund and Hamburger SV, who both wanted to finish the season in 5th place and qualify for next year’s new Europa League, the UEFA Cup’s sucessor. Both teams were equal on points, but Dortmund had by far the better goal difference and the advantage. Yet Hamburg traveled to Frankfurt, who had nothing left to play for, while Dortmund were away in Mönchengladbach, who needed one point to be 100 percent sure of staying in the league.
Things were looking good for Dortmund in the 90th minute. They were only on course for a 1-1 draw in Mönchengladbach, but Frankfurt had managed to come back from 0-2 down to equalize against Hamburg, meaning Dortmund remained in 5th spot. But while Dortmund could simply not find a way of conjuring up a winner to tie up a ticket to the Europa League once and for all, Hamburg pushed on and managed a spectacular 91st minute winner courtesy of German international Piotr Trochowski’s strong left-foot strike. To make matters worse from a Dortmund perspective, replays showed that Trochowski was in fact offside too.
Matchday 34 results:
VfL Wolfsburg – Werder Bremen 5:1
Eintracht Frankfurt – Hamburger SV 2:3
Bayern München – VfB Stuttgart 2:1
Energie Cottbus – Bayer Leverkusen 3:0
Arminia Bielefeld – Hannover 96 2:2
Karlsruher SC – Hertha BSC Berlin 4:0
1. FC Köln – VfL Bochum 1:1
Borussia Mönchengladbach – Borussia Dortmund 1:1
FC Schalke 04 – 1899 Hoffenheim 2:3
1 VfL Wolfsburg 69 P
2 Bayern München 67 P
3 VfB Stuttgart 64 P
4 Hertha BSC Berlin 63 P
5 Hamburger SV 61 P
6 Borussia Dortmund 59 P
7 1899 Hoffenheim 55 P
8 FC Schalke 04 50 P
9 Bayer Leverkusen 49 P
10 Werder Bremen 45 P
11 Hannover 96 40 P
12 1. FC Köln 39 P
13 Eintracht Frankfurt 33 P
14 VfL Bochum 32 P
15 Borussia Mönchengladbach 31 P
16 Energie Cottbus 30 P
17 Karlsruher SC 29 P
18 Arminia Bielefeld 28 P