So there you go: the last match day of the 2010-2011 season has been played, and the 18 Bundesliga teams is divided into two camps – the winners and the losers. Nevertheless, deciding which teams belong to which category is a matter of personal interpretation – and here’s mine.
Last week must have been difficult for all of you Bundesliga junkies: the season had just got going, and suddenly there was a pause for international games; and they weren’t even high-adrenaline games, either. We were forced into watching teams like Denmark, Belgium and Azerbaijan. That’s all over now, though: play started again on the weekend – and if you’re anything like me, you couldn’t wait!
Come on, quick! Now’s the time to get rid of players you don’t need and then go and get some new ones! Why? Because after the qualifying games for the Champions League and the European Cup, it’s clear that all the German teams involved have made it into the group phase of the continental competitions. There’s new money available, the first games are out of the way and decisions about location have been made: so now it’s a game of musical chairs, with Bremen hoping Silvestre will set down on their seat, Hannover wanting to tempt Hajnal from Dortmund, Wolfsburg grabbing Diego and Demichelis looking to sit down anywhere except at Munich – he doesn’t get along well with the trainer. Really, any team with ambitions to take the Champions’ League should be looking to sign him: after all, ex-Bayern defenders are as close as you can get to guaranteed title success (see Lucio at Inter Milan last season).
Now that the Germany’s football fairytale this summer is nothing more than a vague memory, that the vuvuzelas have, thank the Lord, been discarded, and that people who tack mini-flags to their cars once every four years have put them away, we can return to less exciting but more regular fare: the daily soap that is the Bundesliga.
Things get going for the 48th time on Friday 20th August with Bayern München coming up against VfL Wolfsburg. The Bavarians are everyone’s favourites to take the championship again, whilst newly promoted St. Pauli in Hamburg is where the smart money is for relegation. The rest of the league will fit in somewhere in between.
On June 23rd Kevin-Prince Boateng will be meeting his brother Jerome in South Africa. But this won’t be your run of the mill family reunion. These two brothers, both German-born Ghanians, will be battling it out on the soccer pitch–one playing on the German National Team, the other playing on the Ghanian.
Several weeks ago tension had already begun building between Ghana and Germany, and Kevin-Prince will be at the center of this controversy when these two nations clash at the world cup because it was his grueling tackle that injured German team captain Michael Ballack during an FA cup final recently. Though Kevin-Prince has apologized, who knows how Ballack is feeling about the man whose tackle will keep him off South Africa’s pitches during this year’s World Cup.
Poor Jogi. While Germany was still digesting the news that talismanic captain Michael Ballack wouldn’t be able to lead out his team, one of his potential replacements was also ruled out. Christian Träsch cropped his ankle too and will now have to watch the World Cup on TV like the rest of us.
The national media, Bild in particular, is in mourning, believing Jogi Löw’s men now have no chance of bringing the coveted trophy back from South Africa. On the ground however, among the commoners with whom I spend my time, the feeling is different.
“Who do you think will win?” I asked a teammate on my local team as we returned from one of our customary thrashings.