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.
So Borussia Dortmund is now the Bundesliga champion 2010-2011. Despite there being another two match days this season, BVB’s 2:0 win against Nuremberg on the weekend put them beyond the reach of their closest rivals, Leverkusen, who lost 0:2 to Cologne. Even if the Leverkusen boys had won, though, their chances of claiming this title this season would have stayed slim.
Dortmund’s statistics speak for themselves: they have the most wins, the least defeats, and the lowest number of goals conceded – they’ve been at the top of the league table since the tenth match day without even the shortest interruption. They are a young, dynamic team, headed by great players like Götze, Großkreuz, Hummels, Sahin, Schmelzer and Barrios – and I think they really deserve their victory. Well done Dortmund!
The 29th match day of this Bundesliga season was a day of big-name duels. There was Frankfurt-Bremen, Stuttgart-Kaiserslautern and Mönchengladbach-Cologne, all of which were fights between relegation candidates – the latter, of course, was also something of a local Rhineland derby.
There was the Bavarian derby duel, too, with Munich up against Nuremberg. Attention was focussed pretty much exclusively on Bayern’s president Uli Hoeneß, though, who had had a real go at the club’s own fans last week after they gave him some flak for wanting to save TSV 1860, the other Munich club.
If you read last week, you’ll remember me dedicating the entire text to the absolute lunacy that has swept through the Bundesliga in the last few weeks, with boards of directors running around like headless chickens and firing coaches left, right and centre.
Well, the bad news is that these chickens are still headless. Bayern München, for example, lost its Champions League round-of-16 decider against Inter Milan and ended up in stormy waters, desperately looking for somewhere to drop anchor and get back to an even keel: to do this, however, they’ll need to offload some ballast in the form of Louis van Gaal, but he just doesn’t want to walk the plank – and, try as they might, the Bavarian boatswains can’t find a replacement first mate. For the moment, he has been saved from going overboard by Franck Ribéry, who shot a winning goal against Freiburg which has at least kept Bayern on course for the Champions League next season. The map who’ll be leading the good ship München through this, however, is likely to be Leverkusen’s Jupp Heynckes.
It’s been a dramatic few days, and as I write, a whole locker-room full of coaches is facing the sack, jockeying to try and find other teams or biting their nails about their first ever trip to the dole office. In fact, the kind of frenetic behind-the-scenes wrangling that’s been going on in the last couple of weeks is something of a novelty for most Bundesliga fans: Van Gaal, Magath, Veh, Skibbe, Littbarski, Dutt, Tuchel, Heynckes – 8 out of the 18 club trainers in Germany’s top football league are making more headlines than the teams they coach.
So the 20th match-day of the Bundesliga is over and we know who lost and who won: but do you know who’s new in your favourite team? Ideas, anyone? After all, the winter transfer rounds in January are wreaking absolute havoc with the line-ups, and so it’s not hard to understand why some people are asking questions about whether this additional round of swaps and sales after the summer signing season is a help or a hindrance. I for one am very much of the opinion that it doesn’t help at all, leading to considerable confusion within the teams – well, in teams like Schalke 04 at least.
The Bundesliga is back! After a short winter break, it’s business as usual – and this season, that means chasing Borussia Dortmund, who have built up a solid points lead at the top of the table. Will they be able to translate this into a victory, though, or are Mainz going to surprise everyone and become the national champions? Or will it be Leverkusen that manage to catch up? Or will Bayern München get out of the doldrums and keep the title? At the bottom of the table, meanwhile, will Mönchengladbach be relegated to the second league? And can Bruno Labbadia save Stuttgart? All these questions – and more – will have been answered before the last of the 17 remaining match days this season: by 14th May, we will know all.