Bundesliga - By Rob.
Wolfsburg – Gladbach
Wolfs out : Maric (reg), Madsen, Quattrocchi (squad)
MG out : Aidoo (squad – susp), Korell (imp), van Houdt, Ketelaer (squad), Pletsch, Hausweiler (reg), Skoubo (dropped)
Gladbach are one of four teams who have changed their trainer already this season. None of these switches have yet proved successful in terms of points won but in MG’s case the feeling is that whilst they are not yet winning, they are losing less badly, if you understand my meaning. The suggestion is that coach Fach is slowly rebuilding morale. As was in evidence at Hertha where they were only beaten by a late goal completely out of the blue. Wolfsburg are a frustrating team to follow, nigh on unbeatable at home, yet exasperatingly tame on the road. Only at 2-0 down at half time at Freiburg, did they grasp the seriousness of the situation. They came out all guns blazing and played really well in the 2nd half but still went down 3-2. Like Leverkusen they will be cursing a midweek WC qualifying round in midweek as playmaker d’Alessandro will return tired from his trip to Columbia.
Latest : nothing new to report. Wolfsburg’s smallest injury list of the season should mean Röber can pick the side which will provide a 4th straight home win over Gladbach
Stuttgart – Hannover
VfB out: Meira (reg – susp), Bordon (imp)
H96 out : Cherundolo, Krupnikovic (reg – susp), Simak (imp – depression), Schneider (squad), Lala (reg)
Although Stuttgart gained another three points and yet another clean sheet in the 2-0 win at strugglers Frankfurt, the win was much harder than the score suggests. In the 2 week break for internationals rumours have circulated that some big clubs at home and abroad could come in for Stuttgart’s young stars (Hinkel, Kuranyi, Hleb etc) in the winter break and that the club, financially, would be unable to fend off such advances. In addition to those worries, centre half Meira was sent off and faces a 2 match ban. With fellow centre back Bordon injured, they have problems in central defence. Hannover are in serious decline and have major problems in creative midfield with Simak still given leave of absence due to mental health problems and Krupnikovic banned on video evidence. Trainer Rangnick’s sacking can’t be far off.
Latest : a tricky spell could be on the horizon for Stuttgart and there could be value in opposing them soon, however, Hannover look to have far too many problems of their own to be worthy of consideration here. For Stuttgart Soldo drops into the back four and Vranjes takes over Soldo’s defensive midfield role of playing just in front of the back line.
Bremen – Bochum
Werder out : Skripnik (squad)
VfL out : Gudjohnsson (squad)
Bremen won home and away against Bochum last season, scoring 6 goals against one and have won 5 and drawn the other of their last 6 home games against the team from the Ruhr (actually Bochum stats are worse than that – see below). Despite the absence of top striker Ailton, Bremen cantered to a 5-1 win at struggling Hannover. Even an average Bochum performance was enough to see off Köln 4-0. It was more a case that the visitors were poor rather than Bochum performed well. As I keep saying, I can’t understand why BL defences have such problems with the Iranian Hashemian in a central attacking role. He looks more a winger and often plays alone up front.
Latest : a closer examination of the record books shows an even more harrowing statistic for Bochum than I first thought. In fact they are without a win in all 27 (!) visits here (20-7-0) ! With Ailton returning for Bremen, prospects of breaking that sequence don’t look all that rosy but Bochum have surprised us on more than one occasion this season.
Köln – Hamburg
Köln out : Sichone, Schindzielorz (reg)
HSV out : Fukal, Hollerbach, Romeo (reg), Pieckenhagen (imp – gk), Rahn, Meier, Schlicke (squad)
Hamburg gained their first league win under new trainer Toppmöller with the comfortable 3-1 over 1860. The Argentine Romeo, out of favour under previous coach Jara, has now scored 6 goals in his last 4 starts (Latest : Romeo injured !). Köln, despite having a new trainer in the Swiss Marcel Koller were awful in the 4-0 defeat at Bochum. They have now lost 9 of their 12 league games, the club’s worst ever start to a BL season.
Latest : Takehara is the natural replacement for Romeo but he has a log journey back from playing for Japan in midweek. Köln too low on form and confidence to be considered though.
1860 – Bayern
1860 out : Borimirov (reg), Pürk, Shao (squad) Stranzl and Lauth (!) doubtful
Bayern out : Linke (reg – susp), Deisler, Scholl (reg), Zickler (squad), Rau (new)
This is, of course, the Munich derby and although they ground share, Bayern are commonly accepted as the landlords, whereas 1860 are simply the tenants. Effectively this is an extra home game for Bayern and since being promoted back to the BL nine seasons ago, 1860 have won only 1 (!) of their “home” games against the old enemy. In the last 3 seasons Bayern have won this fixture 2-0, 5-1 and 5-0. Bayern overcame their mini-crisis with a comfortable 4-1 over a weakened Dortmund side (12-4 on chances, 15-4 on corners). The winning margin could have been even wider, as Bayern hit the woodwork 3 times in the first 20 minutes and the visitors had to play the 2nd half a man short. 1860’s most recent outing was the 3-1 reverse at Hamburg where they were beaten fair and square.
Latest : Ze Roberto and Pizarro likely to be rested after playing in South America in midweek. Only Santa Cruz of the S Americans likely to be play. Bayern big favourites, even more so if Lauth fails a fitness test as he is their major threat.
Dortmund – Leverkusen
BVB out : Kehl (reg – susp), Brzenska (squad – susp), Amoroso, Frings C Metzelder, Evanilson, Addo, Demel (all long term), Madouni, Bergdölmo, Herrlich (squad), Dede, Conceicao, (reg)
Bayern out : Sebescen (long term), Berbatov (reg)
At Bayern, Dortmund were not only missing a dozen of the first team squad, but also had to play the 2nd half with only ten men after debutant Brzenska was sent off. Bayern’s confidence might have been low before the game but Dortmund were always going to struggle when Bergdölmo failed a fitness test and they had to line up with 3 youngsters in Senesie, Malte Metzleder (younger brother of captain Christoph) and Brzenska away to the reigning champions. Leverkusen deserved their win two weeks ago versus Schalke after creating eight good scoring chances in the win 3-1. The problem they face here, however, is that their South American defensive contingent (Juan, Lucio and Placente) are only expected back in Germany the day before the game (!) after internationall duty.
Latest : all three S Americans likely to start for Leverkusen who have lost on only two of their last six visits here. So big chances for Leverkusen especially as Dortmund cannot keep compensating for the absence of a dozen players and have a tricky UEFA cup return leg next week at Sochaux.
Schalke – Rostock
S04 out : Hajto, Matellan (reg – susp), Rodriguez (reg), Böhme (long term)
Hansa out : Plassnegger (squad)
Schalke paid a heavy price for the defeat in Leverkusen not just with the loss of three points but also with an injury to Waldoch after only 17 minutes and suspensions incurred by Matellan’s sending off and Hajto’s 5th yellow card. That means that 3 of the back 4 who faced Leverkusen are unavailable and the 4th Kobiaschwili is really a midfielder anyway. I expect Oude Kamphuis and Asmaoah will also drop back from midfield but the 2nd centre back role along side O-K is a problem. Rostock got their first win under new trainer Schlünz, 4-0 at the expense of Kaiserslautern. Schlünz’s faith in Rydlewicz and di Salvo, both benched under ex-trainer Veh, was repaid as both have been scoring in recent games.
Latest : Schalke’s defensive problems have cleared up over the course of the week. Firstly Waldoch’s injury responded well to treatment and then the Dane Christian Poulsen was declared fit after 6 weeks on the treatment table. Those two will make up the centre back pairing whilst youngster Kläsener comes in at right back. Thus Schalke’s midfield remains the same more or less. Any Rostock advantage from wholesale changes in the Schalke line up has gone, though Schalke might have their minds on a tricky UEFA cup return leg with Bröndby next week.
Kaiserslautern – Hertha
KL out : Mettomo (reg – susp), Lokvenc, Sforza (reg), Ramzy (long term), Malz, (squad)
Hertha out : Marcelinho (v imp – susp), Marx (long term), Hartmann (reg)
KL go for a 5th straight home win over Hertha. They were trounced 4-0 at Rostock and more worrying than the score was the total lack of fight and willingness to compete. In attack Klose looks a shadow of his former self, partly due to the absence of striker partner Lokvenc but possibly more due to the fact that KL have stated that he must be sold, and the sooner the better, in order to keep the club afloat. Hertha beat Gladbach 2-1 in a poor game which was petering out into a draw until late substitute Madlung scored with his first touch of the ball. Bad news for Hertha was that no sooner had they got the inspirational Brazilian Marcelinho back from a long lay off, than they lose him again on a 3 match ban after his sending off.
Latest : no further absentees but this game looks impossible to call between two sides with major problems for differing reasons.
Freiburg – Frankfurt
Frei out : Antar (squad), Ramdane (reg)
FFM out : Cipi (reg – susp), Jones (reg), Keller (imp), Frommer (squad)
Frankfurt put in an improved performance against league leaders Stuttgart (6-5 on chances and 6-2 on corners) but still lost 0-2. Frankfurt won here 2-0 last year when both sides were in BL2 but Freiburg are playing far the better football this term. Freiburg continued their good home form (with the exception of the Bremen game) with a 3-2 win over poor travellers Wolfsburg, but what was surprising was that all the goals came in the form of a hat trick from the Georgian Iaschwili who is normally a 6 goal a season man.
Latest : Frommer’s midweek injury means that, with Jones still injured, Frankfurt coach will once again play a lone striker. He seems to have up with Korean Cha Du Ri and will try Beierle instead. Freiburg big favourites