Monday, August 30, 2010

Bundesliga Week 2 Round Up: Kaiserslautern Set The Tone

There are those who believe that the football season doesn't really start until September. That the two or three weeks in August when domestic club campaigns kick off (particularly in norther Europe), is still a shake down period for many clubs, especially in a World Cup year. Perhaps this is why they don't start in Italy or Spain until end of the month once everyone is home from their holidays.

This could account for the extraordinary results that took place over the second weekend of the Bundesliga. If so then it is worth pointing out that the season has actually started and wins means points while defeat means pressure, even at this early stage.

So the weekend of hi-jinks began at the Fritz Walter Stadion, named after one of the legends of Germany's 1954 World Cup winning team and home of FC Kaiserslautern, newly promoted, with a win already under their belt. Their guests were the mighty FC Bayern Munich with whom they have enjoyed a great rivalry down the years. Foolish outsiders didn't give the home side a prayer and boy, is egg on their face now??

The game started as you would (or I would) expect to end, with FC Bayern on the attack. Thomas Müller combined brilliantly with Bastien Schweinsteiger to produce an oppurtunity that couldn't have been better if it had been placed on a plate with a side salad.

He missed and Bayern lost 2-0.

Ivo Ilicevic's first was one for the scrap book. Srdjan Lakic scored 'Lautern's second after an error from Bayern's young centre back Holger Badstuber. The Bavarian club's coach Louis van Gaal's had the whole of the second half to get themselves back in the game. FCB are a good enough team to salvage a point from 2-0 down and the Dutchman will not be happy that his players could not put FCK under more pressure and build on their excellent win against (Steve McClaren's) Wolfsburg last week.

And it is to Wolfsburg that we now move. The Wolves paved the way for the presumed departure of Zvejzdan Misimovic by bringing Diego back to the Bundesliga after a disappointing season at Juventus. The former Werder Bremen playmaker was dropped straight into the team by McClaren for the game against Mainz and made an immediate impact. His easy tap-in was the culmination of a three goal 30 minute rout in the first half at the VW Arena. However, the Mainz club demostrated that their fantasic result against Stuttgart last week was not a fluke.

Inspired by the excellent Lewis Holtby, Mainz bounced back to win 4-3. The final goal was the most significant in my opinion: Adam Szalai turned the highly rated Simon Kjær inside out on the edge of the penalty area before rifling home. Lots for McClaren to think about but European football fans should look out for Mainz next televised fixture and book some serious sofa time.

The shocks (if you can call them that) did not end there. In Gelsenkirchen Mirko Slomka returned to his old club with Hannover 96 and turned over Schalke with a classic sucker punch. Slomka brought in Norwegian attacker Mohammed Abdellaoue from Valarenga and he had a cracker on Saturday, setting up Konstantin Rausch for the first and scoring the second. Jermaine Jones' late response was not enough to placate the home crowd.

But if you think the Schalke faithful were disgruntled imagine what it must feel like to turn up at your home ground and be thrashed 6-3. Not even I've experienced that sensation and I support Crystal Palace. Bayer Leverkusen, on the other hand know exactly what it's like after being mullered by that score by Borussia Monchengladbach. The carnage began on the 20th minute with the first of two from Patrick Herrmann which book ended a strike from Roel Brouwers. Juan Arango's free kick put 'Gladbach 4-1 and the game beyond the home side.

Mohammed Issidrou, a Summer signing from Freiburg, scored the fifth and the excellent Marco Reus rounded things off with a fine individual goal. Eren Derdiyok, Arturo Vidal and Stefan Kießling's goals were token efforts only.

Elsewhere, Papass Cissé's brace got Freiburg's first win of the season at Nürnberg. Werder Bremen's new striker Marko Arnautovic may have a reputation for being a bit of a nob but he seems to know where the back of the net is. His double-strike contributed to the Bremen club's 4-2 destruction of Koln. The buzz surrounding St Pauli's first home game of the season was harshened somewhat by a 1-0 defeat against Hoffenheim. Hamburg made their way serenely passed Eintracht Frankfurt, 3-1. Van Nistelrooy scored again.

Finally, Stuttgart are at it again with yet another poor start to the season. Their first home game of the new campaign was ruined by Borussia Dortmund, anxious to make up for losing at home to Bayer Leverkusen last week. Coach Christian Gross' team were beaten convincingly 3-1. Once again Stuttgart's grounds for optimism is starting to fade and the pressure builds up pretty quickly at the Mercedes Benz Arena. Ask Armin Veh and Markus Babbel. Even though the season hasn't really got underway yet, Gross needs a result and soon.

That's it. Results and tables here.

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