Archive for the ‘Borussia Dortmund’ Category

Paris St Germain's Patore celebrates with team mates after scoring the third goal for the team during their Champions League quarter-final first leg soccer match against Chelsea at the Parc des Princes Stadium in Paris

Devang Desai and Richard Whittall sit down to discuss the U.S – Mexico friendly, this week’s Champions League action and Jose Mourinho’s striker problem.

You can download the podcast here and subscribe on iTunes here. You can also find the RSS Feed here.

Paris St Germain's Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates after scoring against St Etienne during their French Ligue 1 soccer match at the Parc des Princes Stadium in Paris

Devang Desai, Richard Whittall, James Bigg and Gianluca Nesci sit down to talk about the Champions League quarterfinal draw. Can Manchester United channel the magic of 1999, Borussia Dortmund look to do the impossible and who is the favorite to win it all — all this and more in the latest edition of the Counter Attack Podcast!

You can download the podcast here and subscribe on iTunes here. You can also find the RSS Feed here.


Just call them The Unpronounceables.

Asked for his reaction to Borussia Dortmund’s new signings, Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge revealed that he didn’t know them very well and that he found their names difficult to say. Better to exercise some restraint than go the whole Joe Kinnear. To help Kalle learn, Bild kindly published audio files of the correct pronunciation.

Of course, you’d have to be quite naive to believe Rummenigge is ignorant of who Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Sokratis Papasthathopoulos really are. He didn’t say he’d never heard of them, as claimed by some. Nor was he bitter at Dortmund announcing Robert Lewandowski would be staying for another year. He probably already knew that anyway.

No, this was probably nothing more than posturing. His intention was presumably to project the image that Bayern aren’t at all bothered by Dortmund even though for the first time since their emergence from the brink of bankruptcy just short of a decade ago, they have spent with real power.

An estimated 49.5m euros have been invested in the acquisitions of the aforementioned players. You have to go back to 2001 when Dortmund bought Marcio Amoroso from Parma and Jan Koller from Anderlecht to find a spree of similar proportions. That splurge was most definitely a reckless one. This, by contrast, isn’t.

Although more than double last year’s expenditure, three-quarters of this summer’s outlay is financed by the 37m euro they received from Bayern for Mario Götze. As for the rest, well, some of the revenue from their run to the Champions League final could pay for that. Rather than overreaching, their strategy has been sustainable and responsible. What else would you expect from a club for whom memories of 2004, when they were 120m euro in the red, are still fresh. But let’s get back to what Rummenigge said.

Bayern and Dortmund have found other things to argue about rather than Rummenigge’s apparent disregard for Mkhitaryan, Aubameyang and Sokratis. Not for the first time, Jürgen Klopp got under Bayern’s skin with his characterisation of Dortmund’s rivalry with them as like that between someone armed with a Bazooka and a Robin Hood figure holding just a bow and arrow.

“Dortmund have to be careful they don’t preach water and drink wine instead,” Rummenigge said. “They have a contract with Opel. But I have seen a picture in Bild showing that someone [Aubameyang] drives a Ferrari. It looks like they should put that bow and arrow down.”

Rummenigge wasn’t alone in not knowing Mkhitaryan, Aubameyang and Sokratis all that well. Dortmund’s Marco Reus admitted as much to Kicker. On Aubameyang, he said: “I don’t really follow the French league. That’s why I didn’t have him on my radar. I have now seen a couple of his goals. He is certainly very, very fast and dangerous.”

Rather interestingly, this affair hasn’t escaped the attention of the papers in Italy. Is it because the Bundesliga is being covered more closely after last year’s all-German Champions League final and the presence of Pep Guardiola on the Bayern bench? Partly yes. But it’s also because while Rummenigge didn’t know Dortmund’s signings well, Milan were very familiar with two of them. Aubameyang and his brothers were in their academy. Sokratis was a member of the squad that won the Scudetto two years ago.

“They’re Milan rejects,” wrote Alessandro de Calò in an editorial for La Gazzetta dello Sport. This wasn’t to say Dortmund have gone and bought a couple of duds. Far from it. They’re too shrewd for that, as the signings of Shinji Kagawa and Robert Lewandowski have shown in the past. No. This was a criticism of Milan for disregarding and undervaluing the talent they had under their noses. “It’s no laughing matter,” de Calò added.

Aubameyang admits he wasn’t ready to break into the first team at Milan. He trained with them a few times but never made a competitive senior appearance. A change in policy, whereby youth players like Mattia De Sciglio and now Bryan Cristante and Andrea Petagna are given a chance, came too late for Aubameyang.

He was loaned out to Dijon, Lille, Monaco and then Saint-Etienne who signed him for just 1.8m euro in the winter of 2011. Eighteen months later, the French club have made a nice profit, selling him to Dortmund for 13m euro. If Milan had kept Aubameyang and given him a chance, maybe they wouldn’t have had to spend 15.5m euro on Stephan El Shaarawy, 3m euro on M’Baye Niang or 21m euro on Mario Balotelli.

They missed a trick. True, there was great competition at the time. Sokratis experienced that too. Alessandro Nesta and Thiago Silva were ahead of him in the pecking order and rightly so. But if Milan had taken the long view on a player who has only just turned 25, and not sold him back to Genoa who then let him go to Werder Bremen maybe they’d have more options in defence now.

Of course no one can predict the future and Milan had their reasons. But these two cases offer a reminder that you should think twice before giving up on a player. The Dortmund side that won the Champions League in 1997 was full of Serie A cast-offs from Jürgen Kohler, Andi Möller and Paulo Sousa to Stefan Reuter and Mathias Sammer, four of whom had played for opponents Juventus. Other players adjudged to be flops like Dennis Bergkamp at Inter, Patrick Vieira at Milan and Thierry Henry at Juventus all went on to become legends at Arsenal and were players who defined their generation.

Let’s not get carried away. Aubameyang and Sokratis aren’t in that class and probably never will be. Even so, there are some Milan fans out there who are wondering how both apparently are good enough for last year’s Champions League runners’ up, but weren’t considered worthy of their attention.

Even if you haven’t seen the game, or the highlights, this pretty much captures it. Also, apparently Lego is an easy medium to work with to do 24-hour animations.

Borussia Dortmund v FC Bayern Muenchen - UEFA Champions League Final

Last night, immediately after the final whistle which saw Bayern Munich lift their fifth European Cup on the back of Arjen Robben’s goal in the 89th minute, I made the mistake of tuning into a popular British sports talk (hint hint) radio station. Mere minutes after play had ended at Wembley stadium, one of the commentators grimly declared that Bayern’s win over Dortmund, a team with half the Bavarian club’s wage bill, was the result of financial fair play forever cementing the dominance of historical footballing giants. It’s over. Kloppo’s BvB had lost. The little guy will never win.

It was such an absurd claim I actually rewound the tape as it were (you can do this on certain radio apps) and listened to it again. Sure enough, that’s exactly what he’d said: Bayern beating Dortmund was a sign the minnows were forever shut out of the European party, thanks to FFP.

I wondered where this line of reasoning had come from, and then I recalled Martin Samuel’s interview with Michel Platini published the day before, in which the Daily Mail writer bombarded the UEFA president with questions about the supposed side effects of FFP, that the rule which forbid spending in excess of turnover (within certain limits) would forever seal the dominance of a handful of clubs and shut out the rest. The idea here is that the only way to muscle into top spots was to spend a whack of money, which invariably means excessive financial losses. Without the ability to do that, smaller teams are screwed.

This is a bold claim. At the very least, it suggests that money spent on wage bills and transfer payments has a very strong causal relationship with winning trophies, whether at the domestic level or in Europe. Samuel’s been making this argument for years now, and, alarmingly, Platini had a woeful time defending FFP from these accusations. Perhaps this was a case of Platini rarely answering his critics, I don’t know.

It shouldn’t be that difficult to defend FFP from these claims, really. The 2012-2013 Champions League provides an excellent case study, in fact.

At nil-nil in the Champions League final, Dortmund had created several great chances with shots on goal to boot. Both Roman Weidenfeller and Manuel Neuer had to be completely on their game to keep the game scoreless in the first half. Both sides had seven shots, with Dortmund edging them out on shots on target (5-3). Even with the score at 1-1, it was a close contest almost to the very end. The winning goal came in the 89th minute from a sumptuous back-heeled pass from Frank Ribery into the path of Arjen Robben, who feinted and slotted home to win it.
Read the rest of this entry »

It’s been said several times in the last hour or so, but it is worth repeating. That was a terrific game of football. Excellent goalkeeping, superb individual efforts and the vindication of Arjen Robben capped another year of Champions League Football. We end with some of the best pictures from a wonderful day. So many adjectives.

Borussia Dortmund v FC Bayern Muenchen - UEFA Champions League Final Read the rest of this entry »

Well that was something else. It was only fitting Arjen Robben scored the winner. The man constantly maligned for failing to show up for big games had multiple chances to get on the score sheet in the first half. Alas, it looked like another poor performance on the biggest stage was in order for Robben. The Dutchman rewrote the script in the second half, setting up the Mandzukic goal and scoring the winner at the death. Sports. Man oh man.

Gif via @FeintZebra