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Breaking: Hamburg fires Manager, Hollerbach

Breaking: Hamburg fires Manager, Hollerbach

German Bundesliga club, Hamburg has relieved Bernd Hollerbach of his job as the head coach of the club after just six weeks at the helms, with Christain Titz to stand in as the interim manager till the end of the season.
Titz was promoted from the club’s Under-21s to replace the sacked manager. Hollerbach was hired less than two months ago to replace Markus Gisdol in January.
Although his tenure started on a good note after recording an impressive draw against RB Leipzig, the German coach failed to secure a single victory for the club in his six weeks in charge. His spell was to end in a thrashing fashion on Saturday, as Hamburg were sounded beaten 6-0 by leaders, Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena.
Hamburg is currently positioned 19th on the league table, deep in the relegation waters as they are seven points adrift of safety.

The newly appointed Manager, Titz will be supported by Thomas von Heesen, who has been hired in a temporary deal to support Titz in the role of overseeing the club’s sporting activities after Jen Todt was also sacked last week. Their main task will be to ensure Hamburg remains in the top flight.
Chairman, Frank Wettstein explained after their 6-0 thrashing at Bayern that it was ultimately the final straw for Hollerbach.
“We analysed and discussed the 6-0 defeat on Saturday at length,” Wettstein told the club’s official website. “We concluded, in light of our situation fighting against relegation, that we had to act.
“I have extended the thanks of myself and the club to Bernd Hollerbach. We have also arranged to meet personally. We did not react immediately in the aftermath of Saturday’s game, but we instead took our time.
“Christian Titz will give the team a new impulse, put the players to the test and approach things with a fresh perspective. We are very confident of putting in a different performance against Hertha [Berlin].
“It’s clear that we need to muster all of our strength. Bernhard Peters [sporting director] and I are in good contact with Thomas von Heesen, and we’re excited that he will be on board for the next eight matches.”

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Tuchel has the quality to coach Bayern – Heynckes

Tuchel has the quality to coach Bayern – Heynckes

Bayern Munich Manager, Jupp Heynckes believes that Thomas Tuchel has the required quality and experience to manage the historical football club.
The Bayern legend who was brought in for his fourth spell with the club to calm the tides after former Manager, Carlo Ancelotti was fired at the first half of the season has been remarkable as Bayern is now on course for another treble.
Even as Bayern Munich management wants him to remain at the club for another 12 months, the 72-year old tactician has repeatedly made it clear that he will leave at the end of this term. He has, however, raised former Borussia Dortmund’s Manager, Thomas Tuchel’s hands to take over from him.

While speaking with ESPN, Heynckes said: “Tuchel has the quality to coach Bayern, I rate Thomas Tuchel. He has continued the progression of the youth teams at Mainz. That is the stairway to success that you must take, learning the correct approach and people skills.”
“Under Tuchel, Borussia Dortmund played excellent football with a good system — all of today’s modern footballing elements were there for everyone to see.
“Tuchel’s side finished runners-up, won the DFB Pokal and played attractive football. I had fun watching BVB, that’s why I respect and rate him as a very good trainer.”
Tuchel was however sent packing by Dortmund last year, just a few days after winning the club’s first trophy in five years after it was reported that there appears to be a misunderstanding between him and the club board.

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Dortmund set to welcome back Marco Reus after eight months injury

Dortmund set to welcome back Marco Reus after eight months injury

Borussia Dortmund is set to welcome back Germany International from a long injury lay-off as Manager, Peter Stoger affirms that he might be available to feature in the club’s next game.
The talented and brilliant midfielder, who has been out since May with an awful Knee ligament injury now has about four months to help his club end the season well after an unconvincing display in the past few months and also to convince Germany Coach, Joachim Low of his talents ahead of the summer World Cup.
It is a fact that Dortmund has terribly missed the 28-year old whose moments of genius has won several matches for the German side. In fact, he got injured after a sensational display in the German Cup final victory over Eintracht Frankfurt in May.
The club is positioned 4th on the Bundesliga table, having the same number of points as Schalke 04 and just six points above 10th placed Hannover 96. They are 19 points off the league summit and it is certain they can only play catch up for a place in next season’s UEFA Champions League.
“He can significantly change the course of a game thanks to his quality,” stated Dortmund Boss Peter Stoger as he affirmed that he could make his return in their league game against Hamburg SV this weekend.
“Marco has trained normally throughout the week, we know he would like to play and he knows we would like to have him with us,’ he said, adding that the final decision would lie with Reus himself.”
“He knows his body better than anyone and it’s up to him to give the signal.”
The fast-feet winger has suffered 14 injuries lasting more than 10 days since joining Dortmund in 2012 in an injury-plagued but impressive career
He couldn’t make the 2014 World Cup in Brazil after getting injured in a friendly game with Armenia in preparation for the tournament while a groin problem denied him a place in Euro 2016.
This last knee problem made him unavailable for the Confederations Cup last year and he will only be hopeful that he remains fit for the remainder of the season to merit a place in this summer football fiesta in Russia.

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Dortmund excited to complete Batshuayi deal with 12 minutes left

Belgian forward, Michy Batshuayi has completed a loan move to join German Bundesliga side, Borussia Dortmund for the remaining part of the season after club top striker, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang sealed his transfer to the Premier League in a £56million club record deal to Arsenal.
In a triangle of transfers, Chelsea needed to release Batshuayi to Dortmund after Aubameyang deal was completed although they were demanding for France International, Olivier Giroud from the Gunners.
After Giroud’s move to the other side of the capital has been done and dusted, Batshuayi was released to move to Dortmund on loan for the next six months.
He has struggled to secure a regular role at Stamford Bridge under Manager, Antonio Conte as it seems the Italian doesn’t have him in his plans despite his important goals, one of which sealed the League for the Blues last season.
The former Marseille striker has scored 12 goals with two assists in 26 appearances this term although more than half of those were times he came from the substitute bench.
As there are still few more hours to the closure of the transfer window for Premier League clubs, the deadline for transfer in the Bundesliga was 5 pm and Dortmund was clearly excited to have completed the forward signing at 4:48 pm, only 12 minutes before the end of transfer activities in Germany. He is now likely to make his debut in their League clash at FC Koln on Friday.

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Goretzka agrees Bayern deal, rejects Barcelona & Juventus

Juventus directors, Paratici and Marotta were quite confident about the signing of German midfielder, Leon Goretzka who only has six months left on his Schalke 04 contract, they will be shocked to hear that the young German has agreed on a deal to join Bundesliga giant, Bayern Munich at the end of his contract with Schalke in June.

Barcelona and Liverpool were also reportedly interested in his signature according to reports, however, Goretzka has decided to stay in his home country and chose to play in Munich. Emre Can is expected to leave Liverpool at the end of his contract in June and might be joining Italian Champions, Juventus, they, however, thought the prospect of Can in Turin would inspire Goretzka to join too but that will only remain a dream.

Rodriquez keen on staying in Bayern Munich

Columbian attacker, James Rodriguez says he will prefer to continue his football career at the Allianz Arena rather than move back to his parent club, Real Madrid at the end of his two-year loan.

Rodriquez, who caught the attention of the football world with his tantalizing display at the 2010 World cup in South Africa has scored twice and provided three assists in 12 league games for Bayern Munich this season.

With his current deal, it is expected that he will return to Real by 2019, but James has revealed that he might be staying longer in Germany

Rodriquez while speaking with Sport 1 said “At Bayern Munich, it’s great. For that reason, I can see myself playing here for many years more,”

Bayern Munich are at the same level as Real Madrid, a club of the highest quality. They always fight for titles and are used to securing them. I really like Munich. It’s a bit cold, but I’m adapting well. This is a new life for me and Munich is a fantastic city.”

After failing to secure a place in Zinedine Zidane’s first eleven, he decided to leave Real Madrid last summer.

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Bayern Munich pair James Rodriguez and Robert Lewandowski to meet when Colombia face Poland at the World Cup



Bayern Munich duo James Rodriguez and Robert Lewandowski will meet on Sunday, 24 June in Kazan when Colombia take on Poland at the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018.

Lewandowski took to Twitter once the draw was made, telling James that he remembers his “great goals during the last World Cup,” as the Colombian finished top scorer with six goals at Brazil 2014, before stating: “I hope you will remember mine from Russia.”

Colombia and Poland are in a group alongside Senegal and Japan, with Wolfsburg‘s Jakub Blaszczykowski and Borussia Dortmund‘s Lukasz Piszczek likely to feature for Adam Nawalka’s side, who were top seeds at the tournament.

Hannover defender Salif Sane represents Senegal, while Japan boast plenty of Bundesliga stars, including Shinji Kagawa (Dortmund), Makoto Hasebe (Eintracht Frankfurt), Genki Haraguchi (Hertha Berlin), Takuma Asano (Stuttgart), Yoshinori Muto (Mainz), Gotoku Sakai (Hamburg) and Yuya Osako (Cologne).

Watch: Enjoy all of Lewandowski’s Bundesliga goals in the video below!

Full Group H fixtures

Poland vs. Senegal – 19 June 2018 (14:00 CEST/12:00 GMT), Moscow
Colombia vs. Japan – 19 June 2018 (17:00 CEST/15:00 GMT), Saransk

Japan vs. Senegal – 24 June 2018 (17:00 CEST/15:00 GMT), Yekaterinburg
Poland vs. Colombia – 24 June 2018 (20:00 CEST/18:00 GMT), Kazan

Japan vs. Poland – 28 June 2018 (16:00 CEST/14:00 GMT), Volgograd
Senegal vs. Colombia – 28 June 2018 (16:00 CEST/14:00 GMT), Samara

Click here for more Bundesliga news, views and features!



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Germany to face Mexico, South Korea and Sweden at 2018 FIFA World Cup



Reigning champions Germany will meet Mexico, South Korea and Sweden in Group F as they look to defend their FIFA World Cup crown in Russia next year.

The official draw for the tournament was made in Moscow on Friday, with Joachim Löw’s side among the top-seeded teams based on the latest FIFA rankings.

17 June 2018, 17:00 CEST, Moscow: Germany vs. Mexico

Germany will face Mexico in their opening game in a re-match of their semi-final encounter at the 2017 Confederations Cup, which Germany won 4-1.

Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder Marco Fabian scored a long-range stunner for Mexico in that fixture, and he will be eager to regain fitness in time for next summer. Fellow Frankfurt player Carlos Salcedo and former Bayer Leverkusen striker Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez are also set to feature for El Tri against Germany.

23 June 2018, 17:00 CEST, Sochi: Germany vs. Sweden

On paper at least, Mexico will be Germany’s toughest opponent in the group phase. However, they will not want to take their second game against Sweden lightly. Currently ranked 18th in the official FIFA rankings, the Scandinavians no longer count on talismanic striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic but they should not be underestimated after knocking out four-time champions Italy in the qualifying play-offs.

Indeed, RB Leipzig midfielder Emil Forsberg is a key member of their side and will be Sweden’s chief hope of unlocking Germany’s defence, while Hamburg defensive midfielder Albin Ekdal and Werder Bremen defender Ludwig Augustinsson will seek to keep out Timo Werner, Leon Goretzka and Co at the other end.

27 June 2018, 16:00 CEST, Kazan: South Korea vs. Germany

There will also be familiar faces for Bundesliga followers in Die Nationalmannschaft‘s final group outing against South Korea.

Augsburg duo Ja-Cheol Koo, Dong Won Ji and Borussia Dortmund‘s Joo-ho Park are all likely to be involved alongside former Leverkusen and Hamburg forward Heung-Min Son. At 59th in the latest FIFA ranking, the Koreans are the lowest-ranked side in the group.

Should Germany progress, as is likely, from their section, they would face either the winner or second-placed finisher in Group E, which includes Brazil, Switzerland, Serbia and Costa Rica.

Click here for the 2018 FIFA World Cup draw reaction!



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Bayern Munich’s Thomas Müller to return to starting line-up against Hannover



Bayern Munich head coach Jupp Heynckes has confirmed that Thomas Müller will return to the starting line-up for Saturday’s game with Hannover.

The 26-year-old Germany international, who has won 11 of his 13 meetings with the Reds, scoring 10 goals, has been out of action since suffering a thigh strain in the Matchday 9 win over Hamburg.

Heynckes also confirmed that James Rodriguez is in contention after recovering from a head injury sustained in the 2-1 defeat to Borussia Mönchengladbach, but will make a decision on David Alaba and Franck Ribery after Bayern’s final training session. Spanish defender Juan Bernat (muscular) will not be involved against Hannover, however.

Click here for the Bayern Munich vs. Hannover match centre!



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Hoffenheim’s Dennis Geiger: “Julian Nagelsmann’s had a huge effect on me”


Forcing your way into the first team at a club that finished in the top four of the Bundesliga last season is no mean feat – especially for a 19-year-old – but that is precisely what Dennis Geiger has done at Hoffenheim this term.

Speaking exclusively to bundesliga.com ahead of his side’s mouth-watering Matchday 14 clash with RB Leipzig, the midfielder discusses his rapid rise into Julian Nagelsmann’s side, his club’s poor recent form and where he can still improve.

bundesliga.com: Dennis Geiger, you’ve been a fully-fledged Bundesliga player since the start of this season. Did you always want to be a footballer or did you have other career plans?

Geiger: I only ever wanted to play football to be honest. It’s been my aim and my dream to play in the Bundesliga ever since I was a kid. That dream has come true now and I couldn’t be happier about it.

bundesliga.com: You scored your first ever Bundesliga goal in mid-September in a home win against Schalke. What went through your mind at that moment?

Geiger: It was just a huge feeling of happiness. I didn’t really have time to reflect on it, though, as only 13 minutes had been played and I didn’t want to lose focus on the task at hand. The penny only really dropped in the hours and days after the game. For me, there aren’t many things better than scoring a goal in the Bundesliga, especially if it’s your first one.

Watch: Highlights of Hoffenheim’s win over Schalke

bundesliga.com: You have been one of the best players for Hoffenheim this season. How does someone who has not even played a dozen Bundesliga games yet get such self-confidence?

Geiger: I think my strength is that I just want to play football and I don’t think about all the other things that might happen in my career. I know what I can do and I don’t get particularly nervous before a game.

bundesliga.com: That sounds easier said than done. In practical terms, how do you prevent such thoughts arising?

Geiger: I don’t have any rituals I do before a game, like some players have. I just go out on the pitch and try to do my best for the team over 90 minutes. The fact that I’m unburdened in that regard is down to the great faith shown in me.

bundesliga.com: You’re now in your ninth year at Hoffenheim, so coach Julian Nagelsmann has known you for a long time now. What role has he played in your development?

Geiger: He’s played a massive role. I don’t think I’d have had the chance to play straight away under many coaches. I’m very grateful to him for that and I try to justify his faith in me by playing well. It’s gone well so far. But I know I can do more and that I can still improve.

bundesliga.com: What would you say are your strengths?

Geiger: I’m calm on the ball and try to read different match situations quickly. I’ve got a good engine too. But I’ve still got a long way to go.

bundesliga.com: What do you need to improve on?

Geiger: There’s plenty to do. When I’m under pressure on the ball I need to find better solutions in certain situations. In attack, my final ball needs to be better and I need to bulk up a bit to handle defensive work.

bundesliga.com: The two goals you have scored in ten appearances so far are a very good return for a player in your position…

Geiger: I’ve got a good shot on me. But when I play in a more advanced role I need to get into dangerous positions more frequently than I have done so far. Perhaps I need to believe in myself a bit more and have a go at goal myself, rather than wanting to play the killer pass..

Geiger grabbed his second Bundesliga goal in a 3-0 vicotry over Cologne on Matchday 11. © imago / Nordphoto

bundesliga.com: While things have been going well for you personally, Hoffenheim have been a bit inconsistent recently. Why is that?

Geiger: This isn’t an excuse, but the injuries we’ve had this season have been crazy at times. On the one hand we had to adapt to playing in the Europa League, which was new for us, but on the other hand we couldn’t rotate the squad much because of all the injuries. We just need to believe in the strengths we showed at the start of the season.

bundesliga.com: Your coach has said that “not everybody has done everything they can to win”. Do you think Hoffenheim have relied to much on their playing ability and neglected the necessary commitment and fight in recent weeks?

Geiger: Last season was outstanding for the team, so we know we can play good football. We just need to show it on the pitch again. It hasn’t always worked in our last few games, and we’ve only picked up a few points. That needs to change quickly because we need to collect points again.

bundesliga.com: Would you call it a mini crisis at the moment? Or is that the wrong word?

Geiger: Well, we can’t sugarcoat the fact that we’ve only won two of our last 12 games. It’s a crisis of results, at least. That said, it’d be wrong to paint everything in a negative light, because not everything’s been bad in the last few weeks.

bundesliga.com: What are your personal aims over the next few weeks?

Geiger: I want to do my best in every training session and develop as quickly as possible. And I want to use the game time I get and do well. I don’t want to think much further ahead than that.

bundesliga.com: So you’re not even thinking about the Germany U-21s, after you missed out on a possible debut due to injury?

Geiger: Yes, I am! It was an honour to be called up and I’d be delighted if coach Stefan Kuntz were to nominate me again in March.

Click here for more Hoffenheim news and features!



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10 reasons Germany are favourites to lift the World Cup in Russia next summer


The arrival of the FIFA World Cup draw brings with it the customary discussion of who’s best to avoid and who’s best to come up against, but it’s safe to say no nation will want to face reigning champions Germany, who look a good bet to go all the way again in Russia.

bundesliga.com lays down 10 reasons why Joachim Löw’s men should be considered favourites to retain their world crown.

1) The Löw factor

Löw has taken Germany to five major tournaments: UEFA EURO 2008, the FIFA World Cup 2010, UEFA EURO 2012, the FIFA World Cup 2014 and UEFA EURO 2016. In every single one of those tournaments, Die Nationalmannschaft have reached at least the semi-finals, winning the World Cup in Brazil in 2014 and finishing runners-up to Spain in 2008. It is not as if Germany have had simple runs to the last four, either. In 2010 Löw’s side knocked out England and Argentina before a semi-final exit to Spain, in 2012 they topped a group containing Portugal, Denmark and the Netherlands, while in 2014 they won a group of death with Portugal, the USA and Ghana. Put it this way: if Löw is your coach, you have a 25 per cent chance of winning the tournament.

Watch: Check out Löw’s achievements in the Bundesliga as a player!

2) They’re the holders

Once Germany do get to the last four, there’s a vast amount of tournament savvy within the nation’s ranks. As the current holders, Die Mannschaft know exactly what it takes to win the tournament, and while no nation has managed to retain the trophy since Brazil in 1962, Germany could conceivably send out eight starters (including Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng and Thomas Müller, all of whom play together for Bayern Munich at club level) from the 2014 World Cup final for their opening game in Russia. On top of that, Bundesliga clubs – such as Bayern – more often than not reach the latter stages at the top level of continental football, Löw’s likely lads regularly picking up that much-valued big-game know-how and trophy-winning experience.

Watch: Take a trip down memory lane and re-live Germany’s 2014 triumph

3) Tournament know-how

That Löw could send out eight starters from the 2014 final (Toni Kroos, Mesut Özil, Christoph Kramer and Benedikt Höwedes are the other four) underlines the wealth of tournament experience within the German ranks. It’s not just at the top level, either; an experimental ensemble lifted the FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia this past summer, while the juniors won the UEFA European Under-21 Championship. Prevailing at major tournaments is as much about managing situations in tight games as it is playing scintillating football; invariably the side that keeps its cool when the going gets tough comes out on top. With all that tournament expertise – even at youth tournaments – Löw’s unit looks well set: Gary Lineker’s old cliché that football is 22 men running around after a ball and at the end Germany winning has plenty of legs yet.

4) Strength in depth

That experience – Löw taking an experimental squad to the Confederations Cup and the youngsters prevailing at the EUROs this past summer – has translated into unrivalled squad depth. No other nation boasts a wealth of options quite like Germany, who could choose no fewer than four separate starting XIs for the tournament. Alas, the 57-year-old tactician is only allowed to take 23 players – three of whom will be goalkeepers – and selecting a balanced squad from his embarrassment of riches is Löw’s major pre-tournament challenge. For UEFA EURO 2016, he left out Marco Reus, Julian Brandt, Sebastian Rudy and Karim Bellarabi – who will miss out this time around?

Could this be Germany’s starting XI for their first game in Russia? © DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA

5) A testament of youth

Germany’s remarkable squad depth has been supplemented by an injection of fresh legs. From the 2014 World Cup-winning side, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Per Mertesacker, Miroslav Klose and Philipp Lahm have retired, with Joshua Kimmich, Timo Werner, Leon Goretzka, Leroy Sane, Brandt and Niklas Süle among those chomping at the bit to fill their sizeable boots. Combining those youngsters’ eagerness to impress with the aforementioned experienced heads could well be a recipe for another global triumph.

Watch: Get to know Germany’s next golden generation!

6) In fine form

Germany’s all-conquering qualification campaign offered the perfect opportunity to begin mixing youth with experience: Werner, Kimmich, Sane, Brandt and Goretzka all impressed, but reaching the World Cup was far from just an experiment; quite the opposite, in fact. Löw’s troops became only the second-ever side (after Spain in 2010) to win all 10 games of a European qualifying campaign. Quite simply, the four-time winners are in excellent form approaching next summer’s jamboree in Russia.

7) Home soil – sort of

It will not have escaped notice that this World Cup takes place in Europe, traditionally when European teams are at an advantage and South American teams struggle more than expected. In nine out of 10 World Cups played on European soil, a European side has prevailed, with Brazil’s Pele-inspired triumph in Sweden in 1958 the only exception. Three of Germany’s four world titles have come on European soil (Switzerland 1958, West Germany 1974 and Italy 1990), while they have also reached the final twice on their own continent (England 1966, Spain 1982), boding well for Russia 2018.

8) Confederations Cup trump card

Speaking of Russia: Germany’s experience in local conditions at the Confederations Cup could come in very handy indeed during the 2018 tournament. Löw’s side played in three of the stadiums to be used at this summer’s tournament – Sochi, Kazan and St. Petersburg – and since footballers are creatures of habit, a little inside knowledge will be more than welcome. Knowing what to expect in terms of climate, atmosphere and hotels could prove an under-emphasised trump card.

9) Revenge

Make no mistake – Germany’s semi-final exit to hosts France at EURO 2016 hurt. Löw and his players made all of the right noises afterwards, but going one step further will very much be on their minds at this tournament. “France played well, but we were better,” said Löw after the 2-0 defeat in Marseille. “We had a little bit more than the French, but perhaps didn’t get the rub of the green.” Die Nationalmannschaft do not intend to leave anything to chance this time around.

France got the better of Germany in the UEFA EURO 2016 semi-finals.

10) Penalty lottery?

Finally, there’s that old cliché of never betting against the Germans when it comes to penalties. The four-time winners have come out victorious in their last six shoot-outs at major tournaments (dating back to the 1982 World Cup), so even if you do manage to hold off Löw’s side, you still have to survive a lottery rigged in the Germans’ favour by the weight of history. Good luck.

Click right here for all the build-up to the World Cup draw!



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Lewandowski? Caligiuri? Bartra? Raffael? Vote for your November Bundesliga Goal of the Month!



Bundesliga fans were blessed with goals in the month of November. It was a month that had it all – Der Klassiker, the Revierderby – and, most importantly, a welter of stunning strikes, from Robert Lewandowski‘s and Arjen Robben‘s efforts for Bayern Munich against Borussia Dortmund, to Daniel Caligiuri’s match-changing stunner for Schalke against Die Schwarzgelben, via Raffael’s stonking hit for Borussia Mönchengladbach against Hertha Berlin. And don’t worry, BVB fans, it wasn’t the most memorable of months, but Marc Bartra‘s wonder goal against Bayern is also one of the candidates. Of all those brilliant efforts, which was YOUR favourite?

Just click play on the video above to watch the 10 goals we whittled it down to, before heading to our Facebook page right here and voting for your favourite!

Click right here for all the previous Bundesliga Goal of the Month winners!



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James Rodriguez: “I didn’t know Bayern’s score against Gladbach!”


Bayern Munich star James Rodriguez suffered a concussion in the 2-1 defeat to Borussia Mönchengladbach on Saturday, coming off at half-time for Bundesliga debutant Marco Friedl.

Now fully recovered after his collision with Tony Jantschke, bundesliga.com caught up with the gifted Colombian to get his thoughts on the game, life at Bayern, and what became of the classic No.10 position…

bundesliga.com: James Rodriguez, how do you feel? Jupp Heynckes said you weren’t able to remember the result at half-time. What happened in the changing room?

James: Fortunately, it was nothing serious. I’m fine now. It’s true that I came back to the changing rooms at half-time and asked how the game was going! They said “We’re losing 2-0” and I said “Really, when did this happen?!”. They told me it was true and I asked again if they were joking. I only realised our goalkeeper [Sven Ulreich] had almost stopped a penalty [Thorgan Hazard’s opener on 39 minutes] 15 minutes after it happened. I got better after that. They did a medical check and there’s nothing to worry about.

Watch: Highlights of Bayern’s 2-1 reverse at Gladbach!

bundesliga.com: Let’s talk about Bayern. What has impressed you most about the club?

James: Bayern are a huge club. They’re used to fighting for titles here, as was the case with my previous team [Real Madrid]. I expected Bayern to be exactly like that, so nothing has surprised me in that regard. Everyone involved with the club behaves in a way you’d expect of a club at the top of its game. There’s nothing more to say. Bayern are a 10 out of 10 club.

bundesliga.com: Today you’re an international star, but when did you decide to be a professional footballer? Was it mandated by your family? Is it something you planned, or did it just happen?

James: Well, my father was also a player, and I think I had it in my DNA. I started playing when I was four years old and I always had a ball at my feet from 8:00 in the morning to 19:00 in the evening. My life was football and I’ve wanted it to be that way for as long as I can remember. I dreamed of being a star and the the world knowing who I was. I’m grateful that I’ve been able to play for huge clubs and reach my goals.

James Rodriguez was the top scorer at the 2014 FIFA World Cup – which Germany won – plundering six goals in Colombia’s run to the quarter-finals. © gettyimages / LUIS ACOSTA/AFP

bundesliga.com: You were always a classic No.10, a position many kids dream of playing in. Is it a position that is dying out, though? Not many teams are playing with a string-pulling attacking midfielder today…

James: You’re absolutely right! I think there are no more No.10s left in the world. When I arrived at Porto [James signed for the 27-time Portuguese champions from Banfield in 2010], they told me clearly: “We know you’re a classic 10, but here you’re going to play as a forward.” From that moment, I started working as a “false 9”, also running towards the centre. Eight or 10 years ago it was different, because attacking midfield was a regular position. Today, those who have a 10 on their back are normally centre-forwards or complete midfielders. Football today is tactical and very physical, with no place for No.10.

bundesliga.com: When he arrived, Heynckes said he would talk with you as he understood that it could be difficult to play without speaking the language. How is your German?

James: I’m learning (laughs)!  I think I’ve already taken about 10 or 15 classes. I learn things every day. But it’s a very difficult language. But I always say that when you play football, and you do it well, it doesn’t matter if your teammates speak Chinese or French. If you play well, the rest is easy.

bundesliga.com: [Cologne striker and former Bayern favourite] Claudio Pizarro said he came to Germany thinking about speaking the language of football…

James: Exactly! The language of football is the same throughout the world.

* A quiet Sunday. I feel good, and better after the blow I suffered.

bundesliga.com: What do you do on a day-to-day basis when you don’t have a match? Do you take in Munich as a tourist would?

James: Yes, why not? That’s something that can be done here. People are much more respectful, not as fanatical as in other countries. When I go out, although people recognise me, they let me walk, they keep their distance. I can go for a coffee and relax… It’s a fantastic city! I’m falling in love with Munich.

bundesliga.com: Is that possible if you go out to eat with teammates such as Arturo Vidal?

James: You may be asked for one or two photos, at the most. The people are very respectful, for the most part. If I said “yes” to a picture in any other country, there would be at least 16 or 20 taken. But here it’s very calm. They make me feel comfortable.

bundesliga.com: Everyone talks about the atmosphere in the Bundesliga. All the stadia are full and the fans are always singing. Does that have an impact on you out on the pitch?

James: Well, the pressure is always there. But I think that, once you’re out on the pitch, that gets released. You’re so focused on what you have to do, that you don’t notice everything that happens around you. Anyway, it’s a great league, and I enjoy seeing the stadiums full and the party atmosphere during the games.

Watch: James’ new home, the Allianz Arena

bundesliga.com: How is your Sunday when your team win compared to what follows after a defeat?

James: Nothing changes! A few years ago I used to dwell on what happened after a defeat, but when you get older you learn to deal with defeats and bad personal performances. I know I’m going to have to play again in a matter of days and that I have to perform again. It’s not my family’s fault if something happens to me in the playground. When I get home, the match is over.

bundesliga.com: What advice would you give to a young James Rodriguez?

James: I think there are times in life for everything. When you are 16, you may think that you already know everything. I was this way. That’s a big mistake though. Then you grow up and realise you have many things to learn. I’m 26 now but I’m still learning new things every day. When you’re 16 you still have everything to learn.

bundesliga.com: Finally, would you like to say something to the people of Colombia and beyond, who are happy to see you at your best again?

James: Well, I’ve noticed that there are a lot of Bayern fans who support the club and also support what I do. That makes me very happy. I notice that they know that I always try my best. I can only thank you for the unconditional support you give me!

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Bayern’s Javi Martinez: “Captaincy an honour”



Some truly exceptional Spanish talents have pulled on the famous red of Bayern Munich in recent years – Xabi Alonso and Thiago spring to mind – but only Javi Martinez has had the honour of wearing the captain’s armband.

In an exclusive interview with Bayern’s official club website, Martinez spoke about what it felt like to become the first Spaniard to skipper the record German champions and discussed his welcome retransition from defence to defensive midfield…

Question: You captained Bayern for the first time against Borussia Mönchengladbach. When did you learn you’d be wearing the armband?

Javi Martinez: When we had our snack before the match the coach told me Jerome [Boateng] wouldn’t be playing. Suddenly I was the most experienced Bayern pro in the squad and was handed the armband, that was great. I see it as a great honour to be the first Spaniard to captain Bayern. I’ll never forget it.

Question: Do you take to the pitch in a different way wearing the armband?

Martinez: Not really. The only difference was that I took part in the coin toss. There was no difference during the match. I’ve always talked a lot to my teammates anyway, helped them, spurred them on. That’s perfectly normal for me.

Question: Unfortunately you weren’t able to celebrate a victory after your debut…

Martinez: It was a difficult match, as so often is the case in Gladbach. Of course we didn’t turn in our best performance. We could tell we were missing some players up front. We still fought and tried to achieve at least a draw, but it wasn’t to be. We have to learn from our mistakes and carry on now.

Watch: Bayern’s winning run came to an end in Gladbach

Question: You’re in your sixth year in Munich. Do you automatically assume more responsibility?

Martinez: I’m 29, I’ve been a professional footballer for 11 years. Of course you try to help younger players and pass on knowledge and experience in my situation. I think it’s perfectly normal. But I’m not alone in this respect. We have a number of players who’ve been at Bayern longer than me: Manuel Neuer, Thomas Müller, Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben, Jerome Boateng.

Question: You’ve played in defensive midfield since Jupp Heynckes‘ return as head coach. How does it feel to be back in that position?

Martinez: I’m glad to be playing there again. I feel very much at home there. I’ve played in the position for most of my career, and it feels as if I’d never played in defence but always in defensive midfield.

Question: You were a centre-back for four years. Didn’t you have any problems adjusting?

Martinez: It wasn’t a problem. Of course a few details are different, but they were second nature again after a few training sessions. My teammates helped me a lot. There isn’t much difference between playing in defence and midfield, as we usually dominate possession and attack. Both the defensive midfielders and the centre-backs have to work a lot when not in possession, they must control the match and contain their opponents.

Watch: Javi Martinez – Bayern Munich‘s midfield rock

Question: That sounds as if you prefer defensive midfield over centre-back…

Martinez: I’m in two minds. I feel good in both positions, both suit my qualities. I’d say I’m a team player and want to help my teammates where they need me.

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Standing tall! Hoffenheim and Leipzig aim to be a cut above in Bundesliga face-off



It will be a battle of youth; of fresh, inventive ideas, quick running and high pressing, and perhaps far less importantly, when Hoffenheim host RB Leipzig this weekend, it will be a battle between two of the Bundesliga’s tallest coaches.

Who will triumph in tactical terms will unfold before our eyes in what is certain to be a blistering Bundesliga match-up at the WIRSOL Rhein-Neckar Arena on Saturday.

Watch: Leipzig narrowly beat Hoffenheim at the Red Bull Arena when the sides last met

However, having counted and recounted this week’s big-game statistics, one less than crucial question remains unanswered: just who is taller, Julian Nagelsmann or Ralph Hasenhüttl? Unconfirmed sources suggest that the Leipzig leader edges it by millimetres, standing as the Austrian does at 1.91m, or 6 ft 3in.

Yet to finally verify if this is true, our stat collectors have called on both coaches to stand back to back following their pre-game handshake at the home of Hoffenheim so they can finally gain closure on this most trivial of conundrums.

Far less than trivial, of course, is the Sinsheimers’ recent record ahead of their meeting with the Bundesliga’s second-placed team. Just one win in their last eight games in all competitions has young Nagelsmann concerned.

A 3-0 reverse against Hamburg last time out – which began with the unfortunate Kevin Akpoguma scoring the division’s 1,000th own goal – left Hoffenheim’s record in their last eight Bundesliga games looking like this: W2 D3 L3. “I am a friend of honest words,” Nagelsmann said, drawing on his best Game of Thrones-era voice. “We are in a crisis of results and cannot live on what we achieved in the past. We must get back to reality again and do everything we can to win.”

Despite their recent travails, Hoffenheim are only five points worse off than at the same stage last season, when they finished a club-high fourth and qualified for European competition for the first time in their history. That was a feat Leipzig also achieved when ending 2016/17 in second, and the Saxony-based side are hitting a similar vein of good form again, having won six of their previous eight top-flight matches.

Watch: Leipzig down Werder Bremen on Matchday 14!

High-Tower Hasenhüttl was even thrilled that Leipzig’s last game – a 2-0 win against Werder Bremen – ended with his side keeping a clean sheet, something they hadn’t managed in their previous six encounters across all competitions.

“[The Bremen game] was a huge piece of work for us …. I’m happy we finally got back to zero in [the goals conceded column],” the Leipzig coach enthused. The 50-year-old will also delight in the knowledge that of the 30 Bundesliga teams Hoffenheim have faced, Leipzig are the only side they have yet to beat.

Indeed, Saturday’s hosts took the lead against their Saxony rivals three times last term, but the first encounter – Leipzig’s Bundesliga debut – ended in a 2-2 draw while in the second meeting, the newly-promoted outfit ended Hoffenheim’s 18-match unbeaten run by posting a 2-1 win at the Red Bull Arena.

While Nagelsmann and Hasenhüttl might by the tallest on the touchline, Timo Werner and Sandro Wagner are among the deadliest of German marksmen on the field of play. Both have combined to register 11 goals this term, with ‘Turbo’ Werner’s seven earning him fourth spot in the race for the 2017/18 Torjägerkanone.

And watching both skilled strikers from a lofty position in the stands on Saturday will be a visitor who has strong links with the men in blue. Leipzig’s sporting director Ralf Rangnick was responsible for taking Hoffenheim into the Bundesliga for the first time in 2008 as their coach, an accomplishment he oversaw in the same role with Leipzig in 2015/16, before handing the reins to Hasenhüttl.

Who will stand tallest when the final whistle blows on Saturday remains to be seen, yet as the short history between Hoffenheim and Leipzig suggests, both look set to produce high entertainment in the battle to procure maximum points.

Quiz: How well do you know RB Leipzig?

Click here for the Hoffenheim vs. Leipzig Match Centre!



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Hamburg starlet Jann-Fiete Arp almost falls foul of Germany’s youth employment law



Jann-Fiete Arp has been granted special permission by local authorities to make the trip with Hamburg to Freiburg on Friday night for the Red-Shorts’ Bundesliga Matchday 14 clash.

Paragraph 14, Clause Seven of Germany’s youth employment law states that under-18s are only permitted to work between 06:00 in the morning and 20:00 in the evening, but HSV’s Friday-night fixture in the Black Forest kicks off at 20:30 local time – half an hour after Arp, who has scored two Bundesliga goals in five games this season, is due to finish working.

Hamburg’s application to the Health and Consumer Protection authorities fell on sympathetic ears, however; exceptions to the rule can be made for music concerts, plays in the theatre and other public productions. Fortunately a Bundesliga fixture falls under the category of “other public productions” and so Arp will be permitted to feature for HSV on Friday.

Watch: Arp discusses scoring his first Bundesliga goal on home turf (second overall)!

In 2011, when playing for Schalke, Julian Draxler was caught up in the same predicament, although was also permitted to play.

Hamburg would do well to keep the authorities’ direct phone number, however: before Arp’s 18th birthday on 6 January, Hamburg face Eintracht Frankfurt (Matchday 16, 20:30) and Borussia Mönchengladbach (Matchday 17, 20:30) in games kicking off after Arp should legally be tucked up in bed.

Click here for the Freiburg vs. Hamburg MatchCentre!



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Wolfsburg’s Daniel Didavi takes Bundesliga’s Common Goal donors to seven



Increasing numbers of professional players around the globe are joining the Common Goal initiative, a project in which players pledge at least one per cent of their wages to a collective fund managed by Berlin-based non-governmental organisation streetfootballworld.

Bundesliga representatives are playing a leading role in the cause, with eight figures from across Germany’s top two divisions announcing their involvement.

The Bayern Munich defender got the ball rolling in the top flight on 17 August this year, voicing his decision to sign up to the project via Twitter and using his high-profile status to help extend its reach.

The Hoffenheim attacker was next and the first of a flurry of commitments in October. “One per cent is not a huge figure but it can make a huge impact if we commit to it as a team,” he said. “I want to make giving back a part of football and help football feel good about itself again. I want to change the game for good.”

Dennis Aogo

Stuttgart defender Dennis Aogo announced his decision to join up just a few days after Gnabry, and even pledged to donate two per cent of his salary to the charity. “For many years, my wife and I have been looking for a good project where we can help permanently and effectively,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “With Common Goal we found our ideal partners. We are proud to be a member of this very special family. Within this family, we want to focus mainly on disadvantaged children and young people. It is time to help and I hope that many will follow our example. Together we can achieve a lot.”

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Tuchel has the quality to coach Bayern – Heynckes

Tuchel has the quality to coach Bayern – Heynckes

Bayern Munich Manager, Jupp Heynckes believes that Thomas Tuchel has the required quality and experience to manage the historical football club.
The Bayern legend who was brought in for his fourth spell with the club to calm the tides after former Manager, Carlo Ancelotti was fired at the first half of the season has been remarkable as Bayern is now on course for another treble.
Even as Bayern Munich management wants him to remain at the club for another 12 months, the 72-year old tactician has repeatedly made it clear that he will leave at the end of this term. He has, however, raised former Borussia Dortmund’s Manager, Thomas Tuchel’s hands to take over from him.

While speaking with ESPN, Heynckes said: “Tuchel has the quality to coach Bayern, I rate Thomas Tuchel. He has continued the progression of the youth teams at Mainz. That is the stairway to success that you must take, learning the correct approach and people skills.”
“Under Tuchel, Borussia Dortmund played excellent football with a good system — all of today’s modern footballing elements were there for everyone to see.
“Tuchel’s side finished runners-up, won the DFB Pokal and played attractive football. I had fun watching BVB, that’s why I respect and rate him as a very good trainer.”
Tuchel was however sent packing by Dortmund last year, just a few days after winning the club’s first trophy in five years after it was reported that there appears to be a misunderstanding between him and the club board.

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Dortmund set to welcome back Marco Reus after eight months injury

Dortmund set to welcome back Marco Reus after eight months injury

Borussia Dortmund is set to welcome back Germany International from a long injury lay-off as Manager, Peter Stoger affirms that he might be available to feature in the club’s next game.
The talented and brilliant midfielder, who has been out since May with an awful Knee ligament injury now has about four months to help his club end the season well after an unconvincing display in the past few months and also to convince Germany Coach, Joachim Low of his talents ahead of the summer World Cup.
It is a fact that Dortmund has terribly missed the 28-year old whose moments of genius has won several matches for the German side. In fact, he got injured after a sensational display in the German Cup final victory over Eintracht Frankfurt in May.
The club is positioned 4th on the Bundesliga table, having the same number of points as Schalke 04 and just six points above 10th placed Hannover 96. They are 19 points off the league summit and it is certain they can only play catch up for a place in next season’s UEFA Champions League.
“He can significantly change the course of a game thanks to his quality,” stated Dortmund Boss Peter Stoger as he affirmed that he could make his return in their league game against Hamburg SV this weekend.
“Marco has trained normally throughout the week, we know he would like to play and he knows we would like to have him with us,’ he said, adding that the final decision would lie with Reus himself.”
“He knows his body better than anyone and it’s up to him to give the signal.”
The fast-feet winger has suffered 14 injuries lasting more than 10 days since joining Dortmund in 2012 in an injury-plagued but impressive career
He couldn’t make the 2014 World Cup in Brazil after getting injured in a friendly game with Armenia in preparation for the tournament while a groin problem denied him a place in Euro 2016.
This last knee problem made him unavailable for the Confederations Cup last year and he will only be hopeful that he remains fit for the remainder of the season to merit a place in this summer football fiesta in Russia.

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Dortmund excited to complete Batshuayi deal with 12 minutes left

Belgian forward, Michy Batshuayi has completed a loan move to join German Bundesliga side, Borussia Dortmund for the remaining part of the season after club top striker, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang sealed his transfer to the Premier League in a £56million club record deal to Arsenal.
In a triangle of transfers, Chelsea needed to release Batshuayi to Dortmund after Aubameyang deal was completed although they were demanding for France International, Olivier Giroud from the Gunners.
After Giroud’s move to the other side of the capital has been done and dusted, Batshuayi was released to move to Dortmund on loan for the next six months.
He has struggled to secure a regular role at Stamford Bridge under Manager, Antonio Conte as it seems the Italian doesn’t have him in his plans despite his important goals, one of which sealed the League for the Blues last season.
The former Marseille striker has scored 12 goals with two assists in 26 appearances this term although more than half of those were times he came from the substitute bench.
As there are still few more hours to the closure of the transfer window for Premier League clubs, the deadline for transfer in the Bundesliga was 5 pm and Dortmund was clearly excited to have completed the forward signing at 4:48 pm, only 12 minutes before the end of transfer activities in Germany. He is now likely to make his debut in their League clash at FC Koln on Friday.

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Goretzka agrees Bayern deal, rejects Barcelona & Juventus

Juventus directors, Paratici and Marotta were quite confident about the signing of German midfielder, Leon Goretzka who only has six months left on his Schalke 04 contract, they will be shocked to hear that the young German has agreed on a deal to join Bundesliga giant, Bayern Munich at the end of his contract with Schalke in June.

Barcelona and Liverpool were also reportedly interested in his signature according to reports, however, Goretzka has decided to stay in his home country and chose to play in Munich. Emre Can is expected to leave Liverpool at the end of his contract in June and might be joining Italian Champions, Juventus, they, however, thought the prospect of Can in Turin would inspire Goretzka to join too but that will only remain a dream.

Rodriquez keen on staying in Bayern Munich

Columbian attacker, James Rodriguez says he will prefer to continue his football career at the Allianz Arena rather than move back to his parent club, Real Madrid at the end of his two-year loan.

Rodriquez, who caught the attention of the football world with his tantalizing display at the 2010 World cup in South Africa has scored twice and provided three assists in 12 league games for Bayern Munich this season.

With his current deal, it is expected that he will return to Real by 2019, but James has revealed that he might be staying longer in Germany

Rodriquez while speaking with Sport 1 said “At Bayern Munich, it’s great. For that reason, I can see myself playing here for many years more,”

Bayern Munich are at the same level as Real Madrid, a club of the highest quality. They always fight for titles and are used to securing them. I really like Munich. It’s a bit cold, but I’m adapting well. This is a new life for me and Munich is a fantastic city.”

After failing to secure a place in Zinedine Zidane’s first eleven, he decided to leave Real Madrid last summer.

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Bayern Munich pair James Rodriguez and Robert Lewandowski to meet when Colombia face Poland at the World Cup



Bayern Munich duo James Rodriguez and Robert Lewandowski will meet on Sunday, 24 June in Kazan when Colombia take on Poland at the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018.

Lewandowski took to Twitter once the draw was made, telling James that he remembers his “great goals during the last World Cup,” as the Colombian finished top scorer with six goals at Brazil 2014, before stating: “I hope you will remember mine from Russia.”

Colombia and Poland are in a group alongside Senegal and Japan, with Wolfsburg‘s Jakub Blaszczykowski and Borussia Dortmund‘s Lukasz Piszczek likely to feature for Adam Nawalka’s side, who were top seeds at the tournament.

Hannover defender Salif Sane represents Senegal, while Japan boast plenty of Bundesliga stars, including Shinji Kagawa (Dortmund), Makoto Hasebe (Eintracht Frankfurt), Genki Haraguchi (Hertha Berlin), Takuma Asano (Stuttgart), Yoshinori Muto (Mainz), Gotoku Sakai (Hamburg) and Yuya Osako (Cologne).

Watch: Enjoy all of Lewandowski’s Bundesliga goals in the video below!

Full Group H fixtures

Poland vs. Senegal – 19 June 2018 (14:00 CEST/12:00 GMT), Moscow
Colombia vs. Japan – 19 June 2018 (17:00 CEST/15:00 GMT), Saransk

Japan vs. Senegal – 24 June 2018 (17:00 CEST/15:00 GMT), Yekaterinburg
Poland vs. Colombia – 24 June 2018 (20:00 CEST/18:00 GMT), Kazan

Japan vs. Poland – 28 June 2018 (16:00 CEST/14:00 GMT), Volgograd
Senegal vs. Colombia – 28 June 2018 (16:00 CEST/14:00 GMT), Samara

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Germany to face Mexico, South Korea and Sweden at 2018 FIFA World Cup



Reigning champions Germany will meet Mexico, South Korea and Sweden in Group F as they look to defend their FIFA World Cup crown in Russia next year.

The official draw for the tournament was made in Moscow on Friday, with Joachim Löw’s side among the top-seeded teams based on the latest FIFA rankings.

17 June 2018, 17:00 CEST, Moscow: Germany vs. Mexico

Germany will face Mexico in their opening game in a re-match of their semi-final encounter at the 2017 Confederations Cup, which Germany won 4-1.

Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder Marco Fabian scored a long-range stunner for Mexico in that fixture, and he will be eager to regain fitness in time for next summer. Fellow Frankfurt player Carlos Salcedo and former Bayer Leverkusen striker Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez are also set to feature for El Tri against Germany.

23 June 2018, 17:00 CEST, Sochi: Germany vs. Sweden

On paper at least, Mexico will be Germany’s toughest opponent in the group phase. However, they will not want to take their second game against Sweden lightly. Currently ranked 18th in the official FIFA rankings, the Scandinavians no longer count on talismanic striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic but they should not be underestimated after knocking out four-time champions Italy in the qualifying play-offs.

Indeed, RB Leipzig midfielder Emil Forsberg is a key member of their side and will be Sweden’s chief hope of unlocking Germany’s defence, while Hamburg defensive midfielder Albin Ekdal and Werder Bremen defender Ludwig Augustinsson will seek to keep out Timo Werner, Leon Goretzka and Co at the other end.

27 June 2018, 16:00 CEST, Kazan: South Korea vs. Germany

There will also be familiar faces for Bundesliga followers in Die Nationalmannschaft‘s final group outing against South Korea.

Augsburg duo Ja-Cheol Koo, Dong Won Ji and Borussia Dortmund‘s Joo-ho Park are all likely to be involved alongside former Leverkusen and Hamburg forward Heung-Min Son. At 59th in the latest FIFA ranking, the Koreans are the lowest-ranked side in the group.

Should Germany progress, as is likely, from their section, they would face either the winner or second-placed finisher in Group E, which includes Brazil, Switzerland, Serbia and Costa Rica.

Click here for the 2018 FIFA World Cup draw reaction!



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Bayern Munich’s Thomas Müller to return to starting line-up against Hannover



Bayern Munich head coach Jupp Heynckes has confirmed that Thomas Müller will return to the starting line-up for Saturday’s game with Hannover.

The 26-year-old Germany international, who has won 11 of his 13 meetings with the Reds, scoring 10 goals, has been out of action since suffering a thigh strain in the Matchday 9 win over Hamburg.

Heynckes also confirmed that James Rodriguez is in contention after recovering from a head injury sustained in the 2-1 defeat to Borussia Mönchengladbach, but will make a decision on David Alaba and Franck Ribery after Bayern’s final training session. Spanish defender Juan Bernat (muscular) will not be involved against Hannover, however.

Click here for the Bayern Munich vs. Hannover match centre!



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Hoffenheim’s Dennis Geiger: “Julian Nagelsmann’s had a huge effect on me”


Forcing your way into the first team at a club that finished in the top four of the Bundesliga last season is no mean feat – especially for a 19-year-old – but that is precisely what Dennis Geiger has done at Hoffenheim this term.

Speaking exclusively to bundesliga.com ahead of his side’s mouth-watering Matchday 14 clash with RB Leipzig, the midfielder discusses his rapid rise into Julian Nagelsmann’s side, his club’s poor recent form and where he can still improve.

bundesliga.com: Dennis Geiger, you’ve been a fully-fledged Bundesliga player since the start of this season. Did you always want to be a footballer or did you have other career plans?

Geiger: I only ever wanted to play football to be honest. It’s been my aim and my dream to play in the Bundesliga ever since I was a kid. That dream has come true now and I couldn’t be happier about it.

bundesliga.com: You scored your first ever Bundesliga goal in mid-September in a home win against Schalke. What went through your mind at that moment?

Geiger: It was just a huge feeling of happiness. I didn’t really have time to reflect on it, though, as only 13 minutes had been played and I didn’t want to lose focus on the task at hand. The penny only really dropped in the hours and days after the game. For me, there aren’t many things better than scoring a goal in the Bundesliga, especially if it’s your first one.

Watch: Highlights of Hoffenheim’s win over Schalke

bundesliga.com: You have been one of the best players for Hoffenheim this season. How does someone who has not even played a dozen Bundesliga games yet get such self-confidence?

Geiger: I think my strength is that I just want to play football and I don’t think about all the other things that might happen in my career. I know what I can do and I don’t get particularly nervous before a game.

bundesliga.com: That sounds easier said than done. In practical terms, how do you prevent such thoughts arising?

Geiger: I don’t have any rituals I do before a game, like some players have. I just go out on the pitch and try to do my best for the team over 90 minutes. The fact that I’m unburdened in that regard is down to the great faith shown in me.

bundesliga.com: You’re now in your ninth year at Hoffenheim, so coach Julian Nagelsmann has known you for a long time now. What role has he played in your development?

Geiger: He’s played a massive role. I don’t think I’d have had the chance to play straight away under many coaches. I’m very grateful to him for that and I try to justify his faith in me by playing well. It’s gone well so far. But I know I can do more and that I can still improve.

bundesliga.com: What would you say are your strengths?

Geiger: I’m calm on the ball and try to read different match situations quickly. I’ve got a good engine too. But I’ve still got a long way to go.

bundesliga.com: What do you need to improve on?

Geiger: There’s plenty to do. When I’m under pressure on the ball I need to find better solutions in certain situations. In attack, my final ball needs to be better and I need to bulk up a bit to handle defensive work.

bundesliga.com: The two goals you have scored in ten appearances so far are a very good return for a player in your position…

Geiger: I’ve got a good shot on me. But when I play in a more advanced role I need to get into dangerous positions more frequently than I have done so far. Perhaps I need to believe in myself a bit more and have a go at goal myself, rather than wanting to play the killer pass..

Geiger grabbed his second Bundesliga goal in a 3-0 vicotry over Cologne on Matchday 11. © imago / Nordphoto

bundesliga.com: While things have been going well for you personally, Hoffenheim have been a bit inconsistent recently. Why is that?

Geiger: This isn’t an excuse, but the injuries we’ve had this season have been crazy at times. On the one hand we had to adapt to playing in the Europa League, which was new for us, but on the other hand we couldn’t rotate the squad much because of all the injuries. We just need to believe in the strengths we showed at the start of the season.

bundesliga.com: Your coach has said that “not everybody has done everything they can to win”. Do you think Hoffenheim have relied to much on their playing ability and neglected the necessary commitment and fight in recent weeks?

Geiger: Last season was outstanding for the team, so we know we can play good football. We just need to show it on the pitch again. It hasn’t always worked in our last few games, and we’ve only picked up a few points. That needs to change quickly because we need to collect points again.

bundesliga.com: Would you call it a mini crisis at the moment? Or is that the wrong word?

Geiger: Well, we can’t sugarcoat the fact that we’ve only won two of our last 12 games. It’s a crisis of results, at least. That said, it’d be wrong to paint everything in a negative light, because not everything’s been bad in the last few weeks.

bundesliga.com: What are your personal aims over the next few weeks?

Geiger: I want to do my best in every training session and develop as quickly as possible. And I want to use the game time I get and do well. I don’t want to think much further ahead than that.

bundesliga.com: So you’re not even thinking about the Germany U-21s, after you missed out on a possible debut due to injury?

Geiger: Yes, I am! It was an honour to be called up and I’d be delighted if coach Stefan Kuntz were to nominate me again in March.

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10 reasons Germany are favourites to lift the World Cup in Russia next summer


The arrival of the FIFA World Cup draw brings with it the customary discussion of who’s best to avoid and who’s best to come up against, but it’s safe to say no nation will want to face reigning champions Germany, who look a good bet to go all the way again in Russia.

bundesliga.com lays down 10 reasons why Joachim Löw’s men should be considered favourites to retain their world crown.

1) The Löw factor

Löw has taken Germany to five major tournaments: UEFA EURO 2008, the FIFA World Cup 2010, UEFA EURO 2012, the FIFA World Cup 2014 and UEFA EURO 2016. In every single one of those tournaments, Die Nationalmannschaft have reached at least the semi-finals, winning the World Cup in Brazil in 2014 and finishing runners-up to Spain in 2008. It is not as if Germany have had simple runs to the last four, either. In 2010 Löw’s side knocked out England and Argentina before a semi-final exit to Spain, in 2012 they topped a group containing Portugal, Denmark and the Netherlands, while in 2014 they won a group of death with Portugal, the USA and Ghana. Put it this way: if Löw is your coach, you have a 25 per cent chance of winning the tournament.

Watch: Check out Löw’s achievements in the Bundesliga as a player!

2) They’re the holders

Once Germany do get to the last four, there’s a vast amount of tournament savvy within the nation’s ranks. As the current holders, Die Mannschaft know exactly what it takes to win the tournament, and while no nation has managed to retain the trophy since Brazil in 1962, Germany could conceivably send out eight starters (including Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng and Thomas Müller, all of whom play together for Bayern Munich at club level) from the 2014 World Cup final for their opening game in Russia. On top of that, Bundesliga clubs – such as Bayern – more often than not reach the latter stages at the top level of continental football, Löw’s likely lads regularly picking up that much-valued big-game know-how and trophy-winning experience.

Watch: Take a trip down memory lane and re-live Germany’s 2014 triumph

3) Tournament know-how

That Löw could send out eight starters from the 2014 final (Toni Kroos, Mesut Özil, Christoph Kramer and Benedikt Höwedes are the other four) underlines the wealth of tournament experience within the German ranks. It’s not just at the top level, either; an experimental ensemble lifted the FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia this past summer, while the juniors won the UEFA European Under-21 Championship. Prevailing at major tournaments is as much about managing situations in tight games as it is playing scintillating football; invariably the side that keeps its cool when the going gets tough comes out on top. With all that tournament expertise – even at youth tournaments – Löw’s unit looks well set: Gary Lineker’s old cliché that football is 22 men running around after a ball and at the end Germany winning has plenty of legs yet.

4) Strength in depth

That experience – Löw taking an experimental squad to the Confederations Cup and the youngsters prevailing at the EUROs this past summer – has translated into unrivalled squad depth. No other nation boasts a wealth of options quite like Germany, who could choose no fewer than four separate starting XIs for the tournament. Alas, the 57-year-old tactician is only allowed to take 23 players – three of whom will be goalkeepers – and selecting a balanced squad from his embarrassment of riches is Löw’s major pre-tournament challenge. For UEFA EURO 2016, he left out Marco Reus, Julian Brandt, Sebastian Rudy and Karim Bellarabi – who will miss out this time around?

Could this be Germany’s starting XI for their first game in Russia? © DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA

5) A testament of youth

Germany’s remarkable squad depth has been supplemented by an injection of fresh legs. From the 2014 World Cup-winning side, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Per Mertesacker, Miroslav Klose and Philipp Lahm have retired, with Joshua Kimmich, Timo Werner, Leon Goretzka, Leroy Sane, Brandt and Niklas Süle among those chomping at the bit to fill their sizeable boots. Combining those youngsters’ eagerness to impress with the aforementioned experienced heads could well be a recipe for another global triumph.

Watch: Get to know Germany’s next golden generation!

6) In fine form

Germany’s all-conquering qualification campaign offered the perfect opportunity to begin mixing youth with experience: Werner, Kimmich, Sane, Brandt and Goretzka all impressed, but reaching the World Cup was far from just an experiment; quite the opposite, in fact. Löw’s troops became only the second-ever side (after Spain in 2010) to win all 10 games of a European qualifying campaign. Quite simply, the four-time winners are in excellent form approaching next summer’s jamboree in Russia.

7) Home soil – sort of

It will not have escaped notice that this World Cup takes place in Europe, traditionally when European teams are at an advantage and South American teams struggle more than expected. In nine out of 10 World Cups played on European soil, a European side has prevailed, with Brazil’s Pele-inspired triumph in Sweden in 1958 the only exception. Three of Germany’s four world titles have come on European soil (Switzerland 1958, West Germany 1974 and Italy 1990), while they have also reached the final twice on their own continent (England 1966, Spain 1982), boding well for Russia 2018.

8) Confederations Cup trump card

Speaking of Russia: Germany’s experience in local conditions at the Confederations Cup could come in very handy indeed during the 2018 tournament. Löw’s side played in three of the stadiums to be used at this summer’s tournament – Sochi, Kazan and St. Petersburg – and since footballers are creatures of habit, a little inside knowledge will be more than welcome. Knowing what to expect in terms of climate, atmosphere and hotels could prove an under-emphasised trump card.

9) Revenge

Make no mistake – Germany’s semi-final exit to hosts France at EURO 2016 hurt. Löw and his players made all of the right noises afterwards, but going one step further will very much be on their minds at this tournament. “France played well, but we were better,” said Löw after the 2-0 defeat in Marseille. “We had a little bit more than the French, but perhaps didn’t get the rub of the green.” Die Nationalmannschaft do not intend to leave anything to chance this time around.

France got the better of Germany in the UEFA EURO 2016 semi-finals.

10) Penalty lottery?

Finally, there’s that old cliché of never betting against the Germans when it comes to penalties. The four-time winners have come out victorious in their last six shoot-outs at major tournaments (dating back to the 1982 World Cup), so even if you do manage to hold off Löw’s side, you still have to survive a lottery rigged in the Germans’ favour by the weight of history. Good luck.

Click right here for all the build-up to the World Cup draw!



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Lewandowski? Caligiuri? Bartra? Raffael? Vote for your November Bundesliga Goal of the Month!



Bundesliga fans were blessed with goals in the month of November. It was a month that had it all – Der Klassiker, the Revierderby – and, most importantly, a welter of stunning strikes, from Robert Lewandowski‘s and Arjen Robben‘s efforts for Bayern Munich against Borussia Dortmund, to Daniel Caligiuri’s match-changing stunner for Schalke against Die Schwarzgelben, via Raffael’s stonking hit for Borussia Mönchengladbach against Hertha Berlin. And don’t worry, BVB fans, it wasn’t the most memorable of months, but Marc Bartra‘s wonder goal against Bayern is also one of the candidates. Of all those brilliant efforts, which was YOUR favourite?

Just click play on the video above to watch the 10 goals we whittled it down to, before heading to our Facebook page right here and voting for your favourite!

Click right here for all the previous Bundesliga Goal of the Month winners!



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James Rodriguez: “I didn’t know Bayern’s score against Gladbach!”


Bayern Munich star James Rodriguez suffered a concussion in the 2-1 defeat to Borussia Mönchengladbach on Saturday, coming off at half-time for Bundesliga debutant Marco Friedl.

Now fully recovered after his collision with Tony Jantschke, bundesliga.com caught up with the gifted Colombian to get his thoughts on the game, life at Bayern, and what became of the classic No.10 position…

bundesliga.com: James Rodriguez, how do you feel? Jupp Heynckes said you weren’t able to remember the result at half-time. What happened in the changing room?

James: Fortunately, it was nothing serious. I’m fine now. It’s true that I came back to the changing rooms at half-time and asked how the game was going! They said “We’re losing 2-0” and I said “Really, when did this happen?!”. They told me it was true and I asked again if they were joking. I only realised our goalkeeper [Sven Ulreich] had almost stopped a penalty [Thorgan Hazard’s opener on 39 minutes] 15 minutes after it happened. I got better after that. They did a medical check and there’s nothing to worry about.

Watch: Highlights of Bayern’s 2-1 reverse at Gladbach!

bundesliga.com: Let’s talk about Bayern. What has impressed you most about the club?

James: Bayern are a huge club. They’re used to fighting for titles here, as was the case with my previous team [Real Madrid]. I expected Bayern to be exactly like that, so nothing has surprised me in that regard. Everyone involved with the club behaves in a way you’d expect of a club at the top of its game. There’s nothing more to say. Bayern are a 10 out of 10 club.

bundesliga.com: Today you’re an international star, but when did you decide to be a professional footballer? Was it mandated by your family? Is it something you planned, or did it just happen?

James: Well, my father was also a player, and I think I had it in my DNA. I started playing when I was four years old and I always had a ball at my feet from 8:00 in the morning to 19:00 in the evening. My life was football and I’ve wanted it to be that way for as long as I can remember. I dreamed of being a star and the the world knowing who I was. I’m grateful that I’ve been able to play for huge clubs and reach my goals.

James Rodriguez was the top scorer at the 2014 FIFA World Cup – which Germany won – plundering six goals in Colombia’s run to the quarter-finals. © gettyimages / LUIS ACOSTA/AFP

bundesliga.com: You were always a classic No.10, a position many kids dream of playing in. Is it a position that is dying out, though? Not many teams are playing with a string-pulling attacking midfielder today…

James: You’re absolutely right! I think there are no more No.10s left in the world. When I arrived at Porto [James signed for the 27-time Portuguese champions from Banfield in 2010], they told me clearly: “We know you’re a classic 10, but here you’re going to play as a forward.” From that moment, I started working as a “false 9”, also running towards the centre. Eight or 10 years ago it was different, because attacking midfield was a regular position. Today, those who have a 10 on their back are normally centre-forwards or complete midfielders. Football today is tactical and very physical, with no place for No.10.

bundesliga.com: When he arrived, Heynckes said he would talk with you as he understood that it could be difficult to play without speaking the language. How is your German?

James: I’m learning (laughs)!  I think I’ve already taken about 10 or 15 classes. I learn things every day. But it’s a very difficult language. But I always say that when you play football, and you do it well, it doesn’t matter if your teammates speak Chinese or French. If you play well, the rest is easy.

bundesliga.com: [Cologne striker and former Bayern favourite] Claudio Pizarro said he came to Germany thinking about speaking the language of football…

James: Exactly! The language of football is the same throughout the world.

* A quiet Sunday. I feel good, and better after the blow I suffered.

bundesliga.com: What do you do on a day-to-day basis when you don’t have a match? Do you take in Munich as a tourist would?

James: Yes, why not? That’s something that can be done here. People are much more respectful, not as fanatical as in other countries. When I go out, although people recognise me, they let me walk, they keep their distance. I can go for a coffee and relax… It’s a fantastic city! I’m falling in love with Munich.

bundesliga.com: Is that possible if you go out to eat with teammates such as Arturo Vidal?

James: You may be asked for one or two photos, at the most. The people are very respectful, for the most part. If I said “yes” to a picture in any other country, there would be at least 16 or 20 taken. But here it’s very calm. They make me feel comfortable.

bundesliga.com: Everyone talks about the atmosphere in the Bundesliga. All the stadia are full and the fans are always singing. Does that have an impact on you out on the pitch?

James: Well, the pressure is always there. But I think that, once you’re out on the pitch, that gets released. You’re so focused on what you have to do, that you don’t notice everything that happens around you. Anyway, it’s a great league, and I enjoy seeing the stadiums full and the party atmosphere during the games.

Watch: James’ new home, the Allianz Arena

bundesliga.com: How is your Sunday when your team win compared to what follows after a defeat?

James: Nothing changes! A few years ago I used to dwell on what happened after a defeat, but when you get older you learn to deal with defeats and bad personal performances. I know I’m going to have to play again in a matter of days and that I have to perform again. It’s not my family’s fault if something happens to me in the playground. When I get home, the match is over.

bundesliga.com: What advice would you give to a young James Rodriguez?

James: I think there are times in life for everything. When you are 16, you may think that you already know everything. I was this way. That’s a big mistake though. Then you grow up and realise you have many things to learn. I’m 26 now but I’m still learning new things every day. When you’re 16 you still have everything to learn.

bundesliga.com: Finally, would you like to say something to the people of Colombia and beyond, who are happy to see you at your best again?

James: Well, I’ve noticed that there are a lot of Bayern fans who support the club and also support what I do. That makes me very happy. I notice that they know that I always try my best. I can only thank you for the unconditional support you give me!

Click here for more Bayern news, views and features!



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Bayern’s Javi Martinez: “Captaincy an honour”



Some truly exceptional Spanish talents have pulled on the famous red of Bayern Munich in recent years – Xabi Alonso and Thiago spring to mind – but only Javi Martinez has had the honour of wearing the captain’s armband.

In an exclusive interview with Bayern’s official club website, Martinez spoke about what it felt like to become the first Spaniard to skipper the record German champions and discussed his welcome retransition from defence to defensive midfield…

Question: You captained Bayern for the first time against Borussia Mönchengladbach. When did you learn you’d be wearing the armband?

Javi Martinez: When we had our snack before the match the coach told me Jerome [Boateng] wouldn’t be playing. Suddenly I was the most experienced Bayern pro in the squad and was handed the armband, that was great. I see it as a great honour to be the first Spaniard to captain Bayern. I’ll never forget it.

Question: Do you take to the pitch in a different way wearing the armband?

Martinez: Not really. The only difference was that I took part in the coin toss. There was no difference during the match. I’ve always talked a lot to my teammates anyway, helped them, spurred them on. That’s perfectly normal for me.

Question: Unfortunately you weren’t able to celebrate a victory after your debut…

Martinez: It was a difficult match, as so often is the case in Gladbach. Of course we didn’t turn in our best performance. We could tell we were missing some players up front. We still fought and tried to achieve at least a draw, but it wasn’t to be. We have to learn from our mistakes and carry on now.

Watch: Bayern’s winning run came to an end in Gladbach

Question: You’re in your sixth year in Munich. Do you automatically assume more responsibility?

Martinez: I’m 29, I’ve been a professional footballer for 11 years. Of course you try to help younger players and pass on knowledge and experience in my situation. I think it’s perfectly normal. But I’m not alone in this respect. We have a number of players who’ve been at Bayern longer than me: Manuel Neuer, Thomas Müller, Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben, Jerome Boateng.

Question: You’ve played in defensive midfield since Jupp Heynckes‘ return as head coach. How does it feel to be back in that position?

Martinez: I’m glad to be playing there again. I feel very much at home there. I’ve played in the position for most of my career, and it feels as if I’d never played in defence but always in defensive midfield.

Question: You were a centre-back for four years. Didn’t you have any problems adjusting?

Martinez: It wasn’t a problem. Of course a few details are different, but they were second nature again after a few training sessions. My teammates helped me a lot. There isn’t much difference between playing in defence and midfield, as we usually dominate possession and attack. Both the defensive midfielders and the centre-backs have to work a lot when not in possession, they must control the match and contain their opponents.

Watch: Javi Martinez – Bayern Munich‘s midfield rock

Question: That sounds as if you prefer defensive midfield over centre-back…

Martinez: I’m in two minds. I feel good in both positions, both suit my qualities. I’d say I’m a team player and want to help my teammates where they need me.

Click here for more Bayern Munich news, views and features!



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Standing tall! Hoffenheim and Leipzig aim to be a cut above in Bundesliga face-off



It will be a battle of youth; of fresh, inventive ideas, quick running and high pressing, and perhaps far less importantly, when Hoffenheim host RB Leipzig this weekend, it will be a battle between two of the Bundesliga’s tallest coaches.

Who will triumph in tactical terms will unfold before our eyes in what is certain to be a blistering Bundesliga match-up at the WIRSOL Rhein-Neckar Arena on Saturday.

Watch: Leipzig narrowly beat Hoffenheim at the Red Bull Arena when the sides last met

However, having counted and recounted this week’s big-game statistics, one less than crucial question remains unanswered: just who is taller, Julian Nagelsmann or Ralph Hasenhüttl? Unconfirmed sources suggest that the Leipzig leader edges it by millimetres, standing as the Austrian does at 1.91m, or 6 ft 3in.

Yet to finally verify if this is true, our stat collectors have called on both coaches to stand back to back following their pre-game handshake at the home of Hoffenheim so they can finally gain closure on this most trivial of conundrums.

Far less than trivial, of course, is the Sinsheimers’ recent record ahead of their meeting with the Bundesliga’s second-placed team. Just one win in their last eight games in all competitions has young Nagelsmann concerned.

A 3-0 reverse against Hamburg last time out – which began with the unfortunate Kevin Akpoguma scoring the division’s 1,000th own goal – left Hoffenheim’s record in their last eight Bundesliga games looking like this: W2 D3 L3. “I am a friend of honest words,” Nagelsmann said, drawing on his best Game of Thrones-era voice. “We are in a crisis of results and cannot live on what we achieved in the past. We must get back to reality again and do everything we can to win.”

Despite their recent travails, Hoffenheim are only five points worse off than at the same stage last season, when they finished a club-high fourth and qualified for European competition for the first time in their history. That was a feat Leipzig also achieved when ending 2016/17 in second, and the Saxony-based side are hitting a similar vein of good form again, having won six of their previous eight top-flight matches.

Watch: Leipzig down Werder Bremen on Matchday 14!

High-Tower Hasenhüttl was even thrilled that Leipzig’s last game – a 2-0 win against Werder Bremen – ended with his side keeping a clean sheet, something they hadn’t managed in their previous six encounters across all competitions.

“[The Bremen game] was a huge piece of work for us …. I’m happy we finally got back to zero in [the goals conceded column],” the Leipzig coach enthused. The 50-year-old will also delight in the knowledge that of the 30 Bundesliga teams Hoffenheim have faced, Leipzig are the only side they have yet to beat.

Indeed, Saturday’s hosts took the lead against their Saxony rivals three times last term, but the first encounter – Leipzig’s Bundesliga debut – ended in a 2-2 draw while in the second meeting, the newly-promoted outfit ended Hoffenheim’s 18-match unbeaten run by posting a 2-1 win at the Red Bull Arena.

While Nagelsmann and Hasenhüttl might by the tallest on the touchline, Timo Werner and Sandro Wagner are among the deadliest of German marksmen on the field of play. Both have combined to register 11 goals this term, with ‘Turbo’ Werner’s seven earning him fourth spot in the race for the 2017/18 Torjägerkanone.

And watching both skilled strikers from a lofty position in the stands on Saturday will be a visitor who has strong links with the men in blue. Leipzig’s sporting director Ralf Rangnick was responsible for taking Hoffenheim into the Bundesliga for the first time in 2008 as their coach, an accomplishment he oversaw in the same role with Leipzig in 2015/16, before handing the reins to Hasenhüttl.

Who will stand tallest when the final whistle blows on Saturday remains to be seen, yet as the short history between Hoffenheim and Leipzig suggests, both look set to produce high entertainment in the battle to procure maximum points.

Quiz: How well do you know RB Leipzig?

Click here for the Hoffenheim vs. Leipzig Match Centre!



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Hamburg starlet Jann-Fiete Arp almost falls foul of Germany’s youth employment law



Jann-Fiete Arp has been granted special permission by local authorities to make the trip with Hamburg to Freiburg on Friday night for the Red-Shorts’ Bundesliga Matchday 14 clash.

Paragraph 14, Clause Seven of Germany’s youth employment law states that under-18s are only permitted to work between 06:00 in the morning and 20:00 in the evening, but HSV’s Friday-night fixture in the Black Forest kicks off at 20:30 local time – half an hour after Arp, who has scored two Bundesliga goals in five games this season, is due to finish working.

Hamburg’s application to the Health and Consumer Protection authorities fell on sympathetic ears, however; exceptions to the rule can be made for music concerts, plays in the theatre and other public productions. Fortunately a Bundesliga fixture falls under the category of “other public productions” and so Arp will be permitted to feature for HSV on Friday.

Watch: Arp discusses scoring his first Bundesliga goal on home turf (second overall)!

In 2011, when playing for Schalke, Julian Draxler was caught up in the same predicament, although was also permitted to play.

Hamburg would do well to keep the authorities’ direct phone number, however: before Arp’s 18th birthday on 6 January, Hamburg face Eintracht Frankfurt (Matchday 16, 20:30) and Borussia Mönchengladbach (Matchday 17, 20:30) in games kicking off after Arp should legally be tucked up in bed.

Click here for the Freiburg vs. Hamburg MatchCentre!



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Wolfsburg’s Daniel Didavi takes Bundesliga’s Common Goal donors to seven



Increasing numbers of professional players around the globe are joining the Common Goal initiative, a project in which players pledge at least one per cent of their wages to a collective fund managed by Berlin-based non-governmental organisation streetfootballworld.

Bundesliga representatives are playing a leading role in the cause, with eight figures from across Germany’s top two divisions announcing their involvement.

The Bayern Munich defender got the ball rolling in the top flight on 17 August this year, voicing his decision to sign up to the project via Twitter and using his high-profile status to help extend its reach.

The Hoffenheim attacker was next and the first of a flurry of commitments in October. “One per cent is not a huge figure but it can make a huge impact if we commit to it as a team,” he said. “I want to make giving back a part of football and help football feel good about itself again. I want to change the game for good.”

Dennis Aogo

Stuttgart defender Dennis Aogo announced his decision to join up just a few days after Gnabry, and even pledged to donate two per cent of his salary to the charity. “For many years, my wife and I have been looking for a good project where we can help permanently and effectively,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “With Common Goal we found our ideal partners. We are proud to be a member of this very special family. Within this family, we want to focus mainly on disadvantaged children and young people. It is time to help and I hope that many will follow our example. Together we can achieve a lot.”

Just three days after Aogo’s pledge, Hoffenheim boss Julian Nagelsmann officially became the first coach to join Common Goal.

Borussia Dortmund midfielder Shinji Kagawa became the first Asian player to add his name to the initiative. “Football has given me so many opportunities in life and now I want to play my role in supporting others through the game,” the 28-year-old said in a video posted on Twitter. “Common Goal is quickly growing around the world and I’m proud to help lead the movement forward in Japan. Giving one per cent of our salaries is a small commitment for us players but I believe it can do a lot for people less fortunate than us.”

Alexander Esswein

In November, Hertha Berlin‘s Alexander Esswein confirmed he had also become part of the movement. “As of today, I’m proud to be a member of Common Goal,” the former Augsburg midfielder said. “I’ve been looking for an initiative through which I can give back to society for quite some time now and I was taken with Common Goal straight away. What strikes me most about it is the way passion for football is used to help less fortunate people. I hope many more players will join Common Goal so that we can make a real difference.”

Daniel Didavi

Wolfsburg midfielder Daniel Didavi became the seventh Bundesliga representative to sign up to the project towards the end of November.

Furthermore, midfielder Giuliano Modica of Bundesliga 2 side Kaiserslautern is also a member of the ever-growing number of players to have joined the initiative since its launch by Manchester United and Spain midfielder Juan Mata in the summer.

The Bundesliga currently boasts the most contributors of all domestic leagues involved in the scheme.

Click here for more Bundesliga news, views and features!



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Freiburg vs. Hamburg: Probable line-ups and stats



Two sides battling it out at the bottom face off on Friday night as Freiburg look to leapfrog their visitors to the Schwarzwald Stadion, while Hamburg aim to open up a five-point gap to the relegation play-off place with a win (kick-off: 20:30 CET / 19:30 GMT).

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Freiburg come into this crunch match on the back of a 2-1 win over Mainz that brought a five-match winless run to an end. However, the Black Forest outfit have only lost once at home this season and know they have to back up last week’s win with yet another against a relegation rival. Coach Christian Streich only has one new injury worry from that game with defender Marc-Oliver Kempf suffering a torn thigh muscle. Youngster Robin Koch looks set to take his place at the back in the only change. It means Liverpool loanee Ryan Kent will likely have to settle for a place on the bench once again, although he was a half-time substitute for Bartosz Kapustka last Saturday.

Hamburg make the almost 400 mile trip to Freiburg – the longest away day in the Bundesliga – with confidence high after a comprehensive 3-0 win last time out over Freiburg’s local rivals Hoffenheim. Coach Markus Gisdol has no new injuries to contend with and has received further good news as creative influence Nicolai Müller appears to be ahead of schedule on his comeback from a cruciate ligament tear. It means the Bundesliga’s only ever-present club are likely to stick to the same starting XI from Sunday’s game, which would see the continued partnership of Bobby Wood and Jann-Fiete Arp in attack.

Watch: Highlights of Hamburg’s 3-0 win over Hoffenheim – including the Bundesliga’s 1000th own goal

Probable line-ups

Freiburg: Schwolow – Söyüncü, Koch, Schuster (c) – Stenzel, Haberer, Höfler, Terrazzino, Günter – Petersen, Kapustka
Absentees: Frantz (knee), Kempf (thigh), Gulde (back), Niederlechner (knee)
Coach: Christian Streich

 Hamburg: Mathenia – Diekmeier, Papadopoulos, Mavraj, Douglas Santos – Hunt, Jung, Sakai (c), Kostic – Wood, Arp
Absentees: Müller (knee ligament)
Coach: Markus Gisdol

Match stats

  • Ten of Freiburg’s 11 points this season have come at home, with just one loss at the Schwarzwald Stadion.
  • Hamburg won their first away game of the season in Cologne, but have lost all five since.
  • HSV have conceded at least twice in each of their last five on the road.
  • Nils Petersen had a hand in all three goals against Hamburg last season.
  • Hamburg once had the wood over Freiburg, but not since Streich’s appointment (W3, D5, L1). The Black Forest side are actually unbeaten in five top-flight campaigns against HSV – their longest current run.
  • Hamburg have won just one of their last nine against Freiburg (3-0 in October 2013).

Click here for the Freiburg-Hamburg Match Centre!



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Bayer Leverkusen’s Kevin Volland stepping out of Chicharito’s shadow


Kevin Volland was once again the hero for Bayer Leverkusen as they edged Eintracht Frankfurt on Matchday 13 to make it eight games unbeaten in the Bundesliga. The 25-year old striker, now the league’s top-scoring German, has played a starring role in his side’s recent renaissance and may be giving national coach Joachim Löw some food for thought ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Following last season’s disappointing 12th-place finish, Leverkusen fans may have been a little anxious when their side kicked off the current campaign with two defeats and a draw. However, Volland soon put their fears to rest by netting four goals in successive home wins over Freiburg and Hamburg, and the red-hot striker has continued to go from strength to strength as Die Werkself have soared from 14th to sixth in the table in the space of just two months.

Leverkusen are currently unbeaten in eight league games – nine in all competitions – and during that period Volland has been firing on all cylinders, racking up six goals and one assist. His confidence should therefore be running sky high as Borussia Dortmund visit the BayArena on Saturday. Peter Bosz’s struggling Black-and-Yellows have picked up just two points from a possible 18, and blew a 4-0 lead to draw an incredible Revierderby with Schalke last weekend.

“There are always phases like this in sport,” Volland said after his late winner against Frankfurt. “Sometimes you’re not thinking too much about scoring goals, but you have a clear head, you’re confident, and the ball just goes in. We won an incredibly tough match against Eintracht after striking at a decisive moment in the second half. I hit the ball really well for my goal.”  

Watch: Volland’s 76th-minute strike made the difference for Leverkusen against the Eagles

Leverkusen’s never-say-die attitude has seen them score 12 of their last 14 league goals in the second half, and during their eight-game unbeaten streak they have come from behind on no fewer than four occasions, rescuing draws against Schalke and RB Leipzig and beating Borussia Mönchengladbach and Cologne.

“It’s a characteristic of our team to always fight back,” Volland said after the Cologne win. “We all fight for one another, and guys like Leon Bailey and Julian Brandt work really hard defensively. That doesn’t happen by accident, it’s what the coach Heiko Herrlich demands of us. We also have a lot of individual quality in the squad.” 

With eight goals in 13 appearances this season, Volland has already improved on his six-goal haul from last term, where a series of injury niggles restricted him to just 16 starts. The 25-year-old has also stepped out of Chicharito‘s shadow since the Mexico striker joined West Ham this summer, becoming the de facto leader of Leverkusen’s attack and starting every game so far.  

Chicharito (l.) scored 39 goals in all competitions for Leverkusen, while Volland (r.) is now up to 17. © gettyimages / Alex Grimm / Staff

“Kevin works incredibly hard for the team,” Herrlich enthused after the win in Frankfurt. “He’s already proven in recent years that he can score goals, but it’s his work ethic that makes him so important to the team.”

Volland and Leverkusen now have their sights trained firmly on Dortmund, who are enduring a miserable run of four defeats and two draws in their last six outings. Victory for Die Werkself on Saturday would even see them leapfrog BVB in the table and boost their chances of returning to Europe next season, with just a point separating the two sides ahead of their Matchday 14 clash.

“It’s not so bad playing the role of pursuers,” Volland mused. “We’re up into the top third of the table now, and it’s not like Dortmund are far ahead of us.”

“We’re determined to keep our unbeaten run going against BVB,” added goalkeeper Bernd Leno.

Watch: Dortmund and Leverkusen served up an eight-goal thriller in their last meeting in March

Germany coach Jogi Löw will no doubt be keeping a close eye on proceedings at the BayArena as he continues to prepare for his side’s World Cup title defence in Russia next summer. While the 57-year-old has an incredible wealth of talent at his disposal, there aren’t too many genuine strikers in the mix, and if Volland can keep up his rich vein of form he may find himself vying with Lars Stindl, Mario Gomez and Sandro Wagner for a place in the squad alongside Timo Werner.

The versatile Volland has the advantage of being able to lead the line or play out wide in a three-man attack, as he has already demonstrated to great effect this season. He started on the right in the 5-1 thrashing of Gladbach and on the left against Frankfurt, netting in both games. As a left-footed striker he also presents a slightly different profile to the right-footed trio of Stindl, Gomez and Wagner, and could even emerge as the natural successor to Lukas Podolski

Volland (r.) has made 10 appearances for Germany, scoring his only senior international goal in a FIFA 2018 World Cup qualifier against San Marino in November 2016. © imago / imago/MIS

Volland has been on the fringes of the national side for several years, making his debut in a friendly against Poland just before the 2014 World Cup, and featuring in a handful of qualifiers for UEFA EURO 2016 and the 2018 World Cup. He has yet to make the cut for a major tournament, though, and is understandably modest about his chances of going to Russia.

“There are so many good players in that position, like Timo Werner and Lars Stindl,” he insisted. “They’ve been doing an outstanding job.”

The fact remains, though, that Volland is currently outscoring the lot of them, and if his superb form continues it could carry him to the biggest stage of them all. First, though, he will be determined to get Leverkusen firmly back among the European places by helping them make it nine Bundesliga games without defeat. Dortmund have been warned. 

Andy Smith

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Cologne striker Claudio Pizarro lands voiceover role in Disney’s ‘Coco’



Veteran Cologne striker Claudio Pizarro‘s talents are evidently not confined to the football pitch, with the 39-year-old Peruvian landing a voiceover role in the German-language version of the animated Disney Pixar film ‘Coco’.

In the movie, which traces the story of a young Mexican boy who is accidentally transported to the land of the dead during his country’s traditional Day of the Dead celebrations, Pizarro voices the character of a skeleton who is desperate to watch a football match.

“I love the Jungle Book and I’m delighted that Disney asked me to play a role in Coco,” the former Bayern Munich and Werder Bremen forward told stimme.de. “What I like about the film is that it’s very funny, but also very emotional. In particular, the skeletons in the land of the dead are really funny.”

Pizarro, who has made four Bundesliga appearances for Cologne this season, posted a behind-the-scenes teaser of himself in the Disney recording studio on Twitter.

“Hi, I’m Claudio Pizarro and today I’m doing something very different,” he says. “It was quite difficult at the beginning because I was a little bit nervous. Obviously I’ve never done anything like this before. But it got better the more I did it. I think there are a lot of very funny moments.”

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Ralf Rangnick: The brains behind RB Leipzig’s rise


What’s the best Christmas present you could give a RB Leipzig fan this year? A makeover to give them the Scandinavian good looks of Emil Forsberg? A fitness programme tailored to make them as full of energy as Naby Keita to burn off their Yuletide excesses? A ticket to see Timo Werner in action for Germany at next summer’s World Cup?

The Leipzig supporter in your life would no doubt thank you more for those gifts than their pair of wacky socks and annual dose of shower gel and assorted toiletries, but in truth, they have already had theirs.

“I’m happy that my future lies with this great club, which has undergone fantastic development and which — in my opinion — still has a long way to go,” said Ralf Rangnick after news he had signed a two-year contract extension as the club’s sporting director through to 2021 filtered through the good cheer from the club’s Christmas party on Sunday.

“He’s the sporting motor of our club and so is fundamental to our future development,” added RBL’s CEO Oliver Mintzlaf, who — along with Rangnick and coach Ralph Hasenhüttl — is one of the three wise men pushing the club onwards and upwards with all the energy packed into one of the cans sold worldwide by Leipzig’s multi-billionaire owner, Red Bull mogul Dietrich Mateschitz.

“This is a very positive sign for our association, especially in terms of continuity, sustainable structures and development.”

Positive for Leipzig but negative for everyone else both domestically and Europe-wide given the central role Rangnick has played in the club’s rise from coming into existence in 2009 to Bundesliga podium challengers and UEFA Champions League participants in eight insolently short years.

Lessons from ‘The Professor’

Short yes, but what seems far-fetched to most is certainly not for Rangnick. There is little doubt this is what he had in mind when he joined the Red Bull team, as sporting director of both Leipzig and their sister club across the Austrian border in Salzburg, in June 2012.

His academic demeanour earned him the nickname ‘The Professor’ from German media when — as the little-known boss of Bundesliga 2 side Ulm in 1998 — he appeared on national TV to explain what even the most sheltered football fan would now recognise as ‘pressing’. But don’t be fooled, Rangnick is ready to take a risk with his reputation.

Leipzig, who were then in the fourth-tier of German football, were not even the first club to tempt Rangnick with a move that raised more than a few eyebrows.

Watch: Leipzig’s Bundesliga promotion party

He had already guided Schalke to a runners-up finish in the 2004/05 Bundesliga and tasted the UEFA Champions League when he was lured to then third-tier Hoffenheim in 2006 with the chance to write himself into the club’s legend. He left five years later with that legacy safe, and having laid the foundations for the team that Julian Nagelsmann — a Rangnick disciple — took to fourth place last term.

Rangnick’s three K’s

The gamble — carefully calculated in that acutely sharp Rangnick mind — has of course paid off handsomely in Leipzig, where his policy of the three K’s — Kapital, Konzept and Kompetenz — money, concept and competence have dovetailed dreamily.

“If those three things come together, then you can be successful. If you only have one or two of them, it’s more difficult,” he told Deutsche Welle before taking a justified sideswipe at those who claim the club’s success has been bought by Mateschitz’s millions.

“Our club is always reduced to the financial muscle of its owner. There are lots of clubs in the Bundesliga like that. Put it this way, the Bundesliga table doesn’t correlate with clubs’ budgets. If it did, the table would look very different.”

Ralph Hasenhüttl (l.) and Rangnick defied the odds to lead Leipzig to second place in their debut Bundesliga season. © gettyimages / Bongarts/Boris Streubel

Not even Rangnick denies the fact Mateschitz’s deep pockets have gone a good way to fuelling Leipzig’s climb — “It helps when you don’t have to count every euro,” he himself admitted — and the club did spark a furore in 2014 when they came in eighth among the transfer market’s biggest spenders in a chart covering the top two divisions in Germany.

Sticking to principles

But while Leipzig have spent money, they have done so wisely, and sticking zealously to the policy Rangnick already used to good effect at Hoffenheim of signing promising young players. As such, the investments in Forsberg, Willi Orban, Yussuf Poulsen and Werner would get the approval of even the most demanding hedge fund manager, who would be gleefully applauding the return on Keita when he moves to Liverpool next summer.

Rangnick is behind those moves, convincing players such as Orban, who had the pick of Germany’s top clubs and many beyond the Bundesliga when he left Kaiserslautern in 2015, Leipzig was the place to be.

Wili Orban, already an inpirational leader for Leipzig at 24 years old.
Wili Orban, already an inpirational leader for Leipzig at 24 years old. © gettyimages

“I told him I was taking over myself and what will happen and can happen with us,” Rangnick, who — with the club unsuccessfully seeking a full-time coach — took the reins ahead of the 2015/16 promotion season. After a night’s sleep on it, Orban called: “Herr Rangnick, I’m coming to you.”

That the centre-back’s arrival marked the start of his development into one of Germany’s most promising defenders will be of no surprise to Rangnick, who — given the blank sheet that Leipzig was in 2012 — was able to lay out the blueprint for the kind of club and player he wanted.

Style of play

“We truly believe in our systems. The players we have are willing to learn our style of play. We asked ourselves, ‘What style do we want to play?’ After that we scouted, and signed the players who fulfilled our requirements,” said the former Stuttgart and Hannover boss.

“The interesting thing is that they all came here with the idea of wanting to develop.”

Rangnick and now Hasenhüttl have played a direct part in that on the training pitch where ‘The Professor’s’ innovative methods have been key to producing one of the Bundesliga’s most exciting attacking units.

Watch: Leipzig’s top 10 counter-attacking goals

“The ticking can be irritating for them at first, but we’ve noticed that this kind of training can affect players in just a few weeks,” said Rangnick, explaining the construction of a custom-made clock that the players can hear when playing small-sided games in training: eight seconds to win the ball back, ten seconds to have a shot on goal. “They adjust their style of play and it becomes an instinct. They look to play forward more quickly.”

Not finished yet

A frightening thought for the other 31 countries at next summer’s World Cup is that Germany might have been even better under Rangnick, the man Jürgen Klinsmann initially wanted as his assistant coach only to be turned down and have to opt instead for Joachim Löw.

Instead, the game of ‘what might be…’ will be played out on the domestic and continental stage, and it could be just as daunting a prospect for those who will face Leipzig in the future. 

Watch: Leipzig ready for Round 2

“I have the picture of what will happen on that day here in Leipzig already in my head,” said Rangnick as he embarked on that 2015/16 campaign that would end with an historic maiden berth in the Bundesliga.

Given how that vision became reality, and how things have progressed since, Leipzig fans can start dreaming happily about what their understated, visionary, street-smart sporting director has in mind now. That really will be like all their Christmases coming at once.

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Bayern Munich duo Thomas Müller and Franck Ribery return to training



After suffering a first defeat under Jupp Heynckes against Borussia Mönchengladbach on Matchday 13, Bayern Munich were given a boost on Tuesday as star duo Thomas Müller and Franck Ribery returned to full training.

Müller has been out of action for just over a month, having torn a muscle in the 1-0 victory over Hamburg on Matchday 9, while Ribery suffered knee ligament damage in the 2-2 draw with Hertha Berlin on Matchday 7. Both players completed a full training session on Tuesday alongside Rafinha, who has shaken off a minor ankle problem. Elsewhere, David Alaba took part in an individual running session as he continues to recover from a back injury.

Müller and Ribery, both part of Heynckes’ historic treble-winning squad in 2012/13, had made promising starts to 2017/18 before being stopped in their tracks by injury. They could be in line to feature against Hannover at the Allianz Arena on Saturday, as the champions look to bounce back from defeat in Gladbach and extend their three-point lead over RB Leipzig at the top.

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Bayern Munich to trial reusable drinks containers on Matchday 14



Bayern Munich will trial the use of new reusable cups at their Allianz Arena home against Hannover on Bundesliga Matchday 14, with a view to making the measure permanent from the 2018/19 season onwards.

The disposable beverage holders currently being used are fully compostable, but the objective of the new system – which will provide reusable containers for a refundable €2 deposit – is to reduce waste and save resources as part of the club’s ongoing commitment to environmental awareness.

Watch: Take a look around Bayern’s Allianz Arena

“We’ve discussed a reusable container solution for the Allianz Arena for a long time,” Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told the club’s official website.

“But it’s only now that we’re sole shareholder of the arena that we have the improved logistical capacities you need to introduce reusable cups and a deposit system. Environment protection is an important issue, and FC Bayern aim to do their part. I’d like to thank the Bavarian environment department headed by minister Ulrike Scharf for competent advice and support.”

It is just one of a number of initiatives Bayern have undertaken to reduce their environmental footprint. In 2015, the façade of the Allianz Arena was fitted with LED lights, which reduced energy consumption by close to 40 per cent.

Furthermore, solar panels are to be installed on the roof of a new stadium car park, which is set to open in 2019.

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Former Bayern Munich, Bayer Leverkusen and Hamburg favourite Ze Roberto retires from professional football



Bundesliga legend Ze Roberto has called time on a storied professional career, at the ripe old age of 43.

The Brazilian left-sider, who won four Bundesliga titles and four DFB Cups with Bayern Munich, played his final game for Palmeiras in a Brazilian Serie A match with Botafogo on Monday night.

Watch: Ze Roberto’s top five Bundesliga goals

Bundesliga fans of a certain vintage will have fond memories of Ze Roberto, who registered 39 goals and 97 assists in 336 top-flight appearances for Bayer Leverkusen (1998-2002), Bayern (2002-06 & 2007-09) and Hamburg (2009-11).

The 84-time Brazil international – a two-time Copa America and Confederations Cup champion and 1997/98 UEFA Champions League winner – also represented Santos, Real Madrid, Al-Gharafa and Gremio.

Thanks for the memories, Ze!

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Germany’s answer to Harry Kane | bundesliga.com



England have found their first thoroughbred No.9 since Alan Shearer in Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane; have Germany found their long-term successor to Miroslav Klose in Hamburg hotshot Jann-Fiete Arp?

The 17-year-old striker makes a compelling case…

Arp joined Hamburg at the age of 10. Five years later, he was already beginning to score goals with alarming regularity for the HSV Under-17s – 37 in 45 appearances all told. It was only a matter of time before the U-19s came calling, but the exponential talent did not take long to outgrow German football‘s formative leagues.

“He’s a massive talent,” enthused Hamburg coach Markus Gisdol, who invited Arp to train with the HSV seniors for the first time in November 2016. “It’s great to have a talent like him on our books. He can become a great player.”

Twelves months on, having hit a further nine goals in seven short but sweet outings for the U-19s, as well as 15 in 17 appearances for the Germany U-17s, Arp is now a fully fledged member of the Hamburg elite. He made his Bundesliga debut on Matchday 7 of the current campaign, became the first player born in the 21st century to score in the division on Matchday 10, struck again a week later and has started every game since.

“I’ve played five matches, but suddenly I’m playing against centre-backs who have 300 or more games under their belts,” Arp told German daily Bild. “It’s pretty tiring [juggling football and school work], but I have great support and the incentive to play every weekend gets bigger and bigger. I’m also getting more experienced and stronger every week.”

Watch: Arp scores his first Bundesliga goal

To say the proof is in the pudding doesn’t do justice to the lean, mean goal-getting machine that Arp has become. He scores headers, scrappy follow-ups and 20-yard drives straight out of the top drawer. At 6’2″, he also has the frame tailor-made for a career as a No.9 – and has the combative instinct to match.

In short, Arp bears all the hallmarks of the archetypal back-to-goal striker – a forward who can put his body between opposition players and the ball and does not relinquish possession without a fight. He can use both feet and boasts a pocket-sized turning circle Lionel Messi would be proud of. Comparisons with his self-styled role model Kane are entirely justified.

Watch: Arp’s match-winning performance against Stutttgart

“There are many good strikers that you can learn a lot from by watching,” Arp told UEFA in May. “But if there was just one player I had to pick as my role model, it’s Harry Kane. He plays the way I want to play. He’s quick and very comfortable with and without the ball. It’s difficult to stop him. You need to pay attention for 90 minutes because he can score at any time.”

There is no arguing with Arp’s adulation. Kane, 24, has scored 87 times in the English Premier League since breaking into the Tottenham first team during the 2013/14 season. He spearheaded England’s successful FIFA 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign, and is currently just three shy of joining Barcelona‘s Messi and Bayern Munich‘s Robert Lewandowski on 50 goals for the calendar year.

“He went through all the youth teams in his club, became a first-team player at that club and was even the Premier League’s top scorer, twice,” Arp explained. “Now, he’s an international. In the space of three years, Kane has made every step that you dream of as a young player.”

Watch: Arp on life in the Bundesliga with Hamburg

Arp’s dream, however, is fast becoming reality. In 2017 alone, the Hamburg starlet has top scored in the U-17 Bundesliga and at the FIFA 2017 U-17 World Cup, turned down a move to Chelsea, received the prestigious Fritz Walter gold medal for his age group – a prize given to German football’s brightest up-and-coming talents – and made the Bundesliga stage his own. By comparison, Kane’s big break didn’t come until 2013, when he was 20.

With a three-year head start on his English muse, there is no telling what Arp might go on to achieve. If he succeeds in maximizing his potential long term – as Kane has for club and country – Germany could have a very special player on their hands indeed. A few more Bundesliga goals for HSV, meanwhile, and a place in Joachim Löw’s 2018 World Cup squad could be a distinct possibility.

Chris Mayer-Lodge

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Borussia Dortmund targetting new Pulisic or Dembele, says BVB chief Watzke



Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke has set his club the ambitious target of unearthing the next Christian Pulisic or Ousmane Dembele, telling BVB’s Annual General Meeting on Monday that greater effort is needed at youth academy level.

Dortmund recently saw Sven Mislintat, their chief scout responsible for the arrival of Robert Lewandowski, Shinji Kagawa and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, leave the club to join Arsenal.

Mislintat had also been instrumental in orchestrating the recruitment of Pulisic from the USA and Dembele from French side Rennes, fending off a host of suitors for both talents.

Watch: Christian Pulisic ready to star for Dortmund!

‘Big challenge’

Watzke acknowledged extra focus on the development of the club’s youth academy and strategy was required to keep Dortmund in the hunt for the planet’s best fledgling talents.

“The Mbappes and Dembeles don’t come to BVB any more when they are 20. Not to Bayern either,” noted Watzke. “[The youth academy] is the area with which the next Dembeles and Pulisics will come to BVB again. We have a big challenge ahead of us.”

‘Mistakes made’

While Watzke also stated the club remains in good health financially, he highlighted the troubles Peter Bosz’s men have on the pitch in front of the whole squad, who received a mixed reception from club members when they arrived in the auditorium.

“There must be reasons for the current situation, and mistakes have also been made, for sure,” Watzke, whose club have not won in ten competitive outings, told the audience before turning to Bosz himself.

“I have the clear expectation from you, Peter, that you put everything on the table, leave no stone unturned. We have to get back on the right track quickly. Qualifying for the Champions League comes before everything.”

Capitulated

To do that, Dortmund must finish in the Bundesliga’s top four, and their position would have been considerably rosier had they held onto their 4-0 half-time lead against Ruhr rivals Schalke on Saturday.

Instead, Bosz’s side capitulated in front of their own fans at the Signal Iduna Park, taking just a point from a game they should have won which — coupled with Borussia Mönchengladbach’s defeat of Bayern Munich — saw the 1996/97 UEFA Champions League winners drop to fifth place.

Watch: Nuri Sahin’s reaction to Dortmund’s amazing derby draw.

‘Just a point’

Watzke tried to deflect some of the fans’ ire by aiming a well-targetted jibe at their hated neighbours from Gelsenkirchen.

“When our friends from Schalke snap out of their delirium tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, they’ll see that they only took a point from the game, just like us.”

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Christian Pulisic, Julian Draxler and Nuri Sahin: The Bundesliga’s 10 youngest debutants


Cologne’s Yann Aurel Bisseck became only the second 16-year-old ever to appear in the Bundesliga on Matchday 13 of the 2017/18 season, but who else features in the list of youngest ever German top-flight debutants? bundesliga.com reveals all…

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1) Nuri Sahin (Borussia Dortmund) – 16 years, 335 days

The first ever player to feature in a Bundesliga game before this 17th birthday, Sahin has enjoyed quite the career since making his Dortmund bow on the opening day of the 2005/06 season. After inspiring BVB to a first league title in nine years in 2010/11, the former Turkey midfielder endured 12 injury-hit months at Real Madrid before joining Liverpool on loan for the first half of the 2012/13 season. Sahin jumped at the chance of rejoining Borussia in January 2013, and despite suffering serious groin and knee injuries since his return to the SIGNAL IDUNA PARK, the youngest goalscorer in Bundesliga history has gone on to make over 260 appearances in all competitions for Die Schwarz-Gelben.

Watch: Sahin reacts to Dortmund’s 4-4 draw with Schalke on Matchday 13

2) Yann Aurel Bisseck (Cologne) – 16 years, 362 days

The centre-back started on the right side of the Billy Goats’ back three against Hertha Berlin on Matchday 13, and didn’t look out of place despite failing to prevent Vedad Ibisevic from firing the Old Lady to a 2-0 victory at the RheinEnergieSTADION. A regular for Cologne’s Under-19’s this season, the Germany youth international is less than half the age of his 39-year-old team-mate Claudio Pizarro, who had already played one full season for Werder Bremen when Bisseck was born on 29 November 2000.

Bisseck is only the second player ever to appear in the Bundesliga before his 17th birthday. © imago

3) Jürgen Friedl (Eintracht Frankfurt) – 17 years, 26 days

Over 40 years after he was handed his Bundesliga bow in March 1976, Friedl remains the youngest goalkeeper ever to appear in Germany’s top flight. Affectionately known as ‘Fuzzy’ by team-mates and fans alike, Frankfurt-born Friedl failed to establish himself in the Eintracht first team during his four years at the Waldstadion, making just two more Bundesliga appearances for the club before going on to enjoy a successful career in the lower leagues with SSV Heilsberg and FV Bad Vilbel.

4) Ibrahim Tanko (Borussia Dortmund) – 17 years, 61 days

Tanko clocked up 14 league appearances during Borussia’s title-winning campaign in 1994/95, but injuries and misfortune curtailed the Ghanaian forward’s career at the SIGNAL IDUNA PARK. After making just 38 Bundesliga outings over the course of the following five seasons, he was offered a chance to resurrect his career at Freiburg, for whom he netted eight goals in 122 league appearances. Since hanging up his boots in 2005, Tanko has enjoyed brief stints as assistant coach at the Schwarzwald-Stadion (2007/08) and with Cologne (2011/12).

Injuries restricted Tanko (r.) to just 52 league appearances for Dortmund. © imago / Kicker/Liedel

5) Marc Stendera (Eintracht Frankfurt) – 17 years, 117 days

Eintracht youth academy product Stendera was handed his first taste of Bundesliga action against Bayern Munich in April 2013. Two cruciate knee ligament injuries in the space of three seasons threatened to derail the central midfielder’s career, but Stendera appears to be enjoying a new lease of life under Niko Kovac this term. “After my injuries I didn’t believe I was still capable of playing at the highest level,” he told Frankfurter Neue Presse recently. “I had to work hard every week to return to the team. That’s why it’s always an extremely nice feeling to be out on the pitch.”

In at the deep end: Stendera made his Bundesliga debut against Philipp Lahm’s Bayern Munich in 2013. © imago / Jan Huebner

6) Julian Draxler (Schalke) – 17 years, 117 days

One of the greatest talents to emerge from Schalke‘s fabled Knappenschmiede academy, Draxler was exactly the same age as Stendera when then Royal Blues coach Felix Magath gave the fresh-faced winger his Bundesliga debut in January 2011. It proved to be a memorable campaign for Gladbeck-born Draxler, who not only became the club’s youngest ever scorer but also registered a goal and an assist in a 5-0 DFB Cup final victory over Duisburg. His stellar performances for Die Knappen earned the 2014 FIFA World Cup winner a move to 2014/15 Bundesliga runners-up Wolfsburg in August 2015, before he was snapped up by French giants Paris Saint-Germain just 15 months later.

Draxler made his Bundesliga debut in a 1-0 defeat to Hamburg in January 2011. © imago / Team 2

7) Christian Wörns (Waldhof Mannheim) – 17 years, 122 days

Best known for his spells with Bayer Leverkusen (1991-1998) and Dortmund (1999-2008), Wörns made his Bundesliga debut for Mannheim in September 1989, but was unable to prevent the club from slipping into Bundesliga 2 after seven successive seasons in the top flight. It wasn’t long before the young defender was packing his bags for Leverkusen, whom he helped win the DFB Pokal in 1992/93. He joined Paris Saint-Germain in 1998 after making 250 appearances for Die Werkself, but moved to Borussia after just a single season in the French capital. The former Germany international helped BVB secure a first league title in five years in 2001 before calling time on his playing career in 2008.

8) Kai Havertz (Bayer Leverkusen) 17 years, 126 days

The Aachen-born midfielder has wasted little time in establishing himself at the BayArena since becoming Leverkusen’s youngest ever debutant in October 2016 – all while achieving impressive grades in his high school exams. The Germany Under-17 international has clocked up over 30 league appearances to date, scoring four and assisting a further nine goals in the process. His maiden strike for Die Werkself – in last season’s 3-3 draw with Wolfsburg – etched his name in the history books as the club’s youngest ever goalscorer. “Not in my wildest dreams did I see it going so well for me,” Havertz told bundesliga.com last summer.

Watch: Relive Havertz’s debut strike against Wolfsburg

9) Christian Wück (Nuremberg) – 17 years, 133 days

Wück’s debut appearance for Nuremberg – in a 4-0 defeat to Cologne on Matchday 11 of the 1990/91 season – proved to be his only league outing that campaign as the Franconians escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth. The forward netted eight goals and assisted four in 33 league appearances the following season, but was unable to save Der Club from relegation in 1993/94. Wück subsequently left for Karlsruhe, where he managed to bag nine goals in 81 outings. Stints at Wolfsburg and Arminia Bielefeld followed before injury forced him into retirement at the age of 28.

10. Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund) 17 years, 134 days

USA international Pulisic’s meteoric rise to stardom has shown no sign of abating since he burst onto the Bundesliga scene against Ingolstadt in January 2016. Now 19, he has already turned out over 70 times in all competitions in a BVB shirt, registering 10 goals and supplying 13 assists. In May 2017, Pulisic became the youngest American to win a major European trophy by lifting the DFB Cup, setting up Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for the winning goal against Frankfurt at the Olympiastadion.

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Borussia Dortmund’s Mario Götze ruled out for six weeks with ankle injury



Borussia Dortmund midfielder Mario Götze will be out for up to six weeks after partially tearing the ligaments in his right ankle, the club confirmed on Monday.

The 25-year-old suffered the injury in the second half of Saturday’s unfathomable 4-4 draw with local rivals Schalke – a game in which Dortmund blew a 4-0 half-time lead.

Götze scored his first Bundesliga goal since December 2016 against the Royal Blues, and was beginning to rediscover his best form after being sidelined by a metabolic disorder for five months earlier in the year.

The Germany international has made 11 starts in all competitions for Dortmund so far this season, as well as a further two substitute appearances, but is not expected to play again in 2017. 

Dortmund – winless in six Bundesliga matches – are next in action away to Bayer Leverkusen on 2 December.

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Bundesliga Team of the Week: Matchday 13


A clean sheet for Hamburg, a rare victory for Freiburg and, oh yes, one of the greatest comebacks in Bundesliga history. Matchday 13 was full of surprises, but who earned themselves a place in bundesliga.com’s Team of the Week? Check out our all-star XI below…

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Goalkeeper

Bernd Leno (Bayer Leverkusen, 11 points)

The Germany international withstood an impressive 12 attempts on his goal from Eintracht Frankfurt as Leverkusen extended their unbeaten run in the Bundesliga to eight matches and climbed up to sixth and the UEFA Europa League qualification position. It was a third clean sheet of the season for the goalkeeper who has missed just one Bundesliga game since November 2012.

Bernd Leno helped Leverkusen keep their third clean sheet of the campaign in Saturday’s victory at the Commerzbank Arena. © gettyimages / Matthias Hangst/Bongarts

Defenders

Bernardo (RB Leipzig, 15 points)

The Brazilian full-back came off the bench at half-time against Werder Bremen to wrap up the win late on with his first goal of the season. Replacing the injured Marcel Halstenberg on the left, he threw himself about in attack and defence, winning 14 challenges alone in his 45 minutes of action – only five players managed more across the entire 90 minutes.

Gideon Jung (Hamburg, 14 points)

A tidy performance from the 23-year-old defender who misplaced just two passes all game from defensive midfield. As well as a clean sheet against a Hoffenheim side who had scored in all 15 of their previous away league games in 2017, Jung capped off a perfect day for HSV with his first goal of the season a few minutes from time to wrap up the 3-0 win.

Kyriakos Papadopoulos (Hamburg, 15 points)

The Greek Colossus oversaw a flawless defensive performance from Hamburg as the Bundesliga’s only ever-present club moved out of the relegation play-off place. Winning a massive 19 challenges up against Hoffenheim’s dangerous attackers Sandro Wagner, Mark Uth and later also Andrej Kramaric and Adam Szalai, the 25-year-old Greece international can be pleased with his day’s work at the Volksparkstadion.

Dayot Upamecano (RB Leipzig, 14 points)

The 19-year-old Frenchman has become Ralph Hasenhüttl’s first-choice partner for club captain Willi Orban in the centre of defence and put in yet another eye-catching performance in the win over Bremen. Up against Fin Bartels and Max Kruse on the back of a hat-trick against Hannover, Upamecano limited the visitors to just nine attempts on goal with his 19 challenges won.

Watch: Meet Leipzig’s brick wall from France!

Christian Günter (Freiburg, 16 points)

An ever-present in a Freiburg team who have lost just once at home all season, the left-back chalked up his second assist of the campaign when he set up substitute Florian Kath to make it 2-0 and secure the three points. However, the 24-year-old’s points total was really bolstered by the 15 challenges he won up against a physical Mainz team.

Midfielders

Daniel Caligiuri (Schalke, 15 points)

Oddly enough, Caligiuri is the only Schalke player to feature in this Team of the Week – rather fitting of the madness of the Royal Blues’ historic comeback at Borussia Dortmund. However, the 29-year-old certainly played his part in that scintillating 4-4 draw. His second goal of the season with four minutes remaining on the clock moved the Royal Blues within striking distance of history at 4-3. Minutes later Naldo’s header ensured the game’s place in the record books.

Naby Keita (RB Leipzig, 19 points)

When Keita scores, it tends to make the difference for Leipzig. Of the Guinea international’s ten Bundesliga goals, six have put his side 1-0 in the lead and on the way to three points. That’s exactly what happened against Bremen as the Roten Bullen maintained their unbeaten status at home this season and extended their impressive run of never having lost a Bundesliga game following a UEFA Champions League fixture. The bustling midfielder bolstered his points by winning 20 challenges – more than anyone else on the pitch.

Filip Kostic (Hamburg, 17 points)

A persistent thorn in the side of Hoffenheim defenders, only Gotoku Sakai covered more ground and no one else had more attempts on goal as Hamburg recorded their biggest Bundesliga victory since February. Also throwing himself around with an impressive 15 challenges won, the Serbia international settled HSV nerves with 15 minutes remaining as his swerving free-kick from 35 yards got the better of goalkeeper Oliver Baumann to give the hosts a two-goal lead.

Forwards

Alfred Finnbogason (Augsburg, 16 points)

The iceman was on fire against Wolfsburg and was the difference for Augsburg against the Wolves. The 28-year-old set up Michael Gregoritsch to bring Manuel Baum’s side back on level terms before his sixth goal of the season saw Augsburg over the line for their fifth win of the season. It now puts the Bavarians on 19 points, which is already more than they had in the whole first half of last season.

Finnbogason netted his sixth goal of the season in Augsburg’s comeback win over ten-man Wolfsburg. © imago / De Fodi

Vedad Ibisevic (Hertha Berlin, 16 points)

The Hertha captain was the match-winner for the capital club on their visit to bottom side Cologne. Two goals, plus a further four shots, made the Bosnia and Herzegovina international too hot for the Billy Goats to handle. Of the 33-year-old’s 108 Bundesliga goals as a player for Hertha, Stuttgart, Hoffenheim and Alemannia Aachen, ten have now come against Cologne, which is more than against any other club.

Watch: Ibisevic: “I’ve scored a lot against Cologne”

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