Five Conclusions from Matchday 31By: Jan | April 17th, 2012
Dortmund are champions. Kaiserlautern are relegated. Both just awaiting official confirmation. But still plenty to play for in between the top and bottom.
A good bench is a sign of continuity.
Bayern Munich’s ambitions to beat Mainz at any cost with a make-shift squad was greatly diminished by Dortmund’s win over Schalke earlier. Hopes of a slip up didn’t materialise and the title race was effectively over. As such, this game doesn’t serve as the ultimate benchmark for the quality and depth of Bayern’s bench. But a whole season is. This season and in the past, Bayern’s performances suffered from lengthy injury spells of key players like Robben, Ribery or Schweinsteiger. Dortmund fared considerably better. Santana filled in expertly for Subotic. Lewandowski didn’t just fill in for Barrios, he far surpassed him eventually. Gündogan rose to the challenge in the absence of Bender. And then there was the small fact, that Mario Götze missed the whole second half of the season. Jürgen Klopp and Michael Zorc didn’t just do a great job building a strong first team, they also had the time to tweak and refine the bench. Bayern’s bench wasn’t tweaked and refined by Heynckes. He obviously didn’t have the chance yet. Bayern’s bench is a collection of flops and leftovers from previous seasons with different coaches. Of course, there are also a few promising youngsters and one or two experienced/aging stars, who accepted their role on the bench in return for a last big paycheck and the chance to win the odd title. But all in all, effective role-players and back ups are a key area, Bayern have to work on in the summer, if they want to reclaim the Bundesliga title from Dortmund.
The Bundesliga won’t break any attendance records next season.
Looks like up to three storied and big (at some point) clubs will get relegated. On the other end, tiny Greuther Fürth will break some foreign tongues during their Bundesliga adventure next season. I feel a bit bad for Kaiserslautern. They simply failed to replace Lakic and Ilicevic with enough quality, to keep them in the league. With the limited resources at their disposal, this is always a possibility. But then, it could hardly happen to better clubs than Cologne and/or Hertha. Both are currently the embodiment of chaotic and inept management. Relegation the logical conclusion. Unfortunately the logical conclusion to relegation is not a new better management. Often more inept management und financial doom are looming – see 1860 Munich for reference.
There should be a term for heroic goalkeeping that is ultimately in vain.
I suggest “pulling a Rensing”. Like many good goalkeepers in dysfunctional teams at dysfunctional clubs before him, Michael Rensing (again) single handedly kept the scoreline down to three instead of six+ against Gladbach. New coach Frank Schäfer talked about building on the positives from this match. That performance was pretty much it.
Bavaria will no longer be on a Bayern Munich mono diet.
Bavraria is the second most popolous state in Germany. Except for the Bayern Munich universe, there have been fairly few options for Bundesliga football in recent years, Nuremberg were constantly going up and down. 1860 Munich were constantly going down and further down. And that was it. Augsburg (the states third largest city after all) is a welcome addition to the Bavarian Bundesliga landscape. And with a good chance, that their first ever Bundesliga season will miracously be followed by a second, the club can start building some long term momentum. And for the cuteness factor, with the not so cute name, Greuther Fürth will help bump the number of Bavarian derbies to record levels – which will include Germany’s oldest derby between Fürth and Nuremberg.
European ambitions paired against relegation fears makes for great entertainment.
The best football to watch this weekend took place between clubs on the European places and the ones, threatening to send you to more provincial places in Germany. No nervy defensive battles but rather the need on both sides to go for all three points. In case of Hertha and Leverkusen, that was only enough for one point each but coupled with three goals on both sides. An encouraging lifesign from Hertha, who have a decent chance to push Cologne from the relegation play off spot.
More thoughts? Feel free to share them in the comments below.