Five Conclusions From CL/EL Matchday 3By: Jan | October 21st, 2011
Bayern signing Jupp Heynckes was the best thing to happen to Toni Kroos. The prototypical wunderkind to come out of Germany’s reformed youth system, needed Heynckes to pop up at Leverkusen, to finally play his long awaited breakthrough season in the Bundesliga. Now that the two are reunited at Bayern, he could well establish himself at the top of German football, both at Bayern and the German national team. Toni Kroos played another excellent game against Napoli, but had to settle for a draw, as the other players on the pitch, on both sides, weren’t interested enough to play an excellent game as well.
Jürgen Klopp can’t do Europe. He got knocked out in the first round of the UEFA Cup with Mainz and Dortmund. He didn’t make it past the group stage of the Europa League with Dortmund. And now it looks increasingly likely the same will happen to him in the Champions League. To his credit, he had the underdog excuse at Mainz. But at Dortmund his otherwise well drilled defense, continuously has decisive lapses of concentration. Something his wasteful offense struggles to compensate. Let’s hope for both Klopp and his young team, that this is still part of the learning curve. One that is at its’ low point, following the deserved defeat at the hands of Olympiacos.
Bernd Leno, a bit of experience and Andre Schürrle can get you a long way. And Robin Dutt out of trouble. The under fire coach witnessed his team giving him a clear vote of no confidence in the first half against Valencia. At least, that’s what everybody in the stadium and at home in front of the TV thought they were seeing. Valencia played Leverkusen off the park in even more devastating fashion than Gladbach last weekend. They outshot Leverkusen 13 to 0 in the first 40 minutes of the match. But luckily, and thanks to Bernd Leno, only scored one. This opened the door for the unlikely to happen. Everybody witnessed something unheard of at “Neverkusen”: a gutsy comeback, orchestrated by Michael Ballack’s experience and class and Andre Schürrle’s and Sidney Sam’s individual quality. This was followed by something seemingly even unlikelier: a clear vote of confidence by the team for Robin Dutt – when everybody stormed to the coach for excessive and aggressive hugging. This should give Dutt some breathing space, until Leverkusen lose their next match.
Copenhagen’s helping hand wasn’t enough for Hannover. Two great strikes from distance by Pander and Pinto, carefully set up by Copenhagen defenders, weren’t enough to help Hannover to their first Europa League home win. Hannover have yet to get used to teams visiting the AWD Arena, to do, what Hannover normally does best, be patient and strike on quick counter attacks. It didn’t help either, that Ron-Robert Zieler made a rare mistake, when trying to clear a ball in his box. Hannover are still in a good position to qualify from the group, but will have to rely on strong away performances.
Schalke didn’t need any help, but got it anyway. Schalke didn’t have to do much for their highest away victory in Europe. That didn’t stop a Larnaca defender to accurately pass the ball back to Huntelaar, so he could make it 5-0. Based on this game, Schalke should aim for their highest home win in Europe, when they meet Larnaca in two weeks. This might also be a good opportunity for Raul to work on his personal European goalscoring record.