Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas is not the second Valentine's Day!

German Bundesliga is now having a winter break, so I also get out of the football field for a while.

Don't ask me what I did in Christmas, because I didn't do anything at all. Well, I have just had an afternoon tea with my friend in 25th.

I'm really upset about the Christmas in Hong Kong. This is nothing about the friends or companies or even complaining I am not dated. In fact, I enjoy my single life by the way, even sometimes I want to be dated.

It's all about the purpose of Christmas, the real purpose is celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Well, I am not a Christian, so it is not a big deal for me. The most upset part is the over-commercialization in Hong Kong's Christmas.

I accpet to commercialize some special occasion, as this is a great chance for the business and I think it also helps people to celebrate. So why not? But, please stick to the track. The Christmas in Hong Kong is definitely out of track.

Apart from the religious purpose, Christmas should be celebrated with the friends, relatives, families, as well as large group of people. How can it turns into a romance? I don't get it. But people in Hong Kong seems to enjoy it. To be frank, it makes me sick.

Many people in Hong Kong want to seek for romance, even someone you know, or someone you don't know. Just search the internet, there are lots of dates are waiting for you, if you are single.

This is all about commercialization. They twisted this great Christmas into the ugly commercialized Christmas. Everyone keeps on saying to find the romance, to be with the date, or even having sex with them as this is the great celebration. They packaged the Christmas to be the second Valentine's Day. I'm not saying the other part of the world do not have this situation, but they have something more at least.

Why only romance? Where is your friend? Where is your family? This is the real purpose of Christmas. Where is the romance in Christmas? I just don't get it!

I was in Brisbane two years ago, The whole city was very quiet in Christmas Eve and my friend seemed did not get used to it. Of course, everyone came back home for their family to celebrate Christmas so all shops were closed. There was only a ugly Christmas tree standing at the middle of the city. Oh yes, the only crowded places were casino and the pubs. I like this you know, at least they keep the fundamental purpose. The only crowded day is Boxing Day, traditionally there is a Boxing Day Bargain. Yes, I had some bargain too!

So what about in Hong Kong?

Seems that people is freak if you are not seeking a romance and / or to be with your date. Wow, that means I am a freak! I'd rather be that freak then. Maybe you say I can't taste the grape and said this is sour. Well, so let me be. Because I know, Christmas is not a second Valentine's Day. Those stupid marketing people are all pointing out this way and those people in Hong Kong are happy to follow this way.

Remember, there is no romance in Christmas! If you love your date, do love them everyday. And, if you don't have a date, remember you have your friends and family!

And please, all marketers, this is not a Valentine's Day!

Monday, December 22, 2008

German teams in European competition - prediction

Last time I have analyzed the performance of the German teams in Europe. After the Champions League and UEFA Cup draw last Friday, it is a mixed emotions for the German fans. Now I will predict their future in the competitions ahead:

Bayern München (Champions League - Round of 16 vs Sporting Lisbon): Well, Bayern fans can't ask more than that. On paper this is probably the easiest matchup to Bayern as they are superior on match experience and the attacks. Franck Ribery, Luca Toni, and Miroslav Klose will be the driving force that lead Bayern to progress through to Quarter Final. The defense on the other hand, is very solid in European competition so I am not too worried about the defense. Sporting Lisbon on the other side, they are very good at team work so they will work together to stop Bayern. Also, their pressure is off against Bayern as they are the underdogs and fans supposed them to be beaten. So it may bring so surprise to Bayern. The key is Bayern's attacks and then must be careful.

Werder Bremen (UEFA Cup - Round of 32 vs AC Milan): If you believe in God, you can say this is the punishment from God for their poor performance in Champions League. As I mentioned previously, their fragile defense lead them fail to qualify to Round of 16 in Champions League. If that performance goes on next year, Werder Bremen simply will not have a chance to beat AC Milan. Ronaldinho, Kaka, and Shevchenko are too good for Werder Bremen to stop. The only advantage for Werder Bremen is they do not have any pressure so they may come up some miracle if they release their pressure to play. However, I believe Werder Bremen just want to avoid the humiliation as AC Milan are too good.

Hamburger SV (UEFA Cup - Round of 32 vs NEC): This is a good draw for Hamburger. On paper they are better than NEC a lot as the attacks from Hamburger is one of the best teams in the competition. Piotr Trochowski is the key member to lead the team to success. However, as the Bundesliga is becoming in tense, they may be affected as their fitness may be dropping. So NEC will have chance to bring surprise to the fans. So, I believe Hamburger must be careful and hold the possession well in order to progress through.

VfL Wolfsburg (UEFA Cup - Round of 32 vs Paris St-Germain): Very very even match. Wolfsburg is very good at the competition. The attacks is very good that even AC Milan are pretty hard to stop them. So I believe they can carry through to this matchup. Grafite, Misimovic, and Dzeko will be the players who control the fate of Wolfsburg. On the other hand, PSG is not too bad in French league. Mateja Kezman definitely helps the team in the attacking force, even he does not gain too many chances to play for them. Do not underestimate Kezman's ability as his finishing is very good. So the key for Wolfsburg is stopping the attacks from PSG then they have chance to win.

VfB Stuttgart (UEFA Cup - Round of 32 vs Zenit St. Petersburg): A bad draw for Stuttgart. Defending champion Zenit even is declining, both in league and the European competition, I do believe they are still one of the hot favorites to win this competition. The home court performance is scary to the German teams, even Bayern München had lost 4-0 last season at St. Petersburg. They key for Stuttgart is if Markus Babbel can boost up the team to hold on at the first away leg. If they can hold on to have narrow loss with away goal, then Stuttgart are most probable to beat the defending champion.

So this is my first rough prediction of the German teams in European competition. As Janurary transfer is around the corner, the team strength may change. I will keep an eye on it and I will analysis the German winter transfer market later.

Friday, December 19, 2008

German teams in European competition - review

After reviewing the German Bundesliga teams one by one previously, I would like to analysis the German teams in European competition, both in Champions League and UEFA Cup.

Bayern München (Champions League - Group winner, to Second Round): Surprisingly, Bayern performed very well in defense. Unlike in the Bundesliga, they have a solid defense and the high quality of possession. It is somehow related to Daniel van Buyten. Even he is very poor at pace, acceleration, and agility, his defensive mentaliy did help to the team. They only lost 4 goals in 6 matches, which is 0.67 in average. This is a very good statistic to Bayern in terms of defense, especially comparing with the performance in the Bundesliga. High quality possession also made them to managed to win 4 games and 2 draws as well, because they can remain the possession and the other teams rarely have chance to take control. If this performance can keep on in the later stage, I believe they can reach to further stages, and I will not be surprised if they reach to Final.

Werder Bremen (Champions League - 3rd in Group, to UEFA Cup Third Round): Another disappointing performance as well as in the Bundesliga. They do not realize at all that quality of possession is the key of success, they cannot keep the ball well so they cannot win the game. It is quite good for them to score 8 goals in 6 matches, but at the same time they lost 9 goals. They only had 1 clean sheet game in these 6 matches, which was a bored draw against Anorthosis from Cyprus. When comparing to Bayern, which they had 3 clean sheets, it is very easy to see the reason why they cannot go furher. It is a bliss that they can go through to the UEFA Cup as they beated Inter Milan 2-1. This game is also a very good lesson that quality of possession and well discipline defense are the only way to success in Europe.

VfL Wolfsburg (UEFA Cup - Group phase winner, to Third Round): It is very surprised for me they performed so well in the UEFA Cup. The new summer purchase definitely bring lots of European experience to the team so that they perform very well. The whole team look very solid in performance, even AC Milan is not able to win against them at San Siro. Their attacks are very good, which they scored 13 goals in only 4 games in Second Round Group Phase. However, the defense is quite a worry as they conceded 7 goals as well. They need to improve the defense and prevent any careless mistake if they want to progress to the later stages or even to the Final.

Hamburger SV (UEFA Cup - Group phase winner, to Third Round): Another promising team in the European competition. The defense are very tough in the Group Phase competition as they only lost 3 goals in 4 games, that is 0.75 in average. Also, their attacks is satisfying as they scored 7 goals. I believe they are one of the teams that can progress to the later stages of the competition if their performance can carry on. However, they have to concern about the careless slip up and as well as the away form. If the solve this problem, I believe they are one of the real contenders in this competition.

VfB Stuttgart (UEFA Cup - 2nd in Group phase, to Third Round): They did well, they play in the safety way in the Group phase so they can ease past Partizan from Serbia and Sampdoria from Italy. Also, they managed to win the easy game, such as Standard Liege from Belgium (as Liege is qualified early, Stuttgart should have won the match). It seems Markus Babbel did very well to deal with the European competition apart from Bundesliga. However, the tougher test is yet to come, and the ability of Markus Babbel will be tested. So Markus Babbel will be the key for them to go through to further stages.

Schalke 04 (UEFA Cup - last in Group phase, eliminated): It was a bit unlucky that to face Athletico Madrid in the Champions League Third Qualifying Round, and they lost 4-1 in aggregate, but there is not any excuse for them to crush out that early. The opponents are close to them, not stronger than them, so that they are matched. However, apart from winning PSG from France 2-1, they are outmatched in the remaining 3 games. It was lucky to draw against Racing Santander from Spain, and they cannot escape from defeat against Manchester City from England and Twente from Netherlands. Coach Fred Rutten cannot escape his responsibility in this major setback for the team and they can only hope the bow out can relief some pressure and perform better in the Bundesliga.

Hertha Berlin (UEFA Cup - 4th in Group phase, eliminated): If I say Schalke's performance is disappointing, then I say the performance of Hertha Berlin make me very angry. How can they scored only a single goal in 4 matches? This is totally unacceptable and this is the reason why they crashed out early. Besides the 1-1 draw against Benfica from Portugal, they are not able to score. It can be seen in the Bundesliga that their attacks is without any variation and in the European competition, the problem is more obvious. So now they need to know the problem and work harder in next season.

Borussia Dortmund (UEFA Cup - eliminated in 1st Round): Not much can be seen in their performance as they crushed out so early. It was a bit unlucky that they faced Udinese from Italy in the 1st Round and they did all they could. They gain lots of applaud that the team force Udinese into the penalty shootout after they lost 2-0 at home. A bit advice however, they must be very careful for the defense or else they only repeated what they did in next season.

I end up the analysis here. Next time I will preview the qualifying teams matches as the draw is drawn.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

German Bundesliga Halfway team by team analysis (Part 3)

Following Part 1 and 2, now I would like to analysis the teams in 13th to 18th. They mainly in the relegation trouble due to their poor performance and some different problems in each team. Now here's the analysis:

Hannover 96 (13th - 17 points): Well, the main trouble for them is they fail to connect the attacks. They have good attacking players such as Jan Schlaudraff and Mikael Forssell, together with playmaker Szabolcs Huszti, it is supposed they can make something special. However, they fail to connect each others make them to have a very hard time in attacks as those players are playing individually. Team captain and Germany international starting goalkeeper Robert Enke is broken his arm leads the team even lose the leadership as well. So this is the reason why they are still having trouble on their performance. Also, their away game record is the worst in the league so far, only scoring 1 point and 3 goals, at the same time they concede 21 goals. Away game form must be improved in the coming fixture or else I believe they are very likely to get relegated.

Armina Bielefeld (14th - 14 points): Unlike Hannover 96, Arminia Bielefeld has been outclassed all the time. The players cannot match the other teams at all. So this is the reason why they always having trouble in the league and being named as a "yo-yo" club (they promote and relegate between first and second division frequently, like a yo-yo, going up and down repeatedly). Their away record also kills them as well, only scoring 5 points and 5 goals in 9 games, and never won a match away from home. This is related to the players are being outclassed. Arthur Wichniarek is the only player who has class in the Bundesliga, the others are simply not good enough. So more purchase or loans must be dealt in the winter or else they will become another yo-yo, again.

Karlsruher SC (15th - 13 points): They definitely have the post season slump. They played very well last season as promoted team but this season, because they have more pressure and did not make any important purchase in the summer, their performance has lots of problems. The departure of Tamas Hajnal to Borussia Dortmund really hurt the team. The whole team lost the leadership and the focus so their attacks only managed to score 15 times. The strikers such as Josh Kennedy had lost the form from last season, so he did not contribute to the team at all. The defense at the same time, is very fragile. It is supposed goalkeeper Markus Miller leads the whole defense but following his match form slumps, he lost his leadership skills as well. So they concede 32 goals, the second highest in the Bundesliga. I believe they must purchase some experienced defenders which can lead the defense then make some counter attacks to win games in order to save their place in Bundesliga.

Energie Cottbus (16th - 13 points): Being the worst attacking team in the league (only scoring 13 goals in 17 matches), it is very hard to stand firm in the attacking league such as German Bundesliga. They have no tactics in the attack at all. They only knows to rush and rush, and nothing more. Even worse, some of the goals are just fluke, such as the goal against Bayern München, Ervin Skela curve the freekick which everyone missed the touch and scored. So they spent a lot of time to stay at the bottom of the table. However, one good thing is, their morality seems to be the highest within the 6 teams I have mentioned in this part. This is the reason why they improved dramatically in the second half of last season. So, I believe they need to keep the morale high in order to stay out of relegation zone. Since there is a rumour that Jiayi Shao will be abandoned, they desperately need a good striker to help them to climb back.

VfL Bochum (17th - 11 points): Failing to win is the main factor that they are now at 17th. They only won once in 17 matches, then having 8 draws and 8 losses. So too many draw game is the main reason, according to the statistics shown. They have plenty of good attacking players such as Paul Freier, Shinji Ono, Mimoun Azaouagh, and Vahid Hashemian, so it is supposed they can be at the mid table at least. However, similar as Hannover 96 mentioned, those players cannot connect. There are too many individual work and it is very rare to see there are any team goals. So what coach Marcel Koller do in the winter break is not purchasing more players, but connect the players to be as a team.

Borussia Mönchengladbach (18th - 11 points): They think they can play very well in their players list, however it turns out they are always outclassed. The upper management has extremely over-estimated the players' ability and now they are in the deepest trouble. It seems there is no hope for them according to the performance so far, their defense is looked like a Swiss cheese, holes everywhere. So they conceded 35 goals, which is highest in the Bundesliga. However, it is a good news that Marko Marin did play well, he showed himself he is one of the brightest players in Germany. It is very sad to see that he still cannot help the team as the entired team is just being outclassed. It seems there is no hope for them to fight back to the 16th at least, where they will be granted a play-off chance to stay in the league. A remarkable improvement is desperately needed in the remaining 17 games, even more purchases now seems not so useful. I can only wish them good luck.

I end my analysis here. You can search Part 1 and 2 of my analysis as well. Next I will analysis the German teams in European competition.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

German Bundesliga halfway team by team analysis (Part 2)

Following from Part 1, this part I would like to summarize the performance from 7th to 12th in the German Bundesliga league table:

Schalke 04 (7th - 27 points): It is quite disappointing for Schalke 04 this season so far. Fans are quite enthusiastic about the team, not only in defense, but also in attacks. Jefferson Farfan is predicted to be the major attacking force, together with Kevin Kuranyi and the company, they will become one of the most threatening attacking combinations in the league. However, it turns out at just an opposite way. Both Farfan and Kuranyi fail to gain any confident throughout these 17 matches at all, and Halil Altintop and Gerald Asamoah cannot be consistent every match. Coach Fred Rutten at the same time, he is not favoring Ivan Ratikic, the only creative playmaker in the team. Consequently, Schalke did not perform well at the attack at all, and only managed to score 24 goals in 17 matches, which is below the average. I believe Ivan Rakitic can be the saviour of the team and his creativeness can save the team from trouble. Coach Rutten needs to consider that.

Werder Bremen (8th - 26 points): Another disappointing team is found in the mid table. The astonishing 5-2 win against Bayern München at their home is the only match they can be proud of. Defense is still very fragile, same as last few seasons. Even worse, only Per Mertesacker can perform consistently. Naldo in these 17 matches did not perform well at all. He could not help Mertesacker but brought more harm. It is a bliss that they only conceded 28 goals in these 17 matches. Their attacks is always threatening, they can score 39 goals, just behind Hoffenheim, being at the second highest scoring team. However, the attacking force seems to get inconsistent. When they are facing the tough and well discipline defense, they seem they do not have any clue to break through. The team rely too much on Diego and Claudio Pizarro, so the attacking become inconsistent. Aaron Hunt, he should be the most talented attacking player, did not improve at all in these 2 seasons. It is very disappointing for me and I believe he should find another club. In short term Werder Bremen must urgently search another good defender to stabilize the defense. In long term, coach Thomas Schaaf must be sacked.

VfL Wolfsburg (9th - 26 points): Scoring the same game point with Werder Bremen, I believe Wolfsburg should feel satisfied, which is opposite to Werder Bremen. They have purchased lots of good quality players such as Misimovic, Barzagli, and Zaccardo to bring lots of expectation to the team. The performance also show that they can challenge any top teams in the league. Dzeko and Grafite are the main attacking duo that contribute a lot to the team, so this is the reason why they can stand firm in the mid table. However, their game finishing need to be improved, especially in the away games, which they never win so far. The losses against Bayern München and Werder Bremen showed they are able to win the match, but they are unable to finish to the end. So coach Felix Magath needs to think about game finishing in this winter break, as I believe the upper management and the fans are all expecting they can qualify to European competition through the league.

VfB Stuttgart (10th - 25 points): Lack of direction is the best description to them in these 17 matches. They have tried a lot of ways to win the game, but it all goes wrong. It can be explained they have too many injuries, but injuries is also a part of the game. Former coach Armin Veh failed to stabilize the team with a stable formation and tactics so he is sacked in the midway. New caretaking coach Markus Babbel so far only bring his passion to the team so that is why he is still at the unbeaten run, excluding the UEFA Cup match later. New captain Thomas Hitzlsperger shows his potential to lead the team, but he is not the person yet, but it is worth to keep trying. Mario Gomez is very inconsistent so Stuttgart cannot find the consistent way to keep scoring. Cacau is tragic, he only scores once so far. I believe Markus Babbel should think about how to boost up the attacking form in these 6 weeks break.

1. FC Köln (11th - 22 points): Very satisfying. They have purchased the right players, such as Armando Petit and Pierrre Wome to the team so that is why they are standing firm in the league. They can be at the higher position because they are facing the crisis before the winter break. Captain Novakovic is a good striker, but he cannot be the only striker in the starting lineup. It is understandable that the team wants to hold the midfield, but it turns the lack of support in the attack. So this is why they only score 19 goals in 17 games, which is far behind the average. I believe the team should think about how to support Novakovic in the second half of the season. As the league tend to play the push up attacking style, the team are very hard to win the game like this. Maybe another purchase of striker can help to relieve Novakovic.

Eintract Frankfurt (12th - 19 points): They are very inconsistent so far. After the poor start of the season, they started to gain back their form last season and climb back up on top slowly. I believed before it was slowly but surely, but in fact it was only slowly, and not surely at all. Their away form is the main factor leads them to keep in deep inside of the trouble, only having 8 points and scoring 9 goals in 9 away games. The players are very unstable at the away games, looks like they cannot play football at all. They are now standing at the 12th because their home game form, which brings them 3 wins and scoring 11 points and 14 goals in 8 matches. Away game form is urgently needed to improve or else they will be in the relegation trouble again.

So here's the second part of my analysis. The last but not least is coming soon!

Monday, December 15, 2008

German Bundesliga halfway team by team analysis (Part 1)

As the German Bundesliga are now having the winter break, I would like to analysis the performance of each team so far. I will divide into 3 parts, according to the standing in the table. So in this part, I will analysis teams from 1st to 6th:

Hoffenheim (1st - 35 points): Miraculous! Their performance is excellent in thei first 17 matches. From the 3-0 win over Energie Cottbus in their first match, they are having a strong performance. Counter attacks and push up defense simply made the opponent suffocate. Also, their quick fire goal made the opponent had a very hard time to bounce back. Players like Vedad Ibisevic, Demba Ba, Obasi, as well as Carlos Eduardo performed very well in attacks, so they have scored 42 goals now. However, their 4 losses showed that they were inexperienced to play against the big teams, as well as the team with solid defense. Furthermore, their defense lacks of positioning and leadership so it is usual to see the opponent "beats one, beats all" situation, which means the fullbacks always cover the offside position. Timo Hildebrand from Valencia is confirmed to join, so hopefully he can lead the defense line to achieve success.

Bayern München (2nd - 35 points): As always, there is no surprise for the fans as they expect the team to dominate. Jürgen Klinsmann at the beginning did have lots of tries to the team, even from the formation to the starting lineup. I appreciate his courage to try but the team could not adept so they had a very bumpy start, including 5-2 heavy humiliating loss to Werder Bremen at home. Since the team has adepted, the team started to have a hot streak. They have 8 wins and 3 draws in 11 matches, which led them to climb up to 2nd place, actually the team has shared the winter champion to Hoffenheim. Their morality is very high, even higher than their last dominating season. Fans should give this credit to Klinsmann as his energy shone through. However, the team still over dependent on Franck Ribery, without Ribery the attacks lose the composure. There were 6 games without Ribery, and the team only managed to win 2. Landon Donovan is confirmed to join Bayern as loan, so hopefully he can be the "Ribery reliever" and bring some variety in attacks.

Hertha Berlin (3rd - 33 points): They are the other surprising team in the first half of the season. Maybe Hoffenheim catched too much attention, they are playing under the raider. Well positioning and well discipline defense made them to be the 3rd in the table. They have only conceded 20 goals in 17 games, however, they have lost 4-1 against Bayern München and 5-1 against Werder Bremen, if that 9 goals was erased, they have only lost 11 goals in 15 games. So it can prove that their defense is very solid and reliable. Even Hoffenheim are unable to score against them and Hertha Berlin won 1-0. Andrei Voronin and Karcar are the main attacking duo, however, their scoring ability needs to improve. They only score 27 goals in 17 games, it is just at the average level (average is 25.67). The contract renewal of Marko Pantelic will be the primary concern in the team as he can significantly improve the attacking force.

Hamburger SV (4th - 33 points): Hamburger SV this season has improved a lot. It is not surprised to me that their performance is not affected at all since Rafael van der Vaart has left to Real Madrid. Piotr Trochowski showed himself he can solo for Hamburger and he can make the fans to forget van der Vaart. Ivica Olic and Mlaten Patric are the main reason why Hamburger did so well in first half of the season. They are not only scoring, but running for spaces for the others to score goals. However, their injuries and defense problems make them cannot climb up further. Goalkeeper Frank Rost has lots of pressure every match as the defense cannot relief him. Also, the poor away form, which has 3 wins, 2 draws, and 4 losses in 9 away games is a big problem that coach Martin Jol needs to concern. As this poor away form goes, it is very hard for Hamburger to challenge the title in the second half of the season.

Bayer Leverkusen (5th - 32 points): Bayer Leverkusen plays very well this season so far. Their young guns performed very well. Patrick Helmes, and Stefan Kießling are the duo to lead the attacks. With the support from Tranquillo Barnetta and Arthur Vidal, their attacks is very fast and furious. They had a famous match to win against Hoffenheim 5-2 can show their attacks is very good. Rene Adler on the other hand, even he is only 23, his maturity makes him look like 29, that can make him to lead the defense well organized. Meanwhile, their excellent away form, which is 2nd overall and only behind Bayern München, make them to be at the close title challenge match. However, their inexperience make them cannot convert their performance in the important big match, such as the game losing to Bayern München. This problem make them fail to win the title in the end and I believe the team needs to purchase some experienced bench players in short term to relief those young guns.

Borussia Dortmund (6th - 29 points): Borussia Dortmund is the other young guns who play very well in the first half of the season. Coach Jürgen Klopp is very similar to Jürgen Klinsmann I personally believe, as they are both very enthusiastic and energetic. It influences the team a lot as the whole team are keen on play. Mats Hummels and Neven Subotic play surprisingly well in the defense. This is a very important factor to lead Dortmund to stand tough in the top half of the table. Captain Sebastian Kehl is very effective in the midfield and his leadership can lead the teammates such as Florian Kringe and Jakob Blaszczylowski to perform well. However, goalkeeper Roman Wiedenfeller failed to convince the fans that he can stop the shots. Also, only Alexander Frei can guarantee to the fans that they have a good attacks. Mohammad Zidan and Nelson Valdez both failed to be consistent. So I believe in the winter Dortmund needs another experienced striker to relief Frei. If possible, another starting goalkeeper is needed.

So this is the Part 1 of the analysis. I will post Part 2 and 3 later on.

German Bundesliga Halfway Review and Findings

Last night German Bundesliga had reached the halfway mark and now having the 6-week winter break. Now I would like to share some finidings and reviews in the 17-week matches. Last week I have 6 correct tips and 1 correct score within it. Now here's my findings:

Magic Hoffenheim

Hoffenheim is surprising everyone in the first half of the season. Their performance is so well that they are deserved to be at the top of the table, even only win by the goal difference. This is a metaphor that the new power in the Bundesliga is impacting the old traditionals. Werder Bremen and Schalke 04 are the first two teams being impacted and they had a poor performance. At the same time, Bayern München is being challenged greatly from the excellent performance from Hoffenheim. Furthermore, Hoffenheim's performance can show themselves to the fans that they can win the Bundesliga as same as Kaiserslautern in Season 1997-1998, who they won the Bundesliga as a new comer.

Great decline

On the other hand, teams such as Werder Bremen, Schalke 04, and VfB Stuttgart are having the great crisis during the first half of the season. They are facing the different issues such as fragile defense, injuries and suspensions, as well as lack of attacking style. These reasons impacted those teams very much and they were struggling to deal with these. Werder Bremen for example, they are facing a decline in attacks and the defense (they have conceded 28 goals in 17 games), so they are stand at disappointing 8th position in the table. Schalke at the same time their poor attacking form always let them down, even they can defend well, they only managed scored 24 goals in 17 games, which is below the average, which is 25.67 goals. Together with the new power, te Bundesliga this season is changed rapidly.

Close relegation fight

Maybe Hoffenheim's performance catch too much attentions, there is not many fans concern about the relegation fight. In fact, the relegation fight is quite in tense. Energie Cottbus is the weakest team once again in the beginning of the season, but their performance is improving so they are now standing on 16th. Borussia Mönchengladbach is very disappointing, which their "Swiss cheese" defense, they conceded 35 goals and led them to lost 12 games and only had 11 points in 17 games. Together with slump from Hannover 96 and Karlsruher, and the usual weak teams like Arminia Bielefeld and Bochum, the relegation fight within each other will be very close after the winter break.

All out attack

Teams are keen on attack so far this season, no matter teams at the top or at the bottom. The average number of goal scores is 3.02 each match, and Hoffenheim, the team scored most, scored 42 goals from 17 games, which is 2.47 goals each games already. Bayern München and Werder Bremen have also scored 39 goals, which scored 2.29 goals each game. These high number of goal scores proved that teams are keen on attacks, and believing "scoring one more goal than you" tactics will bring them success. This finding also proved the reason why Schalke 04 failed to climb up the table, as well as Energie Cottbus are now straying at the bottom of the table, which Cottbus only scored 12 goals in 17 games, 0.71 goals in average.

Bosnian power

Bosnian players played very well in the first half of the season. No need to mention much, Bosnian Vedad Ibisevic from Hoffenheim had scored 18 goals in 17 games can prove he is the scoring machine in Bundesliga. Meanwhile, not so many fans can see that, he had 7 assists as well. It can prove that he is the key member of Hoffenheim. Besides, the top 4 assist players are all Bosnian, they are Zvjezdan Misimovic from VfL Wolfsburg (10 assists), Sejad Salihovic from Hoffenheim (8 assists), Edin Dzeko from VfL Wolfsburg (7 assists) and Vedad Ibisevic from Hoffenheim (7 assists). It can prove that the Bosnian players are more and more important in Bundesliga.

Young guns

More teams in Bundesliga are keen on using young players. Bayer Leverkusen, Borussia Dortmund, and Hoffenheim are main examples. Neven Subotic and Mats Hummels from Dortmund are the starting centre back and they are just 19. Also, Leverkusen's top goal scorer Partick Helmes is only 24, and he had scored 12 goals in 17 games. Hoffenheim on the other hand, the main starting force, such as Marvin Compper and Tobias Weis are only 23, and they are available to play for Germany U23 as well. It is also beneficial to the Germany national team apart from the team itself. The other players like Benedikt Höwedes from Schalke 04 is the young gun that we need to watch out for.

So, this is the findings and the reviews! Later I will analysis the teams one by one.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

German Bundesliga Week 17 Tipping

German Bundesliga this week will hold the last match week before the 6-week winter break. Winter champion will be given to Hoffenheim, Bayern München, or Bayer Leverkusen. Last week I have 4 correct tips and 1 correct score within them. Before having my tip of this week, here is the combination of winter champion:

Hoffenheim to be winter champion:
Win, with Bayern win and any results of Leverkusen (depending on goal difference)
Win, with Bayern draw or loss and any results of Leverkusen
Draw, with Bayern draw or loss and any results of Leverkusen
Loss, with Bayern loss and draw or loss of Leverkusen

Bayern München to be winter champion:
Win, with Hoffenheim win and any result of Leverkusen (depending on goal difference)
Win, with Hoffenheim draw or loss and any result of Leverkusen
Draw, with Hoffenheim loss or any result of Leverkusen
Loss, with Hoffenheim greater loss and draw or loss of Leverkusen

Bayer Leverkusen to be winter champion:
Win, with both Hoffenheim and Bayern loss (depending on goal difference)

Now, here's the tip of the week:

Borussia Dortmund (8th) vs Borussia Mönchengladbach (18th) - Friday: This match week starts with Borussia derby. Dortmund recently did not perform really well. Alexander Frei and the other attacking company did not perform well so that even the defense looks solid, they also failed to win the game. Last week they only had a bored draw at Arminia Bielefeld can show that their attacks is in the cold streak. This match is a grat chance for them to gain back the attacking form before the winter break. Alexander Frei and his company must perform well in order to win. On the other side, Gladbach keeps disappointing to their fans. They have no match against Leverkusen last week and there are so many holes in defense, like a Swiss cheese. Marko Marin is the only good player in the team and the strikers like Rob Friend did not perform well at all. I do not believe Gladbach this match will snatch a sraw even as the team is in poor form and they are at the away turf. My tip: Dortmund win 3-0.

Werder Bremen (10th) vs VfL Wolfsburg (6th) - Saturday: Werder Bremen even though they won against Inter Milan in Champions League in Tuesday, they are still struggling for regaining back the form in the league. It was very surprising that they were beaten by Karlsruher without scoring goal. This match Claudio Pizarro and Diego are suspended, which is a huge impact for them as they are the major attacking force. So it is more difficult for them to score goals and even win the match. Wolfsburg on the other hand, they are keeping the solid form so far. Besides the solid defense, their attacking players such as Grafite and Dzeko are in the great form. When facing the fragile Werder Bremen defense, it is very likely to score goal. So even Werder Bremen is playing at home, I do not believe they have any advantage. My tip: Match draw 1-1.

Hamburger SV (5th) vs Eintract Frankfurt (11th) - Saturday: Hamburger last week had gained back some away win form with 2-1 victory. Ivica Olic and Mlaten Petric are the main factor for Hamburger to gain back the winning form as they can relief the pressue of Piotr Trochowski. This week they have the clear advantage because they are at the home ground and they usually perform well at home. Frankfurt on the other side are very unstable so far. The performance is so different between home and away games. This match I do not believe they can carry on the 4-0 victory form last week and they will be beaten badly. My tip: Hamburger win 4-0.

VfL Bochum (17th) vs 1. FC Köln (12th) - Saturday: Bochum so far are seemed hopeless as they lost to Frankfurt 4-0. They seemed they had nothing to strike back as the attacks are simply tragic. So they are now standing at 17th, just better than Gladbach a bit. Köln on the other hand, they are in crisis. They are now in the cold streak and they desperately need a win to gain back their confidence. This match is a wonderful chance for them to do so. Novakovic in Köln is in the good form so I believe he can bring back the team to the winning track. With their solid midfield to support him, I believe even Bochum has the home court advantage, they do not stand for a chance. My tip: Köln win 3-0.

VfB Stuttgart (9th) vs Bayern München (2nd) - Saturday: As the introduction mentioned, this is very important for Bayern to win the winter champion. Stuttgart's new caretaking coach Markus Babbel does not have any new tactics to the team, he seems he tends to follow Armin Veh, the former coach tactics. However, Babbel can encourage the players to gain back their confidence so they won against Schalke 04 at two weeks ago. Together with the win against Cottbus, they now are in 2-game winning streak. This is the real test for Babbel and his lads as they need to push beyond the limit. Bayern on the other hand, their form is in red hot. They won against Hoffenheim last Friday definitely boosted their morale and they are now won 8 in last 10 matches. Franck Ribery and Miroslav Klose is in the great form so Stuttgart defense are really tested. One thing they need to concern is Ze Roberto and Lucio may not fit enough even they can start the match, as well as the players may not so fit after the Champion League match. My tip: Bayern win 2-0.

Bayer Leverkusen (3rd) vs Energie Cottbus (16th) - Saturday: Leverkusen no doubt are keen on win this match as they still have slim chance to be the winter champion. Stefan Kießling and Patrick Helmes are in the great form so they will be the key of this match. The win against Gladbach last week definitely boosted their morale after the 2-game losing streak. Even the defense is not really solid as they only rely on Rene Adler to perform, Cottbus attacks is really poor that Leverkusen is easy to handle. It was quite disappointing for me that they cannot carry on the winning form fortnight ago to last week and lost to Stuttgart comprehensively. So this match I believe Cottbus doesn't stand for a chance as their form is pretty poor. My tip: Leverkusen win 3-0.

Hannover 96 (13th) vs Arminia Bielefeld (14th) - Saturday: It is another close match this week. Hannover last week not only lost a match, but the goalkeeper Florian Fromlowitz, who will be suspended this week. Together with injured Robert Enke, they are forced to start a third choice goalkeeper. So their defenders this match will be very important as they have to do extra job to relief the goalkeeper. Bielefeld on the other hand, they failed to win matches again last week. This week for them should be a great chance for them even at the away ground as Hannover does not have good goalkeeper. However, I do not believe their attacks can contribute anything to this match so it may end up a bored draw again. My tip: Match draw 0-0.

Hertha Berlin (4th) vs Karlsruher SC (15th) - Saturday: Hertha Berlin last match showed their ineffectiveness in attacks that they had nothing to strike back and lost 1-0 against Schalke 04. Andrei Voronin and Marko Pantelic did not contribute anything when they faced the tight defense, so this was the reason why they lost the game last week. Karlsruher last week had created the biggest upset to the fans as they played very well in defense to beat Werder Bremen 1-0. This is a morale boosting match as they saw hope to get out of the relegation zone. However, Hertha Berlin had the home court advantage as well as better class, they should win this match, even though a slim victory. My tip: Hertha Berlin win 1-0.

Hoffenheim (1st) vs Schalke 04 (7th) - Sunday: This is the last game before the winter break and will decide the winter champion. Hoffenheim showed their inexperience made them failed to win the big match against te big teams such as Bayern München. But, as a German and Bayern fans, they gained a lot of respect and showed they are the one of the real title contenders in the league. Vedad Ibisevic no doubt is the most important player in the game, his great form can bring him keep scoring and seems there is nobody to stop him. This is the real test for Ibisevic this match as Schalke defense is very good from the midfield to goalkeeper. The biggest concern for Schalke is their attacks is very poor in form. Only Gerald Asamoah is a bit fit and the others simply lose their confidence. So Schalke attack is the key of the match. My tip: Match draw 1-1.

So that's it of my tip this week! Have a great weekend!

Friday, December 5, 2008

German Bundesliga Week 16 Tipping

This week German Bundesliga has reached the second last match week before the 2-month winter break. Apart from the Friday mega blockbuster, there are plenty of important matches. I will not repeat the Friday match as I have made my preview previously. Last week I have tipped 5 correct matches and 1 correct score within them. Now here's my tipping for this week:

Schalke 04 (9th) vs Hertha Berlin (3rd) - Saturday: Schalke now is in the deep trouble. Their morale has reached to the new low after the lost against Twente in UEFA Cup match. Jefferson Farfan and Kevin Kuranyi again do not have confident at all, only Gerald Asamoah is in form in attacks. On the other hand, even though Hertha Berlin had also lost the game in UEFA Cup, their league performance is so confident. They seem they are really in peak morale and the defense looks very solid in the moment. This is the defensive match as both teams have very good defense. Orlando Engelaar, Fabien Ernst, and Jermaine Jones from Schalke are the key players in the match. I believe their performance is too important that if they can stop Hertha Berlin. My tip: Hertha Berlin win 1-0.

Eintract Frankfurt (12th) vs VfL Bochum (16th) - Saturday: This is a very close match. Frankfurt is very unstable at the moment, they totally lost the composure in the 5-0 humiliating defeat against Werder Bremen last week. They need to do now is to forget this match and keep carrying on. This match Frankfurt has the home court advantage so I believe they can pick up a bit to face Bochum. On the other hand, Bochum is still struggling at the moment, they cannot get out of the relegation zone. This is because their attacks are not creative enough to create goals. So they keep staying at 16th. They key of the match is who can pick up the pace quicker. Frankfurt has a slim advantage as they have home court advantage. My tip: Frankfurt win 2-0.

Karlsruher SC (18th) vs Werder Bremen (7th) - Saturday: Well, I forget how many game Karlsruher lost in a row already. They seemed hopeless. Even they showed their spirit to bounce back 2 goals after losing 3-0 against Hannover 96, it is still not enough for them. I do not think they can do something special against Werder Bremen this week, as the others have fast attacks that Karlsruher cannot stop. Werder Bremen on the other hand, showed how furious they were in attack last week. Their attack really rely on Diego so his performance will be the key of this match. This week Werder Bremen has the wonderful chance to build up the winning streak in order to catch up the position in the table. My tip: Werder Bremen win 4-0.

Energie Cottbus (15th) vs VfB Stuttgart (10th) - Saturday: It is very surprising for me last week that Cottbus was able to win. Probably this is the best performance of the season so far. It seems they have gained some confident before the winter break and this is probably very crucial for them in the second half of the season, as they are getting out of the relegation zone. I believe they will carry on this confident to this match and threaten Stuttgart in some extent. Meanwhile, Stuttgart did a very good job to win over Schalke last match and surely they gained back some confident. I only worry that this is because the "honeymoon" period of caretaking head coach Markus Babbel. And this is also the critical point of this match, as I did not see any special changes from Markus Babbel last match. My tip: Match draw 1-1.

Arminia Bielefeld (14th) vs Borussia Dortmund (6th) - Saturday: We cannot blame Bielefeld last match, as they were facing a very strong leader Hoffenheim and it is normal to lose the game. However, they seem they are improving in terms of attacks and defense, so I believe they can stand firm in this position. It is very unlucky for them in this moment that they are facing a tough opposition, including this week's Dortmund. Dortmund last week had a bored goalless draw against Wolfsburg. However, I believe this week will be easier for them to win the match as they have better class. All they need to aware is they have to defend well, or else Bielefeld have chance to score and win. My tip: Dortmund win 2-1.

Borussia Mönchengladbach (17th) vs Bayer Leverkusen (4th) - Saturday: Gladbach is as same as Karlsruher so far, they also seem hopeless. Their defense is very poorly organized that even the weakest attacking team Cottbus can score them 3 goals. They must do something in the defense or else they will keep losing. Marko Marin is the player who can save the team but Gladbach is too poor that he cannot save the team. Leverkusen last week only showed they only lacked of big match experience that led them to fail to win against Bayern. However, I do not think they will lose any confidence after losing Bayern, as well as Bielefeld 2 weeks ago. This is an excellent chance for them to bounce back and pick up the morale against Gladbach. My tip: Leverkusen win 3-0.

VfL Wolfsburg (8th) vs Hannover 96 (13th) - Sunday: Wolfsburg so far is in a good form. They stand firm in the league as well as qualified in the UEFA Cup Group Stage to show that they are now very solid. Even they drew against Dortmund last week, it did not hurt too much. Felix Magath did a great job so far to lea Wolfsburg to success. Their stable attack and solid defense can carry them through against Hannover this Sunday. Hannover even though they won the game last week, they also showed their inconsistency. So I believe the consistency will be the key of this match. My tip: Wolfsburg win 2-0.

1. FC Köln (11th) vs Hamburger SV (5th) - Sunday: Köln is still very tough so far. Even they cannot achieve anything better than standing at the mid table, I do think their performance earns lot of praises. Their central defense is one of the best in the Bundesliga, the only thing is they are sometimes outclassed by the others. Petit, and Novakovic are the most important players in the team to lead them to stand tough. On the other hand, Hamburger is still searching the winning formula away from home. Hamburger has potential to reach a higher position in the league, only the away form to drag them down. Piotr Trochowski is the most important player in the team and his performance is the key factor to search back the winning form away from home. So he is the key player of this match. My tip: Match draw 1-1.

That's it! Have a good week of football!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Friday mega blockbuster - Bayern München vs Hoffenheim preview

This Friday night German Bundesliga has a mega blockbuster match, defending champion Bayern München will host the match against surprised leader Hoffenheim. Both teams are in superb form and they both desperately want to win this match. This may be the most important match in the season so I decided to open a topic to preview this match only apart from the other matches this week. Here's my preview:

Bayern München (2nd): Bayern showed their experience and class last week to beat another title contender Bayer Leverkusen. Franck Ribery, Luca Toni, and Miroslav Klose are in superb form to lead the team to achieve 7 wins and 2 draws in last 9 games. The whole team is in the high morale and they want to continue their great run to the winter break. Martin Demichelis and Mark van Bommel are expected to be back to the starting lineup so that the team will be stronger in terms of midfield defense. Mark van Bommel now is getting better after his madness in the beginning of the season and now he is the real captain in the team. However, Lucio is the only person to worry as he has minor injury in the Leverkusen clash. Even though he will be available in the match, his match form is questionable.
Watch out Bayern - defense: The defense in Bayern is in a big test this match. The counter attack from Hoffenheim is so fast and furious that Bayern may not handle it well. If they fail to score when they pushing up too much, it will be a big trouble for them.
How to win - score first: They must score first. If they can score first, they can pull back to defense and wait for the counter attack to Hoffenheim, as their defense is not good as well.

Hoffenheim (1st): Definitely no one can expect them to perform so strong! Demba Ba, Vedad Ibisevic, Chinedu Obasi, and Carlos Eduardo are the attacking combination to bring the team to success. Their attack is definitely the best of the league as their fast and furious attack suffocates the other team. These 4 players are predicted to bring lots of trouble to Bayern as their defense is not strong at all this season. However, they must also consider their defense is not that strong. They must realize that they are really relying on their excellent attack to achieve success. They need to learn a lesson from the defeat against Hertha Berlin, that is to aware the opposition counter attack. This is definitely the biggest test for Hoffenheim this season so they need to defend and hold their nerves.
Watch out Hoffenheim - Franck Ribery: Yes! Ribery is the best player in the Bundesliga. His excellent dribbling skills will bring lots of trouble and I believe no one in Hoffenheim can stop him.
How to win - Stopping him: Not going to repeat that, but Ribery is too important to be ignored. Bayern seems they do not have clue to win if Ribery is not performing well. So Hoffenheim must stop him at all costs, if they want to win.

How the match goes: I do not think this game will be a high scoring game. Both teams will be very cautious so they all play safety. They would rather waste the chance to counter attack then making a risky moves to launch the attacks, as they all know they can't afford to lose goal first. Bayern will have a slim advantage because the quality is better than Hoffenheim. Last match Bayern showed their experience can carry them through in the hard time. Together with the home court advantage, I believe Bayern will have the upper hand. My tip: Bayern München win 2-1.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

German Bundesliga Week 15 Tipping

This week German Bundesliga has reached week 15. The winter champion is heated up while Hoffenheim is still leading the race. Meanwhile, the relegation fight comes close as there are 2 important relegation fighting matches to be played. Bayern München will start their most important 3 matches of season from this week. Last week I have tipped 4 correct results but without correct scores. Here's my tip of this week:

Hertha Berlin (4th) vs 1. FC Köln (10th) - Friday: Hertha Berlin so far looks very solid, especially in defense. Their excellent defense make the oppositions have a very hard time, even including Hoffenheim. Arne Friedrich is the player who lead the solid defense this season, and he did a great job. Even their attacks is not that sharpe, their defense can carry them through. At the same time Köln is looking very well as well, but their class cannot carry them through all the time. So they are now still standing at the 10th position. Considering Hertha Berlin has greater defense and better class, Hertha Berlin will take another 3 points this week. My tip: Hertha Berlin win 2-0.

Werder Bremen (9th) vs Eintract Frankfurt (12th) - Saturday: Werder Bremen is very disappointing this season, this is because their defense is very fragile, only Per Mertesacker did his job and the others only did more harms. The other reason is their attacks is declining, even it looks sharpe. Even Claudio Pizarro, and Diego maintain the great form, they find the hard time to dominate. Last match against Hamburger SV showed that their attacks came dead when the opposition defense look well disciplined. On the other hand, Frankfurt is still improving after the poor start of the season, their defense started to look better and better now. I believe this match Frankfurt can hold on the defense and make a lot of counter attacks to make lots of troubles to Werder Bremen. Considering Werder Bremen has just finished the Champions League match, I believe they cannot win this match. My tip: Match draw 1-1.

Bayer Leverkusen (2nd) vs Bayern München (3rd) - Saturday: This is the most important match for both teams, if any of them lose this game, they will find very hard in the title race. Leverkusen young guns are looking very passionate and high morale so far. With the lead of Rene Adler, their defense looks very good. However, once the defenders have been through, Rene Adler finds a very hard time. Meanwhile, Tranquillo Barnetta, Partick Helmes and Stefan Kießling are the main attacking force which bring a lot of threats to Bayern. I believe they can score goals against Bayern, as Bayern's defense in the league do not look very good. On the other hand, Bayern is having a great run. They win 6 matches in last 7 league matches, total gained 19 points. Franck Ribery, Luca Toni, and Miroslav Klose are very fit and they are the primary reason to Bayern to gain this great run. Ze Roberto and Bastian Schweinsteiger are also good at form so they can assist the trio in the attack, so even though Bayern's defense is not looking very good, their attacks can carry them through. The one can finish better will win this match. My tip: Bayern München win 2-1.

Hannover 96 (13th) vs Karlsruher SC (17th) - Saturday: This is as important as Leverkusen vs Bayern mentioned above, the different is they are fighting for survival, not winning trophy. Hannover 96 is still struggling for the run, even their performance is improving. The injury problem really makes the team down. Especially in defense, there are too many injuries that left back and central midfielder Christian Schulz needs to play as central defense. Robert Enke is still injured and Florian Fromlowitz needs to stand up to face the game until next year. On the other hand, Karlsruher now looks hopeless, they only managed to have a draw in last 8 matches, that means 1 draw and 7 losses. The whole team now is falling apart in piece and they cannot see they can bring any surprises in this match. If they want to win back again, they need to work extra hard in this match. Considering Hannover has better form, I believe Karlsruher will have another loss. My tip: Hannover win 2-0.

Borussia Mönchengladbach (15th) vs Energie Cottbus (18th) - Saturday: This is another important relegation survival match in this week. Gladbach cannot convert the morale boosting draw against Bayern 2 weeks ago and lost to Schalke 3-1. It showed they lack of consistency, so that they remain at the edge of the relegation zone. Marko Marin cannot help the team all the time so it leads the team cannot find their consistency. Also, the other players cannot stand up to fight in the critical moment so that all the plays are relying on Marin. On the other hand, Cottbus is still looking hopeless at the moment, they only created 1 lucky shot to scored against Bayern last week. Their attacks is tragic and the defense is very poor. These 2 reasons is convincing enough to explain why they are bottom of the table and score only 8 goals so far. Considering Cottbus is too weak at the attacks, Gladbach should not have problem to win this important match. My tip: Gladbach win 2-0.

Hoffenheim (1st) vs Arminia Bielefeld (14th) - Saturday: Hoffenheim still keeps to win after the loss against Hertha Berlin. However, they seems their form is declining a bit as their last few oppositions have chance to fight back. Obasi and Ibiesivic is in the great form still so Hoffenheim can still prevail in the end. Their fast counter attack organized by Carols Eduardo is really threatening so that they scored 37 goals in 14 matches, which is the best in Bundesliga. On the other hand, Bielefeld is still going around and around recently. They tried very hard to remain the form, even they won against Leverkusen last week. This week for Bielefeld is the great moment for them to see if they can maintain this morale. However, it will be very surprised for me if Bielefeld is able to snatch a point. My tip: Hoffenheim win 3-1.

VfB Stuttgart (11th) vs Schalke 04 (7th) - Sunday: Both teams will play this important match after the UEFA Cup match in Thursday. Stuttgart head coach Armin Veh is sacked earlier this week and replaced by caretaker Markus Babbel for the remaining of this season. It may show Stuttgart is starting to throw away this season and start to rebuild for the next season. So this match I believe Stuttgart will have some test in the squad and plan what players they need in the winter purchase. On the other hand, Schalke this season so far is very disappointing, their inconsistency in the attacks make them failed to score goals and win matches, the best example is the match against Bayern. Kevin Kuranyi and Jefferson Farfan are not playing so well and it leads to the inconsistency in attack. The key of this match is if Stuttgart have "honeymoon" period under the start of the managment of Stuttgart. My tip: Match draw 2-2.

VfL Bochum (16th) vs Hamburger SV (5th) - Sunday: Hamburger away form recently is pretty poor so far. Even though Hamburger wins the match against Werder Bremen comprehensively, their poor away from cannot give the fans confident. Piotr Trochowski and Ivica Olic are the most important players to bring the victory for the team in this week, and I believe it is the great threat to Bochum. On the other hand, Bochum are still struggling in regaining the form. Paul Freier and the company are still struggling to gain the consistent form in order to help the team to get out of the relegation zone. Their only advantage of this match is their home court advantage and the poor away form from Hamburger. My tip: Match draw 1-1.

Borussia Dortmund (6th) vs VfL Wolfsburg (8th) - Sunday: This is an underestimated close rival match. Both teams are very similar in form. Their young players are very enthusiastic and this enthusiasm can lead both teams to the top half of the table. Dortmund's young midfield and the defense can convert them into success and it seems they can challenge the top teams in the lead. On the other hand, Wolfsburg looks very solid so far, and their team work is one of the best teams in the league. Even some positions such as defense midfielders are not good enough in class, their team work can carry them through. However, Dortmund has the advantage in terms of home court advantage so that they can win the match because of this. My tip: Dortmund win 2-1.

So this is it! Have a good tipping!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Germany national team 2008 - Summary

Germany had lost to England 2-1 to end up this year's fixture. To sum up this year, the spirit is so high and were so close to win Euro 2008 in the summer. Then the following World Cup Qualifier Germany had performed well, as well as there were lots of new young guns are coming. Now here's the summary of the national team:

Hot favorite

Germany had tipped to be the hot favor before the Euro 2008. At the beginning of the year Germany mainly focused on playing the warm up matches to prepare the major tournament. From those matches it seemed Germany was one of the favorites to win the tournament as they had very good spirit. The young guns and the experienced players seemed working very well. Michael Ballack and Torsten Frings were the main force in the midfield, even Bastian Schweinsteiger and Miroslav Klose did not perform well in the club. This spirit brought Germany into the Euro 2008 in the high spirit, but at the same time the spirit was overwhelmed the hidden problem and it all showed in the Euro 2008.

Someone has been forgotten

Weeks before Euro 2008 there were lots of analysis to say who should be in the team and who should be not. Similar as former head coach Jürgen Klinsmann, Joachim Löw also brought us surprises. He chose the players without match practice such as David Odonkor, Christoph Metzelder, and Jens Lehmann rather than the players who were fit in club such as Fabien Ernst, Serder Tasci, Mike Hanke, and Marko Marin to play in Euro 2008. I can see Löw would like to choose the more experienced players to play in that tournament, but they were really unfit that they only dragged the team down. Timo Hildebrand was absolutely forgotten as his club, Valencia, ws in trouble in season 2007-2008. In fact, his performance was better and more convincing then Jens Lehmann at that moment as Lehmann had lost his place in Arsenal. On the other hand, Timo Hildebrand performed really well to help Valencia got out of trouble in the league as well as winning the Spanish Cup. These choices led to the difficult Euro 2008 campaign.

Euro 2008: A bumpy ride, and finally crashed

It was out of every fan's mind. It was harder than what they thought. It was supposed to be an easy group stage, especially after beating Poland 2-0 in the opening match. However, the defeat against Croatia showed those players like Lehmann, Metzelder, and Odonkor were absolutely not fit enough. Lehmann kept making mistake and doing some stupid moves, Metzelder was as slow as the snail, and Odonkor was just invisible. Bastian Schweinsteiger was not playing so well in the beginning, but he could pick up in the later stage. Same as the team, the whole team picked up at the later half of the tournament and made fans felt confident that they could actually win the trophy back. The quarter final against Portugal was the best match in the whole tournament. However, the old problem came out again in the final match against Spain. The whole team had lost the composure when the team was trailing behind. The players knew hey had to hurry but they had no idea on how to catch up the match. Spain was totally controlled the match and finally the team crashed out. One good thing however, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Lukas Podolski had regain his best form and helped the national team a lot afterwards. Also it showed that Germany is one of the best teams in the world.

Post Euro 2008: Generation Z?

After the Euro 2008, Germany had quietly change the generation. The old players such as Jens Lehmann, Christoph Metzelder, and David Odonkor were fading out of national team due to different reasons. Oliver Neuville was not selected recently. There were lots of new players to replace them, such as Serder Tasci, Heiko Westermann, Marko Marin, and Patrick Helmes were taking over. They were quite inexperienced but they could show themselves that they can be one of the main forces in the national team. Rene Adler, the 3rd choice goalkeeper in the Euro 2008, is the 1st choice goalkeeper now. His performance was so impressing in his debut match against Russia in October and led the team won 2-1. He made at least 3 crucial saves to led the team now at the top of the table in the World Cup Qualifier. Also, Tim Wiese, he was left out in Euro 2008 also gained his spot in the team. These 2 new players meant Timo Hildeband had been forgotten again. He even lost his place in Valencia, again. So if he wants to re-enter into the national team, he should go away as soon as possible.

All sorted (or not?)

There was a pitfall in the end of October to te beginning of November. Kevin Kuranyi was sacked after the match against Wales as he ran away from the team and never came back. This is a total unprofessional move, even he was so angry that he was missed out in the Wales clash (as he was not selected in the 18-man match squad, even he was in 22-man main squad). Kuranyi was doing nothing good for this, so I absolutely agreed what Löw did - kick him out of national squad forever. Afterwards Michael Ballack and Oliver Bierhoff conflict had been heated up. The "bird man" incident caused them to have a huge conflict in the team. Finally Löw, Bierhoff, and Ballack himself had a meeting in early November to sort it out. Yes it could stabilized the morale in the team but I do believe it is just a short term collaboration, as they all have one common target - winning World Cup 2010. Torsten Frings was also complained he lost his starting place but the incident was solved it quickly. These 3 incidents showed that there are lots of conflict in the changeover of the generation in the coming future.

It was just a friendly

Germany had played against England in 19 November and had been beaten. However, I was quite relaxed after the loss as I knew it was just a test game. Both Löw and Capello from England tried new players to prepare for the new year's matches. Obviously England performed better even those 2 goals were very controversial. However, it was a good match as Löw could see where the problem was and he could fix it in these 3-4 months before the restart of the World Cup Qualifier in 2009. Obviously the left flank had lots of work to do, and the players needed to think about how to crack down the tight midfield competition. Also, the bench players had a chance to adept in the national team through matches. It is very beneficial to the national team because the toughest matches are yet to come, and the national team need more covers.

2009: The best is yet to come

I can say in the year if 2009, generally Germany will have improvement in the performance. It is a great moment to changeover the generation of the team, as making changeover in good time is always better than the awful time. New players now have the stable environment to adept and change, and the national team is capable enough to adept changes. Unlike 5-8 years ago, the national team was in the dark ages and the change of the team was just a hopeless gamble. This is the rising moment of Germany, the young players are having more chances to shine in the national team. Also, the U-21 players such as Toni Kroos has the potential to be one of the best players in Germany, and the new players such as Marvin Compper from Hoffenheim is getting more attention to the national team. As there are more covers at the back, Germany in 2009 is predicted to continue to grow. I can say Germany is one of the hot favorites to win the World Cup 2010.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

German Bundesliga Week 14 Tipping

This weekend Bundesliga have reached the matchday 14. The top of the table seems clearer to see who the real title contenders are. However, the relegation battle seems very messy in this moment. Now here's my tipping:

Karlsruher SC (16th) vs Borussia Dormund (6th) - Friday: Karlsruher are in the lowest of the low now. They only get 1 point in last 7 matches, and haven't won a match for 7 weeks already. They totally lost the composure to win the match so that even if they can perform, they cannot win. It was very depressed for them for sure that they lost to the weakest attacking team, Energie Cottbus last week. I don't believe they can get anything to bring them to back on track this week. Oppositely, Borussia Dortmund seems to gain back their morale to win. The big win against Eintract Frankfurt is definitely a huge boost for them to climb up in the league table. Those young guns seem to have great morale in this moment and I believe they can bring the team to victory. My tip: Dortmund win 3-0.

Schalke 04 (8th) vs Borussia Mönchengladbach (14th) - Saturday: Schalke dropped to 8th after losing 2 games in a row. It showed that their attacking is so poor that leading the team lose the game. Kevin Kuranyi again did not perform last week. In my point of view he did not deserve to be the starter at all! Jefferson Farfan again did not reach his full potential. However, this match they have home court advantage and the opposition is relatively weak, so this is the great chance for them to win a game back by their solid defense. Gladbach was quite surprised to me last game that they were able to equal Bayern München, they showed their morale and never give up attitude. Marko Marin seems he is progressing well and become a "hero" of the team. The matter is if he can turn things around by himself alone again when facing the Schalke's tough defense. My tip: Schalke win 1-0.

VfL Wolfsburg (9th) vs VfB Stuttgart (11th) - Saturday: Mid table clash. Both of them are not very stable at the moment. Wolfsburg had the spirit last match to give Hoffenheim a very hard time and it was a bit unlucky that they lost in the end. Grafite is in the great form together with Japanese international Hasebe. Also, it showed their variety in attack to bring threats to any oppositions. However, their defense bring uncertainty in the team, they always fail to finish the game or need to chase the game because of that. In the other side, Stuttgart seems they never get a streak following the win. They fail a single goal to win against Armina Bielefeld and hold out a bore draw last week. Their attack is so uncertain that to fail to bring them a victory, so that they are still at the mid table. My tip: Match draw 1-1.

Eintract Frankfurt (levelled 12th) vs Hannover 96 (levelled 12th) - Saturday: Well, can you get any closer than that? Both teams are in the same position! Eintract Frankfurt are very disappointed to me last week that they lost comprehensively. I hope that it won't affect them too much. Again, they are getting better and better, 12th position is an appropriate position for them. Hannover on the other hand is quite impressed for me. They lost heaps of players due to injuries but they can still perform well. I thought they are in deep trouble in the league but they stand tough in the 12th position. It was very unlucky for them that they fail to win last week as the young goalkeeper Florian Fromlowitz made a mistake. This is the worry to the team for me and I think that it is not easy to win Frankfurt this week. My tip: Match draw 1-1.

VfL Bochum (15th) vs Hertha Berlin (4th) - Saturday: Hertha Berlin is very impressing this season so far. As their stable performance make them climb to 4th in the table. Very few bookmarkers believe that they can reach to that high, if they accord to their performance in last few seasons. Arne Friedrich is very good this season and he leads the defense very well that very few teams are able to crack them down (in fact, only Bayern München and Werder Bremen could crack them, even Hoffenheim couldn't). However, their attacks is not so stable so that they always win by short, which is quite risky that the others can level them up by seeking 1 single chance. In the other side, Bochum is still in all sorts of trouble. They strayed in the bottom of the table and they may hope that winter break comes sooner so they can re-group what they have done wrong. However, before the winter break comes, I cannot see any clues that they can bounce back. So, another loss for them. My tip: Hertha Berlin win 2-0.

1. FC Köln (10th) vs Hoffenheim (2nd) - Saturday: Last week Hoffenheim showed us that they are not down and out yet. They still managed themselves to win a hard fought game against Wolfsburg. However, Hofenheim now are starting to find a harder time to win the game as their hot streak is coming to an end. Even Obasi and the other players are still in good form, they show their how weak they are if they are not on the ball. Lack of positioning make them lose so many goals. On the other hand, Köln is quite solid this season. Being at 10th position is only because their class is not good enough to the title challenging team. Their defense is quite solid and the attacks is quite stable, so that relegation is not for them. I do believe Köln have the ability to upset Hoffenheim as they know each others well and Köln is very solid in performance. My tip: Match draw 2-2.

Bayern München (3rd) vs Energie Cottbus (18th) - Saturday: Bayern had not learnt their lesson for not counting the chickens too early against Bochum 2 months ago and again, they failed to win in 2 goals lead. The players were gone too relaxed and thought they went home with 3 points already. In the end, they dropped 2 points out! This time they go back to their home court against the weakest team in Bundesliga so far, if they are carefully enough, they will win this match easily. Cottbus on the other side they can't get anything right in their attacks and defense so they are very very hard to stop the hot Bayern players like Luca Toni, Franck Ribery, and Ze Roberto. The only advantage of Cottbus is they have no pressure in this match at all, this maybe the uncertainty of the match. My tip: Bayern win 5-0.

Arminia Bielefeld (17th) vs Bayer Leverkusen (1st) - Saturday: Bielefeld is another team which really hopes for the winter break comes early as they cannot turn things around now. They are just better than Cottbus a bit. If they cannot improve drastically, it is very hard to see them in Bundesliga next season. Their attacks are too rely on individual effort and it can't bring any threats to the others at all. Bayer Leverkusen is the opposite. Their attacks are relying on excellent team work and fast through balls and short passes, so that's why they keep scoring and they are now at the top of the table. With the aid of goalkeeper Rene Adler, the defense becomes very solid. So there should not be a problem for Leverkusen to have a big win. My tip: Leverkusen win 3-0.

Hamburger SV (5th) vs Werder Bremen (7th) - Sunday: Hamburger recently is pretty unstable, they lost to Hertha Berlin and again failed to maintain the form. This is because there are too many injuries in the defense and goalkeeper Frank Rost is pretty hard to take care all of the shots coming in, as the defense is too weak to let the opposition to go deep easily. The attack again is too relying on Pitor Trochowski, his form recently is not really good so that they are quite hard to score goals. Werder Bremen on the other hand they are getting better now. Their attack seems to gain back what they had last season. Claudio Pizzaro is the best transfer for them as he can stabilize the attacks. However, with their fragile defense and Hamburger has the home court advantage, I believe Hamburger can snatch a point with a high scoring game. My tip: Match draw 3-3.

So that's it for my tipping!

Monday, November 17, 2008

International Friendly - Germany vs England preview

This Wednesday Germany national team will host a friendly match against England at Olympiastadion, Berlin. This matchup is a classic rivalry match and there are lots of national pride at stake. However, both head coaches do not think this way. They chose some new players into the national team as well as resting the regular starters. Now here's the preview of the match of each team:

Germany: Head coach Joachim Löw had chosen 3 new debutants, they are Tobias Weis and Marvin Compper from Hoffenheim, and Marcel Schäfer from Wolfsburg. This is the reward for them for the excellent performance in the Bundesliga. However, they are not predicted to play this match as Löw just want to see them in details as he would like to search some new bench players. Philipp Lahm, Michael Ballack, and Torsten Frings are missed out as Löw intentionally rest them. It may affect further to their unstable defense. So Piotr Trochowski, Thomas Hitzlsperger, and Bastian Schweinsteiger are the most important men in the team. It will be the biggest test for them after Euro 08, they need to show themselves that they are capable to face big test. Miroslav Klose will be the major striking force for Germany. Together with Lukas Podolski, this combination can give confident to the fans that they can score against England. One more thing, Löw announced that the reserve keeper Tim Wiese from Werder Bremen will start the match, so this is the moment for him to prove himself that he can be one of the strong keepers in the national team. The winning key for them will be the defense can stop England and the strikers can finish well.

England: What a coincidence, or is it an intention? Head coach Fabio Capello also rests some regular players such as Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand. David Beckham is missed out again but his regular place is already under huge threat as Capello doesn't trust him at all, even he chooses Beckham in the World Cup Qualifier. So that David Beckham is not that important now. Michael Mancienne from Wolvehampton Wanderers and Curtis Davies from Aston Villa have earned a place in the national team. Same reason with Germany, Capello would like to search some new bench players to relief Rio Ferdinand and John Terry. Steven Gerrard will be the most important player in England as he can connect the play for the strikers such as Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe, who are predicted to start the match. This match can see how England attack without Wayne Rooney, I believe Capello would like to see that. The key to win is if the midfield can control the game flow, that means Steven Gerrard must perform well to beat their old rival.

Key point to the match: It is a quite even match, nobody can guarantee who will win. A bit surprised for me that both teams are not choosing the best players, maybe they both thought this match is just a friendly, plus this match is the last match of 2008, so that there is no point for them to play in full strength. However, it is a very good chance to test the debutants, as well as having a close look at them at the training ground for preparing the upcoming match in 2009, as there are lots of important matches are waiting for them. The critical point of the match is how the remaining regular starters perform. I do not expect any stunning performance from the debutants, they may bring some harms to the team in that match to be honest. So the regular starters will be very important to change the game around. As Germany seems to have better communication and better team work than England, I believe Germany will have an upper hand.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

German Bundesliga Week 13 Tipping

This week German Bundesliga reaches the matchday 13. This matchday Hamburger SV will have fierce away game against Hertha Berlin and Bayer Leverkusen and Schalke 04 will play against each other. Last week the result was quite surprising to me that I only made 2 correct tips and 1 correct score within them. Now here's my tipping of this week:

Hannover 96 (13th) vs VfL Bochum (16th) - Friday: These two teams these season had their own problem. Generally speaking, their attacking could not connect each other and the defense were very fragile. Hannover's Huszti failed to connect the midfield and the attacks so far so that Mikael Forsell and Jan Schlaudraff can't reach their full potential. Same as Bochum, the midfield is not creative enough to make threats to the others defense and the attacks are very ordinary. Considering with Hannover has the home court advantage, I believe they at least will have a draw and even have a narrow win. My tipping: Hannover win 2-1.

Hertha Berlin (5th) vs Hamburger SV (4th) - Saturday: Very close call this match. Hertha Berlin showed how solid they were last match to beat Hoffenheim 1-0 and surprised me very much. This is a morale boosting match for them and I believe they can carry on to this match. Hamburger SV recently is quite unstable at the moment, especially in the away form. They cannot perform as well as at the home ground so they can't reach to the top of the table after losing to Hoffenheim 3 weeks ago. This is a very close match but considering to the poor away form from Hamburger recently, I believe Hertha Berlin will have a certain advantage. My tipping: Hertha Berlin win 1-0.

Borussia Dortmund (9th) vs Eintract Frankfurt (12th) - Saturday: I believe some Dortmund fans are very enthusiastic about the title challenge after the excellent season start, but the recent form show that they never get close. Neven Subotic and Mats Hummels are young but inexperienced so it is still unreliable to them. Robert Kovac is experienced, but his pace and reaction is too bad that only creat more harm to the team. Kovac is suspended this match so it really relies on the young defender. Eintract Frankfurt slowly but surely are coming back to the greatest form, their attacks and defense are getting better and better each match. Now I have faith on Frankfurt that they can turn things around. The key of this match is if Dortmund can score goals first and finish the game well. My tipping: Match draw 1-1.

Hoffenheim (2nd) vs VfL Wolfsburg (7th) - Saturday: Finally, Hoffenheim lost the game and ended the great form. Critics may say they will start losing games as their great form had been lost so sudden. I can't comment on this as their form is still unclear, but in some extent, they are harder to pick up the great form back. It really relies on how the manager and the players deal with it. Their defense is very poor organized in positioning and it is very easy to get passed through. On the other hand, Wolfsburg is quite solid this season, they can beat the team with the same level. Grafite is on the great form, his pace and stamina can bring lots of trouble to Hoffenheim. I believe even Wolfsburg is away, they have ability to upset Hoffenheim and get a draw. My tipping: Match draw 2-2.

VfB Stuttgart (11th) vs Arminia Bielefeld (17th) - Saturday: Even Stuttgart is very unstable this season so far, they can beat Bielefeld easily. Even Mario Gomez is not very stable in form, he can also score against Bielefeld easily. The problem of Bielefeld is the whole team is being outclassed. Their attack and defense cannot deliver at all. Stuttgart on the other hand have some good players such as Hitzlsperger can help them to perform well in the home court at least. So because of the different class, it will be an easy win for Stuttgart. My tipping: Stuttgart win 3-0.

Bayer Leverkusen (1st) vs Schalke 04 (6th) - Saturday: This is a mega blockbuster of this week. Bayer Leverkusen is very surprised to me they can reach at the top, but it is also surprised to me that they could not finish the game against Karlsruher with 3-0 lead. It can show that their team is too young and inexperienced under this situation. They cannot remain calm when they were still leading 3-2 and could not protect the win. On the other hand, Schalke showed their old problem of finishing in the front that they wasted so many chance against Bayern München. Kevin Kuranyi is very poor in form and he never recovered. Jefferson Farfan has not reached his full potential in the right flank so they found a very hard time to get a goal. However, it is a bliss that their solid defense from the midfield to the goal can bring them through. So they are standing well in the 6th position. They key of this match is Schalke's finishing. My tipping: Match draw 1-1.

Energie Cottbus (18th) vs Karlsruher SC (15th) - Saturday: It is a shame to see Cottbus' pathetic attacking force. They only score 6 goals in 12 matches! What goes wrong? They never create and connect in the attacks. They only knows rush and rush. Jiayi Shao, the Chinese playmaker is supposed to be the most important midfielder but his poor performance makes him lose his regular starting place. It really makes it worse. Even Karlsruher is at the poor form recently, which they haven't won a game in 6 weeks, they will control the game easily. My tipping: Karlsruher win 3-0.

Borussia Mönchengladbach (14th) vs Bayern München (3rd) - Saturday: It is a classic rival matchup but their distance now is too huge. Marko Marin from Gladbach is the only spotlight in the team. His pace, dribbling skills, and shooting is the best in the team, this is what Bayern must take care of, as their defense is quite unstable. In Bayern side, it is an excellent news that Lahm and Schweinsteiger are back to the team, but I doubt Lahm's form that he can perform well after more than a month's injury. Franck Ribery, Ze Roberto, and Tim Borowski are in the excellent form and it seems they will control the game once again. The key point of the game is if Bayern can keep the clean sheet, there will be no problem for them. Due to the difference class, Bayern will win easily. My tipping: Bayern München win 3-0.

Werder Bremen (10th) vs 1. FC Köln (8th) - Sunday: The only match in Sunday this week. It is very surprised for me last week that Werder Bremen can't even score. It shows that even they are very good attacking according to the statistics, actually their attacking force is declining. I believe this is the reason why they are wandering in the midtable. Together with the fragile defense, Werder Bremen fail to ensure their win through "scoring 1 more goal than you" tactics. On the other hand, Köln is very successful in the Bundesliga after purchasing some key players like Petit and Fayrd Mondragon. They have the ability to fight against any team in Bundesliga hard. So I believe this time Köln can snatch a draw from Werder Bremen and once again, Werder Bremen will break more hearts from the fans. My tipping: Match draw 2-2.

So that's it for this week's tipping! Have a good weekend!