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.