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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

RIP Robert Enke


This morning as usual, I woke up in the morning and took some brunch before starting my day. I have decided to turn on Football Manager 2009 instead of turning online. However at the same time I turned on the TV and tuned in the news channel.

Sounded everything was in normal, but I suddenly heard a piece of news - Hannover 96 goalkeeper Robert Enke had committed suicide.

I was shocked, totally shocked. I paused the game and ran out to the TV and saw what was going on. I couldn't believe it was real as I have just seem him play well against Hamburger SV last Sunday. I kept tuning in the news channel and watched it over and over again because I still couldn't accept this news was real.

I am not Hannover 96 fans but he made impression to me. He was one of the best goalkeepers in the nation and I seriously favoured him to be number 1 goalkeeper in the World Cup 2010. I only knew him he played at FC Barcelona before (by the way I was appreciated that FC Barcelona gave a minute of silent before the Copa de Ray), but what made me impressed was his performance at Hannover 96. Without him, Hannover 96 was relegated for a long time.

I also insisted in the related discussion forum that Bayern München should have purchased him this summer as he was experienced and skillful, which was really suitable for making the defensive line consistent. Now it is all over, Bayern München never worried they needed to pay a high amount of transfer fee to Hannover 96 as he was passed away.

Enke left his wife and an adopted 8-month-old daughter behind. I sincerely hope they can get through this difficult time and step forward to the future.

Rest in peace Robert.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bordeaux vs Bayern München (UEFA Champions League) Preview

Bayern München this Wednesday will continue their Champions League journey and face Bordeaux away. Bayern München recently picked up the winning way again and it was a boost for them. Now here's the preview of Bayern München chance of this match:

Bayern München won against Frieburg last Saturday without "Robbery" combination. Luca Toni worked very hard last Saturday and it is very likely to start this match. However, it is doubtful if his finishing is improved. This match again the "Robbery" combination will not appear in the match so Bastian Schweinsteiger and Thomas Müller will be very important. On the other hand, the return of captain Mark van Bommel can definitely improve the midfield domination. I believe he will work with Anatoliy Tymoshchuk again in order to control the midfield and stop Bordeaux's Yoann Gourcuff to create.
What makes Bayern München to win: Midfield domination. As mentioned, the midfield dominance will be very important in this match as Gourcuff is the magician in the midfield. In order to win this match, van Bommel and Tymoshchuk must work together well in order to maintain the possession in the midfield. Schweinsteiger and Müller need to connect the striker in order to win this game.
What makes them down: Strikers. I personally am not worried about the defence but the confident of the strikers makes me worried. Mario Gomez loses his starting place because he is not confident at all. At the same time, it is also doubtful if Toni and Klose can pick up their confident to score goals. Together with the injury of Ivica Olic, it is very doubtful if they can convert the plays into goals.

General preview: I believe the match will be decided in the midfield. Both teams are very good at ball possession so it is the deciding factor for this match. I believe van Bommel and Tymoshchuk can control the midfield well based on their big match experience. I believe the match will favor Bayern München a little bit but a draw is not a surprising result.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Germany vs Finland (World Cup Qualifier) Preview

Germany had successfully qualified for the World Cup after winning against Russia last Saturday. This group had already decided out the group winner, Germany, and group runner up, Russia. Meanwhile, Russia had already had enough points to qualify for the playoff in November. So there is no competitive matchup in this Wednesday action. So Germany and Finland match will be another friendly. Now here's the preview:

Germany: Germany did very well last Saturday. They seeked the Russian weak spot and got the chance to score goal and win. Even though the draw should be more deserved, Germany still did a great job. Therefore, this match is just a routine match and it turns out to be the friendly international. I believe coach Joachim Löw will give chances to the bench players. Marcel Schäfer, Marko Marin, Andreas Beck, and Mario Gomez will be very likely to start the match, as well as the reserve goalkeeper Tim Wiese will also likely to start. However, I seriously doubt if Germany will give their all potential to win this game.
What makes Germany win: National pride. I believe the players will keep unbeaten at least because it is shameful to lose the game at home. They may want to win the game even in order to maintain the excellent record. Furthermore, Germany only lost 2 qualifier games in their all time history so they will kick themselves if they lose the third game.
What makes them down: Purpose. There is not any real purpose for Germany in this match. Past record showed that Germany were so lazy and slow at the unimportant friendlies and qualifiers. I believe this is very likely to happen again and Finland can make some surprises.

Finland: Finland had already out of the contention a month ago. So even they put their full strength to play these 2 matches, I believe they do not have any pressure and they will just enjoy themselves. They won against Wales last Saturday and maintain the third position. For them this is not a bad result and they accept this. The Zürich pair, Veli Lampi, and Hannu Tihinen will be very important for the Finland defence. Jussi Jääskeläinen will be very important in goalkeeping as it is predicted Germany will be the one who possess the ball all the time.
What makes Finland win: Pressure-less. They do not have any pressure in this moment. As they will be the third in the table and there is no way to go up or down. So I believe they can bring surprise to Germany as they are very relaxed in the moment.
What makes them down: Quality. Obviously they are outplayed in terms of player quality. Germany can control the ball easily and they will likely to score. So Finland need to do better in defence and counter attacks if they want to make some surprises.

General prediction: This match becomes the friendly as there is no competition issue. Germany will not pay their full strength in this match as they need to keep themselves fit for the upcoming Bundesliga fixture, as well as the future chance to enter the final squad for the World Cup. For Finland, they are very relaxed in this moment and I do not believe they will be too urged and aggressive even they are trailing. So a bored draw is predicted, or Germany will win by 1 goal at most.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Russia vs Germany (World Cup Qualifier Group 4) Preview

Germany this Saturday will have the most important match in 2009, they will travel to Moscow to play against Russia. Russia is only 1 point behind Germany and if Russia win, they are very likely to win the group and qualify to World Cup directly. On the other hand, Germany also want to win as they will qualify for World Cup, no matter what happen in the next round. Now here's the preview:

Russia: Russia only lost against Germany away and they won all the other matches. They will play on the artificial grass ground and lead them to have a slight advantage. Andrei Arshavin no doubt will be the most important Russian player as his connection to the strikers are very good. Pavel Pogrebnyak will very likely to start the match. Also, Pogrebnyak knows the German style well as he is currently playing for VfB Stuttgart. Yuri Zhirkov will lead the defence and he plays an important role in the defence.
What makes Russia to win: Counter attacks. Russia are very good at the counter attacks. Coach Guus Hiddink did a very good job to make the team to be very well disciplined and organized team. They will be very likely to win if they can tackle the ball effectively and start the counter attack well.
What make them down: Off the ball defence. The biggest problem of Russia is they spend too much game time on the off the ball defence. It is very dangerous for them as they give the bomb to the opposition to bomb themselves. They have to hold the ball better or else it will be just the matter of time to concede goals.

Germany: Germany did take the trouble when they only snatched a draw against Finland in the very early stage. Now they need at least one point in order to protect their lead and bring back the advantage back home. However, the entired team want to win as they all know all the troubles and doubts will be gone. Mesut Özil playes a very important role to Germany as he is the best player in the team so far. Mario Gomez and Miroslav Klose are having the confident trouble and now it is time for them to perform. Per Mertesacker will lead the defence line and Heiko Westermann will be likely to get along with him.
What makes Germany to win: Passing game. As mentioned above, Russia is very well disciplined and organized in defence, so more passing is the only way to confuse Russian defence and create goals. Özil plays an important role to connect the midfield and strikers, as well as make more runs to confuse the Russians.
What makes them down: Strikers. Stefan Kießling once again is forgotten so the remaining strikers need to perform. Cacau and Klose are yet to score in the league so it is questionable in their confident. Plus Gomez and Lukas Podolski are not good at form so those strikers must pick up their confident quick.

General prediction: I believe Germany will have more possession. This is because Russia are comfortable without the ball and are likely to wait for the counter attack chances. So Germany must make use of the possession very well in order to win this match. It is likely to see a draw here as both teams will not be upset to end up like this. However, I believe Germany will have a little bit advantage as they always have the ball. So even Germany are away, I believe they can qualify for the World Cup after this Saturday.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bayern München vs 1. FC Köln (Bundesliga Week 8) Preview

This week Bayern München stays at home to play against under achieved Köln. Both teams desperately need all 3 points to achieve their own goal. Obviously Bayern München has the clear advantage and Köln needs some miracle to win at Allianz Arena. Now here's the preview:

Bayern München: Bayern München had lost the important match against Hamburger SV away and led them drop to the 7th position with 6 points trailing. In order to avoid the further slip, Bayern München must win this game to climb up the table. Arjen Robben unfortunately was injured in the Juventus clash and so far he undergoes the MRI. However, Ivica Olic is ready to relieve his place. Franck Ribery is starting to get better in terms of fitness and I believe he will play for full 90 minutes again. Mario Gomez is likely to start as he is fit enough to play. Even Robben is not likely to play this Saturday, I believe Ribery, Olic, and Gomez are good enough to win this game.
What makes Bayern München to win: Quick tempo. This is what they did well in Juventus clash. I believe Köln will concentrate the defence and wait for the fast counter attack. So quick passing and speedy runs will make them easier to score and win the game easier.
What makes them down: Scoring. The recent two non-winning matches showed that Bayern München was stuck at scoring goals. Gomez, Miroslav Klose, and Thomas Müller were quiet and failed to score goals. I believe they must finish well and score goals in order to win the game.

1. FC Köln: So far it is very disappointing in the start of the season as they only managed to get 4 points in 7 matches. The return of Lukas Podolski did not help too much to the team as he was always got isloated. Milivoje Novakovic was supposed to assist him but he was struggling with injury. Sebastian Freis now is the only striker who can guarantee to assist Podolski and he will be the important player in the match. On the other hand, the defence was very disappointing and I believe they will lose goals.
What makes 1. FC Köln to win: Counter attacks. Even Podolski did not help the team too much, their counter attack is quite fast. Along with Freis, I believe they can threaten Bayern München in some extent.
What makes them down: Fragile defence. They have conceded 10 goals in 7 matches so far. It is not good enough for the start of the season. Also, it showed the sign that their defence is not good enough for the all season long challenge. So they will have a big loss if they concede goals early.

General prediction: I believe early goal will determine the final result. Bayern München will attack Köln early and hope to score the early goal. Gomez, Ribery, and Olic will not wait and hesitate to attack Köln early and try to get their monkey off their back. With the home court advantage, I believe Bayern München is able to score goal early and have a big win.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Bayern München vs Juventus (UEFA Champions League Matchday 2) Preview

Tonight Bayern München will host the Champions League blockbuster against Juventus. This is an important group match but not fatal. Plus they have league matches to concern so that I believe the match will be close and high quality, but not intense. Now here's the preview:

Bayern München: Bayern München did well in the last Champions League match and led them to have a lead in Group A. Even last week they have lost the important top table clash against Hamburger SV, they still have high moral and full fitness. Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben will start this match, but the starting striker is still a question, Ivica Olic and Mario Gomez have a fair chance to get into the starting lineup. I believe Louis van Gaal will not play any tricks on the formation and tactics, and he will stick into the winning 4-3-3 formation. So the pace will be their way to win.
What makes Bayern München to win: Pace. As mentioned, Ribery and Robben are the fast paced players that bring so much threats to the opposition in terms of pace. On the other hand, it is predicted that Bayern München will tend to play counter attacks, as Fabio Cannavaro and Nicola Legrottagli are not the fast paced defender. So fast paced attack will nake them win.
What makes them down: Midfield domination. Bayern München must control the midfield in order to provide better counter attack. Anatoliy Tymoshchuk is playing an important role in order to stop Diego. If Tymoshchuk does his job, Bayern München is very likely to win.

Juventus: Juventus missed the chance to win the last Champions League match as they failed to score the second goal to win. Same as last week's Italian Serie A, they failed to score one more goal and led their opponent Bologna equalized the game at the very last minute. It showed that they need to score goals in order to secure their win. Diego is likely to start this match who is back from injury and he will play a very important role in the game. Vincenzo Iaquinta and David Trezeguet are likely to start the match and they must finish the play well in order to win at Allianz Arena.
What makes Juventus to win: Midfield creation. Diego plays an important role on the creation. If Diego does his job well, I believe the finishing from Iaquinta and Trezeguet will also be improved. So the Germany return trip of Diego will be essential.
What makes them down: Finishing. As mentioned, they have to score more goals in order to win. As Bayern München attack are fast paced and threatening, they have to lead more than one goal in order to make Bayern München harder to bounce back.

General prediction: I believe this match will be very high quality but not very intense. Both teams will cancel each other out and it is very hard to determine who will be the winner. Bayern München will have upper hand as they have home court advantage. However, Bayern München will be happy to get a draw as they will still maintain the lead. On the other hand, Juventus will not be urged to get an away win as they should realize that the most important matches are the two-match series against Maccabi Haifa, which they must take all 6 points. So, I believe Bayern München has the upper hand but draw is likely to happen.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Hamburger SV vs Bayern München (Bundesliga Week 7) Preview

This week's Bundesliga have a blockbuster clash, which Hamburger SV will host the match against Bayern München. Both teams are in hot streak now so it is predicted to have an exciting clash. Now here's the preview:

Hamburger SV: Hamburger SV is still unbeaten in the league at the moment. New player Eljero Elia did so great that brought lots of threats from the left flank. Even though Jose Paolo Guerrero is injured until the end of this year, Elia can take the scoring job well. Marcus Berg is in a good run as he makes lots of running and create space for the other teammates. Ze Roberto will play against his old teammates and he will do his best to dominate the midfield. However, the loss of the DFB Pokal did affect their fitness as they played full 120 minutes plus the penalty shootout with full strength. So I believe this will hurt them a lot and maybe the driving factor to lose this match.
What makes Hamburger SV win: Midfield domination. Ze Roberto is the factor that leads Hamburger SV to dominate the midfield all the time. He makes lots of runs and tackle to control the midfield. With the cover from captain David Jarolim, Ze Roberto even can score goals. So this is the factor that Hamburger SV must fulfill and win.
What makes them down: Team fatigue. As mentioned above briefly, Hamburger SV had a huge problem on the team fatigue. They played 120 minutes plus penalty shootout for nothing in the end in DFB Pokal. It will damage their physical fitness as well as the morality. So they must bite their lips and look forward in this blockbuster.

Bayern München: Bayern München had a red hot run since the arrival of Arjen Robben. They recorded 5 wins in a row in all matches and at least scored 2 goals each game. I believe Bayern München finally found the one who could match Franck Ribery. Ivica Olic is also in hot form and he can integrate into the new tactics as well. So even Mario Gomez is in good form, it is not guaranteed that he will start the match. I believe Ribery, Robben, and the returning to Hamburg's Olic will start the game, plus hot Thomas Müller to form an attacking combination. Daniel van Buyten however may not fit enough to play and this will be the setback for Bayern München. So Anatoliy Tymoshchuk will be very important as he needs to stop the play in midfield in advance.
What makes Bayern München to win: Morality. Bayern München reached the highest morality in this moment and they are hungry for reaching the higher morality. Plus they did not waste too much energy in the midweek's DFB Pokal as they sent a second tier team to win. So Ribery, Robben, Holger Badstuber, and Tymoshchuk are fully fit for this match.
What makes them down: Central defence. As mentioned, van Buyten may not fit enough to play. If this is a case, this will hurt the team very much as he is in red hot form. Badstuber can do his job well but I do not have faith on the replacement of van Buyten, Breno. So van Buyten must be back or there will be a lot of pressure on Bayern München defence.

Key of the match: Fullbacks. I believe Ze Roberto and Tymoshchuk will cancel each other out and the midfield will not be dominated by anybody. So the key will go to the flanks. Elia and Piotr Trochowski are good wingers and they make so many assists to their strikers. Same in Bayern München, Ribery and Robben are the world class wingers and they are actually the scoring source. So the fullbacks from each side must stop the opposite wingers plus they have to participate in the attack in order to put an extra pressure on the flanks. Simply speaking, better wingers win the game.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bayern München vs Oberhausen (DFB Pokal 2nd Rd) Preview

Tonight Bayern München will play the DFB Pokal Second Round against Second Division Oberhausen at home. Speculation suggested that Bayern München will rest some players in order to let some players to prepare the Saturday important Bundesliga against Hamburger SV. On the other hand, Oberhausen do not have any pressure and they are more than happy if they can make surprises. In this preview I will focus on Bayern München as I do have limited information on Oberhausen.

Bayern München had recorded 4 wins in a row from all kinds of matches. Their morality is excellent and everyone is confident. Bastian Schweinsteiger did better and better to be a central midfielder to control the attacking flow and holding the midfield. I believe he will play this match even though the Saturday match is important. However, Arjen Robben and Holger Badstuber may rest match. So, Luca Toni may set for the comeback debut and Breno also may set for his season debut. Franck Ribery maybe the substitute once again and I believe Mario Gomez or Miroslav Klose will start this match and Toni will be the substitute.

What makes Bayern München to win: Class. No doubt, Bayern München is above of them at all sorts. Better in attack, better in defence, and better in finishing will make Bayern München to have an easy win. So all they have to do is not to get reckless.
What makes them down: Complacency. Last Bundesliga Bayern München showed how careless they were. They all thought they would win easily when they were 1 goal up but the opposition caught them napping and got the equalizing goal. Lucky for Bayern München that they could rush for another goal in time. So Bayern München must get this lesson in this match.
General prediction: Very obvious, Bayern München will have an easy win. There may not be a lot of goals as it is not their style plus they have to reserve some energy for the Hamburger SV clash this Saturday. So I believe Bayern München will start walking and keeping their possession after they secure their win. My tip: Bayern München win 3-0.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Bayern München vs Nürnberg (Bunedsliga Week 6) Preview

Bayern München is back in action from Champions League to play against Nürnberg this Saturday. Bayern München is officially back in contention after 2 comprehensive victory against VfL Wolfsburg and Borussia Dortmund. On the other hand, Nürnberg is also back in action after the victory last week. Now here's the preview.

Bayern München: Since Arjen Robben arrived, Bayern München seemed like they have found the missing puzzle. They had 3 wins in a row, including the midweek Champions League. The defence looked better in Tuesday match but it is still unknown for the goalkeeping problem. Hans-Jörg Butt did not have any big test in Champions League but he did have lots of confident problem last Saturday. Even though Bayern München is back at home, the performance of Butt needs to be further proven. On the other hand, Franck Ribery and Mario Gomez did not play for the whole match in Tuesday so I believe they have full strength. Thomas Müller is very fit currently and I believe he can bring surprises to the opposition again.
What makes Bayern München to win: Quality. No doubt, the quality is far better than the opposition. I believe Robben, Ribery, and Gomez will definitely make lots of trouble to the opposition. If Gomez finishes better together with red hot Müller, I believe they can score a lot of goals.
What makes Bayern München down: Goalkeeping. As I mentioned, Bayern München did not have big test in Tuesday so this week is another good test for Butt to prove himself that he is able to be the first choice goalkeeper, for at least this season. If Butt make any cheap error again, Bayern München may not be that lucky to escape this time.

FC Nürnberg: Promoted again Nürnberg did not start really well, especially they found they were a bit outclassed in terms of attacking. Marek Mintal is very important player as he connects the players well. However, Nürnberg did not have good striker to support him. Christian Eigler and Issac Boakye are supposed to support Mintal but none of them can do the job well. It may because they are at the higher level and they need some time to work out. I believe there is not so much expectation for them when they are facing the red hot Bayern München. Snatching a draw will be their only wish in this match.
What makes Nürnberg to win: Stubborn defence. Even though the attacking is not so well, their defence is pretty good so far. They showed their discipline and the opposition was not easy to score against them. They have to work harder in order to prevent any early goals against them.
What makes Nürnberg down: Attacking. No doubt, they are outclassed by the opposition as they do not have any world class attacker so they need to work better in the attacking. Mintal needs to work better as his composure is the best in the team.

General prediction: Early goal will rule the game. Bayern München is expected to attack and dominate the match as Nürnberg focuses on defence and counter attacking. If Bayern München scores first, the game will become one-sided as Bayern München is not bad at defence this season so far. As Bayern München also has the home court advantage, I believe Bayern München do not have any problem on winning. My tip: Bayern München wins 3-0.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Maccai Haifa vs Bayern München (UEFA Champions League Match 1) Preview

Bayern München tonight will start their first European match this season. They will travel to Tel Aviv, Israel to play against Maccabi Haifa. This preview I will focus on previewing Bayern München on this match.

Bayern München had two wins in a row and they thrashed Borussia Dortmund 5-1 that definitely boosted their confidence. Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben started to get more chemistry and led the other teammates to gain more confidence. Mario Gomez at the same time started to gain some confidence as well he scored the goal last Saturday. However, Bastian Schweinsteiger was not at the peak form even he scored a nice long shot last Saturday. Since the arrival of Robben, Schweinsteiger now changed his role in the team, that was holding the midfield and switching the plays from short side to open side. So this match Schweinsteiger needs to do well in the role in order to lead the team win.

What makes Bayern München to win: Quality of possession. No doubt, Bayern München is far better than Maccabi Haifa in terms of quality, but they have to show it out. Quality of possession is highly required as Maccabi Haifa is expected to counter attack Bayern München. So Bayern München must have a high quality of possession in order to score goals and win the game. Robben and Ribery need to lead the attack well in order to achieve this.
What makes Bayern München down: Goalkeeping. I believe the counter attack from Maccabi Haifa will not be too threatening when facing a high quality team like this one tonight. The concern is both Hans-Jörg Butt and Michael Rensing fail to impress and give confidence to the teammates and fans when they start the match. Last Satuday Butt nearly lost more than 1 goals from his own schoolboy error. This is what Bayern München urgently solve before the match starts.
General preview: Bayern München should win this one easily. Even Maccabi Hafia has the half home court advantage (note: the home court of Maccabi Haifa is not qualified for European matches, so the match move to Tel Aviv), Bayern München should take the advantage easily. An easy win is expected but Bayern München will not go too far and too hard as they have to prepare the Bundesliga match back home in order to chase up the top table. My tip: Bayern München win 3-0.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Borussia Dortmund vs Bayern München (Bundesliga Week 5) Preview

Last week players were on international duty so Bundesliga had suspended for a week. This week Bundesliga is back to action and Borussia Dortmund will host a national derby against Bayern München. Now here is the preview:

Borussia Dortmund: Last match Dortmund failed to win against Eintract Frankfurt showed the problem of finishing. Since Alexander Frei had gone back to Switzerland, the team did not have a successor to success his effective finishing skills. Sebastian Kehl is currently injured but I believe there is not much impact on the team as the team has adepted the life without him. Tinga is very important in the team as he can hold the midfield very well, especially Florian Kringe has been loaned to Hertha Berlin.
What makes Borussia Dortmund to win: Midfield defence. Tinga can take this job well and he can start the counter attack effectively. Mats Hummels at the same time can relieve Tinga in midfield defence as he is very flexible in the defensive line.
What make them down: Finishing. As mentioned, no striker is trustable in this moment. Nelson Valdez and Muhamad Zidan cannot convert the plays into practical goals well so the opposition will have an easy time to defend against them.

Bayern München: Bayern München finally started winning after the arrival of Arjen Robben. He scored two goals against VfL Wolfsburg and led the team won 3-0 at home. It proved that Robben could relieve the pressure of Franck Ribery as Robben could lead the attack as good as Ribery. This week Ribery is not likely to start but Robben can take his job. Miroslav Klose stays at München for fitness training so he is not going to play. Ivica Olic can take his job along with Mario Gomez in attack. As Gomez has to prove himself, he will play harder in this match in order to prove he is worth 30 million Euro.
What makes Bayern München to win: Fast attacks. As Robben arrived in the team, the whole team attack had been sped up a lot. Fast attacks and counter attacks will be the key of winning in this match. If Ribery is substituted in the middle of second half, it will be more threatening and is likely to score more goals.
What makes them down: Aerial defence. The match against VfL Wolfsburg showed that their aerial defence was very weak. There were at least two chances for Wolfsburg to score but Bayern München was lucky enough to escape. So this time Bayern München must be careful for their aerial defence.

Match preview: I believe defence is the deciding factor in this match. Borussia Dortmund seems better in defence but Bayern München is better at the attacks. However, Bayern München's weak aerial defence makes this match to become uncertain. So the winner should be the team who has better defence to stop the attacks.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Bayern München vs VfL Wolfsburg (Bundesliga Week 4) Preview

This week Bayern München faces another big challenge, they will play at home against defending champion VfL Wolfsburg. Both teams lost last week so I believe they all want to win a game back, especially for Bayern München, they desperately need an opening win. Now here's my preview:

Bayern München: The latest transfer news just in, that is Arjen Robben is confirmed to join Bayern München for four years deal. Also, Robben is eligible to play this Saturday. This is definitely a morale boosting for the team as they are now very low in confident. The last loss against Mainz definitely proved that players were not confident at all, especially to Michael Rensing and Bastian Schweinsteiger. Franck Ribery may return this match, but Robben arrival definitely relieve the pressure from Ribery so Ribery does not need to hurry. However, it is doubtful if Robben can adept the new environment in just more than 24 hours, so I believe that Robben is threatening, but he may not reach his maximum impact this match.
What makes Bayern München to win: Early start. The biggest problem of VfL Wolfsburg was the slow match start. All of their goals were coming from second half. In other words, they could not score in first half yet. From last Wolfsburg match, it is not hard to see if the opposition has a fast start, they will be in a mess. So Bayern München must score in the opening half and hold on to win.
What makes Bayern München down: Confident. The last loss against Mainz showed that most of the players were not confident at all. I believe this is what Louis van Gaal should answer to Franz Beckenbauer - how to boost their confident in a week. Now the fans and the team are relying on Robben, who is bringing a new breathe to the team and let us see if he can do it.

VfL Wolfsburg: I believe it is quite surprising that Hamburger SV beated them last Sunday and ended their 17 unbeaten home record. The defence had a lot of problems, that was lacking of communication and organization. There is not any leader to be seen in the defense line so that they kept making mistake, especially when they were 2 goals down in first half. Eden Dzeko and Grafite did not turn back their best mode yet but Obafemi Martins was very good recently. Also, Zvejezden Misimovic is getting better and better, so I believe they can bring a lot of threats to Bayern München. Josue is not available to play so I believe there will be more pressure to the defensive line.
What makes VfL Wolfsburg to win: Fast attack. The attacking pace is one of the fastest in the league. Misimovic, Grafite, Dzeko, and Martins are very fast paced players so they can have an advantage against Bayern München, whose their defenders are relatively slow paced.
What makes VfL Wolfsburg down: Defense. Same old defense problem, they are not organized at all. So they must hold on in the opening minutes as if Bayern München score first, they will have a very hard time.

Match key: The injured beast. Bayern München are now a injured beast. So they will throw the cautions to the win and have the hardest fight. Also, Bayern München have the home court advantage so I believe they will play better. If Robben does well in the match, VfL Wolfsburg are nmot easy to defend as Robben is very good at dribbling. So based on Bayern München have nowhere to hide now, I believe they can win this one. My tip: Bayern München win 3-1.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

1. FSV Mainz 05 vs Bayern München (Bundesliga Week 3) Preview

Bayern München last week had lost another 2 points at home against Werder Bremen. They must have a win in order to keep the early start. However, Mainz is proved that they are not pushover so Bayern München need to concentrate in order to secure the win. Now here's the preview:

Bayern München: Bayern München had a slow start this season as they lost 4 points in total in the first 2 matches. The absence of Franck Ribery brought the lacking of creativity problem, as same as last season. Jose Sosa did poorly last week and I believe Alexander Baumjohann will start this game. Bastian Schweinsteiger must improve his performance as he is the most important player since Ribery is not on the field. However, the good news is the defense are solid. Holger Badstuber and Daniel van Buyten are very impressive. Also, Danijel Pranjic and Philipp Lahm is fit enough to assist in attack as well as defense. Even Luca Toni is back to Munich but I do not believe he will play.
What makes Bayern München to win: Quality. All in all Bayern München outclass the opposition. All they need is the quality of possession and quality finishing to bring them first win of the season.
What brings Bayern München down: Finishing. Last week they have plenty of chances but they were all wasted. Miroslav Klose needs to do better this week and Mario Gomez needs to keep the morality of last week's score. Also, Bayern München need to play simple to ensure their finishing.

1. FSV Mainz 05: Mainz last week had drawn against the opposition again. Even they have not won a game so far, it proved to fans that they were not pushing over there. They have a great challenge this weekend to face Bayern München and I believe they may somehow bring some surprises to Bayern München if they do not perform well. The front line attack is quite effective and I believe Bayern München needs to watch out. Mainz returned to the stable condition after the mess of the season opening. So players can come together and bring surprise.
What makes Mainz to win: Pressure-less. I believe no one expects them to win, so this is why they can bring surprises. Mainz has potential as their playing style is simple and effective. So if they score first, they can win.
What brings Mainz down: Defense. The only problem is the defense. Even they only lost 3 goals in 2 matches, their defense is quite soft and the opposition are quite easy to get the ball into the danger zone. Bayern München has a lot of quality players so that their defense is quite hard to stop them.

General preview: Urgency is the key of this match. Bayern München has no room to run away as they must win a match, or else the week after the match against VfL Wolfsburg will be very very hard. They need to get full 3 points in order to keep the chase. Mainz even though they are pressure-less, their defense is quite worrying when they face the team like Bayern München. Stubborn defense is the only hope for them so that they have to defend harder then ever. My tip: Bayern München win 3-0.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Bayern München vs Werder Bremen (Bundesliga Week 2) Preview

From this week I will focus more on Bayern München. This week Bayern München will go back to home and face Werder Bremen. Both teams need a win in order to get a quicker start of the season. Now here's my preview:

Bayern München: Last week Bayern München did not do so well and only had a draw against 1899 Hoffenheim. Even though the team was not able to get a win, they did better compare to last season. Team balance was seen in the match and possession was better than before. Holger Badstuber did very well last week and this is definitely a surprise for all the fans. Mark van Bommel is out for four weeks but Anatoliy Tymoshchuk can take the holding midfield job well. Franck Ribery is set to return and it is definitely boosting the morale. However, it is doubtful if he can play for full 90 minutes. Miroslav Klose is set to return as well and it definitely provides more options on attack.
How Bayern München win: Quality possession. It improves a lot compare to last season. Passes did not lose cheaply and the attacks were better in quality. To face such a attacking minded team, Bayern München needs more quality in possession in order to lead them to win.
What Bayern München need to improve: Corner taking. This was the most disappointing part last week. Danijel Pranjic took the corner kicks poorly and it backfired to the team. The equalizing goal from Hoffenheim was come from the threat-less corner kicks. I believe they need better corner kicks in order to avoiding to backfire themselves.

Werder Bremen: Very surprising, they lost against Eintracht Frankfurt last Saturday. The defense was very disappointing and Per Mertesacker could not command the defense well. Sebastian Prödl was the most disappointing as he did not follow the team defense at all. However, the good news was Mesut Özil and Marko Marin combined very well in the team attacks and they brought lots of threats to the opposition. It proved the departure of Diego did nomt affect them too much on attack. Torsten Frings and Tim Borowski will be very important as they have to work harder to relieve the fragile defense.
How Werder Bremen win: Attacks. Obviously, the attacks do matter in the team. They have to score more goals then Bayern München in order to control the game. Özil and Marin will take the most important job and the strikers have much space and time to score goals.
What Werder Bremen need to improve: Communication. Those 3 conceded goals were because of lack of communication. The defense line did not communicate well so that was why the defense had so many failed offside traps. If they do not improve this problem, Werder Bremen will be slaughtered.

General preview: I believe Bayern München had the upper hand. This is because they have the home court advantage and higher quality of possession. Werder Bremen is so fragile in defense so I believe Ribery, Gomez, and Klose can go through their line easily. However, I believe there will not be a big win just like last season as Bayern München will be careful in order to avoid some cheap ball losses. My tip: Bayern München win 2-0.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

German Bundesliga Season 2009-2010 Week 1 Tipping

German Bundesliga Season 2009-2010 is officially started tonight! Defending champion VfL Wolfsburg will open the curtain with the match against VfB Stuttgart. On the other hand, match schedule has been adjusted a bit in order to attract more television audience. Now here's the tipping of the opening week:

VfL Wolfsburg vs VfB Stuttgart: A very entertaining curtain raiser. Defending champion VfL Wolfsburg did not change the squad too much, which means the scoring duo Edin Dzeko, Grafite, and Zvjezden Misimovic will be still the most important players in the team. However, as Felix Magath left the team and replaced by Armin Veh, it is still unknown if they can keep their playing style or the players can adept the new style. Obefami Martins will be the first choice relieving striker so I believe he will not start the game. Meanwhile, VfB Stuttgart had finally found the replacement of Mario Gomez, he is Pawel Pogrebnjak from Zenit St. Petersburg. He may not start the match as he needs some time to adept the new playing environment. So Cacau is the most important striker still. The key of Stuttgart is if they can control the midfield. I believe both teams are not fully ready for the season start and a draw is very likely. My tip: Match draw 2-2.

Hertha Berlin vs Hannover 96: After the excellent season, Hertha Berlin did not expand too much. Opposingly, they did change a lot in the striking force. Andrei Voronin had returned to Liverpool and Marko Pantelic had left the club. So it is still unknown if the new striker or the original players can relieve them as they are the main attacking force. The defence is the other key. Arne Friedrich is most important player in the defence as Josip Simunic had left the club as well. On the other side, Hannover did not change too much in the squad build up. Robert Enke is still leading the defensive line and Mikael Forrsell is still the striker that Hertha Berlin must watch out for. I believe this match will be a draw, maybe a little favoring to Hertha Berlin. Match performance is the key of this match. My tip: Match draw 1-1.

Borussia Dortmund vs 1. FC Köln: Borussia Dortmund is another team who change a lot. Markus Feulner is the key new player as he can relieve the pressure of Tamas Hajnal. However, the departure of Alexander Frei did bring a lot of uncertainties in the attack. Nelson Valdez and Mohammad Zidan do not give much confident to the fans so I believe it is not an easy match for them. Meanwhile, Köln did strengthen the team much. The return of Lukas Podolski did relieve the pressure of Milivoje Novakovic. It is predicted there are more variety in attack. The arrival of Maniche did help the team a lot in midfield defense. So, I believe Köln can win the match even though they are away from home. My tip: 1. FC Köln win 2-1.

Werder Bremen vs Eintract Frankfurt: Even though Diego had left the club for Juventus, I believe Werder Bremen is still a strong team. The arrival of Marko Marin is very encouraging to the team as he has lots of potential. Together with Mesut Özil, this Germany U21 midfield duo will lead the whole attacking line. The only concern is their inconsistency, so this is the reason why they get Tim Borowski back. The other concern is the defence, Per Mertesacker is the only defender who is reliable so they must watch out. On the other side, Frankfurt is keeping the low key in summer since the captaincy of Ioannis Amanatidis. It shows that his influence is fading and I personally believe it affects the team, in some point. However, they are not good enough to stop Werder Bremen and Werder Bremen should have an easy win. My tip: Werder Bremen win 3-0.

1. FSV Mainz 05 vs Bayer Leverkusen: New comer Mainz had very rough start even before their first Bundesliga match. Coach Jorn Andersen was sacked right after the elimination of DFB Pokal and replaced by Thomas Tuchel. I believe it did affect the team very much as they have to restart again in such a short period of time. On the other hand, it is very unlucky for them that Eugen Polanski had been injured few weeks after the arrival from Getafe. So I believe this match they will be outclassed. Bayer Leverkusen at the same time, the main lineup did not change a lot. The arrival of Sami Hyypia did inject lots of experience to the team, which they did not have last season. The injury of Patrick Helmes really hurt the team but I believe the other attacking players can relieve his job. It will be a very good start for Leverkusen as they will have an easy win. My tip: Bayer Leverkusen win 3-0.

1. FC Nürnberg vs Schalke 04: Another new comer Nürnberg is totally different from Mainz, as they can keep the squad very well. Most of them are Bundesliga based so I believe they can stick firm in the league in general. Marek Mintal is the most important player in the team as he can create the play so well. On the other hand, the defence is very solid and I believe their oppositions are very hard to score against them. Schalke 04 on the other hand, they did not do too much on the transfer market, but fans are still very happy as Felix Magath had joined them. I believe their style will be tougher than last season so I do not worry about their defence. However, it seems the attacking is still worrying as they do not change too much on it. Jefferson Farfan and Kevin Kuranyi need to prove themselves still as they are the most important attacking duo. I predict this is a draw game as both teams are very good on defence. My tip: Match draw 1-1.

1899 Hoffenheim vs Bayern München: After the excellent season, Hoffenheim had a high hope from their fans as they all hope they can fulfill the miracle this time. However, they had a very rough season start as they have plenty of injuries. Even the return of Vedad Ibisevic can boost the team, I do not believe he is as good as last season because it is doubtful about his match practice. On the other side, Bayern München changed a lot in the summer, the most exciting one is Mario Gomez and Anatoliy Tymoshchuk. Mario Gomez can absolutely improve the team attack so well and can relieve Miroslav Klose. Franck Ribery is doubtful and is not likely to play as he claimed he only has 30 minutes fitness. The matchup seems very entertaining, but Bayern should have won this match. My tip: Bayern München win 2-0.

VfL Bochum vs Borussia Mönchengladbach: Bochum did not change too much in the transfer market, it may because they do not have much resources to do so. Diego Klimowicz and Stanislav Sestak will be very important in the team and they need to score goals in order to win. Goalkeeper Daniel Fernandez is the other concern as well. His cheap blunders did really hurt the team much and let the fans see if he can improve. On the other side, Gladbach changed a lot compare to last season in order to seek their way to stick firm in the league. Logan Bailly leads the defence line and he needs to stabilize it. Juan Arango is very important purchase for them as he can start the counter attack well. I believe Gladbach can win this match to have a good season start. My tip: Borussia Mönchengladbach win 2-1.

SC Freiburg vs Hamburger SV: Freiburg had gone away from Bundesliga for a long period, so even though they are some point famous to the fans, it is doubtful about their Bundesliga experience. I personally see them as a brand new comer to the league. Even thought they were the champion of Second Division last season, I believe they will be outclassed. On the other hand, after the disappointing season, Hamburger changed a lot in the summer. Ivica Olic has left the club but Marcus Berg can relieve his position very well. The arrival of Ze Roberto can inject the experience to the team and improve the midfield efficiency. I believe Hamburger SV can win the game easily and even they will be at the top one spot after this round. My tip: Hamburger SV win 4-0.

So this is it! Happy Bundesliga return!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

German Bundesliga Season 2009-2010 Preview - relegation trouble

Last two parts I have previewed the hot favorites and the dark horses respectively. Now I will preview teams who have relegation trouble this season:

Borussia Mönchengladbach - Huge change again: Compare with last season, there were lots of changes in the summer. They seemed they did not have any clues to stick firm in Bundesliga so they kept changing the players. A very good news for them that they had signed Juan Arango from Mallorca. It did help the team in the midfield creation and being the first line defense as well. Michael Bardley is keeping the great form so he is a very important player if they want a quick start of the season. The key is the strikers, they have to convert the play into goals better than last season. I believe avoiding relegation will be their first priority and seek for better performance afterwards.
What's helping them to fight back: Consistent defence. Even the attack has the problem, the most important factor is the defence improvement. Goalkeeper Logan Bailly is leading the defence well since the arrival of last winter and his performance is very important.
What's making them to fall: Attacking. Poor finishing is the key reason why they fight for survive. Rob Friend was very poor performance last season and failed to convert plays into goals effectively. Karim Matmour will be very important to do this job now, especially the departure of Alexander Baumjohann and Marko Marin will degrade the creativity in the midfield.

VfL Bochum - do it again: Bochum had an average season last season. As predicted they were around the relegation zone but luckily they were not in serious deep trouble. They kept the squad generally compare with last season so I believe they will not have any breakthrough. The attack will be the key as this was the reason why they could stay firm in the league. Diego Klimowicz and Stanislav Sestak are the important attacking duo to lead the team to get away from the trouble so I believe the team's fate is all counted on him.
What's helping them to fight back: Midfield creativity. As mentioned, the strikers are the most important players to help them to fight back, but the creation from the midfield will be the important factor as well. Shinji Ono and Christoph Dabrowski need to control the midfield well im order to provide more chances to attack.
What's making them fall: Goalkeepers. The defence is not solid enough, but the goalkeeper does have trouble to perform well. Daniel Fernandez was the worst goalkeeper in Bundesliga last season as he kept making the cheap mistakes and led the team down a lot. So if he cannot perform well, there will be more trouble for Bochum this season.

1. FSV Mainz 05 - can they stick firm: It is not unfamiliar to hear Mainz as they had gone up to Bundesliga for a couple of times last few seasons. However, they failed to stick firm and fell down again and again. So I believe they will aim for avoiding the relegation as their first priority. They have strengthened the squad in order to keep their place in Bundesliga. So the new players need to perform well in order to help the team.
What's making them to fight back: More than 100% performance. Even there are new players to join the team, I believe they are still outclassed by the others. So they have to play extra well in order to win games, esepcially against teams in same class.
What's making them fall: Rough season start. Unlike VfL Wolfsburg, they have a players injury as well as changing coach right before the start of season. After the elimination of DFB Pokal 1st Round, the coach is sacked and replaced. Plus the injury of Eugen Polanski damages the team hard. So I believe they need to fight extra hard in the first two months.

SC Freiburg - welcome back: After the long period in the Second Division, they finally gained the promotion place as well as winning the championship last season. Even they are experienced in the first class league, I believe the players themselves need to adept the league as they generally do not have much experience. Du-Ri Cha is the only important signing this summer but it is unknown if he really improves or he actually degrades. They kept most of the squad members so it is quite hard for them to fight for a place in Bundesliga.
What's making them to fight back: Pressure free. General prediction mentioned that they are the hot favorite to get back to Second Division again so fans do not have any expectation. This factor does release a lot of pressure for them and they can play freely. It can bring a lot of surprises to the opposition as they throw all the cautions away. Moreover, they can bring a early surprise if they play well.
What's making them fall: Class different. As mentioned they kept most of the squad members of last season. The only worry is the class. As we all know Bundesliga is totally different from the Second Division so it is nothing even they won the title. I believe they will be confirmed to fall back to Second Division about a month away from the season end.

So that's my general preview. As usual, I will predict the match week by week.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

German Bundesliga Season 2009-2010 Preview - dark horses

Last part I have previewed the hot favorite to win the title. Now I will preview the dark horses this season:

VfL Wolfsburg - harder challenge is coming: Last season VfL Wolfsburg was against all odds to win their first ever title. It was very encouraging for them and many fans wondered if they can do it again. Personally I believe they cannot. This is because they have an even harder challenge. Also, Obefami Martins had joined the team to relieve Eden Dzeko and Grafite. Zvjezdan Misimovic will still be the key player as his vision and creativity is one of the best in Bundesliga. The defence will become more challenging as they did not get any more new players. So Andrea Bazagli is very important now.
What's helping them to win: Attacking football. The combination of Grafite, Dzeko, and Misimovic will still be the source of scoring. Their counter attack is most threatening in the Bundesliga and there is not many teams to stop their pace. If they want to defend their title, this is their essential key to success.
What's stopping them: Rough schedule. Maybe you can say this is unlucky, but it can definitely kill their hope. The first ever Bundeliga game will play against VfB Stuttgart is tough enough, then their 4th Round will be away against Bayern München. So quick start is definitely needed or else they need to chase very hard following on. Plus they have to face the UEFA Champions League so it definitely makes them harder in the league schedule.

Hamburger SV - no more derby: Last season the 4-round Northern Derby killed all their title hope so every fan of Hamburger did not want to think about it. They had changed a lot in the summer, newly signed Marcus Berg has a high hope in the team as he is the top goalscorer in UEFA U21 Championship. It is expected he will directly replace Ivica Olic, who has gone to Bayern München this summer. Ze Roberto also joins the team and I believe he can bring the stability and experience to the midfield. I expect them they will have significant improvement and they cannot be underestimated. The only factor I concern is the new coach Bruno Labbadia. If he cannot adept to the team, it will be the fatal factor to stop them to win any title.
What's helping them to win: Stability. They were very consistent in the first half of the season and have won important games. They had been at the top of the table for a couple of weeks last season was because of this. The arrival of Ze Roberto can definitely stabilize the team further so they can be very threatening.
What's stopping them: Team fatigue. The reason why they lost all 4-round Northern Derby was the team fatigue. Players were very tired to play the game, so that the opponent was relatively easy to control the game. I believe this is fatal to them and they must figure out how to solve this problem.

Bayer Leverkusen - inexperienced team with experienced player: Last season Leverkusen was very impressing with the young guns. Partick Helmes did make a lot of impression, considering he just joined in for the first season. It is very unlucky for the team that he will miss the first half of season due to knee injury. In the summer transfer market, Leverkusen focused on getting the experienced players in order to balance the team. Sami Hyypia is definitely a good purchase as his experience can lead the defense line. The return of Theofanis Gekas will definitely relieve the pressure of young attacking line, such as Tranquillo Barnetta, Toni Kroos, and Stefan Kießling. So on paper they are stronger this season.
What's helping them to win: Energy plays. Fast and energetic plays lead them to win game. They are one of the fastest paced team last season and with all of the young players are staying, their style is not being affected so much. With the experienced coach Jupp Heynckes to lead the young player, I believe they will also get some balanced between the playing style.
What's stopping them: Second half season slump. After the start of second half season, they had a huge slump, especially in their temporary home ground in Düsseldorf. Now their home ground is finished to renovate, I believe somehow they will improve it a bit. However, due to the inexperienced players in the team, I believe the slump is not easy to avoid, so those experienced players are very important in that moment.

Borussia Dortmund - young boys rule: Speaking to young players, Borussia Dortmund is one of the teams we must talk about. Young coach Jürgen Klopp was bold enough to use the young guns and it paid off. Mats Hummels is now the number one central defender without a doubt and the other players are around him. The midfield is so energetic and they easily control the midfield with the lead from Tamas Hajnal. New comer Markus Feulner can relieve the pressure of Hajnal and the team is becoming better and better now.
What's helping them to win: Young players. They are just fearless. This is the most important factor to win games or even title. They are running so hard in order to control the midfield and they always did. So I believe they will keep on this season and threaten the strong teams.
What's stopping them: Finishing. For sure, they failed to convert the game plays into the practical goals. As the departure of Alexander Frei, it is very doubtful for the finishing. I predict that their finishing will getting worse. Last season they drew too many game because of poor finishing, so I believe they are even harder to snatch a draw if their finishing problem is not getting improved. A good striker is urgently needed so let us see who they get.

Now this is the end of this part. Next part I will preview some relegation threatened team.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

German Bundesliga Season 2009-2010 Preview - hot favorites

German Bundesliga will open the curtain in 7 August 2009 with the blockbuster game between defending champion VfL Wolfsburg and VfB Stuttgart. Before the season starts, I will preview generally to the league. This part I will preview the favorite championship winner:

Bayern München - forever favorite: No doubt about it, Bayern München is still the favorite of the league. After the tragic season, the team changed the leadership once more. The Dutch coach Louis van Gaal takes over the team and seems he is favoring the new players. Thomas Müller and Holger Badstuber are the examples. At the same time, the arrival of Ukrainian national Anatoliy Tymoshchuk will definitely lead to the defensive line become very solid as he has high rate of stamina and strength. Even though Lucio and Tim Borowksi leave the team, I do not believe it will bring too much harm, especially the case of Lucio, it maybe more beneficial to the team as Lucio is too aggressive and led the team more trouble last season.
What is helping them to win: Player ability. This is what Bayern München has every season. The best players in Germany are all around in the team so they only need to play well and they will win games. The arrival of Mario Gomez is definitely improving the team finishing. So, I believe the team will improve a lot.
What is stopping them: Consistency. This is what the team lack of last season. They can play very well but can also get humiliated in the following week. Actually consistency is what they only need in the Bundesliga as mentioned, they are the best team in Germany.

Werder Bremen - post-Diego era: As predicted, Diego leaves the team for his further development. So the team is basically enter the post-Diego era about 2 months ago. They, also as predicted, purchased Marko Marin from Borussia Mönchengladbach to fill in the vacancy. Together with Mesut Özil, they will be the most important duo in the team. They need to cover each other in order to create more spaces for each other and even the other players. On the other side, Naldo also left the team to France and now Per Mertesacker is the most important defender in the team, and I believe he is the key player to lead the team to success. Furthermore, the team needs to get another prolific striker as Claudio Pizarro had returned to Chelsea. So Hugo Almeida, Aaron Hunt, and the other strikers have to perform well.
What is helping them to win: Attack. This is what they are proud of, and this is the reason why they won the championship. Last season the strikers failed to convert the game plays into goals, even though Claudio Pizarro were in hot form. Now the midfield bascially maintain their ability and the strikers have to convert it into goals.
What is stopping them: Defence. The defence is further degraded after the departure of Naldo. Besides Per Mertesacker, Sebastian Prödl will become more important as he needs to relieve Mertesacker. As the team did not have any significant signings in the defence, it will be all counted on this duo.

VfB Stuttgart - local pride: Last season it can be said that it was the pride of locals as they did so well in the league under the base of local young guns. However, since the departure of Mario Gomez, Stuttgart had lost the focal point of attack. So unlucky at the same time, they failed to seek a successor to replace his position. Klaus-Jan Huntelaar was the hot favorite to join in the team but in the end the deal was undone. As the season is going to start, even they have purchased a new striker, Cacau is still the most important striker in the team as assuming there is a new striker to join in, he needs some time to fit into the team. The midfield and the defense do not change too much as they were solid last season. Thomas Hitzlsperger and Sami Khedira will continue to lead the midfield and Serder Tasci will be more important day by day.
What is helping them to win: Early start. Last season Stuttgart had a very slow start and trailed behind a long distance to the top table team. So even though they had a very great second half of the season, it never got close to win a championship. Therefore, I believe they need a early start in order to get enough points for the tight match schedule.
What is stopping them: Goalkeeping. As the defence is not too experienced to lead the line, goalkeeping is the most important factor. Jens Lehmann is degrading after Euro 2008 and he made some soft mistakes last season. As he is getting older, it is predicted that he will keep making mistakes.

FC Schalke 04 - Try again: Another try for them this season, as they have tried so many years and they got nothing. Felix Magath takes over the coaching job this season in order to meet all the fans' expectation - do what he did in Wolfsburg. Change is not significant in terms of transfer market, so I believe they will still have problem on creativity. Ivan Rakitic is very important player in the team as he is very creative and lead the team to score goals. Kevin Kuranyi and Jefferson Farfan need to prove themselves this season as this was what they failed to do. In the defence, Benedikt Höwedes had an excellent season so this season he will be the first choice center back. He will take over the leading job from Bordon and it will be the deciding factor for Schalke.
What is helping them to win: Defence, defence, defence. From midfield to the center back, Schalke has a lot of solid players to tackle the ball and stop the play. Jermaine Jones is the typical example in the defence midfield. At the same time, they are very strong in the air so not so many teams can score lots of goals to them, which is the deciding factor to their fate.
What is stopping them: Creativity. I cannot believe that they did nothing to improve their pathetic creativity in this transfer market. Obviously Rakitic found a very hard time to create the play by himself and one more attacking midfielder is urgently needed.

This is my prediction of the hot favorites. Next part I will mention about the dark horses.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

2009 State of Origin Review

This year State of Origin has ended with Queensland created a history which was winning the trophy 4 years in a row. It showed that Queensland outplayed New South Wales in all sorts. New South Wales however, had claimed their pride with the victory at Suncorp Stadium to avoid the whitewash. Now here's some of my sharing in this State of Origin Series:

Harder, stronger, harder

It always be. It is all about State of Origin, and this is why this is one of the most fierce rivalry in the world. All of the best players in the league are all in this high stage of the game. So it is still not enough to play hard, strong, and good. Instead, they have to be harder, stronger, and better in order to become the hardest, the strongest, and the best. Queensland backline did so well in this Origin series to lead them to achieve history. At the same time, New South Wales forward line kept tiring the opposition so they had so many chances to score, even though they failed to convert.

80 minutes good football

There is not any space to have a break, as when a team slow down a little, they will get caught. Queensland nearly get caught in the final 20 minutes in Game 1 and Game 2 respectively, but New South Wales poor finishing and the cheap errors gave Queensland a chance to win the game. On the other hand, New South Wales always got caught in the first 20 minutes and led them to chase the game in most of the game. This was a huge pressure for New South Wales in the first 2 games in the Series as Queensland were protecting the lead very well. New South Wales had done it in Game 3, as they did not give any chance for Queensland to bounce back and led them to have a great win. So a winning team should play well in all 80 minutes.

Early lead, final say

It was very obvious in all these 3 games. Queensland made and extended the lead in the first 25 minutes in Game 1 and Game 2 so that they could hold on and win the game. Especially in Game 2, Queensland had 3 tries in a short period of time and led New South Wales hard to bounce back to the game, even it was very close. Close but not enough, this is what final say means. Queensland always had a final say in the dying minutes. In Game 1, Kurt Gidley made an important knock on error and handed the game to Queensland. Then in Game 2, New South Wales failed to finish the play in the final minutes and led Queensland had a chance to take a breathe and then scored a try to seal the Series. If Queensland failed to extend the lead in first 25 minutes like Game 3, New South Wales actually had the upper hand to win the game, or even took back the Series.

Creativity, skills, and pace

This is how both teams had tries. Forward rushing is not so useful in this year State of Origin. Instead, more skills, pace, and creativity are needed to score. Billy Slater, Greg Inglis, Michael Jennings, and Jarryd Hayne are the good examples from Queensland and New South Wales. Their footwork and pace were really threatening to the opposition and created lots of line breaks in these 3 games. Jonathan Thurston and Trent Barrett were the focus on the creative plays. All the creative plays from each side were come from them. Their vision and skills did help the team to create a hole for the other teammates to go through and break the line. I believe more of these are needed in the upcoming Origin.

Now here is some forecast from each side:

What's next Queensland: Seems Darren Lockyer is fading out his role in representative football. Rumours said Brisbane Broncos wanted him to step down the representative football in order to offer him a 2-year contract. Even Lockyer said he did not concern about this so far, I believe he may step down as he fitness started not to supporting this tight schedule. So who will be new five-eigth? It is what Mal Meninga needs to think about. On the other hand, in Game 3 it showed the bench power of the side was not good enough, as Michael Crocker failed to impress at all, and the absence of Petero Civoniceva did affect the forward line. I believe Queensland needs to find a better forward players if they want to defend their title and continue the great history.

What's next New South Wales: Change, lots of changes. It seems players are all outplayed in the first 2 games in the Series. The halves combination was so unstable and every combination seems not the best to cope with Queensland strong halves. Peter Wallace and Terry Campese are the future but they are not experienced enough. Jamie Soward on the other hand is a good choice, but the problem is same with the previous. There will be lots of changes in the squad but I believe Jarryd Hayne will be the centre of the change. He did better and better since his debut in 2006 and he is now the most important player in New South Wales. So who and how can he be helped? This is one of the biggest question next year.

State of Origin is always the best rugby league rivalry in the world. The players gave more than they had in order to acheive the best. So this is why there are so many people in Australia love this game. Will New South Wales re-claim the title? Or Queensland will create the better record, which is 5 title winnings in a row? We will find out next year.

Monday, July 13, 2009

State of Origin III Preview

Queensland had achieved history as predicted after they beated New South Wales in Game 2. Now the focus in Suncorp Stadium in Game 3 is if Queensland can further humiliate New South Wales to achieve the clean sweep record. Changes are found in both sides, so there will be a different combination and hopefully there will be another surprise. Now here's my preview:

Queensland: No doubt, they were too good for New South Wales. The combination of Cameron Smith, Jonathan Thurston, and Darren Lockyer were still threatening to New South Wales. On the other hand, Greg Inglis was the man who can finish the play well and gave Nre South Wales no chance to bounce back. Even though they may not have so much mentality in this game as they have secured the Origin shield, Suncorp is Suncorp, they will have a home court advantage which New South Wales must handle. Changes had been made as there were injuries including Israel Folau, Ben Hannant, and Petero Civoniceva. The forward may have some problems as the two men are very important for the forward protection to the backs.
What Queensland needs to improve: Again, fitness. Queensland were walking in the final 20 minutes of the Game 2 and New South Wales were so close to score to equalize or even win the game. Michael Crocker was struggling most in terms of fitness as he could barely hold the football tight and kept making mistakes. Sam Thaiday must stand up this time as his fitness is one of the best among the team.

New South Wales: Compared to Game 2, they had 11 changes ahead to Game 3. Even though there was various reasons to explain why there were so many changes, I believe coach Craig Bellamy and the selectors were very upset to their performance. Trent Barrett was the most threatening player in Game 2 and I believe he can keep bringing threats to Queensland this Wednesday. His experience and game reading can make the others play comfortably. The halfback is changed to Brett Kimmorley, compare with Peter Wallace in first two games. I believe this duo can bring a lot of combination and experience to the team so that players like Kurt Gidley and Jarryd Hayne will play better this time.
What New South Wales needs to improve: Finishing. As Queensland was walking in final 20 minutes in Game 2, they failed to score 1 more try to win the game. This was because they failed to finish the play, especially in Tackle 5 situation. Good kicking plays were rarely to see in Game 2 as they could not finish the game play well. They must improve this finishing or else Queensland will have a final say again.

My prediction: This is all about in Queensland's hand. If Queensland is chasing the clean sweep, New South Wales is very hard to stop them. As Queensland had already claimed the series, I believe New South Wales can have a slight advantage over Queensland. Also, Brett Kimmorley, Trent Barrett, and Kurt Gidley can bring lots of threats to Queensland if they combine well. So even Queensland is playing in Suncorp Stadium, I believe New South Wales this time can take some pride back home.
My tip: New South Wales by 1 try

Sunday, June 21, 2009

State of Origin 2009 Game II Preview

This Wednesday State of Origin will be played Game 2. New South Wales have no room to lose if they want to avoid Queensland to create history, which is 4 title winning in a row since the introduction of 3 game series. Queensland on the other side, however, would like to seal the title victory in Sydney. Now here's the preview:

New South Wales: The injury hit the Blues so hard as they had 7 changes compare to Game 1. Terry Campese was so disappointed in Game 1 so the Blues recuited veteran Trent Barrett to be the starting five-eigth. His experience absolutely helps the inexperienced Blues to assist Queensland. Robbie Farah will be very important as well because his kicks in play did threaten Queensland. Craig Wing on the other hand will continue to be the "super sub" as he brought a lot of threats once he was brought on. I believe even though the injury hits the Blues, this maybe a good news for them as this is a great chance to recall the veterans to play this important Game 2.
What they need to improve: Concentration. The Blues were not concentrated at all 80 minutes of the game led them lost Game 1. Four of the five tries from Queensland were come from Blues' lack of concentration. After Jarryd Hayne's try was denied, the team lost the concentration and conceded 3 tries in a short period. Also, in the end of Game 1, Kurt Gidley also lost the concentration and knocked the ball on and in the end, the Queensland sealed the win. So they must improve the concentration or they will let Queensland create history.

Queensland: If you ain't break it, why fix it? This can best describe the Maroons in Game 2 preparation. Willie Tonga is the only change as Justin Hodges is injured. The national backline in Game 1 were too fast and too big for the Blues so I believe they will keep the same tactics in this game. Cameron Smith, Jonathan Thurston, and Darren Lockyer will be the important combination of the game play. Together with Greg Inglis, Israel Folau, and Billy Slater, the Australia national backline will continue to threaten the Blues so much. As the Blues provide them just a little space and little time, the backline will bring them the maximum impact.
What they need to improve: Fitness. The Maroons were out of gas after the 60 minute mark so they provided a chance for the Blues to bounce back. It was lucky for them as they led the Blues in the early of the game so there were rooms for the Maroons to concede points and tries. Also, it was also lucky that Kurt Gidley made a schoolboy error and led the Maroons seal the game. Steve Price and Petero Civoniceva must have to keep their fitness well as they are the leader of the forward line, who they are protecting the backs. So I believe the key to create history is the forward fitness.

Key of the game: Still, it is very close call for me. The game is still not over even if anyone can score a try first. I believe the winning side is determined who can extend the lead. New South Wales even has a clear home court advantage, but Queensland started to adept and more even, to win against them in Sydney. In other words, Queensland is capable to win in away court. I believe Queensland can effectively convert the New South Wales error into tries and points and then extend the lead, just like Game 1. So, I believe Queensland can create history.
My tipping: Queensland win by 1 try

Sunday, June 14, 2009

German Bundesliga My Best 11 Season 2008-2009

As the season had ended for a while, I am now share my personal best 11 and 7 substitutes. Just a reminder that any tactical combination is not considered in my best 11:

Starting 11

Goalkeeper - Robert Enke (Hannover 96): Even Hannover was underachieving this season, his performance had been praised. He made lots of crucial saves in order to keep the team in contention during the match. At the same time, he had suffered the injury for 3 months in the end of 2008. He made a strong comeback after the injury however, led the team to improve their performance and it ended up in 11th position, far away from relegation. So his leadership and the skills could make him to be my starting goalkeeper.

Right defender - Christian Träsch (VfB Stuttgart): He is one of the best right backs this season. He was a center midfield before but no one thought he was so good in the right back as well. Especially in the second half of the season, he played an essential role to Stuttgart for the great comeback in the second half of the season. Also, his attacking runs were very effective that relieved lots of pressure of the midfield and the strikers. So he is in my list.

Left defender - Philipp Lahm (Bayern München): As Bayern had a tragic season, Lahm could still keep his good form in the team. When everybody criticized the fragile defense of Bayern, he was one of the only few persons who was praised. He could tackle the ball just in time as well as made a lot of attacking runs in the left flank. So he helped a lot to Franck Ribery and he actually scored goals from the left side. So even though Bayern did not perform well at all this season, he is in my list as well.

Central defender - Neven Subotic (Borussia Dortmund): He was the surprise of the Bundesliga this season. Not so many critics expected him to be one of the best defenders in Bundesliga in his debut season to Dortmund from Mainz. His positioning and tackling were very good that to lead Dortmund had a solid defense line. Furthermore, his heading was very useful in the dead ball situation as he scored goals from that. He scored 6 goals this season, this was a very good statstics for a defender. So he is definitely in my list.

Central defender - Heiko Westermann (Schalke 04): He was the only good player in Schalke 04 this season. Even Schalke was only lying on 8th position, they had a very good record, that was the lowest goals conceded. Westermann should take this credit as his tackling and pace were very good that to cover the defense line well. More importantly, he could play lots of positions, such as left and right back, or even defensive midfielder and attacking midfielder. He was even the top goalscorer in the beginning of the season. So why was not on my list?

Defensive midfielder - Thomas Hitzlsperger (VfB Stuttgart): Hitzlsperger was the important factor that led to the team to bounce back to second runner-up. He was not only good at long shot, what he impressed me this season was his ability to hold on the ball. As a team captain, Hitzlsperger could lead the midfield and control the flow of the attack effectively. Also, he could tackle the counter attacks from the opposition well in order to continue the attack. He was the hero behind the team so he should be in my list.

Attacking midfielder - Franck Ribery (Bayern München): Again, he was the spotlight of the Bayern midfield. He ran with the ball so many time and again he brought a lot of threats to the opposition. Even critics said Bayern had relied on Ribery too much but Ribery took his job so well even though the opposition tried to get rid of his threat. The only concern was if the other players could relieve him, of course this season was not the case. So his individual efforts made me to put him into the list.

Attacking midfielder - Zvjezdan Misimovic (VfL Wolfsburg): What a debut season in Wolfsburg! He made 20 assists, which was on top of the assist list said the reason for putting him into the dream team list. He could play the best form of the season all time so that he could made those 20 assists and led the team to score most goals among Bundesliga. Apart from the excellent assists, his ability to read through the game led the teammates were comfortable to play, so this was why Grafite and Eden Dzeko was so comfortable to score so many goal. So I cannot see why I do not put him into the list.

Striker - Grafite (VfL Wolfsburg): Top goalscorer of the season. He scored 28 goals this season was one of the highest record in recent Bundesliga season. His finishing ability was so good that he barely missed any easy shots in front of the goal net. Also, he could assist well, which had 11 assists so his partner, Eden Dzeko could be the second top goalscorer this season. His great performance no doubt to become anybody's best 11. Of course, my best 11 is included.

Striker - Mario Gomez (VfB Stuutgart): His first half of the season was very ordinary. However his performance in the latter half of the season was astonishing. He scored 17 goals in 2009 led Stuttgart bounced back to second runner-up. His great comeback and improvement made Bayern offered a 30 million Euro to get him into the team. This move proved and recognized his effort this season. Also, Bayern does believe in him to lead the team to get the title back. So, he must be in my list.

Striker - Eden Dzeko (VfL Wolfsburg): When fans and critics praised how good Grafite was, Eden Dzeko was not be forgotten. He scored 26 goals this season said he was definitely in the best 11 list. Same as Grafite, he could also assist which he had 10 assists this season. Together with the combination with Gafite, both of them played and combined so well that the opposition were very hard to stop their attack, as there were 2 main attacking points. So, it will be meaningless if putting only one of them into the list.

Substitutes

Rene Adler (Goalkeeper, Bayer Leverkusen): He was one of the best goalkeepers this season, especially in front of him were the inexperienced, slow paced, and fragile defense line. His fast reflection led him to make lots of saves every game to lead Leverkusen to win the game. Unfortunately he and the team could not hold on and finally dropped to 9th position and lost in DFB Pokal Final, which meant he failed to attend the European compeition next season.

Benedikt Höwedes (Central defender, Schalke 04): Young, talented, and mature could describe his performance this season in Schalke. He did not have the chance to perform in the beginning of the season but he took his chance well to step up to the important role in the team when Bordon ws injured. His positioning was the best of his skills and led the team to have a safe and solid defense line, even better than Bordon's lead. So he is in my list.

Mesut Özil (Left winger, Werder Bremen): Speaking to assists, he was the second highest number assist this season, which had 15 assists. Even though the main reason was he had chance to perform himself as Diego was rested for the more important matches in the end of season, he had a constent performance all over the season in fact. The example was the 5-2 thrashing against Bayern München, which his performance was best of his career. Actually he was the hero behind Diego and he will be the hero if he can take the team to the top next season.

Marko Marin (Attacking midfielder, Borussia Mönchengladbach): In the hard season for Gladbach, Marin was the player who must be thanked as he was the important player who got the team out od relegaion trouble. Marin created so many threats from the midfield and made lots of runs in order to get the team score. His 13 assists in this season was so important that they could get away from relegation. So Marin is the player I must put him into the lst.

Carlos Eduardo (Attacking midfielder, 1899 Hoffenheim): The most expensive player in Hoffenheim this season. He created lots of plays to the attacking players such as Vedad Ibisevic and Demba Ba and led the team to be the winter champion as the debutant of the Bundesliga. Even though his form slipped very quickly and led the team slip, I still believe he is one of the best players this season.

Claudio Pizarro (Striker, Werder Bremen): Werder Bremen made he right choice for loaning him from Chelsea, where Pizarro never had a chance to play. He got back his best form when he was in Werder Bremen for the first time and scored 17 goals this season. His solid and consistent performance led Werder Bremen to be at 10th position and prevent the team to drop further. Sadly he will return to Chelsea next season but his performance convince me to put him in the list.

Vedad Ibisevic (Striker, 1899 Hoffenheim): I believe there are some people had forgotten how good he was. He scored 18 goals in the first half of the season, better than any strikers mentioned in my starting 11 at the same moment. However, he was so unlucky that he hurt himself and was forced to be out of the remaining of this season. He is back next season and see if he can keep on.

Coach

Markus Babbel (VfB Stuttgart): I believe many of people will choose Felix Magath as the best coach of this season. However, thinking of inexperience and even he did not have coaching license, Babbel did a miraculous job to lead the team to the second runner-up position. He did a lot of work to foster the team morale in order to make the team different. So my vote goes to Babbel.