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Happy birthday Schnix!

FBL-EURO2008-AUT-GER-FRIENDLY-SCHNEIDER

[ credit: Reuters Pictures ]

Today is 17th November and it is Schneider’s birthday. Herzlichen Glückwunsch zum Geburtstag! The midfield maestro  deserves a post all on his own for this. Work hard on your rehab Schneider, we’re looking forward to seeing you back. Don’t worry, the boss will find a way to squeeze you into the team somehow. Aherm.

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[ credit: Bild.de ]

Apropos of nothing, I am very tickled at the fact that this blog apparently appears in searches for “unfamous sports games”. How fitting is that? That is Bayer’s lot in life in the English-speaking football world after all. Nothing screams un-hip and unfashionable like a club with ties to a pharma company. But at least the football the Werkself is playing is sexy. And yes, I chose that picture for this entry as I find Big Bruno’s (Bild’s moniker for our boss) 70’s-inspired look very amusing. Did he sing YMCA after that photoshoot? Inquiring minds wants to know.

Meanwhile, Joachim Löw has selected Adler, Rolfes and Helmes for the upcoming friendly against England at the Berlin Olympiastadion. The Bundestrainer called for only four strikers, so Stefan Kießling misses out on that expected fifth spot, which is a pity. The door opened for him after Kevin Kuranyi’s infamous strop, but it looks like he’ll just have to work harder at it.

Nothing to see here

I’ll start with the bad news. Pirmin Schwegler has again torn his interior cruciate ligament. He’ll be out for at least six weeks and will therefore miss his chance to make his senior international debut. Ouch. Get better soon, Schwegler.

Then comes the boring. Bayern’s new #1, Michael Rensing states the obvious and says that his club will soon regain the top spot. Yawn. Tell us something we don’t know will you, Rensing? Mind you, I’m quite confident this Bayer team will make a good fight of it, better than they have in recent years.

Lastly, the Werkself’s next match is against Schalke 04, another club that can be relied on to choke at any sniff of title aspirations. Heh. At least we have company.

You know it’s a slow news period when even the Bild doesn’t have anything trashy for me to poke fun at.

Misery loves company

SOCCER-GERMANY/

[ credit: Reuters Pictures ]

Last weekend was torrid for me football-wise. I left the house with a good feeling about the Bayer-KSC match at half-time (there was no stream, so I followed the match on live-ticker), fully expecting a good result. After all, we were 3-1 up at halftime. Nothing could go wrong, right, right?

But this is Bayer and it seems that the young Werkself has yet to master the dark arts of closing shop and parking the bus in front of goal. Because KSC fought their way back into the game and Bayer left Karslruhe with only one point. Needless to say, Tante Völler had a lot to say about Bayer throwing away the lead. I can’t comment further but I can see why the sporting director’s in a snit fit. I know I was when I got back home and saw that result.

Having said all that, another truism of life in general is that if you’re not doing well, pray everybody else screws up too and Hoffenheim most kindly obliged by losing away to Hertha Berlin. Therefore, the Werkself are currently topping the table on goal difference. It’s way too soon to cheer yet as that Evil Bavarian Empire [TM] has recovered their form (or more like, Franck Ribery is playing and playing well again) and are now only one point away. With Bayern on the rise, the Werkself cannot afford to slip up if they want to remain in contention for at least a European spot. I stress, European spot, not the T-word.

In other news, apparently Theofanis Gekas is unhappy with his sub appearances and now wants away from the BayArena come January. No worries though, as the club has set their eyes on yet another Brazilian (Adeilson). Cue the “Is he any good in Football Manager?” jokes.

This is slightly old news but Herr Pirmin Schwegler has followed in Tranquillo Barnetta’s footsteps and received his call-up to the senior Swiss squad for a friendly against Finland. It remains to be seen if he’ll actually play but he’s definitely garnering the right kind of attention and that first senior cap cannot be far away.  All the best, Schwegler.

The T-word und 12. Spieltag

There’s a short, short article at the Guardian about how the Werkself have quietly snuck into contention for the Bundesliga (can I say the word?!) title. Urgh. Title. I hate that word. I will refrain from further quoting Shakespeare out of context but it goes without saying that no sane Bayer fan will openly mention the T-word, not after the 2001/2002 Treble of Horror season. Bayer remains the only football club in recent history to have blown their chances at the domestic league title, domestic cup and the Champions’ League. When you take into account how Germany came in second during World Cup 2002, you will understand why Bernd Schneider now abhors the number two. I’m certainly pleased with the way the season has unfolded thus far for the Werkself but really, all it takes is a bad run and we’ll be looking at the opposite end of the table. So I’m sure fellow fans will understand why I’m keeping a tight lid on my optimism.

Another thing to fear is the January transfer window. Already rumours (and nothing more substantial) have begun to circulate regarding Renato Augusto and Inter Milan, with the Brazilian midfield magician apparently due to depart the BayArena in just a few months. I’m not too fussed about it at this stage – there’s nothing to substantiate those rumours as yet and he’s just arrived at Leverkusen – but it brings up the perennial problem of Bayer always loses its best players to other, better-paying clubs.

The Werkself might have an exciting young team at the moment but it’ll be of naught if they leave. But financial stability is a reality fans cannot run away from and Bayer no longer receives substantial funding from its parent company. It goes without saying that selling players is a way of balancing the books, especially when the club has to fund the BayArena expansion, amongst other things.

Let’s turn our attention away to happier things. Bayer faces Karlsruher SC away on Saturday. Needless to say, the Werkself is the favoured team here, with us flying high on the back of four wins and Karlsruher having lost their last five league matches.

To cap things off for the night, Adler has been chosen as part of the Team of the Month for October 2008 by the European Sports Magazine. Well done.

Yes we can.

Barack Obama 44th President

I know the image above has nothing to do with football but this is my blog and I will celebrate if I want to. Oh wait, it does after all since President-elect Obama is a Hammers fan.

Bayer04 TV has put up an interview with Tranquillo Barnetta. Alas, my German-fu is not strong enough to enable me to fully understand the clip. The latest entry (dated 5th Nov) in Bayer’s section in the official Bundesliga site also has a short write up about the Werkself’s good run in the past few games and a mention of the upcoming away game to Karlsruher SC. In contrast, KSC has not had a fun time of it lately. This game has meaning for Bruno Labbadia as he ended his career with KSC.

This next bit of information comes under trivia more than anything else but the team will also now travel in comfort as they have a new bus. With spiffy equipment and snacks, insofar as I can decipher from the article at the Bild website. Unfortunately, we’re all stuck with these kind of frivolous updates from the Bild until my German improves. Which is not anytime soon.

I’ll end today’s entry with a mention of a past player, Andrei Voronin, who left for the allegedly greener pastures of Anfield (insert dramatic cough here), only to find that the pitch wasn’t so green and was offloaded moved back to Hertha Berlin on loan. The plot thickens however as it now seems that the grass in Liverpool is looking good again and he wants a move back.

[ credit: RP ONLINE ]

Bayer officials met with the powers that be of Fortuna Düsseldorf today to discuss the details of the temporary groundshare that will begin in 2009 whilst the installation of the new roof at the BayArena is ongoing. The full report from the website is here but to summarise, Bayer will introduce the “Fortuna Euro” scheme, where one Euro will be contributed to Fortuna for each home ticket sold, inclusive of season tickets. The funds will be directed towards Fortuna’s youth development and if targets are met, the final amount might reach six figures.

The club will also invest in an advertising campaign to inform the citizens of Düsseldorf about Bayer’s impending arrival. I must say I am rather amused by the sight of Rolfes getting a solo spot in the “Sechs & the City” poster. The first match to be played in the LTU-Arena will be the DFB-Pokal Round of Sixteen match against Energie Cottbus on 28 January 2009 and the first Bundesliga match will be against VfB Stuttgart a week later.

Moving on to other news, Adler has been nominated for the North-Rhine Westphalia Sports Personality 2008, under the “Newcomer” category. And in a surprising turn of events, or perhaps the team did listen to my suggestion and dressed in drag after all, Bayer has now managed to garner two paragraphs in the weekly Honigstein column, all of it flattering, especially of Rolfes and Bruno Labbadia. Granted, the original subject was about how Werder might not be so mediocre after all but we’ll take what we can and run with it.