mainz 05 – what’s going on in germany?

hannover's ya konan is the bundesliga's top scorer this season, and a symbol for hannover's current success.

a quick look at the bundesliga table will surprise the most curious football fans. hannover 96, almost relegated to second division last season, are currently sitting in third place and are a huge surprise in the still young season. after almost one fifth of the season, borussia dortmund was expected to do okay; but five victories in a row and the second position is more than they could’ve hoped for, and they’ve played some brilliant football. the fans (with a bundesliga leading average attendence of 80,000 every match) are dreaming of the 90s, where borussia was one of europe’s leading clubs and even beat zinedine zidane’s juventus in the 1997 champions league final. young stars kagawa, from japan, and götze, the newest german promise and a probable world cup starter for 2014, are playing in a team capable of brilliant performances, besides the wins.

but what about bayer leverkusen, who beat dortmund away in their first match? or werder bremen? schalke 04, with raul and huntelaar? vfl wolfsburg, who still have edin dzeko, and now have diego? and, even worse: where is bayern munich?

bayern's choach van gaal would love to have 10 points more - mainz's coach tuchel has them!

bayern is in a mini-crisis. they had a slow start due to the players not being quite fit yet. after all, eleven bayern players were in action until the last weekend of the world cup, and after their vacations, there as not enough time to be at 100%. some good performances (against wolfsburg, werder and roma) had been there, and the last-minute 2×1 victory at a strong hoffenheim team seemed to give bayern the momentum they needed. and it seemed ideal – their next match was against mainz 05, a small club who had won all of their matches and were leading the table. at home and during the oktoberfest, bayern would beat the league leaders and start their own attack towards the top.

szalai (left), schürrle (middle, claimed to be the new thomas müller) and holtby (right, the new özil?) are a trio of very young and successful players for mainz.

but they didn’t win. mainz deserved a 2×1 victory in the allianz arena and are now, even more than before, the team of the moment. they’ve done well over the last years anyway, but to lead the bundesliga after a win in munich is a special moment for the club.

after a crisis almost ten years ago, club manager heidel decided to sack the coach, but he couldn’t find a replacement. so he decided to make one of the players the new coach, to see how that went. and it worked beautifully; jürgen klopp is now considered to be one of the top coaches in german football, having had a lot of success at mainz. the offensive defender system, very dynamic and physical, was idealized by him and inspired by english football. with his ability to lead and motivate a group, and his great rapport with the press, it was only a matter of time for him to go to a “big” club – and one that would fit him like a glove, current 2nd placed borussia dortmund.

mainz tried out another coach, who managed to lead them back to the bundesliga after a couple of years in the second division. but things were not going well between jörn anderson and his team, and even before the first matchday of last season, he was sacked and thomas tuchel was installed. and it seemed like jürgen klopp all over again: a nobody, this time coming from the sucessful youth team. same football philosophy, same fire and emotion during a match, same courage and leading abilities. and a big surprise for the bundesliga! mainz beat bayern at home in the 3rd match of the season, and they never had to fear relegation during the entire run until may. they even managed to be unbeaten in their last five matches, and have now won six in a row. with young players, a great and team-intensive tactic and very attractive football – just like dortmund, with klopp.

thomas tuchel took over the team 4 days before last year's season started - and has had success ever since!

mainz 05 are leading the bundesliga table, and it is not a coincidence. they have played as well as their points show, and if there are no major injuries in their future, this run might even last a while.

bayern munich won’t want to let that happen. 10 points behind mainz, they have to start to score some goals and make some points. sunday, against borussia dortmund and jürgen klopp, would be a nice time to start. but currenlty, even another loss wouldn’t be too big of a surprise any more.

klopp is a legend at mainz, where he played and coached for over two decades. he is now currently right behind mainz in he standings, and will play with dortmund against bayern next sunday.

truth be said: these top teams, pre-season favorites, are not fully fit yet (since quite a few players were involved in the final stages of the world cup) and have some injury worries.

bayern’s best two players, robben and ribéry, are out of action; robben won’t play again this year, ribéry will be back in november.

werder bremen has been without their best defender naldo since the beginning of the season, and barely survived a few weeks without mertesacker and pizarro; özil is gone, new signing wesley is still finding his place.

schalke let 15 players go and got 14 new ones, also for financial reasons. the team, with raul and huntelaar, hasn’t found a rythm yet, but it has won the last two matches.

wolfsburg had problems adapting to their new coach, but now dzeko and grafite are working, and new signing diego is being integrated into the team – 3 wins in their last 3 matches.

bayer leverkusen lost michael ballack early in the season, still are without a fully fit simon rolfes – and recently had both top attackers stefan kiessling and patrick helmes missing.

hamburg started well into the season, but has gone 4 matches without winning (3 losses); due to lack of fitness, but also lack of team spirit.

so the door is still wide open for hannover, dortmund and mainz. let’s see how long they can stay up there!

Published in: on September 28, 2010 at 10:15  Comments (1)  
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mark webber, world champion?

webber won monaco and silverstone this year - very glamarous!

people talk. about the promises of the future and present, the dynamic duo lewis hamilton and sebastian vettel. they talk about the current world champion, jenson button, the tyre whisperer. and, of course, double world champion fernando alonso, at ferrari – a nice combination. they even talk more about schumacher’s unsuccessful comeback. but what about mark webber?

the australian is the current leader of the world championship, and he is driving the best car on the grid. and he has been the most consistent driver this year. three really good reasons to declare mark webber the favorite for this years five-way race for the world crown in formula one.

webber's spell at williams was not successful - and sometimes quite frightening...

but you do the lad wrong if you judge him as merely consistent. mark webber is actually really, really fast. he came into formula one in 2002, after testing at arrows and benetton in the previous two years. his first race was also his home grand prix, in australia – and what a debut! with the worst car in the field, the minardi, he managed a fifth place finish after successfully beating the toyota of mika salo. and it was his speed that impresseded the f1 circus and the media, mostly in qualifying. this earned him a spot at williams after two years of jaguar, in 2005. comparisons arose with the last australian world champion alan jones, who managed the title with williams, in 1980.

... stepping into alan jones' footsteps?

it was the first bitter disappointment in a career that seemed to be ending too soon. the williams years did not turn out to be a success for webber, who never even came close to be a championship contender. 10th place in 2005, 14th place in 2006. he was out of williams, and the career move to red bull seemed like a step back. an australian, free-thinking guy for the austrian energy drink company, it seemed more like a marketing move than a professional one.

it might be that the joke is on everyone. on hamilton, button, alonso, even on the team mate and more media-loved vettel. the world champion 2010 might be mark webber, in his fourth year of the growing red bull racing team. let’s see if he can handle the pressure of favoritism, starting tomorrow. singapur is his first chance to take the second chance – 30 years after the legendary alan jones.

Published in: on September 23, 2010 at 16:40  Comments (3)  

timo boll, the german table tennis phenomena

timo boll is europe's best player and current world number two.

in january 2003, something quite remarkable happened. not to the great public in the world, or even the world of sports. but a remarkable feat anyway: a young 21-year-old german called timo boll had just risen to the number one position of the world rankings in table tennis. in a sport completely dominated by china, a german had risen to the spot top of the rankings, and whilst doing so, eliminating his chinese opponents in important tournaments.

boll had already won the european championship for the first time, which was quite an achievement since the more veteran players dominated the rankings and the games. currently, he is trying to win his fourth single title in a european championship – he’s won this year’s gold medals with the team and in the doubles tournament already.

on number 2 of the world and surrounded by five chinese players, timo has held his own in the last years, where he was never worse ranked than 6th since 2001.

timo still wants to win single medals at world championships and/or olympic games, a feat he has yet to achieve.

timo boll has had some injuries typical to table tennis players, mostly back injuries. those and other (emotional) factors have influenced his performance in the bi-anual world championships and in the olympic games, where timo still has no singles medals to showcase. in 2011, he’ll try again in a world championship (in rotterdam), and in 2012, he’ll go for gold in london. let’s see if he can translate his great technique and his status as the unreachable european number one player into some even more significant medals.

he just started today, by winning his fourth singles gold medal in a european championship, beating his landsman bauer in he final.

Published in: on September 19, 2010 at 13:35  Comments (1)  
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the beginning of an era for bayern munich

in 1988, i became a bayern munich supporter. I already liked to play football, but i didn’t really follow the sport – there was no such culture in my family. actually, I don’t really know how i came to fall in love with the game, playing it. but i do remember when I started watching it. the euro 88 was held In germany, where I had been living for three years. I followed the national team closely, and i still remember the first game against italy, with andreas brehme’s goal to tie it up, 1×1. i still remember the 2×0 victory over denmark, with olaf thon scoring the decisive second goal with his head – being the shortest man on the team. the semifinal loss against the netherlands, with the classical matchup kohler against van basten went to the dutch attacker and best player in the world of his time. van basten scored two minutes from time, and germany, who had lead by a matthäus penalty, was out.

and i was in. since that tournament, i remember almost all of germany’s matches in euros and world cups. and i became a bayern-fan under the influence of my best childhood friend, who oddly enough lived not too far away from  dortmund – and i grew up close to hamburg.

the past of bayern: mehmet scholl

bayern had painfully lost the 1987 european cup final to porto, their second defeat in a final, in the decade. at the time, of course, only champions participated in the champions cup, and bayern represented germany pretty frequently in the 80s, mostly reaching the semifinals. my first favorite player was andreas brehme, who played for bayern at the time. after he left for inter milan, olaf thon was my number one; and then, with the arrival of mehmet scholl, he became my favorite player for over a decade. bayern always had pretty good teams and did win the bundesliga quite a few times in these 22 full seasons of being a fan. but there was really never on as good as the current team.

after scholl ended his exciting and somewhat tragic career, i kept looking for a new favorite player. i finally made my decision in the preseason before 2009/10. a young attacker i was following in bayern’s second team had been offered a pro contract; he’d been at the club since he was a young teenager, and the had a certain style to his play that i liked. before the first game of the season, i bought a jersey with the number 25, from the up to then unknown thomas müller. and what a run he has had.

the future of bayern: müller & badstuber...

müller is an important piece of the current team. he represents bayerns strengths quite well: confident without being cocky, intense, willing to play for the team (including defensively), ready to risk – and pretty successful, to say the least. when i first put on my jersey in august 2009, i couldn’t have imagined that he would become the world cup top scorer in south africa, and probably the most exciting german player in an exciting german team.

the question is, though: were should müller play? with his stamina and creativity, the winger postions seem to suit him well – but bayern has maybe the best wingers in the world: arjen robben at the right and franck ribéry at the left! so the middle then, right behind the attack? bayern has toni kroos, only 20 and probably even more talented than müller, technically. he seems like the more typical “10” player. so maybe into the center of the attack? well, besides bayern having players like miroslav klose, mario gomez and ivica olic there, it would seem a waste of creativity and good ideas to let müller play upfront. which basically means that bayern have a very strong offensive game, with great players sitting on the bench and able to bring quality into the game, if they have to. even hamit altintop, a hero in the turkish national team, can’t get a starting spot.

... breno...

so what about the defensive part? it starts in the attack, with olic and/or klose working extremely well to help the defense, and even ribéry / robben doing much more than they would be used to doing in previous clubs. this is how a total domination of a club like as roma was even made possible on wednesday – francesco totti wouldn’t help his defense at all. this really helps the two world class defensive midfielders schweinsteiger and van bommel to be in total control in almost every match. both of them give quality to the attacking game, and are close enough to the opponents to get into the man-to-man fights and win them: a near-to-perfect symbiosis between technical skills, strategic abilities and physical skills. this strong system will help the younger members of the four-man defensive line to grow over the years. holger badstuber has finally moved into “his” center back position, leaving the bench place to argentinian international martin demichelis. daniel van buyten could play out this season as the boss in the back, but i would love to see talented breno playing in that position and growing into it alongside badstuber – a duo for the future. another future talent has been at bayern since he was five: diego contento has gained coach louis van gaal’s trust and will be given time to grow into his left back position, to find the right balance between defensive work and positioning, and attacking skills. contento has it all: a classy technique, physical strength, speed and creativity. he is still lacking courage and total acceptance within the team, but that is only natural – since he, too, is only 19. on the other side, you have german captain philipp lahm, only 26 but already extremely experienced. he decided to stay at bayern instead of moving to barcelona, and the champions league title is all he really cares about. finally, we have jörg butt in the goal. he went from being an experienced number 2 to help michael rensings development to a world cup squad member last summer – his performances have been better than ever. but his career is coming to an end, and bayern is looking for a new keeper for 2011. manuel neuer (schalke) is the clear cut favorite, but a lloris (from lyon) or even an adler (leverkusen) could be options, too. all of these are young, and a new era seems to have started, with bayern reaching the champions league final in 2010.

... and toni kroos!

for 2011, this would be my dream team (with their respective ages):

neuer (then 25) – contento (20), badstuber (21), breno (20), lahm (27) – schweinsteiger (26), kroos (21), ribéry (28), robben (27), müller (21) – gomez (25)

this team could play for quite a few years…

Published in: on September 19, 2010 at 13:03  Leave a Comment  
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champions league – day 1 roundup

quite a few stories could be told about the first round of matches in the 2010/11 champions league season, which will end in the holy lawn of the wembley stadium in around eight months. for me, the main story is unveiled by a look at the bernabeu stadium.

real madrid dream of the champions league title. they won the first five editions, another one in 1966; and then it took them 32 years to get back on top. in 98, jupp heynckes (today trainer at leverkusen) brought the title back home, after a slim 1×0 final victory over juventus and zidane. in 2000, the “galacticos” didn’t give valencia a chance, and lifted the trophy for the tenth time. and the 2002 triumph had zinedine zidane written all over it, with his beautiful goal deciding a game that was actually more leverkusen’s match. since then, no tenth title. last year, cristiano ronaldo, karim benzema and kaká were supposed to “force” the title to the bernabeu, but the final on their home ground brought winner josé mourinho, who has generally been seen as the main new signing of the madrileños. until sunday.

mesut özil was going to shine in the world cup, basically any german knew that. but that he is shining this bright in such a short period of time is almost dangerous – but it is a tribute to his class and talent. özil has brought more hope to the madrid fans and even sports press in two games than kaká and cristiano ronaldo in a whole season. on sunday and yesterday, josé mourinho took him out of the game minutes from time, just to give him his deserved standing ovations. and standing ovations for a single player in the bernabeu are rare, let again twice in a week. real madrid’s 2×0 had özil show his fast thinking, easy-looking technique and physical endurance showcased, and the public was enchanted. it is too early, but it would be a great beginning for a new era in the club.

here are some other shorter stories of matchday one:

  • scored two goals for milan: zlatan ibrahimovic.

    manchester conceded two goals in over time on the weekend to tie 3×3 with everton, and now not even old trafford could give them  much needed victory over the rangers. scotsman ferguson will be mad.

  • arsenal did what they do best: play on one goal even if the scoreline is 3×0 already. 6×0 sounds harsh, tough luck for newcomers sporting braga.
  • messi is back to being messi, helping barcelona to victory; and ibrahimovic, his ex-colleague, is back o deciding matches, this time for ac milan. is milan back? let’s see.
  • bayern were as dominant as they have been this year, in terms of ball possession. and müller & klose picked up where they left off at the world cup: the first with a beauty of a goal, the second with a goal of pure will and experience. no chance for as roma and a horrible performance by francesco totti.
  • champions internazionale had their problems in holland and did not come home with 3 points in their luggage – a little bit surprising, to say the least, since it wasn’t psv, ajax or feyenoord, but champions twente enschede.
  • wherever there is werder bremen, expect excitement: 0x2 at home to tottenham after 12 minutes, 2×2 already at the beginning of the second half – and a dozen of lost chances to seal the match. bremen’s back, tottenham scored their first goals and first point in their young champions league history.
Published in: on September 16, 2010 at 18:33  Leave a Comment  
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time for european football – part three

greatest talent in the europa league? probably this 17-year old man, romelu lukaku, belgian from rsc anderlecht.

here a quick overview of the remaining groups:

el-g: zenit st petersburg is trying to win this group with portuguese veterans bruno alves, fernando meira and danny and some really good russian internationals (malafeev, semak, anyukov). rsc anderlecht will fight it out with aek athens for second place; the czech jan polak is belgian’s biggest foreign star, lukaku, the belgian, has he greatest future.  at age 17, he is the current belgian top scorer and sure will move to a big team after this season. aek has 32-year old world cup 2002 veteran from senegal, papa bouba diop.

cl-h: arsenal fc is the clear cut favorite for the weakest champions league group of all. with fabregas, arshavin, van persie, nasri, vela, walcott, denílson, bendtner: they already showed what they can do on tuesday. the brazilian-croatian eduardo da silva moved from arsenal do shakhtar donetsk – e team with eight more brazilians and srna as a captain. sporting braga and partizan belgrade will fight it out for the europa league qualifying third place. braga has 17 brazilians (!) and only 7 portuguese players in their squad.

greatest goalscorer in this year's europa league? good chances for luis fabiano.

el-j: sevilla fc is the favorite for the europa league group, with their attacking stars kanouté, luis fabiano. ivory coast ‘s zokora will help talented spaniards capel, negredo, navarro and jesus navas. paris sg really wants to bring it this year, and has french veterans coupet, makélélé, giuly and rothen. they still have kezman (ex-chelsea and atletico) on their pay role, but the promise in the attack is hoarau. this group is tough because the third force is borussia dortmund, which have a very strong team this season: turkish midfielder sahin, barrios in the attack, new japanese player nakawa, and some really good young german players, like grosskreutz and hummels. karpaty lviv is dangerous basically because they are from the ukraine.

el-b: atletico madrid have the greatest star of the world cup, diego forlan. fran merida is still a talent, juan antonio reyes still has more promise, and sergio aguero is the ideal partner for forlan up front. bayer leverkusen have michael ballack, who is injured. vidal, helmes, kiessling, castro, adler, hyppiä… pretty good. rosenborg trondheim is no champions league regular any more, and aris saloniki isn’t really a contender… or are they?

diego forlan is the greatest star in the europa league - and the current champion!

in the other groups, here are my picks to go to the next phase:

el-d: villarreal and club brugge

el-k: liverpool and ssc napoli

el-c: sporting lisbon and osc lille

el-a: juventus, manchester city

el-i: psv eindhoven, sampdoria genova

el-e: dynamo kiev, bate borisov

el-f: cska moscow, us palermo

el-h: vfb stuttgart, getafe fc

kim clijsters – the incredible belgian!

i have to start this short comment with saying that my favorite female player has been justine henin, for basically the first decade of the new millenium. and this will not change; i’m looking forward to her coming back to the circuit next year. sabine lisicki is my favorite german player, and i hope she can reach the top twenty someday.

but kim clijsters has shown her worth. to defend the us open title the way she did is almost more incredible than her comeback last year, when she came out of motherhood retirement to win the us open title for the first time. but, as they say, to defend a title is always more difficult than to win it for the first time. the incredible match against venus williams in the semifinal was the actual final, and that was when he deserved her crown, in the absence of venus’ sister serena.

i don’t know if kim will ever manage to rise to number one again, but lleyton hewitt’s ex-girlfriend doesn’t need that any more. one thing i do know: she has the motivation, and it will be great to watch her try.

Published in: on September 13, 2010 at 20:19  Leave a Comment  
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only 24 points…

alonso wins ferrari's home race and is now third in the championship race

since the beginning of the year, a win in formula one is worth 25 points – instead of 10 points before that, and 9 points until the 80s.

in 2010, we still have five races to go. and it seems to be a spectacular ending, even without schumacher fighting it out for the title in his comeback year. but five other pilots dream of the big title!

webber finished sixth, but he is the new leader in 2010.

the current leader is mark webber, who only managed a sixth place today at monza. before him, lewis hamilton led the way – but a mistake in the first round, when he touched alonso’s car and broke the suspension, leaves him in the first chasing position. said fernando alonso lead the big italian party in ferrari’s home race with an exciting tactical and man-to-man win over jenson button, who is fourth in the standings. sebastian vettel, the young german, saved his weekend by only switching to the hard tyres in the final lap, achieving an incredible fourth position – after having motor problems in qualifying and doing the race.

sebastian vettel in fifth: 163 points, 24 behind his team mate and championship leader mark webber. one point less than one victory. dear reader, this is as if, five races before the end, five pilots were within 10 points last year. INCREDIBLE, i must say.

any mistake, like lewis today, might be fatal. but you better believe that these last races will be fascinating. mark webber is the main favorite for the title, since the remaining races should give the rbr an advantage. but you never know, in f1. even more so in this year.

today, ferrari’s trick (putting everyone on the pit lane and luring button into the box) and their superb trye change gave alonso the win and the third place. this guarantees an even better end to the season, since at least one ferrari is still in the race for the title.

Published in: on September 12, 2010 at 14:37  Leave a Comment  
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time for european football – part two

here are the next four groups of the european football action which will start on tuesday.

cl = champions league, el = europa league, (historical rank/current rank)

cl – group b

enyeama was one of this year's world cup stars - and he'll play some serious champions league for hapoel tel aviv.

olympique lyon (37/10), benfica lisbon (8/21), fc schalke 04 (57/39), hapoel tel aviv (201/64)

quite an unpredictable group we have here, and more attractive than in first sight. french goal keeping future hugo lloris will at some point play hapoel, who has no one less than vincent enyeaman, goalie hero from nigeria at this year’s world cup. benfica can count with midfielder javier garcia, young real madrid talent who dreams of a national team career. the brazilian luisão, central defender, was part of he 2010 world cup squad. maxi pereira had a very successful world cup for uruguay, and who doesn’t know argentinian striker saviola, left back fabio coentrão and their captain, nuno gomes. not a bad team from benfica, who had a great season in 2009/10, but lost brazilian midfielder ramires to chelsea.

raul hopes to continue to lead all scoring statistics in the champions league...

it should be quite a battle with the other two favorites. schalke 04 has just bought atletico madrid midfielder jurado, ex-milan and ex-real madrid striker huntelaar (who just scored 5 goals in the first two euro qualifiers for the netherlands) – and, of course, real madrid legend raul. none of these were actually starters for their respective teams, but maybe they will find their football luck in germany. metzelder, 3 years at real madrid, is another one of those. peruvian farfan, future german full back höwedes, and american national jones are not well known in europe, but this might change. lyon’s captain is the brazilian cris, who didn’t make it in germany (leverkusen); the brazilians michel bastos and ederson, and the argentinians delgado and mostly lisandro lópez. the newest star is courcuff, who just ame from girondins bordeaux and is france’s rising star. striker gomis has a great future, toulalan is already very successful.

cl – group e

bayern munich (3/5), as roma (23/12), fc basel (96/57), cfr cluj (374/89)

ribery wants to finally become a world star this season...

bayern are the german powerhouse, roma is only second to inter in italy; at least has been for the last four or five years, where milan has been passing through a crsis. it seems like a run for first position in this group. bayern has world stars like robben (who will not play the group stage, since he player the world cup with an incredible injury), ribéry, lahm, schweinsteiger, müller and klose, and future stars like badstuber, contento and kroos. to put people like turkish star hamit altintop, ukraine captain tymoschuk, german national striker mario gomez and argentinian full back martin demichelis on the bench is a sign of quality. roma has quite a lot of quality, too: eight brazilians are there, the most famous being striker adriano, who is still looking for his physical form. juan is a world class defender, doni is a good goalkeeper, and julio baptista hopes to play more often this year. but it is totti’s team, and he is the star. de rossi is also very important for the team, which has played together for quite some years now. it seems that fc basel (most famous player is the swiss striker alex frei) and cfr cluj (captain cadu played for his native boavista porto) will be playing for the europa league, which is the third place.

cl – group d

fc barcelona (2/2), panathinaikos athens (26/32), fc copenhagen (103/50), rubin kazan (323/73)

carlos eduardo dreams of being brazil's next midfield star in the national team - and hopes to show his from for russian champs rubin kazan.

ok, i guess we agree that barcelona is through; the question will be if xavi, iniesta, messi, villa, puyol & co. will manage 18 points out of six matches. the run is for the second position, and my bet is on rubin kazan, even if the russians have much less experience than panathinaikos. rubin has been great in their home league, as current champions they have a chance to defend the title. adding to an already good team, the russians bought obefami martins (nigeria) and carlos eduardo (brazil), both from the bundesliga and both currently in their national squads. panathinaikos has some international stars, too: cissé, french striker, and gilberto silva, brazilian central midfielder, were both in south africa. but both of them are older, just like gouvou, who just joined the team after a decade of success at olympique lyon (and also played the world cup). other international veterans include spaniard luis garcia (ex-barcelona, atletico madrid and liverpool) and the greek european champion karagounis. a veteran team with the bigger names – will they reach the second round for the third time in a row? copenhagen would love to continue in european football after december and would be happy about a third place. veteran jesper gronkjaer will try to help his team get there.

el – group l

fc porto (12/13), besiktas istanbul (81/62), cska sofia (43/116), rapid vienna (39/111)

after playing for real madrid since teenager years, guti will now defend besiktas in the europa league.

this is by far the most interesting froup in the europa league, even more interesting than a champions league group. this is quite obvious, since porto has played champions league almost every year since the beginning of the tournament, and besiktas saw themselves in the cl, too. rapid vienna and cska sofica are both very traditional clubs, both are well within the best 50 in european history. and quite a few stars will play in this group. porto counts on uruguain internationals álvaro pereira and jorge fucile, who had a great world cup. otamendi played for argentina, and joão moutinho is a veteran for portugal; brazilian goalie helton is their captain. besiktas has famous goalkeeper rüstü (world cup 2002 star), the portuguese defensive winger quaresma, brazilians bobô and tabata, germans ernst and hilbert (both ex-national players) – and their newest star, real madrid’s guti. nihat is the most famous turkish player. cska sofia has michel platini – but don’t worry, he’s just an unknown brazilian player! at rapid, at least a known name: jan vennegoor of hesselink has had quite a successful career at psv eindhoven and celtic (including 17 matches for holland).

roger federer just a week away…

federer is looking for more grand slam glory - and the record in weeks as number one!

yesterday, roger federer played some incredible tennis. nothing new there, one should think. since 2004, he’s been constantly quite near to perfection.

constant, in his case, means being the number one player of the world in only two seperate periods. which means that after his climbing of the tennis throne over six years ago, he has only been away from the top spot for two periods. and we are currently in the second period.

the uncommon thing is that, for the first time since 04, he was the  number 3 of the world, this year. quite a crisis for someone as special as the swiss. for the greatest tennis player of all time, which will probably be his title after retirement. but, for now, there are still some records to break. and one of them is actually quite exciting.

pete sampras was the world’s number one for 286 weeks. that’s almost six full years, if you put it all together. roger stopped at 285. one week, and he will have that record under his belt, too – in almost half of the time.

nadal x federer - a classic already, and a repeat might be underway this sunday.

many people have started to doubt if federer could ever reclaim his throne. and he did give these critics some reasons during the season, loosing quite a lot more often than he is used to. but the match yesterday against söderling was quite an impressive proof that federer hasn’t given up yet. tomorrow, a good old matchup against djokovic. and maybe sunday, another classic final against nadal.

and for some reason, you just gotta root for that guy. in favor of the underdog doesn’t seem to apply to federer, who is also liked by his colleagues, and trully admired by fans, journalists and ex-players. let’s hope for some more swiss success! it make take quite a few weeks, but that extra week will come!

Published in: on September 10, 2010 at 16:03  Comments (2)  
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