We at heinnews would like to present a new section of the website – German Football Check. This will be a regular check of the latest on-goings in German football – ranging from the Bundesliga to the German national team and from transfer rumors to latest signings. In general, this is an in-depth analysis of the latest in German football.
In the first installment, we break down Bayern Munich’s 2-0 loss against Inter Milan in the Champions League final. There is also the big news of Franck Ribery signing with Bayern until 2015 and German national team boss Joachim Loew has decided on his captain and goalkeeper – but he wants to wait until at least Wednesday to announce the decisions.
Champions League Final
Of course, we start in Madrid where Diego Milito twice scored as Inter Milan completed their historic treble with a 2-0 victory over Bayern Munich in the Champions League final.
Inter clearly deserved to win the game as they proved the more effective team. Bayern – playing without their suspended star playmaker Franck Ribery – were forced into taking the offensive initiative while Milan waited to push forward with their lethal counter attack.
But the first real chance came on Wesley Sneidjer’s free kick in the 18th minute for Inter. The shot was made quite a bit more difficult for Bayern’s keeper Hans-Joerg Butt as Hamit Altintop slightly redirected it with his head.
Inter grabbed the lead after 35 minutes on a fine execution right down the middle of the pitch. Keeper Julio Cesar’s high, long punt found Milito, who headed onto Sneidjer. The Dutch international read Milito’s superb rush and fed him a beautiful through ball and Milito was ice-cold in beating Butt to the right side for a 1-0 Inter lead.
Bayern came out of the changing room with a golden chance to equalize after just 20 seconds. Thomas Mueller had his pick of the sides but the young German international could only muster a shot directly at Julio Cesar with an Inter defender right on his heels.
That proved to be Bayern’s top chance to get back into the game. Inter shut down shop in the back again and waited to strike back on the counter.
And Inter did just that. Milito absolutely abused Bayern centre back Daniel van Buyten on his second goal of the game at the 70-minute mark. The Argentinean international Milito appeared headed towards the middle but turned towards the goalline, leaving van Buyten only a feeble swipe attempt with his back leg. And Milito beat a helpless Butt to the far right side for a 2-0 Inter advantage.
And the game was clearly over at that point.
Bayern had nearly 70 percent ball possession but could not solve the compact defense of Jose Mourinho’s Inter side. As Bayern coach Louis van Gaal said afterwards: “Attacking is much more difficult than defending.” And that was clearly the game.
Could Bayern have won if Ribery had not been suspended? Of course it’s possible that the French superstar could have better solved the odd situation than his replacement Altintop.
But the Inter defense was superb and was never really threatened. Cristian Chivu did a tremendous job on the right side against Bayern’s Dutch magician Arjen Robben – mostly on his own but also occasionally with help from an Inter teammate.
Bayern’s outspoken former president Franz Beckenbauer was sure of the reason Munich lost the game. “We would have never lost with Ribery. He was missing at all ends. It would have been an entirely different game. Nobody had the courage without him. In the final you have to play differently. You cannot have so much respect. You have to apply more pressure.”
Bayern coach Louis van Gaal did not agree with the Kaiser. “I think that is a lack of respect for my other players. Certainly, Ribery is a creative player. But we had big success without him as well. Altintop also did his job pretty well.”
“We missed a chance,” said Bayern midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger. “We are disappointed that we didn’t live up to our potential.”
“We were too scared in the first half. We were not courageous enough,” added Philipp Lahm
And captain Mark van Bommel said: “The better team did not win today – but the more effective.”
Despite the Madrid performance sparking tears instead of the triple, the Bayern fans gave an inspiration welcome to their Bundesliga and German Cup double winners.
“I know my home city. And I love my home city,” Munich native Lahm told a huge crowd at the team’s welcome ceremony on the City Hall balcony in downtown Munich.
The Munich fans were celebrating their wildly successful season in the streets Saturday night. And van Gaal was impressed with the Bayern faithful. “They are unbelievable. I will never forget them. We are alive again.”
Franck Ribery Stays at Bayern Until 2015
The past few months at Bayern were filled with headlines of Munich’s success on the pitch and news about Ribery off the pitch. There was the sexual scandal involving an underage prostitute as well as where he would play next season.
The matter of Ribery’s future was put to rest before the Champions League final as reports came out that the Frenchman was going to extend his 2011-expiring contract until 2015. Bayern and Ribery have since agreed to the deal and signed the contract – reportedly worth 10 million euros gross annually.
“My family and I are very happy to stay in Munich. The club has become a like a big family for me,” said Ribery about the extension.
Bayern president Uli Hoeness spoke of the start of a new era at Munich, which did win three straight European Cup titles in the 1970s. And Bayern seem to have the framework in line for a long run at the hardware.
Leaders like van Bommel, Lahm, Schweinsteiger, Ribery, Robben and Ivica Olic are locked up. None of that group is an aging star. And Munich are full of young, promising talents such as Mueller, Holger Badstuber, Diego Contento and 17-year-old David Alaba.
In addition, Bayer Leverkusen playmaker Toni Kroos will return to Bayern from his loan at Leverkusen and provide Munich with yet another offensive sparkplug.
Look for Bayern to add a defender or two to stabilize the backline, especially with van Buyten and Martin Demichelis both struggling with injuries during this season. With them on the sidelines, Munich were left scrambling a bit for answers until Badstuber and Contento stepped up. That may be the return of Dutch defender Edson Braafheid, who was on loan at Celtic during the second half of the season.
Loew Decides on Captain and Keeper, Decision to come after Wednesday
Now that the Champions League final is over, the focus moves to the World Cup. And there are plenty of questions revolving around the three-time world champions Germany.
German national team boss Joachim Loew has been forced to re-think his pecking order after captain and leader Michael Ballack went down with an ankle injury and will miss the World Cup.
The first question is who will replace Ballack in the midfield for Loew, who remains committed to playing with two defensive midfielders. The top contender appears to be Stuttgart’s Sami Khedira, who captained the German U21 side to the European title last summer. Toni Kroos is another option as the Ballack replacement.
Loew said he and his coaching staff have decided on whom will take over the captain armband from Ballack as well as whom will stand between the posts. But he will wait until at least Wednesday as the Bayern block of players – Lahm, Schweinsteiger, Miroslav Klose, Butt, Mario Gomez, Mueller and Badstuber – are not expected to arrive at training camp in South Tyrol until Tuesday or Wednesday.
It is highly like that a Bayern player will wear the captain armband. The main two favorites are Schweinsteiger and Lahm though Klose has the most caps of the current Germany group and is very well respected in the German camp despite his struggles this season at Bayern.
The race for Germany’s number one keeper is just as open. Schalke’s Manuel Neuer has the best chances but Werder Bremen’s Tim Wiese had an excellent season. And Butt leading Bayern to two titles gives him an excellent resume.
Butt was pretty much helpless on Inter’s two goals in the Champions League final while making a statement with some big saves on other Milan attempts. It’s hard to realize that Butt was a veteran security blanket to start the season as Michael Rensing’s backup at Bayern.
Bundesliga Transfer Talk
This first item is not the most current, but it has the biggest impact on a Bundesliga team as Kevin Kuranyi will be leaving runner-up Schalke and heading to Russian side Dynamo Moscow. Schalke boss Felix Magath is a mastermind and will find an efficient replacement as the striker in his counter attack system.
Greek striker Theofanis Gekas has left relegated Hertha Berlin to join Eintracht Frankfurt on a two-year contract. This one was no surprise as Frankfurt have a history with Greek internationals such as Nikos Liberopoulos and Ioannis Amanatidis.
Staying with Hertha Berlin for a moment. The second division side named sacked Stuttgart boss Markus Babbel as new coach. A nice move by Berlin, who are clearly looking to immediately return to the first division. Babbel was very successful at Stuttgart at end of previous seasons – after wild dashes up the standings in 2008 and 2009. Stuttgart were way down in the table after nearly half the 2009-10 season when Babbel got the boot in favor of Christian Gross. Stuttgart marched up the standings to finish in the Europa League while also advancing to the Champions League Round of 16. But while Gross gets all the credit, he didn’t change that much from Babbel’s team. Look for Berlin to be back in the top flight in 2011-12.
Werder Bremen are close to signing 19-year-old striker Felix Kroos from Hansa Rostock. Yeah that name should sound familiar as Felix is the younger brother of Toni Kroos. Imagine those backyard games. Felix – a right foot attacker as opposed to the left foot midfielder Toni – is a U19 German international. And he would fit superbly in Werder’s personnel management of signing young, talented offensive players – see Aaron Hunt, Mesut Oezil and Marko Marin.
And the final piece is that Cologne are desperately fighting to keep midfielder Zoran Tosic, who came to the Bundesliga on loan from Manchester United.