Living the European dream

by Michael Somerville

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

Bundesliga special

Current champions Bayern Munich were certainly not contemplating a domestic season as tough as this when they prepare for their vital Bundesliga match against VfL Wolfsburg on Saturday. With the two teams level on points (48) a point behind leaders Hertha Berlin, this weekend reads for fascinating reading. After Bayern cut the gap to the top with a scrappy 1-0 win over Karlsruhe last week- and amazingly, Jurgen Klinsmann first clean sheet victory since he’s been in charge, Bayern look like title contenders again.

Unlikey title contenders Hertha Berlin, with the even more improbable spearhead of Liverpool reject Andrei Voronin galvanising Hertha with 11 goals this season, they look likely to push Klinsmann’s team all the way. To put this into perspective in Premier League terms, it’s like Middlesborough leading Manchester United in the league with 8 games to go. Incredible stuff.

However, it’s not just Hertha Berlin that stands a good chance of winning the Bundesliga this season. VfL Wolfsburg face Bayern on Saturday with potent threat Grafite on top form- he’s hit 18 goals this season for the men in green. Volfsburg’s “magical triangle” of Misimovic, Dzeko and Grafite has scored 16 of Wolfsburg’s 18 goals since the winter break. The “three wolves” look unstoppable, but face a hard test this weekend with Lucio and Martin Demichelis residing in central defence for Bayern.

Finally, who can forget the amazing story of little Hoffenheim, the village club with a population of just 1,000 people who are currently in contention for European football next season. Bought by software tycoon Dietmar Hopp 18 years ago, the entrepreneur has poloughed in £120 million into the club, whilst maintaining that he is not an Abramovich character who is simply spending extortiante amounts of money on his expensive “plaything.” Insisting that he has the clubs best interest at heart- aiming to provide long term success and basing development on youth academies through to the under 12 age group, Hoffenheim look likely to be a strong team for many years to come. Dr Sulaiman Al-Fahim and Roman Abramovich take note… this is how you make a football club successful through personal investment. However, European qualification will be a struggle for 1899 Hoffenheim as Bundesliga top scorer Vedad Ibisevic is out for the rest of the season, and surely, top European clubs will come looking.

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