The Bundesliga returns this weekend after its winter break to a collective shrugging of shoulders by the blind, who cannot see past Bayern Munich’s predictable lead.
Where’s the entertainment in a race that’s already run? Or so the arguments go ad infinitum. But this short-sighted view could not be further from the truth.
An intriguing game of thrones is set to play out in Bavaria and beyond in the coming months as the identity of FC Hollywood’s next permanent head coach comes into view.
Unlike the title race, in which the perpetual champions hold a nine-point advantage ahead of Friday’s trip to rapidly improving Bayer Leverkusen, there is no obvious candidate in view as 290,000 Bayern club members and millions of fans across the globe achingly await developments.
Will the ongoing charm offensive towards caretaker Jupp Heynckes convince the 72-year-old to further interrupt his retirement? If it doesn’t, a viable alternative has to emerge in the second half of 2017/18 – a position complicated by an avowed decision to go for a native German speaker after Italian Carlo Ancelotti’s winter implosion.
This is where considerable interest lies and why the Bundesliga remains essential viewing, in its entirety.
No matter the inevitability of a sixth-successive “Deutsche Meisterschale”. Hoffenheim’s “wunderkind” Julian Nagelsmann, RB Leipzig’s Ralph Hasenhuettl and Eintracht Frankfurt’s former Bayern stalwart Niko Kovac all appear potential candidates, to varying degrees. Beyond them, could another World Cup win, or even a flop, convince Joachim Low to break a contract that runs until 2020?
Will it be the coaching brilliance or ensuing baggage that prevails when judging the merits of combustible ex-Borussia Dortmund tactician Thomas Tuchel? It’s a long shot, but could Jurgen Klopp be prised from the Premier League and Liverpool?
Loved by the players, cherished for his treble in 2012/13 and immensely valued after winning 17 of his 18 games since inheriting a rabble from Ancelotti in October. It is clear why Heynckes is the favoured option for returning club president Uli Hoeness.
Seemingly, these merits do not matter to the content Heynckes.
“There won’t be a change of mind regarding my future,” he said. For a club which prides itself on forethought, Bayern appear surprisingly ill-prepared for the apparent inevitability of a summer exit.
A dawning realisation as the Bundesliga chugs on will take hold. It has to.
Nagelsmann appears next in line, but doubts are obvious. How will World Cup winners and living icons such as Thomas Muller, Mats Hummels and Manuel Neuer react to a 30-year-old boss?
The Hoffe revolution has also taken several wayward turns after last term’s historic run to fourth.
Nagelsmann was out-thought by Klopp as Liverpool prevailed in the Champions League’s play-offs, while domestically they are slightly off the pace in seventh.
An improvement in form will be essential to ease doubts, beginning with Saturday’s trip to rebounding Werder Bremen.
Dortmund would seem a better fit at present if Nagelsmann decides to disobey Dietmar Hopp’s call to stay where he is until at least 2019.
A further complication which could then impact Bayern is how Peter Stoger gets on at BVB. With four wins and one loss after replacing the disastrous Peter Bosz, contentment could emerge.
Then, we move onto the outsiders. Hasenhuettl’s self doubt and feverish tactics appear an ill-fit despite Hoeness’ recorded admiration.
Kovac’s candidature is weakened by a lack of experience. Even less is certain when it comes to assessing the prime cuts of Low, Klopp and Tuchel. Contenders for the crown are spread throughout the league and beyond. Yet none are nailed on.
Their fates will ebb and flow as the games fly by. This footballing soap opera is not to be missed.
Robert Lewandowski has fired his way into 10th place in the list of the Bundesliga’s all-time top scorers as the Polish striker just keeps on hitting the net.
Lewandowski rescued Bayern with a second-half winner in Wednesday’s 1-0 victory over bottom side Cologne as the league leaders struggled to break down a determined defence at the sold-out Allianz Arena.
“It is unbelievable that he is in the top 10 – he is simply a goal hunter,” Arturo Vidal said of his team-mate as Bayern went nine points clear at the top of the table.
The Poland international has now scored 21 goals in 24 games in all competitions this season, plus five more in World Cup qualifiers to help book Poland’s place in Russia.
Lewandowski’s goal against Cologne was his 166th since 2010 in Germany’s top flight – a tally achieved with Bayern and former club Borussia Dortmund.
He is in good company as Bayern head coach Jupp Heynckes is third on the list with 220 goals scored for Borussia Moenchengladbach and Hanover 96 between 1963 and 1978.
— Bundesliga English (@Bundesliga_EN) December 13, 2017
But Lewandowski is a distance off the record 365 goals scored by Bayern and West Germany legend Gerd Mueller.
The 72-year-old former World Cup winner, nicknamed ‘Der Bomber’, netted the phenomenal tally between 1964 and 1979 – and Lewandowski is not even halfway to that mark.
The 29-year-old Poland forward is also 25 goals short of becoming the highest-scoring active player in Germany.
Veteran Peru striker Claudio Pizarro, 39, now at Cologne, has scored 191 goals over multiple stints at Bayern and Werder Bremen.
Lewandowski has twice lifted the ‘Golden Cannon’ trophy, awarded to the Bundesliga’s top scorer, and narrowly missed out to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang last season despite a return of 30 goals in 33 league games.
Provided by AFP Sport
The club announced the news in a press conference on Sunday, carried on their social media channels.
Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke said: “Last night, in a conversation with Peter Bosz, we decided that we would release him with immediate effect. It was very emotional, but also respectful.
“On behalf of all at Borussia, I would like to thank Peter Bosz. We still consider him a great coach and person.”
Dutchman Bosz took over the Bundesliga club in the summer but, despite a strong start, their form has deserted them and he has come under increased pressure.
Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Werder left Dortmund seventh in the Bundesliga, while they exited the Champions League after finishing third in Group H behind Tottenham and Real Madrid, failing to win a match in the group stages.
The club announced that former Cologne boss Peter Stoger would take charge of the team until the end of the season.