Never Mind The Ballacks

  • Controversial keepers kick up a stink

    Controversial German goalkeepers are nothing new but never has their notoriety been so great, with Thomas Kraft, Jens Lehmann and Co. making waves in the pressroom, the boardroom, the courtroom - and even the psychologists' couch.

    During a typically busy week of managerial changes (just the three Bundesliga clubs this time) goalkeepers have been at the forefront.

    No more so than at Bayern Munich, who sacked coach Louis van Gaal with immediate effect after a frustrating 1-1 draw at Nuremberg. Bayern, desperate for points to reach the Champions League next season, were cruising to victory

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  • The Crazy World of Schalke 04

    Any doubts that Schalke are the most curious football club in Europe were laid to rest after the Royal Blues' jaw-dropping 5-2 win at Inter.

    Schalke's bizarre week began when their relegation six-pointer at St. Pauli was abandoned after the referee was whacked on the head by a beer mug thrown by home fans. The team travelled to Milan, where they humiliated the European champions, in the process setting a set a record for goals scored by a German team in Italy. And in a delicious irony, they complete a frantic eight days this weekend by playing the team led by the nightmarishly unpopular coach

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  • Don’t mention the ‘R’ word

    Rock-bottom Mönchengladbach's hellish run-in means they look doomed, but real fireworks can be expected in the scramble to avoid joining them in the second division next season with the whole bottom half of the Bundesliga table - more or less - still staring into the abyss.

    The second half of the German season is an exact mirror image of the first, and if the teams from Schalke in tenth to Mönchengladbach repeat the results of the final seven games of 2010 in the remaining fixtures now left, their points tallies would be these come May 14.

    Schalke 49
    Kaiserslautern 42
    Frankfurt 41
    Cologne 39

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  • Bundesliga brings back the old boys

    German football loves theme songs. The AC/DC anthem ''Hell's Bells'' blasts around the Millerntor before St. Pauli players take to the pitch. Bayern Munich prefer the more august tones of Carl Orff's ''O Fortuna.''

    But right now, The Jackson 5 debut single ''I Want You Back'' is the most appropriate song for the Bundesliga.

    Clubs just can't resist hiring old boys to get them out of trouble.

    One of the most jaw-dropping managerial moves of recent seasons saw Felix Magath return to Wolfsburg last week. Champions League quarterfinalists Schalke, the club that had just fired Magath, decided to

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  • Van Gaal gets emotional

    The Bundesliga really has it all. Goals galore, huge passionate crowds, and - it seems - some of the very nicest footballers the game can offer, if the antics of Week 26 are anything to go by.

    At first glance, there would appear to have been very little charity on offer in Munich where Bayern and Hamburg celebrated a week in which both their coaches were left lame ducks with a crushing 6-0 triumph for the hosts. But the visitors' accommodating defence allowed Arjen Robben and Franck Ribéry the freedom of the Allianz Arena, giving them more than enough space to wreak merry havoc before Heiko

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  • Auf Wiedersehen to Van Gaal and Veh

    Louis van Gaal will pit his wits
    against Armin Veh this weekend. Both coaches are vastly experienced, with
    recent Bundesliga titles to their name. And this week both became lame ducks.

    After a series of embarrassing displays, Bayern
    finally showed Van Gaal the door
    . But unable to find a replacement at
    short notice, the Bavarians sheepishly added that the Dutchman would stay in
    charge until May.

    Hamburg
    have been bereft of ideas on the pitch lately, and they showed little
    creativity the very next day. They also fired their coach, explaining that
    the decision to remove Veh would only become

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  • How one Gomez helped another end goal drought

    Footballers can be a superstitious bunch.

    Legendary Argentine coach Carlos Bilardo banned his players from eating chicken before big games, claiming that doing so would bring bad luck. Johan Cruyff insisted on spitting a piece of chewing gum onto the opponents' half of the pitch, believing good fortune would come his way.

    A year after he became the Bundesliga's most expensive ever player, Mario Gomez needed all the good luck he could get. Bayern Munich were having their worst start to a Bundesliga campaign and Gomez had gone eight months without a goal.

    Then the burly striker saw TV pictures

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  • Klopp masterminds Dortmund revival

    Bayern Munich struck hardest in the war of words ahead of their crunch clash with Dortmund, but the performance of Jürgen Klopp's men on the pitch spoke volumes about just which club is best in the Bundesliga right now.

    Jürgen Klopp masterminded Dortmund's convincing victory at Bayern

    Although sparked by cheeky agent provocateur Kevin Großkreutz, Bayern bit hard in the pre-game verbal sparring. While Uli Hoeness predicted a win by two goals with his usual bravado, Franz Beckenbauer claimed, "We don't need any Dortmund players." Even the Bayern squad got involved. "It doesn't matter what

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  • A Mullering for Muller

    When he was a talented youth player at Bayern Munich, Thomas Muller was warned that - if he ever played for the first team - he would be on the receiving end of some tough tackling.

    But Muller could never have imagined that he'd be attacked by one of his own players, as well subjected to a grievous assault by an opponent, in the same match.

    That's exactly what happened to the 21-year-old last week during Bayern's match at Werder Bremen.

    Muller became a worldwide star at the 2010 World Cup, where he was named best young player and won the Golden Boot with five goals and three assists.

    But if

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  • McClaren gone, Van Gaal next?

    Foreign coaches have long been mistrusted in the Bundesliga and this week one Ausländer was shown the door while the employers of the only other plying his trade in Germany made it crystal clear that his future was in real doubt.

    Steve McClaren, the first Englishman to coach a Bundesliga club, was fired on Monday after an awful run of results that sees Wolfsburg just a point off a relegation play-off spot.

    The former England manager had a bizarre, but entirely appropriate, end to his six months in charge of Die Wölfe.

    Losing 1-0 at Hannover last Saturday, McClaren's men won a late penalty. A

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