France has been beset by a summer plagued with stories of some of their stars ‘playing away from home’ – only just not in South Africa. Week Three of the Bundesliga saw their German counterparts prove they can work equally as well in foreign parts, and that they have no problems scoring either.
Coincidentally, German media reported during the week that Zahia – the pneumatically-enhanced young lady at the centre of allegations involving Franck Ribery, Karim Benzema and others – would be coming to Germany to earn herself €2m as a reality TV star. Though that may prove compulsive viewing, it will have to be pretty special to surpass the excitement of the weekend, which saw 39 goals scored in nine matches in which seven away teams emerged with all three points, the most spectacular of which was Mönchengladbach’s undressing of Leverkusen.
Tipped as title contenders before the season began, Jupp Heynckes’ men looked anything but as they were torn apart by the visitors, who are hardly likely to claim a top-five finish this season. “We played well and took our chances,” was how two-goal teenager Patrick Herrmann summed up his team’s 6-3 triumph, proving just how quickly players can flick through ‘A Footballer’s Guide to Understatement’ before adding: “There’s no reason to get carried away.”
If a first win in 16 years over one of your major rivals isn’t a good excuse to get the champagne out, then Michael Frontzeck’s men are clearly hard to please – perhaps Zahia might have better luck – but they’re not alone.
“Naturally, you also need a bit of luck in that kind of situation,” claimed Ivo Ilicevic, whose stunning long-distance strike paved Kaiserslautern’s way to a shock 2-0 defeat of Bayern. “The build-up to the goal was good. Tiffi [Christian Tiffert] played a great pass, Adam [Nemec] let it come through, and I just hit it well.” That’s at least one way to describe a goal of the season contender that means Kaiserslautern are in second place in the table as they go into their next game against Mainz, another team who took the breath away in Week Three.
Tuchel’s tea party
‘No Bancé, no goals, no chance’ was the accepted pre-season mantra, but Thomas Tuchel’s men have proved the doubters wrong again, though the porous Wolfsburg defence played – or rather didn’t play – their part in their own downfall. While Diego’s partnership with Edin Dzeko looks as if it could prove even more fruitful than that the Bosnia-Herzegovina striker had with Zvjezdan Misimovic, Steve McClaren clearly still has some tinkering to do at the back. Perhaps he could take a leaf out of Tuchel’s book as he produced the most unlikely of half-time team talks with his side 3-1 down. “I didn’t go round ranting and raving,” said Tuchel-the-non-teacup-thrower. “I told my players I trusted them, and transmitted peace and calm.”
It’s hard to imagine those words could be used to describe Felix Magath’s chat with his players after their home defeat against Hannover, and while it was the costly addition of Dutch forward Klaas-Jan Huntelaar that claimed all this week’s headlines, perhaps the bargain-basement capture of Lille centre-back Nicolas Plestan will prove equally – if not more – important. Schalke’s generous defending will again be put to the test at table-toppers Hoffenheim next Friday, a game you can see live on Eurosport 2 from 20:30CET, but there is no truth in reports that Magath is considering consulting Tiger Woods to pick up some tips about how to play away from home. Perhaps he should.
Don’t forget to check out Episode 7 of the Bundesliga podcast where Eurosport commentators Dan Levy and Ian Holyman discuss the incredible weekend in the Bundesliga, the last-minute transfers before the window slammed shut and just how much Sami Khedira’s name sounds like pop sensation Shakira. Listen to it by clicking HERE