Bundesliga MatchDay 20: What Did We Learn? Part Two

In Part 2, Zulquar presents his thoughts on two Bayer Leverkusen stars, while from the icy, snowy American midwest Gerry takes brief looks at SC Freiburg’s success and the departure of American players from Bundesliga.

 
Don’t Count Out your Ballack’s Just Yet

Bayer Leverkusen comfortably won their top of the table clash with Hannover 2-0. And a joyous occasion was made that much more memorable by the fact that Michael Ballack played the full ninety minutes and looked as assured as ever. The Germany captain was quick on the tackle, crisp with his passing and consistently got involved in play displaying good vision. With 94 ball contacts Ballack was also one of the busiest players on the pitch. It is very easy to forget after a miserable 2010, but when on form, Ballack is still one of the best midfielders in Germany. It remains to be seen whether he can reach that level of play on a consistent basis at this age, but ruling him out of contention might be foolish, despite the fact that it might be in Germany’s best interests to look forward. Ballack will still likely miss the cut for the Italy game, but the next squad selection, if he is fit, will be very interesting.

Arturo Vidal is a Fabulous Player

Not many people know about Arturo Vidal outside of Chile or Germany, but the pint size midfielder is the consummate dynamo, capable both in defence and while going forward. Fielded by Jupp Heynckes as the most advanced of his midfield trio that also comprised Ballack and Simon Rolfes, Vidal’s role against Hannover was to support the striker Stefan Kiessling at every opportunity.

It is a slightly different role than what he is used to having mostly carried out defensive duties so far for both his national side and Bayer. But on Friday, Vidal took to his new task like a fish to water. He was instrumental in the best moves of the game, combined brilliant with the players ahead and around him and scored a fantastic left foot volley to boot. If he keeps up this form Europe’s sharks will be looming over him soon.  – Zulquar

SC Freiburg’s Robin Dutt Proves Himself Again

SC Freiburg’s head man, Robin Dutt, had been without Papiss Demba Cisse in Freiburg’s last three matches.  Cisse, tied with Mario Gomez for the Bundesliga goal-scoring, was suspended for Freiburg’s Hinrunde ending match at BayArena and missed his team’s first two post-winter break fixtures because of injury.  Despite the absence of the powerful Senegalese striker, SC Freiburg avoided running aground by gaining a point in each match without Cisse.  With Cisse’s return this week against Stuttgart, Dutt’s men earned all three points in their 1-0 victory over Die Roten of Stuttgart, and are secure in the Bundesliga table’s sixth berth.
 
Robin Dutt

Dutt, 46, joined Freiburg in 2007, replacing Volker Finke, who’s sixteen year tenure leading the Baden-Wurtenburg club is the lengthiest association of any coach with one club in German professional coaching history. Dutt’s previous coaching experience at lower-level German sides Stuttgart Kickers and TSF Ditzingen did not necessarily indicate that he was ready to manage in the high-profile 1. Bundesliga, but Dutt continues proving any doubters wrong.  After keeping SC Freiburg up during their inaugural Bundesliga run last year, Dutt is showing that he is not only tactically capable, but quite adept in man management and leadership skills.

While gaining three draws in three consecutive would not normally be cause for celebration, to do so for with a young team missing its star player allowed the Freiburg players to maintain their confidence and poise, and reinforce the feeling that they can hang with the big dogs of the Bundesliga successfully.  Dutt, the Koln-Lindenthal native of Indian descent, has truly done a remarkable job.
American Players Leaving the Bundesliga
 
It was no surprise that out-of -favor Schalke midfielder and American international Jermaine Jones left Gelsenkirchen on a January loan, with Jones ending up with Blackburn Rovers of the EPL.  Now, however,the departure of American international Michael Bradley from Borussia Monchengladbach also looks imminent, as he didn’t make the squad for the Foals on MatchDay 20 and is rumored to be headed to Aston Villa.  The latest reports indicate that Bradley is already in England undergoing a physical evaluation with Birmingham club.
Hopefully the departure of Jones and Bradley does not constitute a trend.  One of the best marketing tools that the Bundesliga can utilize in growing their status among North American fans is the presence of American, Canadian and Mexican players contributing successfully for German clubs.   While Hannover captain Steve Cherundolo is a fixture in league play, he currently is the only American receiving receiving regular playing in 1. Bundesliga following last week’s injury to Eintracht Frankfurt’s Ricardo Clark.  Hopefully Ingolstadt’s Edson Buddle will build on his debut goal in 2.Bundesliga action, but German clubs will be making a mistake in marketing and adding to their talent bases by overlooking North American talent.  – Gerry
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Gerry Wittmann

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4 Comments

  1. Vidal is criminally underrated. The guy is the quintessential modern midfielder. His temperament aside, I don’t see a flaw in his game. He has played just about everywhere on the pitch in his career and it has made him a fantastic all around player.

    Heynckes has the confidence to play him all over the pitch and know he’ll contribute. I think this has culminated in him being given a more “free” role just because he is such a dynamic and influential player.

  2. Americans In Germany this weekend: . German-American Timothy Chandler made his 2nd appearance for 1.FC Nurnberg this weekend, while Mainz’ Daniel Williams is out with a knee injury. In 2, Bundesliga action, Luis Robles got the clean sheet for Karslruhe while fellow GK David Yelldell helped Duisburg split points with 1860 Munich, featuring the debut of American Bobby Wood as a late substitute.
    Edson Buddle came on to play the last 30 minutes for Ingolstadt in their draw, as a training session ankle injury limited Buddle’s availability.
    Hertha Berlin’s Alfredo Morales was an unused sub while Matt Taylor scored on a PK for RW Ahlen in Liga3. Not sure what is going on with DaMarcus Beasley at Hannover, who hasn’t even made the bench lately there.

  3. I agree with your sentiments. Ballack deserves a chance to represent for Germany in the future if he shows he’s all the way back to fitness and effectiveness. Thank you for your comment, and please feel free to comment anytime in the future on our posts.

    For more on Michael Ballack, see Zulquar’s December article, “My Favourtie Footballer — Michael Ballack” on the Equaliser blog.
    http://equaliserfootball.com/2010/12/12/michael-ballack/

  4. I remember the time when Ballack was the only german player that was respected world wide. Early to mid 00’s, he was the lone shining beacon of german football. He deserves to be treated with respect and given a serious run at national team.

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