Hoffenheim Appoint New Coach, Bundesliga Clubs Build for Season’s Second Half

While many Bundesliga fans have been busy during the holidays, several teams have been making moves that might have escaped our attention.  While Hoffenheim have a new head man, it looks more and more likely that prolific goal-scorer Edin Dzeko will leave VfL Wolfsburg for the riches of Manchester City.  Meanwhile, Borussia Dortmund have signed another young starlet, Werder Bremen are about to make a move to replace Hugo Almeida and FC Koln are making additions to avoid a relegation drop.

1899 Hoffenheim have already announced their replacement for departed coach Ralf Rangnick.   They kept things within the organization by naming former assistant Marco Pezzaiuoli as head coach.  The 42 year-old Mannheim native joined Hoffenheim in July as Rangnick’s assistant.  Pezzaiuoli is contracted through June, 2014.  He took the German U-17 team to the 2009 European championship, but is already downplaying eighth-place Hoffenheim’s chances for European play.  “Making it into international competition would be great, but it can not be a realistic goal,” Pezzaiuoli said.  “We want to play attacking, aggressive and courageous football,” he added.

Pezzaiuoli’s appointment comes shortly after Rangnick and Hoffenheim parted ways following Rangnick’s disappointment of the team’s sale of young midfielder Luis Gustavo to Bayern Munich.  Rangnick was not consulted about the sale.  Besides coaching at the German international youth level, Pezzaiuoli has coached at Karlsruher SC and in South Korea for the Suwon Samsung Bluewings.

The Rich Get Richer

Already holding first place in the Bundesliga at the winter break through the efforts of young stars Mario Gotze, Shinji Kagawa, Mats Hummels, Sven Bender, Kevin Grosskreutz and others,  Borussia Dortmund have added another outstanding young player to their squad for the future.  As anticipated, Dortmund signed 18 year-old midfielder German-Austrian midfielder from 2. Bundesliga club TSV 1860 Munich. 

Leitner, a 5’9″ native of Munich, is a highly coveted talent, but will not play for Dortmund in the second half of the Bundesliga 2010-2011 campaign as he has been loaned to 2. Bundesliga side FC Augsburg.  Augsburg currently hold the top spot in 2. Bundesliga, tied at 33 points with Hertha Berlin.  In addition to acquiring Leitner for their promotion run, Augsburg have also picked up Borussia Monchengladbach defender Jan- Ingwer Callsen-Bracker on a free transfer and Japanese defender Hagime Hosogai on loan from Bayer Leverkusen, who just signed the 24 year-old on a free transfer from the Urawa Red Diamonds of the J League.

Edin Dzeko Gone?

It’s been no secret that Bosnia-Herzegovinia international striker Edin Dzeko has been looking to transfer, with various suitors including Juventus, Bayern Munich and Manchester City.  According to ESPN Soccernet, it appears that Manchester City will win the bidding war for Dzeko’s services.   They report that VfL Wolfsburg have agreed to a 27 million Euro transfer fee for the talented attacker, and only an agreement between Dzeko and Manchester City for his personal wages has to be reached for the deal to be consummated.

Although VfL Wolfsburg and under-fire coach Steve McClaren are reeling in the 13th spot in the table after winning the Bundesliga title two years ago under Felix Magath, the loss of Dzeko would be a blow to the Bundesliga.  Certainly one of the most effective strikers in the world, Dzeko has been a consistent goal-scorer since joining Die Wolfe in 2007, netting 66 times in 111 matches.  I can understand Wolfsburg agreeing to the transfer as Dzeko has been consistent in his appeals to get European competition, and the transfer fee would give Wolfsburg the funds to bolster their roster.  But I do hate to see him leave.

Werder Bremen  Acquire Swede Denni Avdic

Like Wolfsburg, Werder Bremen have suffered a disappointing 2010 Hinrunde, languishing a spot below Wolfsburg in the table after gaining only five victories in the first seventeen Bundesliga matches.  After losing striker Hugo Almeida to Turkish side Besiktas, Thomas Schaaf have acquired Swedish international Denni Avdic from IF Elfsborg.  Aged 22, Avdic led the Allsvenskan with 19 goals in 29 matches last season.

Avdic was born in Sarajevo, but grew up in Sweden.  Although he has made one appearance for the Swedish national team, it was in a friendly and he is thus still eligible to play for either Sweden or Bosnia-Herzegovinia internationally.  Avdic is 6’3″ and can play in the midfield or upfront, although he figures to play on the front line for Schaaf’s north German club.

FC Koln Makes Moves to Avoid Relegation

FC Koln sit in the sixteenth spot of the table at the winter break, staring relegation straight in the eye.  Whether or not they can avoid the drop will be one of the many interesting stories of the 2nd half of the Bunesliga season, but whatever happens, FC Koln management has taken a proactive stance to stay in the top tier of German football.  As we reported last week, the Billy Goats have signed Japanese All-Star defender Tomoaki Makino.   Koln have also added former Bayern Munich goalkeeper Michael Rensing  on a free transfer and signed Polish international midfielder Slawomir Peszko from Lech Posnan and defender Christian Eichner from Hoffenheim.

Rensing had been with the senior Bayern Munich squad since 2003, playing in 53 contests.  The heir apparent to long-time star goalkeeper Oliver Kahn, Rensing was not able to hold onto the number one spot following Kahn’s retirement, losing out to veteran Hans-Jorg Butt, and was released at the end of last season.  Only 26, Rensing turned down an offer from English side Leicester City and will try to replace Koln fan-favorite Faryd Mondragon as number one in Koln.  Mondragon’s contract was terminated by FC Koln on December 31 and the Colombian international was set to sign with the Philadelphia Union of MLS.

Peszko is a 5’7″ midfielder with 16 international caps for Poland.  He scored a goal against Denmark in a 2010 international friendly.  The 25 year-old played for Wisla Ptock before joining Lech Posnan for the 2008-2009 season.  Eichner was born in 1982.  The 6′ foot defender played at Karlsruher SC before joining Hoffenheim for the 2009-2010 season


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Gerry Wittmann

Gerry is the founder of the Bundesliga Fanatic. Besides loving German football, he also enjoys the NBA, collecting jerseys and LPs, his pets and wishes he had more time for fishing, bicycling and learning the bass guitar.

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