Upwards and onwards for Wolfsburg after the loss of their Belgian playmaker.
1. Wolfsburg plan their renewal
Due to receive the princely sum of 95 million euros from the sale this weekend of brilliant attacking midfielder, Kevin De Bruyne (a whopping 75 million to Manchester City) and Croat schemer, Ivan Perisic (20 million to Internazionale), Wolfsburg have not wasted any time dipping into the windfall pot.
By Sunday, Wolves CEO, Klaus Allofs had sealed a deal to bring in Bayern Munich’s Brazilian centre-back Dante and 24 hours later, splashed out a club record 35 million on Schalke attacking-third starlet, Julian Draxler. Neither buy, though, has met with universal approval.
Since playing an integral part in Bayern’s historic Treble in 2012-13, Dante has lost a step or two, while for all Draxler’s extravagant skills and versatility, he does tend to be injury-prone and does not score enough goals.
Despite not fielding De Bruyne and Perisic in Saturday’s home encounter with Schalke, Wolfsburg still ran out comfortable 3-0 winners and it was interesting to see how coach Dieter Hecking set about reshuffling his pack, switching Portuguese right-back Vieirinha to Perisic’s right-midfield role and handing De Bruyne’s number ten slot to the recently-arrived Max Kruse.
The high-profile absences had no affect at all on the Green-and-White’s attacking fluidity and explosiveness, but not every opponent will be as accommodating as the work-in-progress Schalke.
2. Cracks in the Bayern dressing room?
Reporters at Bayern’s emphatic 3-0 defeat of Leverkusen at the Allianz-Arena on Saturday must have thought Christmas had come early when home team winger, Arjen Robben went out of his way in a post-match
interview to single out fellow wide-man, Douglas Costa for sharp criticism.
Irritated by the Brazilian new signing’s outrageous heel-flick late in the game, Robben slammed the party piece as ‘dubious’, describing it as ‘circus’ fare. ” Of course, the fans liked it, ” declared the Dutchman. ” But you shouldn’t forget to respect your opponents when they are 3-0 down. “
Naturally Bayern coach, Pep Guardiola, was keen to play down the affair: “That’s what Brazilians do. Neymar is exactly the same. Douglas is a good player and outstanding person. He always treats the opposition fairly. ” Message ends.
3. Damstadt: Baking for Survival
The type of modest, family-values club, where the mother-in-law of the chairman has a matchday ritual of offering a homemade cake to both host and visiting teams, newly-promoted Darmstadt are proving to be far less
easy to digest than her apple and butter specialities.
Yet to taste Bundesliga defeat this season – drawing all three of their matches so far against Hannover, Schalke and Hoffenheim – the Lilies have adapted to the top-flight remarkably quickly, resilient, well-organised and awash with players, who have been rejected elsewhere and are on a redemption mission.
What they lack in modern facilities at their Böllenfaltor stadium, they more than make up for in heart.
4. Double trouble for Hamburg and Spahic
Hopping mad after his side lost 2-1 at Köln to a hotly-disputed late penalty and had Bosnian central defender Emir Spahi sent-off for conceding it. Hamburg coach, Bruno Labbadia had every reason to feel that he and his side had been the victims of a gross injustice. Contact between Spahic and Köln frontrunner, Anthony Modeste appeared minimal, but with the latter falling dramatically to the ground, referee, Deniz Aytekin unhesitatingly applied the double sanction.
Even Köln general manager Jörg Schmadtke thought the decision a ‘gift’ and according to Labbadia, the call was heavily influenced by Spahic’s bad boy history, his poor disciplinary record and sacking from Leverkusen last spring for fighting with stewards.
As is often the way with German referees, Aytekin publicly denied the charge of judging the man and not the evidence: ” We don’t mention individual players. The only basis for a decision is what we observe on the pitch. “
5. Weigl the revelation
In their perfect start to the season – three games, nine points and an 11:1 goal-difference – Thomas Tuchel’s revamped Borussia Dortmund have looked the sharpest, most co-ordinated unit in the country and within
that well-oiled machine, no one has impressed more than new 19-year-old defensive midfielder, Julian Weigl.
Bought this summer from 1860 Munich, he had been expected to start 2015-16 on the Westfalen bench, but thanks to a string of excellent displays in pre-season, now finds himself an automatic starter, so composed, so watchful and so accurate in his distribution that the much more experienced likes of Sven Bender and Gonazalo Castro have been relegated to understudy duty.
“Julian is a really diligent learner, ” says Tuchel. ” He looks to stretch himself every day in training. “