1. A gong for Boateng
Arguably the best back-line operative in the world at the moment, Bayern Munich and Germany centre-back, Jerome Boateng, has been voted the country’s Player of the Year for 2015-16.
In a poll of the country’s sports journalists organised by Kicker magazine, Boateng picked up 163 votes out of a possible 674, finishing a country mile clear of his nearest challengers, Bayern teammates, Thomas Müller (95) and Robert Lewandowski (90).
Boateng is the first defender to win the award since Borussia Dortmund stopper Jürgen Kohler back in 1997. Recognition at long last for those who sweat blood for clean sheets.
Tipped by many to be Bastian Schweinsteiger’s successor as Nationalmannschaft captain, Boateng admits he has been giving the armband some thought.
“I’d like the job and it would suit me,” he said in an interview with Kicker. “However, there are other great players who could do it too. Of course, it would be a signal. It would be a huge honour to be the first coloured person in Germany to have the role.”
The Coach of the Year prize deservedly went to Dirk Schuster for keeping Darmstadt in the elite on a parks and recreation budget. Typically, he sought to share the limelight.
“Everybody at the club made the miracle of Darmstadt possible, ” said Schuster, who left the Böllenfalltor this summer to take over at Augsburg. “From the president to the cleaning ladies, everyone put their ego to one side.”
2. Bayern back in the winning groove
Just 34 days into his reign, new Bayern coach, Carlo Ancelotti already has bagged his first trophy, leading the reigning champions to a 2-0 victory at arch-rivals, Dortmund.
This was no pre-season exhibition game shorn of intent and tempo. In front of a full-house of 81,000 at a white-hot Westfalenstadion, the Big Two tore into each other from start to finish and both could be satisfied with their night’s work.
Dortmund especially dominant in the first-half, though wasteful in their finishing. Bayern proving more incisive and ruthless following the restart, sealing the win with goals from Arturo Vidal (58 minutes) and Thomas Müller (79).
One of the main talking points of the evening was the notoriously short-fuse temper of Bayern winger, Franck Ribery, who easily could have seen red for lashing out at young Dortmund right-back, Felix Passlack.
“Franck is a hot-head, ” declared Dortmund midfielder Sebastian Rode, who for the previous two years was a teammate of the Frenchman at Bayern. “In a normal Bundesliga game that would have been a sending off. ”
3. When not even five is enough
Twenty-seven-year-old Freiburg centre forward, Nils Petersen certainly enjoyed himself in the German Olympic team’s 10-0 group phase hammering of Fiji at the Brazil Games, scoring no fewer than five times as the DFB side sealed their place in the last-eight.
The ex-Cottbus, Bayern and Bremen striker, one of the three over-age players in the Deutschland squad, is the first footballer to achieve a quintuple at the Olympics since Tokyo in 1964 and boy was he proud.
“No one can take these five goals away from me,” said Petersen. “I’m not going to apologise for it. I know that many will say it was only Fiji.”
Not that it did him much good, only a late substitute in Germany’s next match, the 4-0 quarter-final romp against Portugal. A tough, unforgiving business football. One day, history maker. The next, benched.
4. Darmstadt add Magyar spice
Fresh from a commendable European Championship with Hungary’s surprise packets, Werder Bremen attacking midfielder, Laszlo Kleinheisler is to join fellow top-flight outfit, Darmstadt on a single season loan.
The diminutive 22-year-old red-head only joined Bremen last January early this year, but found it hard to make an impact, mainly restricted to the odd substitute appearance.
Kleinheisler is an identikit Liliesacquisition – gutsy, industrious, enterprising and very much with a point to prove.
In other positive news for Darmstadt fans, wing-flyer, Marcel Heller has pledged to stay put, opting not to follow through on the transfer request he made a few weeks ago.
5. Zaza for Auto City?
Gazzetta dello Sport are reporting that Juventus striker, Simone Zaza has agreed to a five-year contract with Wolfsburg.
The Lower Saxon club’s CEO, Klaus Allofs has confirmed the Italian international was in town over the weekend for talks, but is advising caution, reiterating that the Wolves and Juve were yet to settle on a fee.
Zaza, also thought on the radar of West Ham, Napoli and Roma, will not come cheap. Juventus are demanding at least 25 million euros.
Wolfsburg could be on the verge of losing a big-name centre-back. Brazil’s Dante is rumoured to be trying to force a move to French side, Nice, where he would link up with his old Gladbach, coach, Lucien Favre.