Germany may have lost the Olympic final but they have much to be proud of.
1. Silver equals gold for Hrubesch.
Thirty-four years after firing home the winner as West Germany beat France on penalties in the semi-final of the 1982 World Cup, ex-Nationalmanschaft striker turned federation U21 and Olympic coach, Horst Hrubesch, belatedly had the tables turned on Saturday, his side agonisingly losing to Brazil in a shoot-out for gold in Rio.
But not all defeats are disasters and even though pitted against the likes of Brazilian superstar, Neymar, Hrubesch’s young guns quite easily could have prevailed, hitting the woodwork three times during the 1-1 draw in regulation.
“Do you see me crying?” laughed Hrubesch after the game, his last in charge before retirement. “I’ve everything to smile about. We had a great tournament. We didn’t get the gold, but nevertheless will leave here as winners. The boys have achieved something exceptional. I told them that before the penalty shoot-out. I’m overjoyed.”
And so he should he be. With no warm up fixtures, limited preparation time and a number of important player call-offs, Hrubesch effectively was working with one hand tied behind his back. Yet still managed to to assemble a competitive, cohesive outfit. No quest for marginal gains here. Just a happy group of youngsters responding to a jovial father figure.
2. Gomez before Zaza. And not only alphabetically
Keen to swop the Bundesliga no-mans land they currently occupy for considerably loftier terrain, Wolfsburg are banking on new striker, Mario Gomez, to spearhead the hoped-for revival.
The VW club had been rumoured to be close to securing the signature of Italy and Juventus front-man, Simone Zaza, but in the end, plumped for the safer bet of the 31-year-old German international, who after a spell in the doldrums, re-emerged last term with goals galore for Besiktas and praise a plenty for his work at Euro 2016.
While Zaza would have cost at least 25 million euros, the Wolves only had to pay Gomez’s contract-holders at Fiorentina seven million and for that relatively small amount, they have a line-leader of proven German top-flight pedigree: 132 goals in 197 games.
Indeed, since 2006, no other Deutschland-based marksman has proved more prolific. Gome is thought to have preferred a three-contract with Wolfsburg to a far more lucrative offer from English champions, Leicester City.
3. Bremen and RB Leipzig cut down to size
If Bremen didn’t have a cup complex prior to the weekend, they certainly do now. Their humiliating 2-1 defeat at third division, Sportfreunde Lotte, on Sunday was the fourth time in the last six years they have lost to a lower league side in the opening round of the DFB Cup and no one can say it wasn’t deserved.
Slipshod in defence – where new centre-backs Niklas Moisander and Lamine Sane appeared made of tissue – short on concentration and urgency and ill-disciplined; midfielder Fin Bartels seeing red late in the game.
Another giant-killing took place in the all-Saxon grudge match between second division Dynamo Dresden and Bundesliga new boys, RB Leipzig, the former fighting back from two-goals down to eventually win on penalties. RB captain, Dominik Kaiser the only one of ten players to miss.
4. Holding a torch for Lichtsteiner
Turin sports daily, Tuttosport, normally the place to go for insider information about Juventus, are claiming that Ruhr arch-rivals, Schalke and Dortmund are chasing the Italian champions’ Swiss international right-back, Stephan Lichtsteiner.
Now that Dani Alves has pitched up at the Vecchia Signora following eight glorious years with Barcelona, the indefatigable Lichtsteiner no longer is assured of starting slot in Massimiliano Allegri’s line-up and could well be tempted to a piece of high-end Bundesliga action.
The Switzerland captain, also on Chelsea’s watch-list, will cost around 12 million euros.
5. Bayern – no contest
As one might have expected, the vast majority of Bundesliga coaches are tipping the Bayern Munich star ensemble, champs for the past four years, to duly make it five in a row in 2016-17.
In a survey conducted by German press agency, dpa, 15 of the 18 elite bosses, predicted yet another Bavarian walk in the park, Thomas Tuchel of Dortmund refused to jump off the fence (“Let’s wait and see”), while the only one to show any originality was Hertha Berlin’s Pal Dardai, who backed Leverkusen to finally bag the big one.
“Leverkusen could be the surprise success story, ” said the Hungarian. “They have a really dangerous team. They are quick and have a good coach (Roger Schmidt). Anyway, it’s boring to always pick Bayern.”
The latter’s new man at the top, Carlo Ancelotti played his cards close to his chest: ” There are a lot of good teams. Dortmund should be our closest challengers. they have brought in some really talented youngsters. “