1. Guardiola’s Saturday night special
Bayern’s penalty shoot-out victory over fellow Bundesliga hot-shots, Dortmund in the 73rd edition of the DFB Cup final was not merely a ‘Made in Deutschland’ clash of the titans.
As Pep Guardiola’s last game in charge of Bayern, the showpiece was the perfect opportunity for the Catalan tactical high priest to bow out on a high and this he duly did, signing off with the second domestic league and cup double in three seasons.
Most of the German press corps have found Guardiola to be the most glacial of cold fish. Aloof, prickly, uncommunicative. But he certainly did not play to type on Saturday, bursting into tears as soon as Douglas Costa netted the winning spot-kick. So much for his dispassionate image.
“When things come to end sometimes the dam bursts,” declared Bayern star, Thomas Müller in a post-match interview. “Up to this point, he’s had a job to do, but now can be a person again.”
The Dortmunder, beaten in each of the last three DFB Cup finals, could argue they deserved better. In spite of Bayern’s vastly superior possession stats (70:30), the better, more clear-cut chances fell to the Ruhr outfit and might well have prevailed if top scorer, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had not been unusually profligate in front of goal.
Bayern also were fortunate to retain a full compliment of players for the 120 goalless minutes. Late in the first-half, Franck Ribery, was clearly seen to poke his finger in the eye of Gonzalo Castro. Yet somehow got away with just a yellow card.
2. Watzke deselects Löw
The content of Joachim Löw’s 27-man preliminary squad for Euro 2016 is not likely to be a best-seller in Dortmund.
Despite the inclusion of trio (Mats Hummels, Marco Reus and midfield revelation, Julian Weigl), Dortmund CEO, Hans-Joachim Watzke, was quick to voice his displeasure, suggesting that at least four other Borussia stars deserved a call:
“German footbal must be in great shape if a team which has just picked up 78 Bundesliga points, only has three players called up. I think it’s a great shame that Marcel Schmelzer, Gonzalo Castro, Matthias Ginter and Erik Durm won’t feature.
“In such a tournament what you need is international experience and in the full-back positions, who has more of that than Marcel? There’s not one reason why he shouldn’t be a national team. This season, his performances have been incredibly strong. I’m not the only one unable to understand why he’s been passed over.”
3. Head of the class/front of the queue Leverkusen
No other top-flight side has started the summer recruitment campaign as decisively and sure-footedly as Champions League participants, Leverkusen, who within a week of the final curtain of 2015-16, had not one but two high calibre signings to announce in outstanding Austrian defensive midfielder, Julian Baumgartlinger and multi-purpose Hoffenheim and Germany forward Kevin Volland.
A marketplace blitz relying on two distinctive approaches. The cuteness to exploit the four million euro release clause in Baumgartlinger’s contract with Mainz. And the deep pockets to splash out a cool 20 million euros on Volland, outbidding big-spending Bundesliga new boys, RB Leipzig.
Both new arrivals should provide substantial added-value to the Rhinelander ranks. Baumgartlinger, Mainz’s skipper last term, is a fine blend of the combative and the strategic, while Volland guarantees pace, mobility and aggression in the attacking-third.
4. Augsburg-Schalke-Darmstadt: The Coaching Domino Effect
With their excellent young coach, Markus Weinzierl almost certain to move on to pastures new this summer, Augsburg are rumoured to want to fill the expected vacancy with Darmstadt’s Dirk Schuster, whose stock currently is in the stratosphere after transforming the seriously underfunded Lilies from third tier lost cause into competitive elite unit.
Weinzierl, under contract to Augsburg until 2019, is thought to be keen to take over at Schalke. But hell-bent on playing hardball, Augsburg are demanding four million euros plus in compensation, an unacceptable figure for the Royal Blue bean counters.
A possible solution for Schalke would be throw a player into the part-exchange mix. Perhaps German international winger Sidney Sam or up-and-coming centre-back, Marvin Friedrich.
5. This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both Both Of Us
You might have expected Werder Bremen to be all smiles and harmony following their dramatic eleventh-hour escape from the relegation chain gang.
Instead, the mood swiftly turned ugly, the northern club plunged into an acrimonious power struggle. The root cause? Differing views of the worth of coach, Viktor Skripnik, Chief executive, Thomas Eichin, insisting that the axe be wielded. The supervisory council resolutely playing the continuity card.
“Back me or sack me, ” effectively said Eichin. “You’re fired, ” retorted the board, who promptly installed former club skipper and central defender, Frank Baumann as the the new CEO.