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Three things that went through my head during Bayern Munich v. Bayer Leverkusen September 24, 2011

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in German soccer.
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The big man up front.

1. I thought Anatoly Tymoshchuk was supposed to be a bad passer. Does anyone else remember this? When Bayern dropped Tymoshchuk and then later converted him to a center back, I thought that was because he was too slow to release the ball. Against Leverkusen, he definitely got all the time he liked to pick out a ball, but I could find no fault with his vision, timing or technique. The pass of the night was his long diagonal to find Thomas Muller on the right flank. Did I remember wrong, were his critics wrong, or has he just completely changed his game since he left Shakhtar Donestsk?

2. Bayern was so dominant it was boring. Is this what it’s like to watch Barcelona if you’re not a fan? I found the wit of Toni Kroos’ deliveries, Bastian Schweinsteiger’s dynamism and the aforementioned Tymoshchuk passes satisfying, but by and large there wasn’t much to hold on to. I went and did something else during the second half.

3. Mario Gomez, near-dinosaur. The ESPN commentator claimed it would take 200 million Euros to pry the striker from Bayern’s clutches, but that’s surely delusional. Gomez lives just on the cusp of top-level obsolescence. Though he is clever and aware, he is not a creator, and he lacks the searing pace of many top big-man forwards. He only gets away with this because he is both a flawless goal-poacher and a perfect target man; that is, a composite of both the traditional roles of a number nine. But there’s a reason those two roles are both near-anachronisms. Bayern uses Gomez correctly — it takes iron discipline to avoid lumping the ball at such a willing target when the ideas dry up — but he limits the team. You get the sense that crossing the ball for Gomez is the only way they’ll score from open play. He can only stretch a defense horizontally, across its box, rather than vertically, either by forcing it to turn or by tempting defenders upfield by dropping deep. They know dropping deep would be a waste of Gomez’s time. I don’t think any nine-figure offers are going to be coming in for him.

Am I falling in love with German soccer? August 27, 2011

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in German soccer.
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Is this the future?

I just had an almost religious experience, my first German league game in three or four years. It may have been a scoreless draw, but there was something uniquely compelling about Bayer Leverkusen v. Borussia Dortmund. I’m used to the rancor and staleness of English soccer or the foregone conclusions of Spanish soccer, but this was different. There is something positive about German soccer that goes beyond the field, an atmospheric feelgood factor.

It could have been that this was an exciting game between two very aggressive teams. Dortmund is, on that evidence, certainly one of the top four teams in the world. Leverkusen also has a lot of zip and promise about it, and Andre Schuerrle is especially exciting.

I think I may be converted. I had so much fun watching that game and I want more … although it wouldn’t surprise me if Augsburg v. Kaiserslautern, for example, was a good deal less exciting.

Bayer Leverkusen v. Borussia Dortmund halftime thoughts August 27, 2011

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in German soccer.
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  • Michal Kadlec is having a decent game against Mario Goetze, but his yellow card was a reminder that defenders are only really allowed one mistake.
  • Sometimes, it seems, Mats Hummels tries too many Hollywood passes.
  • I haven’t watched a German soccer game in years and this is the first time I’ve seen this Borussia Dortmund team. I’m floored by their quality. In particular I am impressed with Ilkay Gundogan, Goetze, Hummels and Neven Subotic.
  • Stefan Kiessling would be perfect for the Premiership.
  • The game’s restarting, so I’m going to return to it.