Two more weeks left in the first half of the Bundesliga and the race to be “Fall Champion” is full on. How important is it for a team to be on top of the table before the winter break? For the past 15 years, teams who led at the halfway mark, 10 of them have gone on to win the season championship. This informal title is important for FC Bayern. The last seven times they have been on top, they have gone on to win the Bundesliga season title six times (’92-93 was the last time they didn’t win it). Werder Bremen are only one point behind Bayern in the standings and are looking to reverse their fate from last year when, as ‘Herbst Meister’, they lost the season title on the last day of the season to VfB Stuttgart. This week’s matches will allow Bayern, Bremen, and Hamburg to get some ‘easy’ points – they all play teams at the bottom of the table. Points this week are crucial, next week the matches will get tough – both in the league and in their respective European matches. I’ll preview the European matches on Tuesday and recap on the show on Wednesday.
A closing note on my point about Juergen Klinsmann importance to the success of the German team in last year’s World Cup: Let’s look at Steve McClaren and his tenure with England. He had arguably the best footballers on the team outside of Brazil, and definitely more star power than Germany – I’d say talent-wise equal between the two. You would think they would just have to show up and they would qualify for the Euros next summer. Ah, not so fast. England in soccer is like Notre Dame in football, the Lakers in basketball, and the Yankees in baseball. When they come to town, the other team will bring their ‘A’ game. It happened in Russia, and most definitely against Croatia – matches they had to win. They key for a team with that much talent has got to be the coaches – their tactics, their emotional puppetry with their stars – the players feed off that. McClaren just couldn’t get it done. And he paid with his job. And now, thats why Klinsmann, along with well-known motivator Jose Murinho, is considered a candidate to take over. Everyone can see Klinsmann’s affect on the team in the hit docu-movie ‘Deutschland ein Sommermaerchen’ – Germany a Summer’s Dream’. I have yet to find a copy with English subtitles, but you don’t have to understand the language to see the effects of his locker room speeches. How do you say, ‘win won for the Gipper?’ in German.