Terry Duffelen
Wed 16 September 2009

Bundesbag Week 5 and Champions League Update - Two and a half out of three

Public displays of fake unity are never entirely convincing. Take Brown and Blair in the 2005 election campaign or Ritchie and Madonna in the final days of their marriage. However, the post-goal celebration between Franck Ribery and his boss Louis van Gaal was positively coital in its intensity. It had been suggested that the pair had been at odds but all that was put to one side as Franck, a second half substitute in Bayern Munich's game at Dortmund, scored from a magnificent free kick and ran into the arms of his beloved coach. Were the majority of the 80,000 spectators at Dortmund's Westfalon Stadion not so miserable they would have turned away in mild embarrassment.

The match ended 5-1 and put the cap on what has been a largely miserable weekend for yours truly. But while Franck stole the headlines, the match should also be remembered for two fantastic goals by Thomas Muller, making only his 9th Bundesliga appearance for Bayern. Muller turned 20 only last Monday and added to his tally on Tuesday against Haifa in the Champions League. The Bundesbag advises the discerning to keep a close eye on the young Muller.

With Bayern, seemingly back in business (although I'm far from convinced by their defence) the current champions Wolfsburg are having a decidedly mixed time of things. They welcomed joint table-toppers Leverkusen to the VW Arena hoping to end their run of two defeats. After half an hour, the Wolves had their keeper Diego Benaglio sent off for a professional foul. Things went downhill from there as the Bayer club took full opportunity of the man advantage with two goals from Rolfes (one being a harsh penalty in my view) and a third from Kiesling.

However, the Champions recovered themselves and scored two in reply. While they still lost the game 3-2, they remain unbowed. They can console themselves with their maiden Champions League win on their first ever appearance in that competition. Grafite was the hat trick hero as they beat CSKA Moscow 3-1. An impressive result. It also represent coach Armin Vey's first win at that level after his dismal run with Stuttgart a couple of seasons back.

Stuttgart are the Bundesliga's other Champions League team. Their preparation could have been better after going down 3-1 to the league's other leaders Hamburg. Coach Bruno Labbadia had some bad news after the World Cup qualifying weekend as Paulo Guerrero and Colin Benjamin returned with long term injuries. Fortunately, his squad is deep and goals from Mladen Petric, Eljero Elia and the excellent Ze Roberto sealed the win for the northerners. Russian international striker Pavel Pogrebnyak scored Stuttgart's consolation goal. He scored once again in the Champions League against Rangers. The game finished 1-1 and capped off an unbeaten start for the German clubs, although you suspect that Stuttgart will be dissappointed with a point.

Elsewhere, Frankfurt's decent start to the season continued at Freiburg with a 2-0 win to take them to fourth in the table. Berlin's wretched start to the season continued at Mainz with a 2-1 defeat. Hoffenheim's Vedad Ibisevic has yet to score since his return from injury but that's OK because the rest of his chums seem happy to fill in for him. Hoff beat Bochum 3-0. Nurnberg are finally off the mark thanks to a 1-0 home win against 'Gladbach. Bremen encountered stiff opposition against Hannover and had to settle for a point in a goal less draw.

Rooted to the bottom are Koln who will need to improve massively if they plan on being anywhere else. While Lucas Podolski equalised after Jefferson Farfan's 2nd minute opener, the German international looked wayward and undisciplined in attack. The two midfielders Petit and Maniche look unfit and more concerned with trying to win free kicks (although they can both play when they want to). To be blunt, they seem short of answers and deserved to lose 2-1 after Kobiashvili scored the winner. There is much work for their coach Zvonimir Soldo to do, unless of course, he is part of the problem.

Meanwhile, the .2 Bundesliga top spot is being shared by two of the coolest clubs in Europe, Union Berlin and FC St Pauli. Union shared 9 (nine) goals at the weekend with Paderborn at An der alten Försterei. It finished 5-4 to the Berliners.

That's it. Results and tables here.

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