Terry Duffelen
Wed 25 November 2009

Bundesbag Week 13 - Ozil reigns while Toni heads for the door

It's looking likely that the only thing that might save Luca Toni's career at Bayern Munich is coming to a close. Toni can feel the clock ticking down to the Big Show in South Africa and is probably very conscious of the fact that the Italian National Team coach is filling up and his name is not on the passenger list. In short, if he doesn't start playing and scoring regularly he'll miss out on what will be his last World Cup. His anxiety was finally given form this week after a blistering attack on Bayern coach Louis van Gaal which he gave in the form of an interview to an Italian TV Station:
"For four months, I have had a problem with Van Gaal. Everything has borders and our relationship is nearly at the end. I would like to return to Italy so I can start scoring goals again and get back into the national team."OK, as blistering attacks go this one can easily be treated by some soothing ointment in the right spot. It's hardly a stand up row in the middle of an open training session in front of the entire German media. Nevertheless, Toni's words were deemed strong enough to earn him a suspension and it seems almost nailed on for the Italian to leave Bavaria in January. Of course, given the amount of pressure Van Gaal is under at the moment there may be a change at the top. However, Toni's wages are high and you suspect that the powers that be at the club would probably carry his bags to the flughafen given the chance.

Bayern's woes did not seem to lift after the international break. Saturday's visit of the Bundesliga leaders Bayer Leverkusen seemed the perfect opportunity to put the upstart pretenders in their place and send a message that they are in this title race. The 1-1 draw was far from convincing for either side frankly although as the away side Bayer will claim the psychological victory for whatever that's worth at this stage of the season.

The Munich club face Haifa from Israel tonight in the Champions League with their chances of progressing through to the knockout stage hanging by a thread. If they fail to do so, few people will be surprised and the word is that Bayern will be in the market for a new coach. Who knows, if they've got a spare £20 million lying around they could buy Rafa out of his contract with Liverpool.

The Leverkusen result was mildly indicative of the weekend's fixtures in that it was not the best time to be a season ticket holder. Of the nine matches played five were away wins, three were draws and only one was a home win. The most impressive of the away day specials was probably Bochum's victory at Hamburg. The hosts are struggling under the weight of injuries and expectation. Despite that, Bochum's form has been wretched and there was little to suggest that they were capable of putting up much of a fight going into the game. But new coach Heiko Herlich had other plans and set his team up in the classic counter attacking style. Bochum absorbed, rode their luck and broke out when they could. Eventually they were rewarded by a goal from Dennis Grote which proved decisive and ended a four game losing streak.

Almost but not quite as impressive was Nurnberg's knockabout 3-2 win at champions Wolfsburg. The visitors took the lead with a goal from Swiss international Albert Bunjaku who was to score again after Ashkan Dejagah's equaliser. A controversial penalty was awarded to the Wolves on 79 minutes which Grafite converted. Tempers started to get a little frayed at this point and Zvjezdan Misimovic was denied a clear penalty at the end of the match after getting kicked in the bollocks by Nurnberg 'keeper Raphael Schafer. There was still enough time in the game for Nurnberg to rush forward and score the winning goal courtesy of Peer Kluge. An embarrassing result for Wolfsburg but a tremendous boost for the newly promoted side struggling to find their level.

Top player in the Bundesliga this weekend is Mesut Ozil in Werder Bremen's 6-0 (gerd) mullering of Freiburg. The young German International is destined to be a star in the World Cup and had a hand in all but one of the six goals. He scored one, won a penalty for another and supplied the killer passes for the rest. Freiburg's home record is nothing to write home about but that shouldn't take anything away from the comprehensiveness of Bremen's victory. If anything Werder look a better team now that Diego has left. Apart from anything else they no longer have to fill in for his frequent absences from the team due to injury or suspension. Defensively they are sound and in the attacking sense they are something else with Marin, Ozil, Aaron Hunt and Hugo Almeida providing the goals.

Elsewhere: Hoffenheim thrashed Koln 4-0; 'Gladbach beat Frankfurt 2-1; Lucas Barrios didn't score for once and neither did Dortmund against Mainz. The only home win took place in Gelsenkirchen under solemn circumstances as Schalke beat a Hannover side still grieving the loss of Robert Enke.

Finally Stuttgart's run at home is so dismal that they couldn't even beat Hertha. Everybody seems to be waiting for Markus Babbel's team to spring into life but it's not happening. Clearly the new signings have yet to settle (Pavel Pogrebnyak seeming the most hapless) but there are silver linings to the clouds hovering above the Mercedes Benz Arena. Mainly via the form of young Sebastian Rudy and the Serbian Zdravko Kuzmanovic who scored the late equaliser on Saturday and again against Rangers last night. Their pace and goals were key to the Champions League victory at Ibrox and also suggests why they play ever so slightly better away from home. Still, Babbel lives to fight another minute and I'm sure he'll look back and laugh at the end of the season when Stuttgart just squeeze Hamburg out of a Champions League spot on the last day. You heard it here first.

That's it. Results and tables here. Don't forget to follow the Bundesbag on Twitter here.

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