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Ribery, Huntelaar and other Bundesliga stars set to shine at Euro 2012

Euro 2012 is only a couple of weeks away now, with most nations compiling their initial squads for the tournament and starting to prepare for the competition start on June 6th. Some of the leading players from La Liga, the Premier League and Serie A will be represented, however Euro 2012 betting tips could be impacted by the involvement of a host of players from the Bundesliga. Here are the top five Bundesliga stars ready to impress in Ukraine and Poland.

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar

The former AC Milan and Real Madrid forward has had an excellent season this term, impressing for both club and country. The Netherlands international topped the Bundesliga scoring charts this campaign with 29 goals for Schalke, and also netted 12 times for Bert van Marwijk men in European Championships qualifying. Despite Robin van Persie being earmarked as the Oranje main attacking threat and the skill of Bayern Munich’s Arjen Robben, Huntelaar has the ability to be a star this summer.

Franck Ribery

The Bayern Munich attacking midfielder continues to show his class and calibre for the Bavarian giants, and after scoring for Jupp Heynckes men against Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals. Ribery will be tasked with providing Karim Benzema will goalscoring opportunities and will be charged with offering Les Bleus precision and creativity. Skill, guile and accuracy, Ribery will be one of the main talents at the tournament.

Mats Hummels

The majority of the Germany side ply their squad in the Bundesliga, with Joachim Low’s men one of the favourites for the tournament. Although the German side have some excellent attacking players, Borussia Dortmund central defender Mats Hummels could well play a key role for the team. The centre half has grown in stature over the last 24 months to help the Signal Iduna Park club to consecutive Bundesliga titles. The 23-year-old is a crucial member of the national set-up, and has the ability to follow in the illustrious footsteps of legendary defenders Matthaus, Beckenbauer and Sammer.

Robert Lewandowski

The Borussia Dortmund marksman has had quite the season, making the centre forward position in the champions’ line-up his own by ousting Lucas Barrios, and providing 22 goals in the team’s title charge. The hopes of co-hosts Poland will rest of Lewandowski shoulders, and if the eastern European nation are to make any strides in the tournament the 23-year-old will need to replicate his club form on the national scene. Lewandowski is currently being linked with a move to Manchester United, and a strong Euro 2012 could see him leave the Bundesliga for a leading European club.

Ivica Olic

Croatia have been drawn in a tough Group C alongside holders Spain, Italy and Republic of Ireland, and will need to be at their best to progress through the pool. Although Premier League stars Luka Modric and Nikica Jelavic will be expected to deliver, veteran Bayern Munich attacker Ivica Olic could well play a key role for Slaven Bilic men. The 32-year-old forward has largely played second fiddle to Mario Gomez at the Allianz Arena this term, but showed his ability when given an opportunity against Marseille in the Champions League quarter-finals, scoring both goals in a 2-0 victory.

Published – Bundesliga Fanatic

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Manchester United vs Manchester City, Arsenal vs Tottenham and the transfer battles for Europe’s best this summer

After going head-to-head in the 2011-12 Premier League season, the nation;s top five clubs are ready to do battle off the pitch and in the transfer market this summer. Here are the top five transfer wrangles expected between the Premier League big boys.

Eden Hazard – Manchester United vs Manchester City

Ligue 1 Player of Year Eden Hazard has been all over the media this week after announcing that a move to one of the Manchester clubs was on the cards; there is no doubt that the two fierce local rivals will be desperately fighting over the highly-rated 21 year-old in the coming days.

A dramatic last-day finish meant that noisy neighbours Manchester City were crowned 2011-2012 Premier League champions and considering their quest for world domination, many believe the Belgian starlet will favour a move to Roberto Mancini’s men. However, the young winger could find it hard securing a consistent first-team spot, with David Silva and Samir Nasri already occupying attacking midfielder positions. United however will look to the starlet to reinvigorate an ageing midfield if he moves to Old Trafford.

Shinji Kagawa – Manchester United vs Arsenal

The Japanese winger has been a key part of Jurgen Klopp’s Bundesliga-winning side, getting 13 goals and 11 assists for the German champions this season. With interest from Manchester United and Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund will find it hard to keep their 23-year-old star-man, who is out of contract next summer.

Kagawa has already admitted his willingness to move to England, with a commercial value attached to the Asian superstar for his next side also. United are frontrunners for his signature, however Arsenal are also keen and have a recent track record of buying players from Dortmund.

Edinson Cavani – Chelsea vs Manchester City

Uruguay international Edinson Cavani has had a fantastic season for Napoli, impressing both domestically and in the Champions League, where he found the back of the net against both Manchester City and Chelsea. Both Premier League giants are interested in bringing the South American hitman to England, although City seem to be focussing more on capturing Robin Van Persie as their new attacker. The homegrown pair will be joined in the race by Serie A champions Juventus.

With the supposed exit of Ivorian veteran Didier Drogba, Cavani could be the perfect replacement, and having already shown ability in Europe, he could be exactly what Chelsea need if City purchase elsewhere.

Jan Vertonghen – Arsenal vs Tottenham

Another example of Ajax’s outstanding and prolific youth system, centre-half Jan Vertonghen is currently being fought over by north London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham.

Although rumoured to have already agreed personal terms, the White Hart Lane outfit could miss out on the 25 year-old defender due to the Eredivisie champions’ inflated asking price.

It is obvious that Harry Redknapp is intent on strengthening the defence, and the Belgian centre-back would be a perfect addition to the squad. However countryman Thomas Vermaelen is eager to tempt his international comrade to the Emirates, and Arsenal are still in the hunt.

Robin Van Persie – Arsenal vs Manchester City

2011-2012 Premier League top goalscorer Robin Van Persie has attracted serious interest from newly-crowned champions Manchester City, after scoring 30 league goals and winning the PFA Player of the Year award.

With one year left on his current deal, keeping the Netherlands international at Arsenal will be at the top of Arsene Wenger’s priority list this summer. However, with a natural desire to win trophies at the biggest clubs in the world, Van Persie may be inclined to make a move north to join former team-mates Gael Clichy, Kolo Toure and Samir Nasri.

Currently undergoing contract talks, the coming weeks will be vital in seeing what the future holds for the Arsenal hero. Money may also be a key issue; Arsenal are willing to shatter their wage structure and offer £130,00 per week, whilst City are thought to be eager to almost double this at £250,000 per week.

By Jacob Tucker

Borussia Dortmund vs. Bayern Munich: The young and the new of German football meet

With three points separating the top two teams in the Bundesliga, leaders and champions Borussia Dortmund host perennial powerhouses Bayern Munich in a massive game at Signal Iduna Park on Wednesday. A win for the hosts will all but seal back-to-back titles, whilst an away victory will give the biggest club in German football the impetus to go on to win their title back.

Jurgen Klopp has transformed an underperforming and mediocre Dortmund setup into a well-tuned and talented squad of promising stars since taking over at the club in 2008. The team’s Bundesliga crown last season was the first since 2002, and the 44-year-old trainer has continued where he left off last term in 2011/12. Many feared for Die Borussen after the forced sale of key midfielder Nuri Sahin to Real Madrid and a slow start to the season, whilst Champions League elimination in the group stages proved that the young pretenders have a way to go yet to replicate the historic achievements of the European champions team of 1997.

Despite this, a run of ten wins from 13 league games propelled the holders back to the top of the standings, and the crown is now Dortmund’s to lose. With home advantage and their opponents still with European distractions, Klopp’s young superstars will look to strike a decisive blow on Wednesday. The likes of Mats Hummels, Shinji Kagawa, Mario Gotze (although he will not play through injury) and Robert Lewandowski have shone over a fantastic 24-month period for the club.

Off the pitch, Dortmund recently claimed another victory over their traditionally superior rivals. The signing of Borussia Monchengladbach and Germany attacking midfielder Marco Reus, wanted by the Bavarians also, shows that Klopp’s men are serious in their rejuvenation and could be ready for a period of dominance in the country.

Bayern, by their own admittance, were poor last season but a summer of rebuilding, the arrival of Jupp Heynckes and a better start to the campaign has saw Die Roten back to their ominous best at times this campaign. Despite spending spells on top of the pile and thrashing sides on occasion, inconsistency has crept in at times domestically, which Dortmund have taken advantage of.

With Real Madrid lying in wait in what should be a mouth-watering Champions League semi-final, the Allianz Arena outfit have a potentially memorable end of season ahead of them. However, both Los Blancos and Dortmund will put Bayern under pressure, with the side’s defence still to really prove that it has what takes to challenge for honours. The attacking abilities of Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben, Thomas Muller and Mario Gomez are not in question, however it is whether Bayern can shut out an attacking-minded Dortmund side that will be the difference in the game.

Dortmund won the reverse fixture 1-0 at the Allianz Arena through a solitary Gotze strike, and despite Bayern’s history, players and prestige will go into this game as favourites. The home side could well be on the verge of a new era of success, with 90 minutes for the young Borussen stars to prove their worth and retain their title.

The Champions, Perennial Giants or Underdogs? Bundesliga title to go down to the wire

This season’s Bundesliga campaign has already been as exciting and enthralling as any in the recent memory, especially given the tightly contested title race. At the time of writing champions Borussia Dortmund sit top of the pile, after a great run of form has made up for a sluggish start. Bavarian giants Bayern Munich have an unbelievable amount of talent at their disposal and want their top flight crown back at the Allianz Arena. Meanwhile, last season’s relegation escapees Borussia Monchengladbach have defied theodds by challenging for top spot with a rock solid defence. But where is the Bundesliga title going in 2011/12?

Borussia Dortmund

After an impressive campaign last year where Jurgen Klopp’s young superstars won the German top flight at a canter, a very slow start to this campaign had many questioning the longevity of the relatively inexperienced group. However, after Champions League expulsion, the Signal Iduna Pak outfit have been able to solely focus on domestic matters, and are now top of the Bundesliga by four points.

Die Borussen have won 12 games in a row in all competitions, and their attacking stars such as Shinji Kagawi and Robert Lewandowski are impressing suitors in Germany and further afield. A blow for the holders has been the injury to key playmaker Mario Gotze, but the side have not missed the Germany international too much as others have stepped up to the plate. Most certainly the team to beat, it is Dortmund’s title to lose with 11 games remaining.

Bayern Munich

Bayern Munich are Germany biggest and most successful team, but when things don’t go to plan the Bavarian team and fans gets rather restless. After losing their first game of the season, Jupp Heynckes’ side hit their straps and bulldozed their way to the top of the standings in impressive fashion. With Jerome Boateng and Manuel Neuer adding defensive steel to the attacking prowess of Arjen Robben, Mario Gomez, Franck Ribery et al, Bayern looked like a shoe-in for the title.

However, inconsistency and defeats against the other two challengers for the league have seen the Allianz Arena team drop to second. Add to this the fact that they are still in the Champions League, and Die Roten need to up their game, starting with a tricky away fixture against Bayer Leverkusen at the BayArena this weekend. The fixture against Dortmund on April 9th could well decide the destination of the crown.

Borussia Monchengladbach

Currently in third place, Borussia Monchengladbach have had a fantastic season to date, and even if they do slip away from title contention must been applauded for going toe-to-toe with the big boys and more than holding their own. Lucien Favre’s side’s success has been largely based around their stellar defensive abilities; the underdogs have only conceded a miserly 14 goals in 23 fixtures this season. Whether or not they can on to finish in the Champions League qualification places or even win the division is in the balance; they are currently in third, five points off the pace.

A downfall to a smaller club’s success is that the inevitable purging of players starts to take effect, and this has been the case at Monchengladbach. Undoubted star Marco Reus is on his way to Dortmund in the summer, Roman Neustadter is heading off to Schalke, whilst Bayern court Brazilian defender Dante. One thing is guaranteed; if Monchengladbach finish first or tenth they should be saluted for their captivating form this season.

Published – Bundesliga Talk

What a difference a year makes: The curious case of Lucas Barrios

Borussia Dortmund striker Lucas Barrios had an up-and-down 2011 at Signal Iduna Park, with the ecstasy of winning the German top flight blighted by a dramatic fall from grace. From talisman, goal machine and Bundesliga winner to outcast in just six months, the Paraguay international was reportedly close to making a deadline day departure from the German champions; but what does 2012 have in store for Barrios?

Signed from Colo Colo in July 2009, Barrios quickly became an integral part of a young and exciting Dortmund team, continuing the goalscoring form which had seen him become a star his homeland. Barrios was the North Rhine-Westphalian club’s top scorer for his first two campaigns, and last season was the making of the South American marksman, as his 19 goals fired Jurgen Klopp’s men to their first Bundesliga title in nearly a decade.

BVB must have been rubbing their hands together after reviewing their capture of La Pantera (the Panther) for just over €4 million; rumours linking Chelsea with a £30 million move for the Paraguayan were rife in the summer of 2011.

But the promise of leading the line for the ambitious German club in this season’s Champions League saw Barrios remain. He was on top of the world, but what goes up must come down.

Barrios was part of the Paraguay side that reached the final of the Copa America in the summer, but a thigh injury meant he had to start the last game from the bench, and returned to Germany unfit after the tournament. A poor pre-season compromised by injury meant the striker missed the start of the 2011/12 campaign, and his replacement Robert Lewandowski grasped the opportunity to play with both hands. The Polish striker has bagged 18 goals in all competitions already this term and has cemented himself a place in Die Schwarzgelben’s first XI.

Barrios has only started one game in 2011/12, and is yet to score in his 11 appearances for Dortmund. Frustration is clearly setting in for the South American, Fulham were reportedly close to sealing a £7 million deal for him on deadline day, while Liverpool have also been reported to be monitoring his situation.

Despite this, Barrios’ dramatic fall from grace should be taken with a pinch of salt; the hitman’s goal record proves testament to his class and quality.  With a reported asking fee of less than £10 million, it is surprising that other bigger clubs did not make more of an effort to sign the striker, with the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal in need of attacking reinforcements.

The next year is an important one for Barrios, as at 27-years-old he is can ill-afford to spend the bulk of his time getting splinters and losing sharpness on Dortmund’s bench. The German champions should not forget Barrios’ heroics in last term’s title charge; given an opportunity he could well play a big part in retaining their mantle as the nation’s top team this season.

With 18 months left on his contract, Jurgen Klopp may well be tempted to sell Barrios this summer if his fringe status continues; if this is the case clubs in England, Italy and Spain should take note.

The old adage that form is temporary and class is permanent applies here, and Barrios’ suitors need only to take heed of the forward’s tally of 84 goals in the four seasons before this one as an indication of his enduring quality.

One thing is for sure; he is too good not to be playing regular first-team football in a leading European league. Whether that is with Dortmund or not remains to be seen.

Published – FourFourTwo

Can Borussia Dortmund Emulate the Champions League Winning Side of 1997?

Only one team were ever going to win this season’s Bundesliga, as Jurgen Klopp’s surprise package Borussia Dortmund have impressed from day one with their attacking and free-flowing style of football, reminiscent of the 1997 side that were crowned European Champions. With the league title all but in the bag and BVB set to compete in Europe’s top club compeition next season for the first time since 2002, can the German side turn the clock back 15 years and emulate Ottmar Hitzfeld’s star-studded side?
Die Borussen’s transformation has been quite amazing under Klopp, as the ex-Mainz coach has led the club from 6th and 5th placed finishes in 2008-09 and 2009-10 to Germany’s top team this campaign. Signal Iduna Park has witnessed some exciting and enthralling displays from a team largely under 25 and without the big name international players like 97’s Sammer, Moller, Riedle and co that beat Juventus 3-1 in the final all those years ago.
However their illustrious forefathers may be outdone by Dortmund’s current crop, and Klopp’s first objective in the search for success is to keep his star players at the club, many of which have been linked with moves to some of Europe’s elite. The side have quality across the park, with match winners and savers combined in a 4-5-1 formation that can change to 4-3-3 when the side attack.
Centre back pairing Mats Hummels and Serbian Neven Subotic, both 22 years old, have looked like Sammer and Kohler reincarnated and been the reason the club have only conceded 18 goals in this year’s Bundesliga, 16 less than the second stingiest defensive in the league. Holding midfielder Sven Bender came into the side after injury to Sebastien Kehl, and hasn’t looked back, playing 28 of the club’s 30 games this season and forcing his way into the Joachim Loew’s German national set-up.
Bender’s closing of opposition and work rate have been a perfect foil for Dortmund other central midfielder and arguably brightest star, Nuri Sahin. The German born Turkey international has been in mercurial form this season, scoring six goals from midfield and showing guile and creativity to create nine more. Sahin represents new Dortmund and the club must keep him amidst interest from Real Madrid and Inter if they are to progress as a team.
Added to this are 18 year old attacking midfielder Mario Goetze, who has been one of the season’s revelations with his ball control and skill reportedly catching the eye of Manchester United and Barcelona. Sole attacker Lucas Barrios is the club’s top scorer, with the Argentine striker hitting the back of the net 18 times this season.
With so much quality and youthful exuberance Dortmund will be a tough test for the teams they face in next year’s Champions League, and Klopp will look to strengthen further in the summer. Despite this however, the class of 2011 do not have the experience of the 97 team, and will face a much tougher European field from strong English and Spanish clubs. Schalke have shown this season that progression to the latter stages of the tournament is possible, but the youngsters donning the black and yellow in today’s Dortmund team must stick together and grow as a unit if they are to equal the success of the club’s past masters.

Published – http://www.bundesligatalk.com/can-borussia-dortmund-emulate-the-champions-league-winning-side-of-1997/2350

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