Horror tackle: Mandzukic takes out Schweinsteiger in practice

It’s not like injuries have derailed Bayern Munich much at all this season, but you never want to see something like this.

Mario Mandzukic almost sent the recently-healed Bastian Schweinsteiger back to the doctors with a vicious tackle during Wednesday’s open practice. In a passing drill, Mandzukic lunged into the air with both feet and slid right into the Bayern talisman’s ankles, leaving him in a heap. Schweinsteiger had just come back from a three-month spell on the sidelines with an ankle injury.

Fortunately, Bayern’s co-captain wasn’t seriously hurt and completed the next day’s practice without a problem. Still, David Alaba’s reaction in the video really says it all: what were you thinking, Mario!?

H/T Sport1


Robert Lewandowski’s Monday morning was pretty bad


We’ve all had a case of the Mondays, but Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski had a particularly bad morning today.

The Polish star, who will be headed to Bundesliga rival Bayern Munich after this season, was apparently the victim of a theft — or possibly a prank by bitter BVB fans. The latter wouldn’t be surprising, especially considering the way former Dortmund star Mario Götze was treated when he made the swap to Bayern last year.

imageLewandowski probably can’t wait to fix up his Porsche Cayenne and drive to Munich.

(Images courtesy of Getty, story via @uersfeld)


Bayern Munich mascot Berni is excited about the Super Bowl


Almost everything that Bayern Munich’s cuddly mascot Berni does is fantastic. He’s a pretty adventurous bear, too. He’s tried sand-boarding, dirt biking, and even the Gangnam Style dance.

So what else will Berni set out to conquer? American sports, of course.

With the Super Bowl coming up on Sunday, Berni tried his paw at tossing around the pigskin. A for effort, big man.

(H/T @brittanyschray)

Image courtesy of Getty Images


Bayern president lured Guardiola while on trip selling sausages


Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness revealed an interesting story on Wednesday, saying he convinced current manager Josep Guardiola to become the European champions’ new coach during a trip to sell sausages in the United States.

Yes, you read that right folks.

According to the Bayern chief, Hoeness held talks with the former Barcelona coach last year in New York, although only after first flying out as part of a private business venture for the family’s business.

In an interview, Hoeness revealed to Bild that he used the opportunity to secretly sound out Guardiola, who took a year’s sabbatical away from football:

"It was partly a business trip for my company," said Hoeness, who runs his family’s sausage factory. I went to Chicago first to visit Aldi. I knew that Pep was about to fly to Barcelona for his holidays and that a meeting there would have been far more dangerous, so we decided I would meet him in the States, where the risk of being spotted was smaller.

"I wanted to take him out for a meal, but that night, Alex Ferguson was dining in the very same restaurant. It certainly would not have been funny had he seen me and Pep together."


The trip, according to Hoeness himself, was a complete success. Bayern which officially confirmed in early-January that Guardiola had agreed to become Bayern’s new coach. Hoeness added:

"I had the signed contracts with me He just wanted to get to know me better. Of course it was an extraordinary trip. Nobody really expected Bayern to appoint Guardiola.

"We didn’t believe he was being serious with us either for a long time. What we are seeing now is a consequence of those few hours in New York."

Seems like a successful business trip that power brokers can only dream of.

FOXSoccer.com’s newswire services contributed to this report. Images provided by Getty and FOX Sports respectively. 


Bayern Munich players try hand at basketball, should stick to soccer

Bayern Munich is arguably the best soccer team in the world right now. Sure, there are arguments to be made for other squads, but we’re not here to do that.

There’s no argument, however, that Bayern’s basketball team will not be recruiting the help of any of their soccer club-mates.

Seen in the video above (in what loosely can be defined as a shootaround) Bayern stars like Thomas Muller and Dante show off their skills on the hardwood. Even Javi Martinez flushed a sweet dunk.

It doesn’t take long to see the Bayern soccer luminaries aren’t quiet as deft with a ball in their hands as they are with one at their feet, which makes sense.

After a few blatant traveling violations, double dribbles and bricked shot attempts, Muller and Co. proceed to ditch their hands. In a wise move, they stick to the appendages they know best: their heads and feet.

That’s when things start to take off, as the two Bayern Munich sports teams combine to bring a little Harlem Globetrotter flavor to Morocco. What starts as a pretty cringe-worthy performance (see: Muller’s hook shot) turns into a pretty awesome show.


Dortmund’s Bundesliga hopes crash and burn as Bayern continue record streak

Bayer Leverkusen beat Borussia Dortmund 1-0 on the road Saturday to leave BVB six points behind them in the fight for second place in the Bundesliga. Dortmund are now a whopping ten points behind Bayern Munich, practically closing the book on Dortmund’s already slim title hopes before the turn of the calendar year.

Heung-Min Son provided the only goal of the game as Dortmund also lost key midfielders Nuri Sahin and Sven Bender to ankle injuries, further decimating Jurgen Klopp’s squad depth.

A couple hours earlier, Bayern all but clinched the midseason “title” before the Bundesliga heads into its winter break, blowing out Werder Bremen 7-0 on the road. It extended Bayern’s record unbeaten run in the Bundesliga to 40 games.

Where does that streak rank among the longest all-time unbeaten runs in Europe’s top domestic leagues? Here are the five teams that still top Bayern’s mark:

  • 62 - Celtic (Scotland) 1915-1917
  • 58 - AC Milan (Italy) 1991-1993
  • 56 - Benfica (Portugal) 1976-1978
  • 52 - Ajax (Netherlands) 1994-1996
  • 49 - Arsenal (England) 2003-2004


US-born Julian Green makes Bayern senior team debut


Bayern Munich won its tenth straight Champions League game on Wednesday at CSKA Moscow, breaking the all-time record shared with the 2002-03 Barcelona team. In the final minutes of the victory, 18-year-old German-American Julian Green celebrated a milestone of his own — the highly-touted forward made his senior team debut for the reigning treble winners.

Green, who was born in Tampa, Florida but moved to Germany at age 2, has featured for both the U.S. and German national teams at youth level, and is yet to decide on his national team allegiance for the future. It is clear that both federations would love to secure the services of the phenom, though he is provisionally tied to Germany after having played for them in the Under-19 European Championships this summer.

Green has dominated the German Regionalliga (fourth tier) this season, scoring 15 goals and six assists in 18 matches for Bayern’s reserve team. His torrid form earned him a senior team contract earlier this month, and on Wednesday his first few minutes of action under Pep Guardiola. Green became the sixth-youngest Bayern player to debut in the Champions League, even beating out several of the team’s top stars, including Philipp Lahm, Thomas Muller and Toni Kroos.

Here’s the full list of Bayern’s top 10 youngest players to make their Champions League debut:

  1. David Alaba (2010): 17 years, 8 months, 15 days
  2. Berkant Goektan (1998): 17 years, 9 months, 18 days
  3. Roque Santa Cruz (1999): 18 years, 30 days
  4. Samuel Kuffour (1994): 18 years, 1 month, 29 days
  5. Bastian Schweinsteiger (2002): 18 years, 3 months, 12 days
  6. Julian Green (2013): 18 years, 5 months, 21 days
  7. Toni Kroos (2008): 18 years, 10 months, 1 day
  8. Breno (2008): 18 years. 11 months, 17 days
  9. Philipp Lahm (2002): 19 years, 2 days
  10. Thomas Muller (2009): 19 years, 5 months, 27 days

With the exception of busts Berkant Goektan and Breno, every player on that list went on to have long, successful careers, and most of them (save for Santa Cruz) did so with Bayern. If that is anything to go by, Green is set for a sparking career!


Dortmund v Bayern: Five key points on the ‘German Clasico’

The Bundesliga’s top two teams meet in a rematch of last year’s Champions League final on Saturday night. The stakes of Der Klassiker are high — a Bayern win would stretch the lead over Dortmund to seven points, for Franck Ribery “a preliminary decision for the title.” The pressure is on Dortmund to defend its home field, but will they? Here are five points you should keep an eye during the match at Signal Iduna Park:

1. Injury bug makes it mark

Five Dortmund players who started in the Champions League final will miss the rematch due to injury, including the entire back line. Dortmund were already planning without Lukasz Piszczek and Neven Subotic, who tore ligaments in his knee earlier this month. as well as playmaker Ilkay Gundogan. But those problems compounded when the remaining half of its Wembley defense — Mats Hummels and Marcel Schmelzer — picked up knocks in Germany’s friendly win over England.

It couldn’t come at a worse time for Jurgen Klopp, who said he “picked up 80% of his grey hairs this week.” He’ll likely opt to play midfielders Sven Bender and Kuba Blaszczykowski in defense to avoid throwing talented but inexperienced players such as Koray Gunter or Erik Durm into the fire.

2. Bayern are hurting, too

On the other side, Bayern will miss their two most important players. Bastian Schweinsteiger is out for the rest of 2013, while Franck Ribery will sit out after breaking a rib in France’s World Cup qualifier against the Ukraine. Xherdan Shaqiri and Claudio Pizarro also remain on the sidelines. Of course, Josep Guardiola’s squad is significantly deeper than Dortmund’s. Javi Martinez and Toni Kroos will likely pull the strings in midfield, while Mario Goetze could deputize for Ribery. One other key player may get a late run-out: Thiago Alcantara finally returned to practice the last two weeks.

3. All eyes on one man: Mario Goetze

The anticipation of Goetze’s return to Dortmund, where he became a household name, has dominated the German headlines this week. He can expect a hostile reaction from the home fans for the full 90 minutes, after incredibly signing with Dortmund’s league rivals this past summer. You can read more on Goetze’s return here.


Dortmund fans will make their voices heard against former club hero Mario Goetze (Image: Getty).

4. Matchup to watch: Dortmund’s wings versus Bayern’s fullbacks

Whenever Dortmund had success against Bayern, it was thanks to their high press and counterattacks. In Marco Reus and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Dortmund field two of the fastest players in the Bundesliga, but can they outplay Bayern’s fullbacks?

David Alaba is quickly becoming one of the best in the world at his position, but if Philipp Lahm plays in the Schweinsteiger role, look for Dortmund to target Rafinha on the right side all night. Bayern’s fullbacks love to push all the way up-field, which could make them vulnerable to the pace of Reus and Aubameyang. Everyone knows what Robert Lewandowski can do, but will he get enough service?

5. Bayern’s Plan A vs Plan B

At the start of the season, there was much debate whether Guardiola would employ his “false nine” system as he did in Barcelona with Lionel Messi. We know the answer by now: yes and no. Guardiola has tried the likes of Thomas Muller, Goetze and even Ribery in that role on occasion, but also relied heavily on true striker Mario Mandzukic.

Guardiola freely employs both systems, sometimes even within the same game. For instance, when Bayern’s opponents clamp down and tiki-taka fails, Guardiola brings on Mandzukic, the wings supply more crosses and voila, the Croatian usually comes through. Indeed, more than half of his Bundesliga goals have been scored with his head.

That flexibility has helped Guardiola greatly in his first season at Bayern; he didn’t have the luxury of such Plan “B” while at Barcelona. Which style Bayern will start out with in Dortmund remains to be seen, but you can count on Guardiola to adjust as needed.

imageMario Mandzukic has been Bayern’s Mr. Reliable (Image: Reuters).

Projected lineups:

Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller; Grosskreutz, Sokratis, Bender, Blaszczykowski; Kehl, Sahin; Reus, Mkhitaryan, Aubameyang; Lewandowski.

Bayern Munich: Neuer; Alaba, Boateng, Dante, Lahm; Martinez; Goetze, Kroos, Robben; Mandzkuic/Muller.

Prediction: Dortmund 1, Bayern 2


Mario Gotze shines off the bench, leads Bayern comeback

Oh, right. They have him, too.

Mario Gotze played his first full half for Bayern Munich since late August, and the $50 million Dortmund transfer immediately made his presence felt in a big way.

With Bayern surprisingly down 1-0 to Mainz at the half, Pep Guardiola brought on Gotze to stir the pot, and it worked like a charm. Just four minutes into the second half, Gotze set up Arjen Robben to pull Bayern level, before having a hand in Bayern’s next two goals en route to a 4-1 comeback win.

After feeding Robben a sublime through ball for the equalizer, Gotze combined again with Robben just two minutes later to set up Thomas Muller to complete the lighting-quick comeback. For Bayern’s third goal, it was once again Gotze providing the assist, this time to Mario Mandzukic.

And just like that, Gotze has re-introduced himself to those who wondered if the “German Messi” would ever make it back from a string of plaguing injuries. It should make Pep Guardiola’s life a lot easier, after Franck Ribery joined Xherdan Shaqiri on Bayern’s still crowded sick bay (Javi Martinez and Thiago are still not match-fit).

Conversely, it should really, really worry the rest of the competition. With Gotze back finding his form, Bayern once more look even better than before.