23
Aug

Leverkusen’s Karim Bellarabi scores fastest goal in Bundesliga history

imageBayer Leverkusen’s Karim Bellarabi scored the fastest goal in the Bundesliga’s 52-year history, needing just nine seconds to bury one past Borussia Dortmund keeper Roman Weidenfeller in the match of the day:

Bellarabi silenced the sold-out Signal Iduna crowd, slotting home after taking Sebastian Boenisch’s pass and dancing past new Dortmund signing Mathias Ginter.

Nine seconds. Simply amazing.

Image: Getty Images

14
Aug

Bundesliga lowers drawbridge to castle before German Super Cup showpiece

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DORTMUND, Germany —

A few weeks ago, the Bundesliga invited FOX Sports to a two-night stay in the heart of Germany ahead of the German Super Cup. Having already booked my vacation in Germany for August just days earlier, I “sacrificed” myself for the good of the team. “Fine, boss, I’ll extend my stay in the country of my birth for two extra weeks. You totally owe me.”

After a brisk 14-hour journey from Los Angeles to Dusseldorf, I was greeted by our soon-to-be partners from the Bundesliga at the Hyatt Regency, a fancy hotel right on the Rhine. A couple hours later, we crossed a bridge over the Rhine for a nice dinner with former Germany internationals Jens Lehmann and Christoph Metzelder. Both played for Borussia Dortmund for several years and won a championship together in 2002, and here they were chatting with us for several hours over life lessons, cuisine and football.

Naturally, Lehmann commanded most of the table’s attention. He discussed at length the performance of goalkeepers at the World Cup and what made Manuel Neuer “the only truly world-class goalie today.” “The very best keepers,” he said, “they act, instead of react.” Anyone who saw Neuer play in Brazil this summer will know what Lehmann meant by this.

When I asked him to rate Tim Howard’s performance, Lehmann lauded the United States No. 1 for his record night against Belgium, but also said he was poor against Germany, blaming him for the lone goal of the match. Howard parried the shot straight to Thomas Muller — who buried the rebound — than out and to the side, he remembered. Tough critic, that man. Unsurprisingly, he’s an analyst right now for German television

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Lehmann also gladly recounted tales of his days with Arsenal’s “The Invincibles.” He did not, mind you, care to discuss the night he received a straight red card against Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League Final in 2006 with me, his perfect record in penalty shootouts, or Jurgen Klinsmann’s decision to drop Oliver Kahn in favor of him just weeks before the 2006 World Cup. “[Kahn] did not talk to me for four or five days after that,” Lehmann admitted with a sheepish smile.

And the fun didn’t stop there.

On Wednesday, I had an opportunity to meet, Christian Seifert, the longtime CEO of the Bundesliga, for a thorough presentation on what has made the German game so successful since the new millennium.

Seifert, as you would expect of a man in his position, was a remarkable speaker, with his heavy, amusing German accent shining through at times. Next to him on either side were the Bundesliga trophy — the “ugly salad bowl — and the FIFA World Cup. The real deals, in all their glory.

There were three main components to Seifert’s presentation; the Bundesliga’s ascendancy on the pitch, the economic stability of its clubs, and the extraordinary fan support and passion. They all combine to make the league as strong as it is today, he said.

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Several statistics jumped out at that may surprise some folks who don’t follow the league too much. For one, the Bundesliga’s recorded profit of €264 million in the 2012-13 season almost tripled that of the Premier League, which spends more than twice as much money on player salaries. A reason for this is German clubs rely much more on younger and cheaper homegrown talent — all part of the common strategy the clubs share with the German national team.

With an average attendance of over 43,500 fans per match, the Bundesliga is also the second-most attended sports league in the world, only behind the National Football League. And with 3.16 goals per game, it’s tops among the big five soccer leagues in Europe. These last two figures, specifically, explain why Seifert is so optimistic over the continued growth of his brand.  With FOX Sports securing its rights starting next season, there’s mutual excitement and an eagerness to work together to bring the Bundesliga to the mainstream American media.

After Seifert (and the trophies) posed for pictures, we were on to our next appointment. There was no time to waste as we had only several hours before the Wednesday’s German Super Cup final.

First, we stopped off at the BVB “Fan Welt,” a new, giant fan shop outside the stadium that we were told is “like the Amazon.com for Borussia Dormtund fans.” You could literally get everything there in black and yellow, including your own, personal BVB lawnmower. Yep.

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We then stopped by the BVB youth academy a couple of miles away, where club legend Lars Ricken greeted us. Ricken, who famously scored in Dortmund’s 1997 Champions League victory over Juventus on his very first touch of the bench, gave us a tour of the facilities, which included the revolutionary “Footbonaut,” a robot used to test player’s reaction time and pass accuracy.

Ricken demonstrated the amazing training tool for us. The robot itself is a cage consisting of several dozen squares and ball machines on all sides. Much like a pitching machine, balls are spit out at random and the player has only a split second to gather the ball and hit it at the square that lights up, also completely at random.

Finally, we made our way back to Signal Iduna Park to watch the German Super Cup between Dortmund and Bayern. We know how the match went by now — the hosts won the preseason fixture for a second year running by completely overpowering a Bayern Munich side that was still noticeably lacking in conditioning and pretty much every other department on the day. The Yellow Wall did it’s job, too. Chants of “Zieht den Bayern die Lederhosen aus!” (translation: Strip Bayern of their lederhosen) rang through the night, as well as the orchestra of whistles that serenaded Mario Goetze when he was substituted on in the second half.

After the match, our whole group returned back to the bus, exhausted but mostly thankful for such an incredible experience and two days of fun-filled events in the hotbed of German soccer.

Images provided by Thomas Hautmann / FOXSports.com

13
Aug

Aubameyang reveals his true identity in German Super Cup

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored for Dortmund in the club’s 2-0 German Super Cup win over Bayern Munich, and celebrated by revealing his true identity as the one and only Spider-Man.

Of note: He pulled the mask out of his sock. That thing must have smelled awful. It’s impressive that he kept it on his face for that long.

Okay, so this isn’t the first time Aubameyang has pulled off this stunt, but it is his most realistic mask to date. His Spiderman celebration was actually inspired by former teammate Jeremie Janot, who is apparently a huge — we’re talking HUGE — Spider-Man fan.

Back in 2005, he wore a full Spider-Man kit, mask included, in a match. A real match that counted for real points.

Now THAT is dedication.

(Photo: Action Images)

8
Jun

Ilkay Gundogan has gained some weight this year

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Borussia Dortmund star Ilkay Gundogan hasn’t played in a match since last August due to nagging back problems, meaning he hasn’t been able to work out as much as he’s accustomed too. He hasn’t had any issue eating, however.

The midfielder, who not only missed out on practically the entire season but also a place on Germany’s World Cup team, has definitely packed on a few pounds over the past ten months, as these pictures obtained from our friends at Who Ate All The Pies suggest. (We think we may know who ate them, by the way.)

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All that extra weight probably won’t help resolve your back issues, Ilkay. Just our two cents.

H/T Pies (Photos via 101gg)

21
Mar

What would a team of 11 Kevin Grosskreutzes look like?

With a squad depleted by injury, transfers and card suspensions, Borussia Dortmund’s lineup is a far cry from what it was last year during the UEFA Champions League:

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(Image: Imgur)

One player available, though? Kevin Grosskreutz, the jack-of-all-trades for BVB. But it’s a shame he can’t play every position against Real Madrid … or can he?

This video isn’t particularly new, but it’s certainly relevant. What would Dortmund look like with Grosskreutz between the sticks, leading the line, and everywhere in between?

Thanks to the internet, now we know. And we also know Grosskreutz falls like a total klutz after getting beaned with a ball.

(h/t Reddit)

23
Feb

Man Utd win the battle for Gundogan

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According to the Daily Star on Sunday, Manchester United are convinced they have won the £25 million race for Borussia Dortmund’s midfielder Ilkay Gundogan. If true, this would be the first piece of business in a busy summer of transfers for the Red Devils. The central midfield position has been a long-term target for United and they’ll be happy to get it sorted early doors.

For this rumor and the rest of Sunday’s transfer gossip, click here.

15
Feb

Milos Jojic scores on very first touch in Dortmund debut

Borussia Dortmund remained fairly quiet during the January transfer window, only picking up young Serbian international Milos Jojic from Partizan Belgrad. Maybe that’s all they needed.

Jojic scored on his first touch in his first appearance for BVB, taking just 17 seconds after coming off the bench to open his account in a 4-0 win over Frankfurt. Now that’s a debut!

Okay, so it wasn’t the most spectacular goal in the world, but it was historic: Jojic broke the Bundesliga records for fastest goal by a substitute, and fastest debut goal. The 21-year-old also stirred up glorious memories for Dortmund fans.

In the 1997 Champions League final, Lars Ricken (also 21 at the time) needed just 16 seconds after coming off the pine to score a screamer against Juventus on his first touch. The goal was the fastest by a substitute in Champions League history and was voted Dortmund’s “Goal of the Century” by fans: