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Bundesliga: Ten Lessons from the 2007-8 Season

This year's Bundesliga campaign didn't go down to the wire like its predecessor, but it did have its own -- often bizarre -- dynamic. DW-WORLD looked back at what was learned over the course of 34 league matches.

Luca Toni

Bayern's investment in Toni paid off big time

Ante up to win

Bayern Munich took the league title with relative ease because they got out their checkbook and spent big in the off-season.

The motors behind the club's 20th or 21st league championship, depending on how one reckons it, were striker Luca Toni and playmaker Franck Ribery, who cost the Bavarians more than 30 million euros ($47 million) in transfer fees.

Toni led the league in goals, and Ribery provided most of the creativity in an otherwise lackluster midfield. Had Munich not splashed out big for them in the summer of 2007, they likely wouldn't have been celebrating in the spring of 2008.

Bremen have the best coach

Thomas Schaaf didn't take the title, but he did get second-placed Werder Bremen back in the Champions League.

Schaaf

Next year will be Schaaf's tenth as Bremen coach

In doing so, he had to compensate for the loss of his best striker, Miroslav Klose, who left for Bayern. And Werder's biggest off-season signing, Carlos Alberto turned out to be a total bust who refused to play because of insomnia (!) and was shipped back to Brazil after a number of disciplinary problems.

Nonetheless, Schaaf had the men in green playing, as usual, the most attractive attacking football in the league.

Wolfsburg's isn't bad, either

A lot of fans shook their heads when former Bayern coach Felix Magath agreed to become both coach and manager at perennial also-rans Wolfsburg.

But despite completely revamping the squad, Magath led the Wolves to fifth place and a spot in the UEFA CUP -- the best finish in club history.

Magath got the blend between veterans and youngsters spot on this season, and with a bit of experience, the team could do even better next time round.

Success sometimes isn't enough

Slomka

Slomka had no reason to hang his head

Under coach Mirko Slomka, Schalke went further than ever before in the Champions League, and the team qualified for that competition again this season. So what did he get in return?

Fired -- six rounds before the end of the season. That made him the latest victim of Schalke's frustration at failing to win a league crown in half a century.

Hans Mayer can sympathize. In 2007, he won the German Cup with Nuremberg in 2007 -- the club's biggest triumph in four decades.

In February he was given the axe. Foolishly, as it turned out. Nuremberg were relegated on the final day of play.

When in doubt, blow your top…

Doll

Doll let off some serious steam at the press conference

With so much injustice in the world, it's no wonder that coaches have hissy-fits ever now and then. And Dortmund's Thomas Doll threw a pretty good one in April.

Annoyed by media questions about why one of the league's biggest clubs was hovering just above the drop zone, Doll turned on reporters with a diatribe regularly, if oddly, punctuated with the phrase, "I'm laughing my a** off."

Surprisingly, Doll's outburst worked. Dortmund went on an undefeated streak to avoid going down, and Doll himself became a minor star on YouTube. And then Dortmund canned him.

…Or just be incoherent

Hertha players

Favre let his players do the talking in Berlin

Hertha Berlin's season was similar to Dortmund's, a tedious journey mostly through the bottom half of the table.

But Berlin's coach Lucien Favre, who's from Francophone Switzerland, took a different tack. When pressed by journalists, he would simply stare as though he hadn't understood the question and then mumble answers that seemed to have been translated from the French by Babelfish.

Monsieur Favre's strategy worked, too. The normally bloodthirsty media in Berlin let him complete a disappointing season in relative peace.

Aging stars are NOT the answer

Ailton

Ailton didn't exactly look svelte at Duisburg

If you're a small club whose main goal is to stay up, the last thing you want to do is bring in a long-in-tooth striker whose glory days came years ago for a bigger Bundesliga club.

Case in point 1: Duisburg. The Zebras brought in former Bremen great Ailton to pep up their attack. But the Brazilian showed up with some excess weight and was let go in winter, having scored only one goal.

Case in point 2: Hansa Rostock. Rostock brought back Victor Agali, whose greatest triumphs were with Schalke, to provide a strong presence in the middle of the box. But he lost his sense of the goal, only scoring once the entire season.

In the end, both Duisburg and Rostock went down.

Don't always play hurt

Stefan Waechter

Waechter probably should have handed on the yellow jersey

Rostock keeper Stefan Waechter learned this lesson against Cottbus in late April.

Wächter tore ligaments in his knee late in the tight match. With the game tied at 1-all, and Rostock having used up their three substitutions, the keeper bravely stayed between the posts.

But his injury rendered him so immobile that he was unable to reach a rather ordinary, added-time header.

The 2-1 loss to a fellow relegation candidate was the beginning of Hansa's eventual demise.

Keep your head down

Rowen Fernandez

The ball came back to haunt Rowen Fernandez

The unluckiest player this season had to be Bielefeld keeper Rowen Fernandez.

In the second-to-last round, with Bielefeld leading Dortmund 2-1 in the final ten minutes, a free kick whistled past Fernandez's ear, ricocheted off the post, hit the keeper square in the face and bounced back into the goal for the equalizer.

Had Bielefeld won that match, their relegation worries would have been over.

But all's well that ends well -- Bielefeld were saved on the season's final day.

We'll miss Ollie Kahn…maybe

Kahn

Kahn does his world-famous Klaus Kinski impression

For twenty years, "King Kahn" has amused German football fans on and off the pitch.

Whether he was being pelted by bananas by opposing supporters (a reference to his allegedly simian appearance), or verbally and physically abusing rivals and sometimes his own teammates, Bayern's number one has never been boring.

As Kahn himself once said, when asked if he had any pets, "The only animal I keep in my home is me."

But now Kahn is retired, and the Bundesliga won't feel the same without him. Maybe better, maybe worse, but in any case different.

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