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Sports

Those Special Bundesliga Moments

The 42nd Bundesliga season has come to an end, and fans have had time to process the sight of Bayern Munich hoisting the winner's trophy yet again. But there were a few surprises. DW-WORLD's top five moments.

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The Bundesliga celebrated record attendance this year

The Phantom

Bundesliga 26. Spieltag 1. FC Nürnberg gegen Werder Bremen

Top scorer Mintal. Most likely to be wearing a different jersey next year

He's 27, but looks like he just finished school. If his sprightly frame and bulbous nose don't fit the profile of a dominant, goal-scoring threat, his numbers certainly do. In a league where plenty of goals are scored, but only rarely by strikers, Marek Mintal of 1. FC Nuremberg notched 24 of them to win the league scoring title.

Mintal, a pure striker, can hammer it home from outside the box, but seems to prefer hovering out of sight and slashing one in when no one expects it. The talent has earned him the nickname The Phantom. Now he's invisible no longer. Although his club, which owes him everlasting gratitude for keeping them in the first league, would like to keep him, Mintal looks set to transfer to a better team with more money.

Europe 's whipping boys

Champions League Pokal und UEFA Pokal

Look, but don't touch. The Champion's League trophy (l.) and the Uefa Cup were off-limits for German teams this year

Considering it's Europe's biggest economy, and one of the European Union's most powerful players, Germany has some surprising difficulty throwing its weight around in the continent's major tournaments.

Granted, Werder Bremen, FC Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen all made it past the group stage into the round of 16 in this year's Champion's League tournament, which ended with Liverpool winning on Wednesday. But all but Munich were quickly dispatched before things got serious in the quarterfinals. The teams competing in the UEFA Cup, the continent's less prestigious tournament, fared worse. Schalke 04, VfB Stuttgart and Allemania Aachen didn't make it past the round of 32. Schalke, which has been trying to rebuild itself as a serious German title contender and major player on the European scene, lost to a team called Shakhtar Donetsk, from a coal mining town in Ukraine.

The same cast of characters will head to Europe next season, with the exception of Hertha BSC, which replaces Aachen in the UEFA Cup, and Schalke 04 switching tournaments with Leverkusen to compete in the Champion's League. Germany's top coaches tend to get defensive when talking about the Bundesliga's European weakness.

"Three German teams survived tough opponents to get past the group stage in the Champion's League," said Bremen's Thomas Schaaf. His team was one of them, and then proceeded to get hammered by Olympique Lyon by an aggregate score of 10-2, something Schaaf couldn't keep from mentioning: "They really wiped the floor with us."

Half-court shot

Bundesliga Hertha BSC Berlin gegen FC Bayern München

Marcelinho, celebrating one of his 18 goals this season; each as different as his hair color.

A mastermind in the midfield whose performance determines what type of day his club will have, Hertha BSC's Brazlian enigma Marcelinho outed himself as a prolific goal scorer as well this season.

His 18 goals were enough to earn him fourth place in the goal-scoring list, and his 13 assists put his combined numbers just behind Bayern's Roy Makaay. But there is one category Marcelinho can likely claim all on his own: the most amazing goal.

As his team floundered in the first half of a match against relegation candidate SC Freiburg in April, Marcelinho gathered the ball in midfield, juked one player, and noticed goalie Richard Golz standing a little too far away from his line. With an arrogance that only the most creative players possess, Marcelinho rocketed a shot from 48 meters out (roughly midfield), over the outstretched fingertips of a backpedaling Golz and into the back of the net. The goal sent his team on its way to a 3-1 victory, and a secure spot in the UEFA Cup next season.

Harry Potter and his boys

Fußball-Bundesliga, 1.FSV Mainz 05 - SC Freiburg

Klopp (r.), as energetic as his young players.

After two heartbreaking seasons in the second league where their exclusion from the Bundesliga was decided in the final minutes of the final matches, Mainz 05 finally made it to the top league this season. Experts expected them to head right back down again. But then Mainz 05 began winning, setting up a little streak at the beginning of the Bundesliga season that briefly put them ahead of Bayern Munich in the standings and confounded the country's soccer minds.

The secret? A little dash of globalization. Coach Jürgen Klopp borrowed his team's attacking style of play from the English leagues to make up for the talent gap between his players and the league's richer teams. He drew inspiration for his pre-game and halftime speeches from New Zealand's rugby team, the All Blacks.

Klopp's boys responded, tearing out of the gates, fading after the Winter break and turning it on again in the final months of the season to trump all expectations and remain in the Bundesliga. The team, known as the Carnival club because Mainz remains the traditional home of the yearly celebration, partied like champions on the final day of the season. Klopp, who looks like an older Harry Potter, told reporters that was because that's exactly what Mainz 05 felt like.

Scandal numb

Robert Hoyzer Schiedsrichter Affäre

The culprit: fallen ref Robert Hoyzer

In a season of colorful stories and impressive individual feats, a dark cloud hovered over the Bundesliga during the winter. The revelation that referee Robert Hoyzer manipulated games for his own financial game was the league's biggest scandal since 1971, when bribery was rife in Germany's top league.

Hoyzer admitted to cooperating with the Croatian mafia and intentionally manipulated at least one match, earning more than 67,000 euros ($83,800). The news, and subsequent cases of manipulation in Germany's lower leagues, threatened to ruin the country's reputation one year before it hosts the World Cup.

Maybe that's why the German Soccer Federation (DFB) was quick to sweep it under the rug at their meeting in April. They did take some measures: Those involved were banned for life and the DFB passed a rule forbidding players, referees, coaches and federation functionaries from betting on games. German fans seemed as convinced the scandal was a freak exception, rather than the rule, in their country. Attendance at Bundesliga games reached 11.5 million, breaking all records.

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