Champions League results are up and down for Germany′s representatives | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 30.09.2010
  1. Inhalt
  2. Navigation
  3. Weitere Inhalte
  4. Metanavigation
  5. Suche
  6. Choose from 30 Languages


Champions League results are up and down for Germany's representatives

There's still a long way to go, but with two games played in the Champions League group stages, Germany's representatives already have a fair idea how things will pan out - and it's not so good.

The Champions League trophy with the badges of Bayern Munich, Werder Bremen and Schalke 04

Germany's teams are having mixed campaigns so far

Two games into the current Champions League group stage and the performances of the three Bundesliga teams involved can be summed up in one word: patchy.

Bayern Munich sit on top of Group E with maximum points with two wins from both their opening games, Schalke 04 gave their qualification chances from Group B a boost on Wednesday with their first victory of the campaign, while Werder Bremen were unable to add to their single point to date in Group A, imploding at Inter Milan.

Bayern look comfortable at the head of a group in which they have already beaten the team most likely to challenge them for dominance: AS Roma. One would not expect too many hiccups when faced with games against the likes of Romanian champions CFR Cluj and Swiss team FC Basel. However, after leaving it late to secure victory over Roma in the opening game, it was another great escape on Tuesday when Bastian Schweinsteiger's double finally saw off Basel in come-from behind fashion.

The German champions look worryingly short of goal-scoring options at the moment without the speed and invention of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery. Against Basel, Miroslav Klose had a slew of chances - all of which he wasted. After confounding his critics with another excellent World Cup in South Africa this summer, Klose is threatening to return to the woeful form of last season, which saw him relegated to the bench most of the time.

Basel's Benjamin Huggel, right, and Munich's Thomas Mueller challenge during the Champions League Group E soccer match between FC Basel and FC Bayern Munich in Basel, Switzerland, on Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2010.

Try as he might, Mueller can't carry Bayern's attack alone

Meanwhile, Thomas Mueller is beginning to show signs of weariness. One forgets that this prodigious talent is only 21 and has just one full professional season to his name. He went straight into his first ever World Cup after that, finishing with the Golden Boot and a glut of great performances. Bayern are now expecting him to shoulder much of the team's attacking responsibilities until its other stars return. It's becoming clear he can't do this alone.

But the group table does not lie. While Bayern have yet to catch fire, they are proving the old edict true that great teams win even when they play badly. Roma and Basel proved more of a challenge than anyone would have thought considering how Bayern were Champions League finalists in May, but beaten they were. If the Bavarians reach the knock-out stage by winning ugly - as they did last season, remember - few of their supporters will complain.

For Schalke, any victory is crucial

Schalke fans will also take any points they can get right now as their Group B campaign grinds on. Defeat in their opening game against Lyon looked par for the course after a dreadful start to the Bundesliga season, but Wednesday's victory over Benfica will have instilled confidence in Felix Magath's wounded warriors.

Lisbon's Luisao, rear left, anmd Schalke's Christoph Metzelder, rear right, challenge for the ball during the Champions League Group B soccer match between FC Schalke 04 and SL Benfica Lisbon, in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010.

Schalke's win over Benfica was vital for points and belief

Benfica are no mugs and although it took three-quarters of the match for Schalke to make the breakthrough, they succeeded - and then added icing to the cake with a second goal to give the score line a more than respectable appearance. With Hapoel Tel Aviv awaiting them in their next match in October, Magath will settle for another smash-and-grab raid if it adds to his team's points total.

Despite a great result against a tough team, it was not a classic performance against Benfica, and no one should be expecting too many of them from Schalke at this stage. There are still signs of psychological fragility there. Each win is valuable, not just for the points it accrues but for the momentum it gives and the belief it creates. For Schalke to drag themselves up the Bundesliga and to qualify from Group B, they have to keep winning. Their league and group positions – not to mention their mental endurance - depend on it.

Bremen continue to confound

As for Werder Bremen, they are currently embodying Winston Churchill's chestnut on the Soviet Union: a riddle, wrapped in mystery, inside an enigma. At times, a sublime attacking force which slices opponents open at will, plundering hatfuls of goals on the way; at others, a shambolic mess of a team, running around like headless chickens while the opposition rack up cricket scores against them.

Bremen midfielder Philipp Bargfrede, left, Sebastian Prodl, of Austria, right, and goalkeeper Tim Wiese react after Inter Milan forward Samuel Eto'o, of Cameroon, scored during a Champions League, Group A, soccer match between Inter Milan and Werder Bremen at the San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy, Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010.

Can we go home yet? Bremen fell apart in the San Siro

The games against Inter Milan were always going to be the toughest of their Group A challenges. Inter's Samuel Eto'o once again showed what damage he can do when in the right mood, and it was clear Bremen were lost from the first kick to the last in the first clash between the teams in the San Siro on Wednesday.

Eto'o may have captured the headlines with his hat-trick in the 4-0 battering of Bremen, but the Cameroonian's brilliance just whitewashes Werder's ineptitude. The Germans can be one of two teams: they can be a confident, free-scoring unit or they can be a ponderous, disorganized pub side. The latter showed up for the game in Italy and were 3-0 down by half-time.

To be fair, Bremen have faced their two toughest group opponents in their first two games. To be bottom of Group A with a single point gained from the spirited comeback draw with Tottenham two weeks ago is bleak, but it could have been worse - though only marginally so.

For Bremen to have stood any chance of qualifying, they really should have taken all the points against Spurs. Now, even if they record home and away wins over FC Twente, they will still need victory at home to Inter or against Tottenham in London to keep their qualification dreams alive.

Knowing that Werder's form can swing like a pendulum, you wouldn't bet against Bremen getting points from either game - if, that is, they've hit rock bottom. If they haven't, an early exit into the Europa League - or worse - awaits.

Author: Nick Amies
Editor: Nancy Isenson

DW recommends