The German Bundesliga is still on its winter break, and on this week’s main report we take a look at the league, who is doing well, not so well, how German teams are doing in Europe and look ahead to the restart of the league. You can listen to the report by clicking on the link below, while vocabulary support (in bold) appears at the foot of the report.
At the top
After 17 matches played, setting the pace in the division are Bayern Munich on 42 points, who are nine points clear of their nearest rivals Bayer Leverkusen. However, the team from the west of Germany have beaten Munich away this season and if they can do that in the return fixture, they will still have a slim hope of overhauling the leaders especially as they have the leading goal scorer in Stefan Kießling – who has found the back of the net 12 times so far this campaign. Behind these two, both on 30 points, are Dortmund, the reigning champions and Frankfurt. The latter have been the surprise package of the season so far, as they only rejoined the top flight this season.
At the bottom
Two teams already looked doomed for the drop. Augsburg and Greuther Fürth, have both only managed nine points from seventeen games. Fürth were always tipped to struggle as newcomers to the Bundesliga, and Augsburg, who narrowly survived relegation last season, are finding the top league too hot to handle. In a dog fight to escape relegation are Hoffenheim, who many believe are too good to go down – they have finished 11th in every season they have been in the Bundesliga since 2008. The car crash that saw their winger, Boris Vukcevic, in a coma disrupted their season and has clearly had an impact on their results – they have only one once since the accident.
In the Champions League, German clubs are doing well. Apart from Borussia Monchengladbach, who failed to make the group stages, the three teams in the groups all topped them. Dortmund particularly deserve praise after finishing top dogs in the group of death – a group that included Dutch, English and Spanish champions, Ajax, Man City and Real Madrid respectively. Last year’s runners up, Bayern Munich, also cruised, and Schalke made it a third German team finishing as number one. They will all hope to progress to the quarter finals as they have avoided most of the favorites in the competition: Munich face an inconsistent Arsenal side, Dormund perhaps face the sternest test against Shakhtar Donetsk, and Schalke will believe they have what it takes to overcome Turkish side Galatasaray.
As for the Europa League, the second tier competition in Europe, all four sides from Germany made it through to the knock out stage. although not as convincingly. Monchengladbach, from the Champions League, Leverkusen and Stuttgart all finished as runners up in their groups, while Hannover 96 went through as group winners.
With so many teams through to the knock out phases of the two cup competitions in Europe, it could be a good 2012 for German teams.
set the pace: take an early lead; be in front of your rivals from the start
overhaul: to catch up and go past; in football, usually to refer to coming from behind and going above another team in the league
find the back of the net: score a goal
the surprise package: a team that unexpectedly does well despite the fact that not many people think that they will do well in the league or a competition
the drop: relegation; dropping down a division
too hot to handle: (in this context) to difficult; a struggle to deal with
a dog fight: a fierce struggle; a desperate fight
too good to go down: a famous football cliche
top dog: the winner; the main team
group of death: the most difficult group in a competition, in which all teams are strong (see more here)