In the first of a regular column Gareth Scholes looks beyond the Premier League at the news stories and events worldwide.
Germany. The home of entertainment and unpredictability
Read it as many times as you wish, it’ll stay the same. Despite Martin Tyler’s screams to the contrary, the Premier League is not the most unpredictable league in the world. Even in the opening games (which, according to “they”, are even more unpredictable than usual), an Arsenal player dives, Joey Barton looks like a prat, Chelsea can’t break down Stoke, United get a flukey winner, and two promoted sides get hammered. Shocking.
Compare that to Germany, where the 2009 Champions Wolfsburg finished 2 points above the relegation zone last season, Borussia Mönchengladbach (who only claimed their Bundesliga place this season by winning a playoff game) beat Bayern Munich 1-0 on the opening day this season, and Schalke have seen 9 goals in just two games.
By far, the biggest attraction to German football however, is the style of play every team adopts. Fast tempo football with balls being played along the ground. Quick movement, clever passing, intelligent footballers trying to beat other intelligent footballers all over the pitch. No “doing what you have to” to get by, no compromise in style to avoid relegation. Every team play the best passing game they can, and if a team isn’t good enough, they go down and try to improve. Take Freidburg against Mainz, a mid table clash with both teams hopeful of a Europa League spot at the end of the season. Both sides completed over 200 passes, over 30 shots in the game (Freidbur’s 18 to Mainz’13). Mainz just edged what was a thrilling tie, with emphasis on entertainment within the game. A rough equivalent in the Premier League would be Fulham against Aston Villa, which was truly shocking.
Germany are currently ranked as the third best league in Europe, with Spain and England taking up the first two spots, which has resulted in Germany receiving an extra Champions League spot. With their league going from strength to strength, and the English game continuously selling out good play for cheap points, it’s won’t be long before Germany is the footballing powerhouse of the world.
Robbie Fowler goes home
As I’m sure you’re aware, a certain Carlos Tevez has publicly stated he wants to leave Manchester City to be closer to his family, a move which many sympathised with, until it seemed likely he would move to Spain or Italy. Now on the surface, this seems silly, but seeing as his family would move to those countries, but not anywhere near “two restaurant” Manchester, that would make a certain degree of sense.
Nonsense, however, is the only way to describe Robbie Fowler’s recent move. At the end of the Australian season, he left Perth Glory for “family reasons”, stating “I have a wonderful and loving family to consider and with the children in school, it’s best to keep them settled. I also need to stay in the UK to complete my coaching badges”
He has since moved to Thai club Muangthong United, earning a reported 3 times his Perth Glory salary. Good to know “family reasons” is a multi-national term for money.
It was brilliant to read about former Internazionale cult hero Álvaro Recoba scoring on his debut for his new club at the bright young age of 35. The Uruguayan, playing for Club Nacional (also from Uruguay) curled a beautiful shot beyond the keeper in what was a remarkable 3-3 draw with Argentine club River Plate.
A player who’s biggest problem was often his own mentality, Recoba had an array of brilliant weapons to use against opponents, and is often remembered fondly by former clubs and fans alike.
Here’s a video of the goal (the commentator thinks it’s decent).
As this is the world football column, it only makes sense that I include predictions about matches you didn’t even know were going ahead. This week, we look to the Belgian Second Division clash between Waasland-Beveren and Brussels. After a push for promotion last season, Beveran will be looking to launch another attack on those top places. Brussels, after a disappointing 14th finish last season, will be hoping to improve and maybe aim for the playoff places. For the game itself, despite key striker Kristof Snelders being out injured, I’m going for a 3-1 win to the home side.