Bundesliga Still Kicking in Champions League-Pete Herrnreiter
With a mix of strong finishes and a dash of luck, match day 5 of the Champion’s League group stage ended with all three Bundesliga clubs still alive. Whilst sitting in somewhat precarious places in their respective groups, Bayern, Stuttgart and Wolfsburg need to take maximum points from the 6th and final match day in order to secure a spot in the round of 16.
Playing away on Tuesday against Rangers in Glasgow, Stuttgart had looked to gain some ground on both Sevilla and surprise Romanian side Unirea Urziceni. Though sitting in an unimpressive 16th place with only two wins from 13, the Schwabian side managed to change their dismal run of performances. Having not won in ten straight matches, Markus Babbel’s side were hard pressed to hope for a good showing, however a wonderful combination play in the area featuring Cacau and Aleksandr Hleb saw the visitors take the 1-0 lead in the 16th minute of play. On the 59 minute mark, Walter Smiths change to a 4-4-2 seemed futile as Zdravko Kuzmanović managed to double Stuttgart’s lead. Currently, the German club sits 3rd on 6 points with an away match against Sevilla on the final match day.
While having split results on Wednesday, both Bayern Munich and Vfl Wolfsburg are also sitting in equally precarious positions in the respective groups. Two straight losses to Bordeaux by Bayern and a pair of 2-1 away losses at Manchester and Moscow by Wolfsburg are making both top sides hoping for a positive match day 6. As predicted, the cold Moscow air seemed to take the wind out of the Wolves’ sails as their opening run with a tally in the 19th seemed to fade. Playing with three up top, the overly ambitious lineup was in slight contrast to the conservative play that most would like to have seen the play, as only a draw would see them through. Moscow would eventually draw the two sides level in the 58th through Necid and then take the lead in the 66th through Krasic. A home match against table toppers Manchester United in the next match day could seal the deal if CSKA fails to gain a point in Turkey against Besiktas.
Bayern on the other hand, who had fielded a rather surprise starting XI against pointless Maccabi Haifa, took the maximum from their Israeli counterparts at the Fußball Arena München. Iva Olic’s late strike in the 62nd meant that the Bavarian’s will have to prove their worth in Turin on the 6th match day against Juventus who they drew nil all in Munich earlier in the competition. Luckily however, Juve managed to drop all three points away in France, 2-0 versus Bordeaux, allowing les Girondins to take the top spot and advance to the knock out stages. If Bayern have any hopes of grandeur in Europe, a far more impressive run with have to be made by Louis van Gaal’s men in Turin.
Even though more recent results have not been in favor of the three top German clubs represented in Europe, a continued lifeline in European competition by way of the CL round of 16 or the Europa League could be a massive boost for all involved. An extended 3rd season for these might actually spell disaster domestically, as all 3 look to be somewhat over stretched. Fortunately enough however, positive runs abroad and at home could allow for a greater revenue cut at the winter break, allowing for some relief. Only the next few weeks will give a better insight into the futures of the Bundesliga in Europe.