By Heiko Lütkehus
Being on the verge of obtaining the fourth Champions League spot for the Bundesliga for the 2011/12 season, the German teams struggled to prove their qualities on first Champions League match days.
Especially FC Schalke 04 with the newly signed attackers Raul, Klaas Jan Hunterlaar and Jurado failed to change tack. Facing French giants Olympique Lyon on Tuesday, the team of Coach Felix Magath was able to stand the pace for 20 minutes. However, just one single mistake of young defender Christoph Moritz turned the entire game upside down. Brazilian left-winger Michael Bastos (photo) managed to poke the ball home after Moritz` horrible return pass. Everything went wrong for Schalke 04 as centre back Benedikt Höwedes received a straight red card after 38 minutes. The second leg left no chance for the team from Gelsenkirchen, so the crisis continues. Unfortunately, Schalke`s hardest opponent Benfica Lisbon didn’t have problems to beat Hapoel Tel Aviv on Tuesday night. Without any doubt Schalke has seen better days.
On Tuesday night, Werder Bremen once again proved its ability to entertain the crowd, but left head coach Thomas Schaaf in a fazed mood. CL newcomer Tottenham dominated the first leg and scored two well-deserved goals after just 20 minutes. Especially quick left winger Gareth Bale caused severe problems for the defense line of Werder Bremen. Petri Pasanen (EG) and Peter Crouch scored in the first leg. Hugo Almeida`s goal out of nowhere changed the course of events. Just two minutes after the half-time break, Marko Marin was able to equalize with a tricky strike. In the following 30 minutes, Werder Bremen tried to hit the lucky punch, but offered Tottenham two great chances to finally win the match. The German team gave new heart to its performance in the second leg, but didn`t deserve to take all three points. Because of the surprising draw between Twente Enschede and Inter Milan 2-2, the starting positions are still the same.
Bayern Munich, who lost the final of the last Champions League against Inter Milan, made an attempt to soothe the German fans on Wednesday against AS Roma. Coach Louis van Gaal was forced to go without the creative heart of the team, because Dutch world class attacker Arjen Robben is still plagued by a knee injury suffered two weeks before the World Cup in South Africa. In addition to this, Franck Ribéry also missed the match due to his red card suspension from the last CL season (Semi-final against Lyon). The starting line-up of Roma promised to be well-prepared for a defensive performance. The surprisingly chubby Francesco Totti seemed to be unmotivated this night. The poor first half ended with a 0-0. In the course of the second half, the FC Bayern managed to overpower the disappointing Roma more and more and took the lead after 78 minutes. Shooting star Thomas Müller scored with a wonderful shot from the box. Substitute Miroslav Klose scored the winning goal four minutes later after a free-kick by Holger Badstuber. To sum up, Bayern Munich deserved the three points after an impressing performance in the second half.
Hopefully, the German teams in the competition can enhance their current potential to be successful for the second match day in two weeks.