Bundesliga Beat: Round 8 Preview



I have a say

Posted Friday, October 15, 2010 by Goal.com

Stuttgart begin a new era under Keller after Gross' dismissal.

Bundesliga Beat: Round 8 Preview
Pavel Pogrebnyak, VfB Stuttgart

At the beginning of the season, some writer (he will not be named) here at the Bundesliga Beat wildly picked Stuttgart to challenge for the German title this season.

It wasn't without merit, mind you, as Stuttgart were the best team in the league in the matchdays in which Christian Gross was the manager of Stuttgart. Incredibly, Stuttgart transformed from a side staring down relegation to a side that just missed out on the Europa League this season, which provided much of the inspiration for the prediction this season.

Things then, have not gone according to plan in Stuttgart, which led to Gross' sacking as trainer for VfB Stuttgart this week. The Swiss manager ended up staying on as the head guy in Stuttgart for less than a year, but with Stuttgart currently occupying last place in the league with just three points from seven games, it was time for a shakeup.

The question now is whether or not new manager, Jens Keller, will be able to right the ship the way the Stuttgart faithful hope for. Keller has very little experience, having never been a head coach, except for one season with the Stuttgart U19 side. But when Gross took over in December of 2009, he brought Keller along as an assistant. The Stuttgart board now has to hope that Keller possesses the necessary knowledge to help lead this team out of the relegation zone.

In our weekly Mario Gomez watch, there is some sad news to report. All the moons and the stars and the planets in the universe were lined up correctly on Tuesday, as Gomez scored in Germany's 3-0 victory in Kazakhstan.

What this means for the lovers of the beautiful game is that Gomez has likely bought himself more time with Bayern Munich and the German national side. So yes, expect to see him this weekend in Bayern's game, coming off the bench, and impressing no one.

Remember, even a blind squirrel gets lucky every once in a while.

Watch out for Mainz this weekend. If they win at home against Hamburg, then they will have set the German record for wins to start a season with eight.

Table Topping Matchup:
SV Werder Bremen vs. SC Freiburg
(October 16, 9:30 am EST)

The surprise here is that the team in the European spot right now is Freiburg, and not Bremen. However, Freiburg have quietly gone about their business, winning four of their seven games so far this season. A big reason for that is the play of of Papiss Demba Cisse, who has scored seven of the team's 11 goals this term. Their three non-wins have all been losses, which means with Freiburg on the field, a result either way is nearly guaranteed.

Bremen have really struggled this season without Mesut Oezil, as predicted earlier in this column. Bremen brought in Brazilian midfielder Wesley to try to counter the loss of Oezil, but it just has not been the same. Werder can still score goals, but they are conceding too many at the moment, as evident by them having just two wins from seven games. They do perform much better at home however, which just might indicate a win over Freiburg is in store.

Werder Bremen 2 -- 1 Freiburg

Relegation Battle:
FC Schalke 04 vs. VfB Stuttgart
(October 16 9:30 am EST)

This is a true relegation battle! 17th placed Schalke hosts 18th placed Stuttgart, as both teams look to finally get their season on track. As mentioned earlier, Stuttgart will have a new manager at the helm in Keller, so that might be able to inspire the players to perform well.

Even more shocking than Stuttgart's position is Schalke's who also assumed to be battling it out for the title this season. Instead Felix Magath's side has failed to flatter at any point during the season, and is just one point ahead of last place Stuttgart. A negative result against Stuttgart, and Magath could find himself following a similar path as Christian Gross, right towards the unemployment line.

Schalke 2 -- 0 Stuttgart

Let Down Match:
1. FC Kaiserslautern vs. Eintracht Frankfurt
(October 17, 9:30 am EST)

Both of these teams have the ability to produce, but whether or not they can bring it game in and out is the question. K-Town got their season off to the perfect start, winning their first two matches, including a decisive win over Bayern Munich. Since then however, the Red Devils have just one point from five games, and find themselves dangerously close to the relegation zone. More consistency needs to be found, with manager Marco Kurz sure to be under pressure.

Frankfurt has had some wonderful performances this season, but have still conspired to lose more games than they have won. The highlight of the season has been the 4-0 win over Borussia Moenchengladbach, when Theofanis Gekas showed again that he could score goals in bunches. Frankfurt haven't lost a game yet that they should not have, but a couple of wins against teams above them would be nice.

Kaiserslautern 0 -- 1 Frankfurt 

Game of the Week:
VfL Wolfsburg vs. Bayer 04 Leverkusen
(October 2, 9:30 am EST)

After a horribly auspicious start to the season, Wolfsburg has been able to rally under manager Steve McClaren, picking up points in their last four games. After three consecutive losses to start the season, McClaren looked to be in a world of trouble. However, three wins and a draw later, and Wolfsburg is in the top half of the table. Thats in big part due to the attacking trio of Edin Dzeko, Grafite, and Diego. With all three firing on all cylinders, Wolfsburg can be one of the most dangerous teams in the league.

Leverkusen have themselves in a decent position thus far in the season, sitting in fourth place. Despite that, there is a feeling that they could be better off, having drawn three games so far, while losing just one. If Leverkusen can figure out how to turn those draws into wins, then they just might be able to challenge for the Bundesliga title again this season. The challenge will be to do so without the services of Michael Ballack, who will be out until the new year.

Wolfsburg 2 -- 2 Leverkusen

Player to watch out for:
Raul:

Bundesliga Beat: Round 8 Preview

If Schalke are going to go through any sort of mini-revival, then Raul will need to step his game up. His strike partner, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, has already chipped in with four goals in five games this season, while Raul has managed just one. He's started every game for Magath's side though, so clearly, Magath and the rest of the team are leaning on him for some sort of production. A couple of goals or assists might just get the legendary Spanish striker on the right track this season, helping Schalke do the same.

Remaining Games:
10/15 -- FC Cologne vs. Borussia Dortmund
10/16 -- Bayern Munich vs. Hannover 96, Mainz 05 vs. Hamburger SV, St. Pauli vs. FC Nurnberg,
10/17 -- 1899 Hoffenheim vs. Borussia Moenchengladbach



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