The last week of Bundesliga action wrapped up with all nine matches kicking off at the same time on Saturday. There was plenty of excitement to be found in nearly every match, but in the end, nothing changed. The same teams remained in the same European positions…and the same teams found themselves in the relegation places.
TSV Eintracht Braunschweig
Braunschweig came up and are going right back down. The bottom Bundesliga side earned just 25 points from 34 games, putting in a measly 28 goals in the process. They hadn’t scored in their last four matches, all of which they lost. From the start, when they lost their first four in a row, it never looked as though Braunschweig would survive – and their performance on the final day, a 3-1 loss to Hoffenheim, was no exception.
Nurnberg put up a fight at the death, when Josip Drmić scored in injury time. Too bad Schalke had already scored four goals and put Nurnberg’s future out of doubt. This side were incredibly good at collecting draws this season, winding up with eleven to their name, but with just five wins it didn’t help them much. Neither did their seven-game losing streak that finished off Nurnberg’s season.
HSV lucked out. Had either Braunschweig or Nurnberg put up a fight and secured a win on the final day, Hamburg would’ve been automatically relegated. Instead they’re headed to the German relegation playoff, where they’ll get a chance to save themselves. They won’t know their opponents for the two-legged playoff until tomorrow, when the final 2. Bundesliga matches are played out. It looks like it will be SpVgg Greuther Fürth, who were relegated from the Bundesliga last season, but if they beat Sandhausen and Paderborn lose to Aalen, HSV may face Paderborn instead.
Oh, and in case you’re curious, Cologne have already clinched automatic promotion and will play in the top division next season.
Check back in to Pro Soccer Talk later today for a more detailed Bundesliga report, outlining the final week’s games and showcasing the teams that will play in Europe next season.
German publication Kicker says Bayern Munich technical director Michael Reschke attended both of this weekend’s FA Cup semifinals and had his eye on two players in particular.
Reschke apparently wants to bring players from both North London Derby rivals Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur to the Allianz Arena.
[ MORE: Liverpool’s Top Four plight ]
In the case of Spurs, that man is right back Kyle Walker. The 26-year-old has also played right mid in 8 of his 35 matches for Tottenham this season, and was named in the PFA Team of the Year. It’s hard to believe Spurs would have interest in selling Walker, who would help fill the role of retiring Philipp Lahm.
On the other side is Alexis Sanchez, the embattled but electric Arsenal attacker who Arsene Wenger described as an “animal” and “always ready to kill the opponent” this weekend. Wenger says Sanchez isn’t going anywhere, but Bayern does boast Chilean teammate Arturo Vidal and former Barca mate Thiago Alcantara.
Walker is signed at Spurs through 2021, while Sanchez’s contract ends after next season.
AS Roma has found its new sporting director, and it’s a man with a keen eye for talent.
Ramon “Monchi” Rodriguez Verdejo, 48, has spent the last 18 years as the sporting director at Sevilla, which won five UEFA Europa League titles under his watch.
Monchi was discussed in the media as a target for the same job at Arsenal and was a target for other Premier League clubs, but Roma sealed the deal with the former goalkeeper.
[ JPW: Oriol Romeu — The Perfectly Poised Destroyer ]
He is considered to have a big role in discovering and developing Sergio Ramos, Jesus Navas, and Dani Alves.
Read more from ASRoma.com.
Liverpool is a historic club with incredible presence. Jurgen Klopp is a celebrated manager with a strong reputation as a players’ coach.
Those two facets will always make the club attractive to players. Missing out on the UEFA Champions League is another thing altogether and would put a huge dent in Klopp’s ambitious recruitment goals.
And right now, the Reds look destined to drop out of the Top Four.
[ JPW: Oriol Romeu — The Perfectly Poised Destroyer ]
Even if Manchester United and Manchester City draw Thursday’s derby, both will be poised to pass the Reds by winning the match-in-hand.
Injury-ravaged United is bothered by UEFA Europa League duty against Celta Vigo, and has a brutal run-in that includes Spurs and Arsenal in addition to City. Liverpool has to hope United falls off, because Man City is likely going to walk over the Top Four line even with a draw in the derby.
The worst case scenario for Liverpool, aside from continuing to flail against clubs outside the Top Seven, is United toppling City on Thursday.
As an aside, it’s extremely unlikely that Arsenal leaps into the fray but if the Gunners did it would come at the expense of United.
Really, Liverpool’s run-in is perfectly built for two of its supporters’ favorite things: Winning matches and rooting against Manchester United. Here’s how they finish:
May 1 — at Watford
May 7 — vs. Southampton
May 14 — at West Ham United
May 21 — vs. Middlesbrough
Liverpool battered Watford 6-1 at Anfield and Boro 3-0 at the Riverside Stadium, but drew both Saints and West Ham earlier this season in addition to losing to Southampton in an EFL Cup semifinal.
Say the Reds nab a perfect 12 points to finish with 78; They’ll need City to take less than 14 from six remaining matches and United to earn less than 15 from six. The latter is far more likely than the former, but will matter very little if Klopp can’t motivate and organize his men in the final four matches.
Ambassadors responsible for Bastian Schweinsteiger‘s move to America extend deep into the 1970s.
1977 to be exact. That’s when Franz Beckenbauer first came to the New York Cosmos from Bayern Munich, a three-season tenure that went so well he returned to New York for his final professional season after time with Hamburg.
[ PL PREVIEW: Chelsea vs. Southampton ]
Schweinsteiger said Beckenbauer’s words meant a lot to him, and admitted that he’s not imparting that wisdom to other overseas players who ask him about MLS.
From TSN.ca (Full video here):
“I remember when David Beckham was playing here or even I know when Franz Beckenbauer was playing here, and I was talking to him and he said he had his best life in America,” Schweinsteiger said. “We spoke about it and I was thinking about it a little bit.For me it was a little bit different because I love to play soccer and in Manchester I couldn’t play enough soccer so that was the problem.”
Among several interesting soundbites from the interview with Schweinsteiger also spoke about Germany’s memorable destruction of host nation Brazil at the 2014 World Cup:
“I remember the semifinal that we won 7-1. Everyone speaks about the 7-1, but we were not talking so much about it because we felt very, in a way, sad, because you saw your teammates like Dante and Luis Gustavo and the Brazilian supporters and the team crying, so you couldn’t really celebrate. Our focus was so much looking forward to the final. I remember things like this, sometimes more than the final.”
Not something you consider often. Winning a match 2-1 against your club teammates is one thing, but sending them to international humiliation is another.