Felipe Santana

Bundesliga Wrap: Goals galore!

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No game in the Bundesliga featured less than two goals so far this weekend, and an astonishing four matches saw the winners scoring four goals. That’s the sort of fun you get when you tune into German football – the title may be all but decided, but there’s still going to be plenty of excitement elsewhere. The sort of excitement you get when the last-placed side sinks four.

Friday Results

Mainz 2-0 Hannover
A very happy Valentine’s Day result for Mainz, who move one step closer to the European positions with their fourth win in five games. Yunus Malli scored their first off a counter-attack in the 51st minute, while substitute Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting grabbed the second deep into extra time.

Saturday Results

Bayern Munich 4-0 Freiburg
A routine win over one of the Bundesliga’s struggling sides ensures that Bayern Munich keep their hold on the top of the table, sitting an astonishing 16 points above Bayer Leverkusen. Dante scored the first, with Xherdan Shaqiri bagging a brace before the interval. Claudio Pizarro scored right at the end, completing Bayern’s rout over Freiburg.

Borussia Dortmund 4-0 Eintracht Frankfurt
They might be 17 points behind Bayern, but Dortmund weren’t about to be undone by the league’s top side. No, they had to go and score four as well, just to make a point against a poor Frankfurt side, who they’d already beaten earlier in the week in the domestic cup. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a brace inside 20 minutes, and Robert Lewandowski added a third with a penalty conversion to start the second half. The real talking point, though, was Miloš Jojić, who scored with his first touch for Dortmund, a mere 12 seconds into his debut with the club.

Braunschweig 4-2 Hamburg
So Bayern got four, and Dortmund got four. No big deal, right? But bottom side Braunschweig, who’d had just 11 goals prior to this weekend, scoring four – that’s a big deal. And that’s just a sign of how poor Hamburg, who are now just a point off the bottom, are. It was the visitors that opened the scoring, and Pierre-Michel Lasogga’s goal was enough to take them into the half with a 1-0 lead. Domi Kumbela equalized for Braunschweig in the 51st minute, and added another ten minutes later. Ivo Iličević pulled one back for Hamburg, but Braunschweig picked up the pace in the final five minutes. Kumbela completed his hattrick and Jan Hochscheidt added a fourth with the final play of the game.

Hoffenheim 4-1 Stuttgart
What? Another side got four goals? Yes, this time it was mid-table Hoffenheim pushing Stuttgart, who started off the season in Europa League and have now lost six in a row, even closer to the danger zone. You’d think Stuttgart did it to themselves, going down to ten men when Moritz Leitner received a second yellow, but Hoffenheim were already up 3-1 by the sending off in the 80th minute. Sven Schipplock scored on either side of the half, Kevin Volland put one in in between. Antonio Rüdiger finally found the net for Stuttgart in the 78th, but it was Hoffeinheim with the final say, a penalty converted by Roberto Firmino.

Werder Bremen 1-1 Borussia Mönchengladbach
Just two goals? Yawn. Gladbach must’ve thought they’d had this one all sewn up, cruising after Raffael’s sixth minute goal. But Ludovic Obraniak scored from a direct free kick in the 88th minute, grabbing a share of the points for Werder Bremen. If Gladbach, now in fifth, don’t start winning soon, their Champion League dreams will be completely out of reach.

Bayer Leverkusen 1-2 Schalke
It’s obvious that Leverkusen aren’t going to catch Bayern, and it’s fairly clear they’re not going to lose out on a Champions League place. Still, you’d think they’d at least be able to secure a point at home, even against Schalke. Especially after getting kicked out of the Cup to Bundesliga 2 side Kaiserslautern. But maybe Leverkusen are just saving it up to meet PSG midweek, because they could do little to stop Schalke. In fact, their goal came courtesy of the visitors, an own goal from Felipe Santana. It was Leon Goretzka and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar that put the ball in the back of the Leverkusen net, giving Schalke the win.

Sunday Fixtures

Augsburg vs. Nurnberg
Nurnberg, with just two wins all season, don’t look a likely contender to throw a spanner in Augsburg’s plan to slip into the European positions. Then again, Nurberg do have six draws on the road and managed two wins in a row before facing Bayern, so the visitors grabbing a share of the points wouldn’t be completely out of left field.

Hertha Berlin vs. Wolfsburg
It’s rare that the Bundesliga weekend ends with an intriguing matchup with any relevance whatsoever, but the outcome of this game could have huge implications on which Bundesliga side takes the final Europa League spot. Wolfsburg has sixth right now, but Hertha are just two points back – and holding on to a European position would be quite a way to mark their return to Germany’s top division.

The shrewd business of Borussia Dortmund, a welcome reprieve to transfer market procrastination


During this age of rampant speculation and loafing among clubs looking to sign players in the transfer market, one has to admire the way Borussia Dortmund shrewdly goes about the business of replenishing its ranks.

Stripped of star midfielder Mario Gotze by Bayern Munich and losing defender Felipe Santana to Schalke (in a bid for more playing time), Dortmund entered the summer like most clubs, looking to rebuild.

Santana, who failed to lock down a center-back spot over Mats Hummels and Nevan Subotic, was replaced by Werder Bremen stud Sokratis Papastathopoulos. The Greek international, known as ‘Sokratis’ or ‘Papa’, had been expected to join Bayer Leverkusen but snubbed the North Rhine club because of his desire to work under BVB manager, Jurgen Klopp.

“I absolutely wanted to join Klopp,” Sokratis told German newspaper, Bild

Dortmund and Bremen agreed to a £8.4 million ($12.5m) for the hulking center-back, good value for a young player (24 years old) who many consider to be one of the up-and-coming stars at his position. But perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Sokratis acquisition is that Dortmund took care of it quietly and three days before they sold Santana to Schalke.

No rumors. No prolonged negotiations. Just pure execution.

The same no-nonsense approach to business took place this past week when Dortmund signed St-Etienne striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (pictured) for a fee of £11.4 million ($17m). The Gabon international, who scored 19 goals and notched 9 assists in Ligue 1 this past season, was a coup that no one saw coming.

Aubameyang had been strongly linked to a move to Newcastle. The Magpies made the 24 year old their top attacking prospect of the summer and looked prepared to shell out £15 million ($22.4m) for his services. When asked about a transfer to Tyne-side, Aubameyang seemed up for it, claiming that he saw Newcastle as “a good club” with a “monumental stadium.”

But, like most clubs, Newcastle delayed, and delayed and delayed. In fact, it was not weeks or months that they had been monitoring Aubameyang, but the entire past year. And while Mike Ashley & Co. knew that Anzhi Makhachkala, Paris St-Germain, Atlético Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur were all keeping tabs on the striker, no one had a clue about Dortmund.

Until they swooped in and not only got the deal done in a matter of hours but did so at a savings of £3.6 million. That’s great business.

Like Sokratis, Aubameyang is an anticipatory purchase, one that lessens the sting when Robert Lewandowski inevitably moves to Bayern Munich at the end of next season.

The same situation played itself out last week when BVB and Shakhtar Donetsk agreed on a £21.5million ($32m) fee for midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Up until that point, Liverpool had been rumored for weeks to be contemplating a bid for the goal-scoring midfielder.

But while the Reds dawdled around, Dortmund struck quietly and quickly. Once again, it was over before it began.

So will these moves be enough to propel Dortmund back to the Champions League finals?

Only time will tell.

But the muted, exepeditious business practices of Dortmund are a welcome reprieve to the speculation and procrastination that so often plague transfers in world football.

Highlights and context: Another mid-week game, another offside goal as Manchester United draws West Ham

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Last week, two offside goals cancelled out in Dortmund, but we were left wondering what the goal line officials were doing when they allowed Eliseu and Felipe Santana’s goals to stand. If the extra officials can’t help with the hard calls, it’s worth questioning their value.

There were no goal line officials today at Upton Park, and given the nature of this one, they shouldn’t have been needed. When Shinji Kagawa turns and hits his shot from 18 yards out, Robin Van Persie is in an offside position. When he becomes a factor in the play, it became an infraction, one that should have been relatively easy to spot. Unfortunately for West Ham, the flag stayed down, and Manchester United got some help on their way to a draw.

source:  These borderline calls go against teams often enough, it’s not worth making a huge deal out of them. They’re noteworthy, they’re talking points, but they’re also events managers know are bound to occur. You have to prepare your team to adjust to a myriad circumstances, and while most of those are created by your opponents, others come from the viables around the game. Today, one of those variables went against West Ham. They’re neither the first nor the last squad to be asked to overcome a bad call.

But the non-call does have another deleterious effect: We’re talking about it instead of three very good goals. West Ham opened the scoring with a great team goal from Matt Jarvis, Andy Carroll and (the scorer) Ricardo Vaz Te. Shinji Kagawa’s work made life easy for Antonio Valencia, while Mohamed Diame’s curling left-footer used the congestion in penalty area to prevent David de Gea from reacting to the ball.

Here are the highlights, courtesy of FOX Soccer.

Highlights and context: Yes, Borussia Dortmund really did this to Málaga

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People will be talking about this match for years, but only the coal-hearted few of us who fixated on the darkness in our souls will remember the goal line officials nearly ruined this match, allowing two goals which made you question why on earth they’re on the field if not to make those calls.

And I’m not usually one to talk referees. In fact, I’ve gone to bat to defend them in the face of committed fan bases desperate to vilify. But tonight, I just can’t explain it: How can you be mere feet away, staring right at an infraction, and let it go?

Maybe I’m missing something. You tell me.

The first incident is Eliseu’s goal, the third in the highlights package, above. On a ball that may have rolled in had the Málaga attacker laid off, the Portuguese winger puts a touch to it even though he was clearly in an offside position at the time of the shot. The goal line official, in a perfect spot to see the infraction, fails to help. Eliseu’s goal stands.

Fast forward to stoppage time. Borussia Dortmund need one goal to win, and look at Felipe Santana, in between the goalkeeper and a defender who has fallen back to the line. That’s offside. That’s a call the assistant or that goal line official should make.

It was so confusing. I went looking for an explanation. Perhaps those officials weren’t allowed to make those calls, though based on the UEFA directives I found, the goal line officials can offer any help that aids enforcing of the laws of the game.

Or they could just stand there and left a couple of offsides goals nearly make the difference in a Champions League quarterfinal. Totally their call.

Here are the highlights of Tuesday’s match, courtesy FOX Soccer.

Málaga owner’s race card takes sore losing to a new level

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It takes a lot to contain your emtoin when your team suffers a shock loss, so understand why Málaga chairman Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani let his need to vent get the best of him Tuesday night. But what came out via his Twitter account is a small string of ignorance I would dare any chairman to match if I didn’t the dull feeling somebody like Gigi Becali might actually try.

After Borussia Dortmund’s two stoppage time goals knocked Málaga out of Champions League, Al Thani tweeted his hopes that UEFA thoroughly investigate the obvious racism that took place at the Westfalenstadion, racism nobody else observed and Al Thani failed to explain:


He knows we can see that, right?

Let me try to wrap my head around this one, Sheikh Al Thani. If my inferences are correct, you’re imagining a scenario where Málaga was punked, given 180 minutes over seven days to believe they had a legitimate chance to make the Champions League semifinal. Then racism — in some form, but against whom, exactly? — rears its ugly head and ends the Champions League hopes of a club which, although you now clearly love it, your family quasi-abandoned this summer.

If that’s the case, what a brilliantly executed plan, so deft in its execution that the symptoms were impossible to detect. Because there we were, millions around the globe, thinking that Málaga were going through to the semifinals before Marco Reus and Felipe Santana got help from some racists – people who finally decided to step in and give Dortmund their pre-determined result.

That’s what you’re envisioning, right Mr. Al Thani? If so, what incredible cool to risk Willy Caballero saving either of those stoppage time shots, potentially foiling this obvious agenda of bigotry and race-hate. That was some awfully cavalier racist match-fixing.

But no matter how much I load this up with sarcasm, Grantland staff writer Brain Phillips did more in his 140-allotted characters than I could hope to accomplish in this entire post:

Where’s Keith Olbermann when you need to pick out a Worst Person In The World? I know in the day and age of the North Korean crisis that award may be a no contest, but Al Thani still managed to throw his hat in the ring.