Inside the Brain of a Teenage Soccer Genius

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Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Beautiful Bundesliga

Round 21 of the Bundesliga was full of excitement, goals and the occasional sissy fight. 

One of the most shocking results of the afternoon went to Hamburg as they defeated hosts Borussia Dortmund 4-1 in front of a large crowd of aggravated Dortmund supporters. Back-to-back goals from both sides early on were predictable, but Hamburg took a surprising 2-1 lead about halfway through the first 45. The game took turn to further favor the visitors when Robert Lewandowski- the Dortmund striker who had been prowling the box waiting to get on the end of a through ball from his midfield- saw a straight red card for his late and high challenge. Hamburg's Rafa van der Vaart was yellow carded for his involvement in the scuffle that followed but the small outburst ended with the home side down to ten men.
The final scoreline was by no means a reflection of the match. Borussia Dortmund could have had a 10-4 lead by the end of the match if a different backline had been in place for Hamburg. Great technique from their keeper, smart plays and well-timed tackles from their defensive players and a little bit of luck for the visitors and misfortune for the home side kept the ball out of the back of Hamburg's net for the entire second half. They were quick and smart on the counter attack, which secured them some good attacking opportunities. A fantastic header from Kudnevs in the 61st minute and a second goal for Min Son in the 88th minute left Dortmund stunned and secured Hamburg the victory.
Just a short drive over in Dusseldorf, Borussia Monchengladbach were hosting local rivals Bayer Leverkusen. Leverkusen's Schurrle was on fire for his side- he thought he had opened the scoring but his first goal was ruled offside. The first half was rather tasteless. Both sides built up attacks but Leverkusen were definitely the better team. Gladbach seemed to be reacting to everything the visitors threw at them rather than dictating the pace themselves. Marc Andre ter Stegen was between the posts for Gladbach and saved them from conceding the first goal on several occasions. Just before the whistle for half time, Stranzl rose over the Leverkusen defense and headed home a corner from Nordveit right into the side netting. Gladbach went into the halftime break with the 1-0 lead.
It didn't take Leverkusen long to equalize. Just five minutes after the restart Sam netted his fifth goal of the season with a stunning strike, capitalizing on an excellent series of passes from the visitors. De Jong countered for the home side with a fantastic diving header- like Sam's goal the highlight of the play was the assist. Juan Arango whipped in a delicious curling cross from the wing which De Jong met with a diving header despite having two Leverkusen defenders hanging off of him. Leverkusen were quick to equalize just two minutes later despite lots of pressure from Gladbach on the other end of the pitch. No one followed Keissling's run to the far post and he was left with a simple tap-in past ter Stegen. With the rapid box-to-box action, goals were sure to follow. Just minutes later Leverkusen again found the back of the net, this time their notorious attacker Schurrle finally got his goal. He, too was left completely unmarked at the far post and was left with a simple finish. Gladbach were far too easily unraveled in the back.
As the clock ticked closer to the final whistle the Gladbach fans grew restless as they faced dropping all three points against a rival side. Unlike the first half, the match had progressed to an intense box-to-box battle with tackles flying and goalkeepers forced to make several saves. Finally, in the 85th minute, Browers got on the end of a corner kick for Gladbach, tapping the ball towards the goal with a cumbersome volley. The loose ball found the head of Patrick Hermann who was, despite the opinion of the Leverkusen players, onside. He had an easy header past the hands of Leno and into the back of the net. Leverkusen pushed hard for the winning goal, but the match ended in a 3-3 draw- a good reflection of the action-packed second half.
Later on in the evening, Bayern Munich played hosts to Schalke 04. After a slow start by both sides, the match began to pick up. Schalke were unable to take advantage of a few chances early on in the game and the hosts punished them for it. After Mario Gomez and company had several cracks at the visiting side's net, Munich were awarded a penalty when Ribery was taken down inside the area. The young Austrian David Alaba stepped up to take the kick, sending the keeper the wrong way and putting his side up 1-0.
It was pedal to the medal for Bayern Munich for the remainder of the match, applying nearly constant pressure on the Schalke goal. Schweinsteiger added to the scoreline in the 31st minute with a brilliant free kick and at the halftime interval Bayern Munich had the 2-0 lead.
The second half would only be worse for Schalke. They only conceded two, but their goal was peppered for the duration of the second 45. Smart attacking play and an extremely organized transition from attack to defense helped the current league leaders further their league after second place Borussia Dortmund fell to Hamburg earlier in the day. The final score was 4-0 in favor of Bayern, putting them even further in front at the top of the table with +48 goal difference and an astounding fifteen point lead.

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