Here’s Geek God Review’s football wrap-up for this week from The Daily Mail’s report on the embarrassing defeat of the Dutch national team, to Vavel’s story on Manuel Neuer as captain of Die Mannschaft, and to Bleach Report’s article on the on-going battle between Atletico Madrid and Manchester United for the French star Antoine Griezmann.
Aug 30: Wesley Sneijder will lead The Netherlands in intentional game vs Greece
Danny Blind’s preparations for the game have been affected by matters off the field with assistant Dick Advocaat leaving to take over at Fenerbahce, Marco van Basten announcing he will depart after the game with Sweden and Bert van Oostveen stepping down as director of football at the KNVB.
However away from the difficulties at the KNVB, there is a positive feeling now surrounding the national team squad that has been missing since the World Cup two years ago. The Oranje may have missed Euro 2016 but they looked in fine form when beating Austria and Poland earlier this summer and they will look to keep the positive vibes going when Greece visit Eindhoven on Thursday. (*0)
Aug 31: Netherlands falls at home to Greece 2-1 via superb goal keeping of Orestis Karnezis
The Dutch national team suffered an embarrassing defeat on Thursday night, losing 2-1 to Greece in Eindhoven. Little was at stake but pride for Holland in a friendly match, but the country’s pride was already at a low point after missing out on Euro 2016 this summer. Coach Danny Blind and his team were hoping to bank a win ahead of their Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign opener on Tuesday away to Sweden. (*1)
Sept 1: Borussia beats Bender-less Leverkusen 2-1
Borussia Mönchengladbach will take the Rheinderby bragging rights into 2017, after they beat Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 on Saturday evening.
It was an open and entertaining encounter, and after multiple chances for both sides André Hahn broke the deadlock right on half time.
Joel Pohjanpalo looked to have snatched a point for the visitors, only for Lars Stindl to issue an almost immediate reply to secure the win. (*2)
Sept 1: Manuel Neuer named captain of Die Mannschaft after Schweinsteiger exit
The day after Bastian Schweinsteiger said an emotional farewell to the Germany national team, Joachim Löw has confirmed that Bayern Munich ‘keeper Manuel Neuer will replace him as captain.
The 30-year-old had already been vice-captain, and wore the armband in all but one of Germany’s UEFA Euro 2016 games, where Schweinsteiger only started the semi-final defeat to France.
The DFB have also confirmed that Kevin Volland and Niklas Süle will not travel to Oslo for Sunday’s game against Norway, with Volland ruled out for two weeks with a broken hand.
Neuer made his international debut in 2009 in a friendly against the United Arab Emirates, and quickly became his country’s number one ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. He has since won 71 caps, and since being part of the side that became world champions in 2014 he as regularly skippered them in Schweinsteiger’s regular absences through injury. (*3)
Sept 2: The Battle for Antoine Griezmann: Atletico Madrid vs Manchester United
Some clubs seem destined to fulfil pre-designated roles, regardless of how successful they are.
For example, Atletico Madrid have won one league title and reached two Champions League finals in the past three years, while Manchester United have finished seventh, fourth and fifth in the Premier League, never getting near a European showpiece event.
Yet if you were to ask a world football follower which was the bigger club, the vast majority would say United.
There are a lot of factors that go into that. The number of Red Devils fans around the world, the club’s financial turnover, and how they are perceived by rival fans, players and managers all go into it, while there is also a kind of magical aura that the club emits. (*4)
Sept 2: Christian Pulisic led team USA in St. Vincent rout with two goals in CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying stage
Despite the fact that USA put in a good performance, this was pretty much expected. At the end of the day, USMNT took care of business in every department and aside from a 5 minute spell in the second half, the home team never really bothered them. An important factor to take away is that Klinsmann really has a few offensive weapons at his disposal, and this is without Dempsey or Zardes. Bobby Wood is incredibly consistent, Kjlestan is an assist king and Bedoya fits in his role very nicely in the middle of the park. But I have to say, today was all about Pulisic. He was on the field for 15-20 minutes and really caused so many headaches. At 17-years-old, in a domestic league that prides itself on developing young players…the sky is the limit. (*5)
Sept 3: UEFA World Cup Qualifying stage kicks off with Germany vs Norway
Germany prepared for their game against Norway on Sunday with a training session in Oslo.
The world champions are looking to retain the famous World Cup trophy, although they will need to qualify for the competition in Russia first.
Joachim Low’s side captured the World Cup in Brazil in 2014, finally fulfilling the potential of a glittering generation of talent.
However, they struggled to match those performances when they took part in Euro 2016 in France, although they did manage to reach the last four of the competition.
Germany eventually exited at the semi-final stage against the host nation, losing 2-0, which was the first time they had lost against France at a major tournament since 1958. (*6)
Sept 4: Mario Gomez ready for Bundesliga return with Wolfsburg
The former VfB Stuttgart and FC Bayern München forward scored the only goal of the game in a friendly against Bundesliga 2 side SG Dynamo Dresden, heading in a Marcel Schäfer cross to earn the Wolves a 1-0 win. “The match was a chance for Mario to see where he’s at, and he saw how far he is already,” said Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking. “He scored and had four more good chances.”
Gomez preferred to let his actions do the talking, declining the opportunity to discuss his debut with the media after the final whistle, but he did not need any words to confirm what the rest of the Bundesliga already knew: Gomez is back, as deadly as ever.
“He’s proven how consistent he is and that he can score in any league,” said a man who knows a thing or two about finding the net: last season’s Bundesliga top-scorer Robert Lewandowski. “He’s a super forward and he’s definitely going to score quite often,” added the Pole in Sport Bild magazine. (*7)
Sept 4: Germany begins World Cup title defense with win vs Norway 3-0 in UEFA World Cup Qualifying stage
Thomas Muller was the star as Germany romped to a 3-0 win against Norway to set the reigning world champions off on their long road to defending their crown.
The Bayern Munich forward scored two and set up Joshua Kimmich for his first senior international goal to put the Noorwegians to the sword at the Ullevaal Stadion in Oslo.
It was a straightforward victory for Die Mannschaft after Muller opened the scoring 15 minutes in pouncing on his rebound. If the first goal was scrappy the second was anything but, Muller playing a wonderful pass to Kimmich to slam home just before the break. On the hour Muller got his second with a header to all-but seal the game. (*8)
Sept 4: Slovakia thwarted by England in UEFA World Cup Qualifying stage Group F opener: 1-0
Adam Lallana spared England’s embarrassment with an injury-time strike as Sam Allardyce’s reign started with victory in Slovakia.
England struggled to break Slovakia’s resistance in this opening World Cup qualifier – even when they were reduced to 10 men after captain Martin Skrtel’s 57th-minute dismissal for a foul on Harry Kane.
Allardyce claimed before the game that he might be satisfied with a draw against a Slovakian side who shut England out in a 0-0 group-stage draw at Euro 2016 – but that would not have been the case had they failed to profit from their numerical advantage in Trnava.
Lallana had been England’s best hope of a goal as he struck the post and forced a fine save from Slovakia keeper Matus Kozacik before his decisive intervention seconds from the final whistle.
Liverpool’s midfield man had failed to score in his 26 previous England appearances but snatched the winner here as his low shot squeezed under Kozacik just as Slovakia thought they had survived a spell of sustained pressure near the end. (*9)