Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Young talent dominates German league

The German national team caused many surprises and won many admirers with its performance in South Africa. Choosing a young team with some extremely gifted talent, Germany proved an extremely good side and made England look rather stupid along the way. 

This was only the beginning for a hugely exciting future for both Germany’s national and domestic game. All across the Bundesliga, young talent is coming through, and it is coming through in vast and endless waves.

These youngsters are getting regular competitive top-level football. Take, for instance, Bayer Leverkusen’s Sidney Sam, a player who has particularly impressed me lately. He is slightly older than the young group of German stars who lit up the World Cup, not to mention the hugely promising ones coming behind them. But at 23 years-old he is young, quick, highly technically gifted and has played a very important role in a successful Bayer 04 season, which looks set to see this young side earn Champions’ League qualification. Yet Sam can get nowhere near the national side. This shows the scale and extent of German youth development.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

The Bundesliga – a rising presence in European football

Despite being probably Europe's strongest domestic league for much of the second half of the twentieth century, the Bundesliga has been widely regarded for a while now as lagging behind the premier leagues of England, Spain and Italy.

Germany is easily Europe's largest economy, with a population of around 80 million and its fans every bit as passionate about the game as the English. The tools are definitely there for the domestic game to be great.

A main reason cited for the Bundesliga's low reputation compared with its rivals is its lack of (international) superstars, particularly throughout the last decade, with stars it does produce snapped up by 'bigger' clubs from other leagues. This has started to rectify itself, with the likes of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery at Bayern München.

Needless to say Germany is blessed with some excellent domestic players, but what was particularly impressive about Germany's World Cup campaign was its primacy of the team (particularly highlighted when compared with England), its surprising technical quality and its excellent youth. Much of the same can be said about the Bundesliga, and it could be part of the reason why the league has been so exciting and unpredictable this season.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Der Hammer breathes life into West Ham's survival campaign

With two goals and three victories in his first three matches for West Ham, Thomas Hitzlsperger has become an instant hit with the fans. Aptly named ‘Der Hammer’, he has made an excellent start at Upton Park, having waited six months for his debut at the club. 

Grant recently said of Hitzlsperger: “he’s like a new signing” – funny that, considering he only made his debut for the club three games ago.

But Grant’s relief that his summer signing is finally fit is fully understandable. Hitzlsperger, despite missing out on World Cup selection for Germany, returned to captain his country in a friendly against Denmark before the start of the season, before spending the rest of August through to February on the sidelines. 

It gives Grant the midfield balance and strength to effectively implement the 4-3-3 formation he had wanted to purse ever since acquiring his man in the summer but has not been able to (to full effect).

Saturday, 5 March 2011

The problems with remaking a classic

After reading reports that Warner Bros. is looking into remaking, or possibly producing a prequel or sequel to the stunning Blade Runner, I, surely alongside other film enthusiasts, could not help but cry out at my computer screen in disappointment.

A compelling case is to be made against revisiting Ridley Scott’s seminal film. Purists will only cringe at hearing news of a remake, or worse still, a sequel. It has become an all-too familiar and disappointing feature of post-modern Hollywood, an industry which embodies capitalist excess in its crudest form, for popular originals and old hits to be reproduced and continued. So much so that these days the Razzies has its own category of ‘Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-Off or Sequel’, each year an increasingly competitive category with many potential ‘winners’  - Vampiers Suck was denied the title this year by a worthier contender (if that’s at all possible) in Sex and the City 2