Bundesliga wrap: Ibrahimovic & Klopp reveal mutual admiration
Bundesliga wrap: Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Jürgen Klopp entertain fans ahead of the return of German top-flight football
For the second week running, we’ve opened about the winter break. Is it obvious we’re missing some football? But, praise the heavens, the Bundesliga is back on Friday, and it’s quite a biggie to be honest. Pep Guardiola takes his unbeaten Bayern Munich to Borussia Mönchengladbach – who haven’t lost at Borussia Park all season – in what promises to be an electric start to Rueckrunde. The champions lost on Saturday to Red Bull Salzburg, with Guardiola making quiet noises about the travelling to and from Qatar, but should be too strong for Gladbach, who will want to make a good start for their own Champions League ambitions. But hey, it’s nice to actually have some football!
It should have been Franck
If it were down to anyone with an even slight connection or support of Bayern Munich, Franck Ribery would have won FIFA’s Ballon d’Or at an absolute canter. While the rest of the world knew the award was heading towards Ronaldo’s museum (probably, maybe – actually, he might put it in the toilet in Madrid, like Emma Thompson did with her Oscar), many in the Bundesliga, including non-Bayern fans, genuinely thought the Frenchman was going to win. And why not? As said last week, Ribery is the man who makes Bayern tick and as the winner of five trophies, could arguably have more of a claim to be the best and most influential player in world football, above being the most individually brilliant like Ronaldo and Messi.
Jurgen loves Zlatan, Zlatan loves Jurgen
No-one has needed the winter break more than Jurgen Klopp. His entire backline was decimated by injury, and two back-to-back defeats at SignalIduna Park before the break put him under more pressure than he’s been used to in recent times. But the charismatic coach has had two little boosts in the last seven days to remind him of the abilities that led Borussia Dortmund to consecutive league titles and a Champions League final. Klopp was in Zurich as part of his nomination for Fifa Coach of the Year – losing out again to former Bayern boss Jupp Heynckes – and while there, he – well, you’ve seen the video. One thing that was true was Zlatan’s praise – Ibrahimovic is a genuine fan of Klopp, and if Dortmund did have any cash close to an evaluation for the Swede, the chance to play for a coach he admires and stick one up his nemesis Guardiola would be very hard to resist.
The Bundesliga is winning the race
While Chelsea will be happy with the £17m for Kevin de Bruyne, Wolfsburg will be thinking they have the better end of the deal. Coupled with the confirmation of Robert Lewandowski to Bayern, regardless of the disappointment of Dortmund’s (quite literally) biggest name joining their biggest rivals, many in the league’s administration are happy that some of the world’s best talent is being tempted to – and to stay in – the Bundesliga. The proof will be in the pudding of the next couple of transfers being reported in Germany – Ilkay Gundogan and Marco Reus. If Dortmund can keep one of the two (with their preference being the latter), then the Premier League and La Liga’s ability to spirit away the best from Germany might just be diminished.