As the dust settles on the 2015/16 Bundesliga season, supporters' focus now turns to the transfer market. So who will Roger Schmidt look to move on over the summer as he builds his squad for next season?
Bracknell Town have made changes to their first team management, with Keith Pennicott-Bowen departing and Mark Tallentire replacing him.
Bracknell Town's form in league and cup could not be starker in contrast, and The Robins will be hoping that continues as they travel into Gloucestershire on Saturday, hoping for an FA Cup upset. Continue reading Robins’ Cup Runneth Over!
Both Bracknell Town and Bayer 04 Leverkusen have big home games this week, as they try and get vital wins.
German football now goes on its customary five week hiatus, leaving fans to ponder their club’s first seventeen matches. It has been an exceptional hinrunde, with overachievers and underachievers alike, and a side so dominant they look unstoppable. Continue reading Bundesliga Half-Season Review
Bracknell Town signed off an eventful 2014 at Larges Lane, and two goals from Charlie Evanson helped The Robins edge out Oxford City Nomads by the odd goal in five.
Bracknell Town exited another cup competition at the first hurdle this season following a five goal thriller against Headington Amateurs that needed extra time. Going into the match as favourites against their opponents from the division below, manager Ed Carpenter made changes, but still named a strong team for the game, with top scorer Shane Cooper-Clark partnered in attack by Jake White.
However, Headington were certainly not there to make up the numbers. Straight from the kickoff they showed their intent, Liam Morbey getting on the end of a freekick but seeing his effort deflected wide. From the corner, Paul Hedger lashed a twenty yard volley narrowly over. Bracknell’s first effort came after seven minutes, when Shane Cooper-Clark controlled a cross, but he was stretching and could only fire over under pressure from visiting keeper Harry Jenkins.
The visitors continued to be the better side, and Paul Hedger should have done better when played through, but sliced his shot well wide of the near post. However, they deservedly took the lead on seventeen minutes, when Tom Payne met a cross from the left with a sweet left foot volley which gave Robins’ goalkeeper Josh Baker no chance.
Ed Carpenter was forced into an early change, when James King had to be replaced by Tom Nugent after just twenty minutes. The home side were starting to get a foothold in the game, with half chances for Cooper-Clark and Jake White, but it was Headington who almost doubled their lead on the half hour. Jamie McCuaig’s shot was parried by Baker, but the ball squirmed goalward. Thankfully, Tom Barratt was on hand to clear the danger. Five minutes later, goalscorer Payne almost turned goal provider, but Hedger somehow sliced a shot wide with the goal at his mercy after the cross bypassed Baker.
The last chance of the half also fell to the visitors; Jamie McCuaig played in and, with just Baker standing in his way, McCuaig tried the lob. He almost executed it perfectly, but Baker stood up long enough and was able to clutch the ball. Half time: Bracknell Town 0 Headington Amateurs 1.
As the players went down the tunnel at the break, there seemed to be an altercation between players from both sides. Ed Carpenter must have had words with the officials that were not to their liking, as when the teams emerged for the second half, he was asked to vacate the pitchside area
Ed must have had words for his team too, as the Robins looked a different side at the start of the second period. Just four minutes in and the scores were level, thanks to their strike partnership. Cooper-Clark broke down the right and drilled a cross to the far post, where Jake White was on hand to apply the finishing touch. Cooper-Clark was really tormenting the Headington defence now, and almost scored with a powerful rising shot after twisting and turning in the box. However, Jenkins tipped the ball over, and from the resulting corner Richard Hassingham sliced wide.
However, Cooper-Clark was not to be denied for long. A good move saw White and Ryan Coupland combine, before Cooper-Clark played a one-two with Coupland. The striker then grabbed his thirteenth goal already this season, thumping a volley into the bottom corner.
The game began to peter out a little, and it wasn’t until the final seven minutes before we saw some good chances created. Cooper-Clark’s cross found Tom Barratt, but his header was tame and straight at Jenkins. At the other end, Ollie Zaja hit a ferocious shot from 25 yards which Baker tipped over. Luckily the shot was straight down the middle, as either side of Baker and it would probably have been a goal. However, Zaja did grab the equaliser for Headington in stoppage time, his twenty yard freekick taking a slight nick to take the ball past Baker, and the game into extra time.
The thirty minute extra time only really had two shots of note, and both fell to the visitors, and both to Jamie McCuaig. The first should have resulted in a goal, as McCuaig worked some space in the box, but curled his shot wide of the near post with Baker diving toward his far post. However, the second shot did result in the decisive goal. Immediately after the second half of extra time started, McCuaig latched onto a pass from Zaja and fired past Baker to settle the tie.
The next few days see plenty of football in Bracknell, and involving Bayer Leverkusen, starting tonight!
Friday – Bayer Leverkusen
First up is the opening game of Bundesliga Matchday 3. Bayer Leverkusen host Werder Bremen looking to maintain their excellent start to the season. Under new coach Roger Schmidt, the Werkself have won all five competitive games so far and top the fledgling Bundesliga table, and will be favourites in this match too. New signing Hakan Calhanoglu has lived up to the hype and the expectations following his summer move from Hamburg, while Karim Bellarabi – back after a season on loan at Eintracht Braunschweig – has been in scintillating form, keeping the other big new signing Josip Drmic out of the team.
The two sides met in the final game of last season, with Omer Toprak and Heung-Min Son securing a come-from-behind win to secure fourth spot and qualification for the Champions League. This season, Bremen have drawn both of their games, but this will be a hard match for them to get their first W.
If Leverkusen do find the net, then it will be an historic occasion. So far, the Werkself have played 1196 Bundesliga matches, and scored 1999 goals. But even if Stefan Kiessling or another player do score, they should be wary; Bremen have rescued a draw from losing positions in both league games so far.
The game is on BT Sport, with a 7:45pm kickoff.
Saturday – Bracknell Town Dev or Binfield FC
If you can’t make the trip to Cheltenham Saracens to cheer on Bracknell Town’s first team, the Robins’ development side are in action at Larges Lane on Saturday. They take on Holyport Reserves in the first round of the Berks & Bucks FA County Intermediate Cup. They achieved an astonishing comeback in their first game of the season, coming from three goals down to beat Rayners Lane 4-3, and confidence will be high going into this game.
On the other side of Bracknell, Binfield FC host Shrivenham at Stubbs Hill in the Hellenic Premier Division. Both sides have had mixed starts to the campaign, with Binfield four points ahead of their opponents going into the game. This game promises goals, though, as in their twelve combined games this season, there have been forty goals scored.
Monday – Binfield
No rest for The Moles, as they play forty eight hours later, this time entertaining Kidlington. Before Saturday’s matches, they lay sixth in the Premier Division table, but come into the back of this game two days after a huge clash with Ascot United. Two wins for Mark Tallentire’s team would catapult them amongst the early pacesetters.
Tuesday – Bracknell Town & Bayer Leverkusen
After a (hopefully) resounding win at bottom club Cheltenham Saracens, Ed Carpenter’s Robins welcome Newbury to Larges Lane. The Town have one win and one draw to their name so far this season – before Saturday – but Bracknell’s home form has been patchy at best.
While Carpenter’s side head to the bottom side at the weekend, Newbury come into this midweek encounter on the back of a tough home match with leaders Highmoor Ibis. If results go to form, Bracknell could be in the top four or better by the end of these two games.
As for Bayer Leverkusen, unfortunately they also play on Tuesday night, as they kick off their Champions League Group C campaign with a match in Monaco. This is a game that, a couple of weeks ago looked extremely tough, but with the French side losing their best two players, it looks a whole lot more winnable. It will still be a hard fought match, but Schmidt will be confident of returning with at least a point.
This game will be on Sky Sports via the Red Button, but if you can get out of the house, get along to Larges Lane!
It’s fair to say that the Hellenic Premier season has got off to an inconsistent start for Bracknell Town. Under new manager Ed Carpenter, The Robins have won two, drawn one and lost two of their five league games. And it is the home form that is the most shaky, with just one point from three games. The two victories have both been emphatic ones on the road; 5-0 at Wootton Bassett Town and 3-0 at Ascot United.
They currently lie ninth in the Premier Division table, but do have the league’s top scorer in Shane Cooper-Clark. The 22-year-old has hit eight goals in six matches so far, including a hattrick in the win at Ascot. He has pretty much got a goal-every-other-game record in his Town career, with 39 goals in 87 games.
Carpenter is certainly looking to instil an attractive style of play in the team, and he can be heard constantly shouting instruction and encouragement at his players from the touchline. The signs are promising for the season ahead, and a first home win would certainly lift the players’ confidence.
They will be looking for that first home win on Saturday, when struggling Reading Town visit Larges Lane. This game has been brought forward from its original date of Tuesday, September 9th as it is an FA Cup weekend and both teams are already eliminated.
Reading Town currently lie in seventeenth place, with one win and four defeats from their five games so far. Goals should be guaranteed on the day, as Bracknell are the second top scorers in the division with thirteen (leaders Flackwell Heath and third place Brimscombe & Thrupp have fifteen), while only two teams have conceded more than Reading.
The game kicks off at 3pm, but the bar will be open from midday to show the Premier League match between Burnley and Manchester United. Full details can be found here.
At the beginning of every season, fans throughout the world share the exact same feeling; optimism. From those who support the clubs challenging at the top of their division, right down to those hoping their team simply remain in the same division in which they kick off the campaign, we all experience the same hope before a ball is kicked.
For fans of Bayer 04 Leverkusen, there are reasons to be optimistic. A new manager, and a few really exciting signings suggest that 2014-15 could be a good season.
Roger Schmidt has taken up the reins at the BayArena following the dismissal of Sami Hyypia in April following an horrific second half of the season. Youth team coach Sascha Lewandowski guided the team into fourth place in his caretaker spell, meaning Herr Schmidt has a Champions League campaign to navigate also.
Schmidt has moved from Red Bull Salzburg, where he spent two seasons, winning the league in record time and adding the Austrian Cup for a double last season (his first managerial honours). At 47 years of age, he is a relatively young manager, but has some valuable experience at different levels of the game. His first job was at Delbrucker SC, spending three seasons there before moving onto Preußen Munster, where he also did nearly three seasons before being sacked in March 2010. He had a decent win percentage at both clubs – 40% at Delbrucker and 47% at Preußen Munster – but was without a managerial job until he took over SC Paderborn for the 2011-12 season. After just one season, he was appointed at Salzburg and won the trophies that earned him his first top level job at Leverkusen.
He has got better in terms of his win records at every club he has been at (50% at Paderborn and a whopping 63% in Austria), and has made a decent start to life with the Werkself. A 6-0 win away at SV Alemannia Waldalgesheim in the DFB Pokal – in which club legend Stefan Kießling hit five – was followed up by a very good 3-2 victory in Denmark against FC Copenhagen in the UEFA Champions League qualifier. The away goals from that game should prove decisive in the second leg at BayArena.
And it seems to not just be on the pitch where Schmidt is impressing.
Two of last season’s brightest talents have been snapped up during the summer, and both will hopefully have huge impacts on the team this season. Josip Drmic and Hakan Calhanoglu were both on the radar of many clubs, so Leverkusen can rightly feel they have pulled of a coup in getting both on board.
Drmic scored seventeen of FC Nurnberg’s thirty seven league goals as they were relegated last season, earning him a big move after just one season in Germany. The twenty two year old Swiss international played at the 2014 World Cup, and is seen as one of the rising stars in Europe. If he can settle into the squad quickly, he will become a vital part of the team.
Like Drmic, Calhanoglu is definitely a player to be excited about. The Turkish attacking midfielder had a superb season in a struggling HSV team last season, scoring and assisting goals and generally showing what an exciting prospect he is. And he has already started making his mark on the team, setting up a goal in Copenhagen and showing fans what they can look forward to this season.
Both players represent excellent investments from the club. Drmic, at seven million euros, and Calhanoglu at double that, show that the club mean business in their quest to try and overtake Dortmund. In business terms, both players will be worth three or four times the amounts paid should they live up to the hype and expectation around them.
Elsewhere in the team, there have been signings to add real depth and quality to the squad. Wendell especially looks like a promising player. The young Brazilian left back spent time with Gremio last season before moving to Germany. He should add a touch of pace and flair to the side, but may take a little time to settle.
Vladlen Yurchenko is a Ukrainian under-21 international midfielder signed from Shakhtar Donetsk, initally on a two year deal with the option for a third. He has impressed in preseason, and will provide good back up for Bender et al. Also in are Dario Kresic, a goalkeeper signed from Mainz, and Kyriakos Papodopoulos, the centre back on loan from rivals Schalke 04. Tin Jedvaj is also a defender on loan, from Roma, and has played in both cup games so far.
Out go Emre Can, Sidney Sam, and Jens Hegeler, along with the loan players who have returned to their parent clubs.
All in all, it seems as though Leverkusen fans have some genuine cause for optimism. A series of good signings improving on the players they’ve replaced, and a manager who comes into the job on the merits of his achievements elsewhere. I definitely think they will finish in the top three, and could even sneak second if the footballing gods are in a good mood!