Bundesliga gearing up for kick-off

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Well. The end of an exciting 2009/10 Bundesliga campaign was followed by a terrific German effort in the World Cup in South Africa.

Who’d have thought that Jogi Löw’s young guns could smash four past both England and, even more impressively, Argentina? Of the Germany squad at the World Cup every single player plied his trade in the Bundesliga, and I am certain one or two of the slightly lesser-known players have become household names worldwide.

That is no longer the case, however, since Sami Khedira – virtually unknown outside of Germany prior to June - has signed on the dotted line to join Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid for about €14 million. Madness, he’ll never get a game!

The only winners in this transfer are VfB Stuttgart, who will be able to invest heavily into their squad with their new found fortune. Stuttgart, of course, the team who performed an incredibly resurgence under the stewardship of former Tottenham Hotspur manager Christian Gross towards the end of last season.

Khedira’s replacement at the Mercedes Benz Arena is Christian Gentner, signed from VfL Wolfsburg – where England’s favourite umbrella-holding manager – Schteve McClaren - will be taking charge of things this campaign.

But the biggest transfer story of this pre-season in the Bundesliga is, without doubt, the transfer of Real Madrid Galactico and ex-captain Raúl to Schalke 04. Fantastic!  And within a couple of days the Spaniard had collected his first trophy with the Königsblauen – the Liga-Cup.

Although the final was Schalke versus Bayern München, don’t be fooled that it was anywhere near Bayern’s strongest team; it wasn’t. In any case Raúl stole the show with two goals, the second of which was an outrageous chipped effort from 20 yards. Good to have such a footballing legend in the Bundesliga. The real test comes on Saturday when the two teams meet once more to contest the newly-reinstated Supercup.

So, apart Real Madrid swapping Raúl for Khedira and Jogi Löw’s team receiving plaudits from across the globe, what has been going on in German football recently?

Arne Friedrich – so impressive at the World Cup – has joined McClaren’s green and white revolution at Wolfsburg, while they have also snapped up highly-rated Danish defender Simon Kjaer from Palermo.

Khedira’s ex-team mate at Schalke, Rafinha, has upped sticks and headed for Genoa in Italy. Strange move, that one. Other transfer news worth mentioning comes in the form of Christoph Metzelder who has made his Bundesliga return, joining Raúl in ditching Madrid for Gelsenkirchen. One player they won’t be enjoying the company of, though, is Heiko Westermann – he has made a move north to Hamburger SV. Oh, and Michael Ballack has joined Bayer Leverkusen. No biggie.

Of the many pre-season friendlies that have taken place there is one that sticks out like a sore thumb as a game that I really ought not to have missed. Hannover 96 comprehensively demolished local side TSV Dollbergen 0-30 in a match that provided, on average, a goal every three minutes for the away team.  Didier Ya Konan was the hero of the hour, grabbing a superb treble hat-trick. He was only allowed to take the one football home with him.

It’s always nice to see Manchester City get beat, and that was exactly what Borussia Dortmund fans witnessed this week as their side ran out 3-1 winners over the big-spending Premier League outfit at Signal Iduna Park. Lucas Barrios opened the scoring with a penalty on nine minutes, but Jo (remember him?) levelled things shortly after with a goal for City.

Second half goals from new signings Shinji Kagawa and Robert Lewandowski were enough to win it for the bumble bee look-a-likes of Dortmund, while Manchester City’s owners will probably attempt to throw another couple of hundred million pounds at their problems.

Devestating news for Bayern München this week, as Dutch hero Arjen Robben was ruled out of action for up to eight weeks with a torn muscle. No problem though, according to “wonder healer” Dick van Toorn, who told German website spox: “It’s an old injury – of course he can play!”.

Well, he can’t, and will be missing for up to five Bundesliga games. No surprise, then, that his club are fuming, as the injury was seemingly undetected by the Dutch national team during the World Cup: "Of course FC Bayern München are very annoyed. Once again we as a club are paying the price for a player who injured himself with a national team," a rather annoyed Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told the Bundesliga website.

Just a week to go until the big Bundesliga kick off, and the Fundesliga is stupidly excited to provide weekly analysis and bloggage to you lucky, lucky souls.