Germany: Dortmund are Autumn Champions thanks to Frankfurt
Borussia Dortmund are already confirmed as Herbstmeister (Autumn Champions) before their weekend game against 1.FC Nürnberg on Sunday. That’s because their nearest challengers 1.FSV Mainz 05 lost out in their local derby against Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.
Both Eintracht and Mainz came into the match in the Frankfurter Waldstadion with contrasting fortunes in their last two games. Whereas Eintracht had lost in consecutive games to FC Bayern München and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, Mainz had won their previous two against Borussia Mönchengladbach and 1.FC Nürnberg. The game was level at 1-1 at the half-time break following goals from Marco Russ (Eintracht) in the 35th minute with Mainz equalizing from the penalty spot seven minutes later through André Schürrle. The game was ultimately decided in the 82nd minute after another penalty was scored, this time for the home team. Deadly striker Theofanis Gekas scored his 13th league goal of the season to give Eintracht all three points and thus deny Mainz any chance they had of becoming Herbstmeister. Borussia Dortmund have a seven point lead (played 14, points 37) over Mainz with the former having three games left before the winter break whilst Mainz have just two games to play.
The tag of Herbstmeister is a very important one in German football. Since the inception of the Bundesliga in 1963 only on sixteen occasions have the Herbstmeister not gone on to win the Meisterschale (Bundesliga trophy) at the end of the season. Overall history shows that it is better to go into the second half of the season in the favoured first place although recent history shows that it’s not always the case that the Autumn Champions ultimately win the Bundesliga. Three of the last four champions – VfB Stuttgart in 2006-07, VfL Wolfsburg in 2008-09 and FC Bayern last season – were not Herbstmeister before going on to win the title.
Nevertheless for Borussia Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp the achievement of finishing first at this stage shows just how well the Ruhr side have improved since his reign. Klopp joined the club as head coach in the 2008-09 season when he guided die Schwarzgelben to a respectable sixth place, seven places better than their showing in the previous season under Thomas Doll. Last season Klopp improved Dortmund’s position by one place and he is now gaining the respect of his peers as he sets about bringing Borussia Dortmund a first title triumph since 2002.