Coming up in GOAL! this week...
Having taken their unbeaten Bundesliga streak against FC Bayern up to five games while, more significantly, failing to make inroads into the Munich side's eleven-point advantage over them, Borussia Dortmund are looking to ring out an incredible year with a couple of wins to at least guarantee them a top-three place over the winter break. First up for the defending champions on Saturday is their final home league appointment of 2012, against VfL Wolfsburg. The visitors have had a turbulent time of it themselves over the same period and will take to the pitch at the Signal Iduna Park fourth from bottom of the standings, just outside the relegation zone. The mood in the Wolves' camp is certainly more upbeat right now than it was half a dozen games ago however, with team morale, and results, on the up since Lorenz-Günther Köstner took up the coaching reins - for the second time - on a caretaker basis. That said, VfL have now gone three games without a win, with a defeat at Mönchengladbach sandwiched between home draws against Bremen and HSV. Dortmund is a tough place to emerge from unscathed and while Köstner's men will travel in good spirits, they are far from out of the woods and this will be the most serious test yet of that new-found impetus.
Head coach Thomas Schaaf has long made no bones about the fact that Werder Bremen are going through a period of transition. Long one of the heavyweight top-flight contenders, and regular participants in the Champions League, the Green-Whites look to be facing another season of consolidation - although that said, Schaaf's revamped team are showing distinct signs of promise and could yet find themselves at least targeting a place in the Europa League. Whichever way things pan out in the current campaign though, the sense of rupture with the recent past has been compounded by the departure of sporting director Klaus Allofs for VfL Wolfsburg. Allofs had held the post since 1999, the same year Schaaf took over as head coach and together, they forged the Bremen team that challenged FC Bayern's domestic supremacy for much of the following decade. His departure marks the definitive end of one successful era - now the north coast team are hoping it also heralds the start of another.
Repromoted Eintracht Frankfurt have been doing themselves proud so far this season and while most of the attention has been focused on their bold attacking game under Armin Veh, the team's last line of defence has its own story to tell. Having earned their top-flight return after a single-season hiatus, Frankfurt moved in the summer to sign goalkeeper Kevin Trapp from 1. FC Kaiserslautern, who were simultaneously heading in the opposite direction. With Trapp nominated as the new number 1, the keeper who had helped Eintracht back to the top, Oka Nikolov, had to step aside. At 38, 16 years older than the new signing, "eternal Oka" as he is affectionately known to the fans is the epitome of the loyal one-club man, a rare breed in the modern game. The German-born former Macedonia international has battled back to claim his first-team spot more than once in the past - but Germany U-21 international Trapp is the man Veh is banking on as he plans for the future at Frankfurt.
All this and more in the latest edition of GOAL! The Bundesliga Magazine.