Coming up this week on GOAL!...
Top Game I
It has been a tough few weeks for Borussia Dortmund on the home front. A run of just one win in their last five Bundesliga outings, damaging home defeats to direct rivals FC Bayern and Leverkusen included, has left Jürgen Klopp's troops no fewer than twelve points off the red-hot pace being set at the top by the men from Munich and five shy of the second-placed Werkself. Last time out, they battled back from two down to earn a draw at Hoffenheim but once again, the absence of the bulk of their first-choice defence was sorely felt. The year's final visitors to the Signal Iduna Park, Hertha Berlin, will be hoping to further compound BVB's current woes and round out a fine first half-season back in the top flight on their own part. A 3-2 home victory over Bremen kept the club from the capital holding steady in seventh and, having strung together successive wins for the first time in the campaign, three in a row and an impressive away scalp for good measure would be the ideal way to head into the winter break. The hosts' star-studded ensemble and the vast majority of the massive crowd attendant will, of course, have other ideas altogether.
Top Game II
Borussia Mönchengladbach passed up the opportunity to overhaul their Dortmund namesakes in third place as they had to be content with a share of the spoils at Mainz on Matchday 16. That goalless draw also spiked the Foals' six-game winning streak and to get back on track at the year's end they will have to overcome another of the league's current form sides in VfL Wolfsburg. The Wolves have won six and drawn the other two of their encounters since the embarrassing home loss to local rivals Braunschweig on Matchday 8 and go into this one bolstered by back-to-back successes against Freiburg and Stuttgart. Another victory here would take them level on points with their hosts – a battle of two sides currently brimming with confidence, this has the makings of a real cracker.
He took a little while to settle in following his summer move from Hamburg, but Heung Min Son has certainly been making up for any lost time of late with Bayer Leverkusen. A hattrick against his former employers, a brace against Nürnberg in the next home match and his first goal on the road for Bayer to earn a maximum haul at Dortmund have made it a very productive few weeks for the 21-year-old South Korea international, as well as doing wonders for his successful integration into the Bayer frontline. As far as Son is concerned, those recent exploits are but a taste of things to come with the club who look like posing the most sustained challenge to FC Bayern on the home front this season – and are still very much alive and kicking in the Champions League as well.
3 Minutes with...
...Ivica Olic. Now 34, the Croatian frontman is showing nary a sign of losing his voracious appetite for football in general or the dynamism and dedication in particular which made him such a firm fans' favourite in Hamburg and Munich and has earned him a similar status at VfL Wolfsburg. A starter in all 16 of the Wolves' league games this season, Olic has racked up seven goals to date, the most eyecatching without much doubt being a wonderful curled finish to seal a 2-1 win against Dortmund on Matchday 12. GOAL! shoots the breeze with a Bundesliga evergreen right at home in the upwardly-mobile ambience of Wolfsburg.
At the latest since he ran the gauntlet at his old stomping ground in Dortmund and emerged victorious, Mario Götze has truly arrived at FC Bayern München. As the controversy stirred in some quarters by his unexpected switch between the Bundesliga rivals fades, the 21-year-old supertalent, now thankfully back to full fitness following a double injury setback, is free to focus on what he does best – mesmerising opponents and colleagues in like measure with his sublime technique and uncanny match intelligence. A player after the heart of Bayern head coach Pep Guardiola, Götze seems ready to take his game up to the next level – undisputed world class – for club and country alike.