Munich weighed down with off-field problems
17 February 2005
HAMBURG – Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich take on Borussia Dortmund on Saturday in what is no longer considered a duel of the top two German top clubs, a situation underlined by Dortmund’s massive financial problems and mid-table position.
Dortmund, the only German club listed on the stock exchange, shocked the country on Thursday with the announcement that it its very existence was threatened due to continuing massive debts.
“The game of all games. That is no longer,” said he headline of sports magazine Kicker on Thursday even ahead of the announcement.
While Munich still play for the title every year, Dortmund have declined in recent years after winning two league titles in 1995 and 1996 and another one in 2002. They also lifted the Champions League title in 1997.
Dortmund have instead made the headlines off the field due to their terrible financial situation with debts of around 100 million euros and possible further losses of almost 28 million euros in the first half of 2005.
That has also led to changes in the club leadership, with former treasurer Hans-Joachim Watzke earlier in the week appointed managing director in succession to Gerd Niebaum, the former club boss who quit last week.
Dortmund have been overtaken by their arch-rivals Schalke 04, who are tied at the top of the table with Munich on 41 points but have an inferior goal-difference.
Champions Werder Bremen, who visit Hanover 96, follow with 37 points. Hertha BSC and VfB Stuttgart are close behind on 36 and 35, respectively, ahead of their crucial meeting in Stuttgart on Sunday night.
Schalke are also in action Sunday, at Borussia Moenchengladbach.
Munich and Dortmund officials met recent after wealthy Bayern offered to help Dortmund, but that will not mean they will gift them victory on the pitch on Saturday.
Dortmund have not won in Munich since 1991 and the first meeting between the two this season was also a traumatic affair, with Munich turning a 2-0 deficit into a 2-2 draw with goals in the 90th minute and injury time in Dortmund.
Munich are coming off a 3-1 defeat at Arminia Bielefeld, their first defeat in nine games, and fear for playmaker Michael Ballack, who has muscular problems.
Coach Felix Magath, however, said that Munich were always at their best when under pressure, now that Schalke have closed the gap again.
“It is tighter at the top, but maybe that is quite good. It appears the team does better when it comes more under pressure,” said Magath.
Dortmund rank 11th on 28 points after grabbing 10 points in their first four games of the year, lifting them out of immediate relegation danger.
“We are all playing at a much better level now,” said veteran defender Christian Woerns.
Like Munich, Dortmund will be without their playmaker, as Tomas Rosicky is nursing a torn muscle.
The other Saturday games are SV Hamburg vs. Kaiserslautern, VfL Bochum vs. SC Freiburg, Mainz 05 vs. Arminia Bielefeld, Nuremberg vs. Bayer Leverkusen and VfL Wolfsburg vs. Hansa Rostock.
Subject: German news