Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The bottom of the Bundesliga was occupied by the usual suspects: Bayer (Uerdingen) was last and no surprise, although they were the ‘better’ Aspirins at that time.
Kickers (Offenbach) ended 17th.
16th, by better goal difference, but still going down, were Hannover 96.
There was only one surprise, relatively speaking, among the relegated clubs: Kickers had strong 2 seasons just before this one. However, they were one of the ‘unsettled’ clubs, moving constantly up and down, just like Hannover 96. The promoted clubs did not look like major improvement of the Bundesliga, but none of the relegated was to be missed either…
In the safe area in mid-table were most clubs, of course – some in relative decline, like Werder (Bremen).
Werder had a rarity at that time - a black player – but were lucky to escape relegation, finishing 13th. Lesser clubs performed better – like Rot Weiss (Essen).
Solid 8th place, which was pretty much the best Rot Weiss could get, for normally they were releagtion candidates.
The middle zone was tough enough and similar – having an occasional big star, like Hottges (Werder), or second-string star, like Burgsmuller (Rot Weiss); a bulk of tough hard workers; and some bright youngsters – Dieter Burdenski (Werder) and Hrubesch (Rot Weiss). Horst Hrubesch was not exactly teenager at 24 and was still unknown to the world, but he scored 80 goals in 83 games for Rot Weiss. Such mixes were difficult and competitive opponents. It was clear by now, that neither Schalke 04, nor Eintracht (Frankfurt), were to be the third big German club – both were rather declining. Others were more of one-time wonders – 1. FC Kaiserslautern, Fortuna (Dusseldorf), MSV Duisburg. To a point, it was strange that West Berlin was not able to produce really strong club – Hertha rather joined the list of ‘one-timers’. Yet, Bundesliga was entertaining and competitive – names and fame meant nothing, nobody was safe, no victory garanteed. The mid-table clubs ensured high level of football – a solid base for producing greatness on the very top. Among them the best this season was Eintracht (Braunschweig), finishing 5th.
Branko Zebec was coaching a team, which only two years ago was playing in the regional leagues. Franke, Gersdorf, and the Yugoslavians Popivoda and Ristic were the big names. There was a young broom called Wolfgang Dremmler too… in 1981 he was playing for the West German national team.