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'We're Not The Harlem Globetrotters'
by Ian Plenderleith, September 29th, 2008 7AM

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[GERMANY] For the second successive week, Bundesliga newcomer 1899 Hoffenheim scored four goals against one of the league's storied teams, four-time German champion Werder Bremen. Unfortunately for Hoffenheim, for the second successive week Bremen scored five, edging a crazy game that took Werder up to third place.

And for the second successive week, Bayern Munich lost. It was not as dramatic as last week's 5-2 home collapse to Bremen, but its 1-0 defeat at Hannover 96 prompted much talk in the German media about Coach Juergen Klinsmann's rotation policy. Ahead of Tuesday's Champions League game against Olympique Lyon, he left Franck Ribery, Massimo Oddo, Sebastian Schweinsteiger and Lukas Podolski on the bench.

Hungarian international Szabolcs Huszti scored the game's only goal, direct from a free kick, which under-fire Bayern keeper Michael Rensing perhaps ought to have reached. Steve Cherundolo was back in the Hannover defense and played through. Meanwhile Bayern defender Philipp Lahm took solace in the defeat. "Defensively, that was much better than against Bremen." Which is a remarkable reflection of the currently downgraded expectations of a team that traditionally thrives on its own arrogance.

All the drama, though, was at Bremen, which was 4-1 up on Hoffenheim with just half an hour gone through goals from Mesut Ozil, Claudio Pizarro, Diego and Aaron Hunt. French-Senegalese forward Demba Ba had equalized for Hoffenheim, but it was goals from the teams' two Bosnians -- Sehad Salihovic and Vedad Ibisevic, the former Saint Louis University striker - and defender Marvin Compper that brought the score to 4-4. Ozil scored the winner with nine minutes left which, according to the weekly sport magazine kicker, was "the final act of an insane game where both teams played rousing, attacking soccer."

That was no consolation to Hoffenheim coach Ralf Rangnick, who said his team was "brutally disappointed by the defeat," according to weekly German news magazine Focus. "No one should try and tell me how great that was and how brilliantly we played," he warned. To be proud of having contributed to such a game would be "dangerous. We're not going round like the Harlem Globetrotters trying to please crowds, we want to win points."

Elsewhere, Borussia Dortmund easily swept aside an impotent looking Stuttgart side, 3-0, Alexander Frei returning from injury by coming off the bench to score the third. Amid all the excitement elsewhere, Hamburg quietly took advantage of Schalke's 1-0 loss at Cologne to move to the top of the table with a win by the same margin over Borussia Moenchengladbach. Michael Bradley stayed on the bench for Borussia. Energie Cottbus won for the first time this season, a surprise 1-0 victory at Hertha Berlin.

Karlsruhe ended Wolfsburg's unbeaten record with a 2-1 home win, while Eintracht Frankfurt remains the league's only winless side, held at home 1-1 by Bielefeld.

STANDINGS:
Hamburg 13
Bayer Leverkusen 12
Werder Bremen 11
Schalke 04 11
Borussia Dortmund 11
Hoffenheim 10
VfB Stuttgart 10
VfL Wolfsburg 9
Bayern Munich 8
Hertha Berlin 8
Cologne 7
Hannover 96 7
Arminia Bielefeld 6
Karlsruhe 6 (5 games)
VfL Bochum5
Energie Cottbus 5
Eintracht Frankfurt 3 (5 games)
Borussia Moenchengladbach 3

 



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