We need a Hull or a Hoffenheim in the Champions League
It’s been a great season so far for people living above Germany’s white sausage equator, as fearless Hoffenheim and classy Bayer Leverkusen continue to make Bayern Munich look very ordinary, and very worried, indeed.
Bayern have won their last four games in the Bundesliga but that run has merely been enough to prevent them falling any further behind Hoffenheim, who have won five in a row, scoring 17 goals in the process, and Leverkusen, who have racked up four successive 2-0 victories.
There’s a long way to go, of course, but it looks like these two sides could mount serious challenges for first Bundesliga titles. Even if they fail, it’s fun watching them threaten to upset the established order.
Meanwhile, Hull City are enjoying a great season in England, despite a couple of recent defeats, while second-placed Udinese are worrying the favourites in Italy, AZ Alkmaar are top in the Netherlands and Rubin Kazan have just won the Russian championship.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could see some similar upstarts doing well in the Champions League?
Alas, a look at the tables sees the eight groups headed by the same old names: Chelsea, Inter Milan, Barcelona, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Arsenal, Juventus and Liverpool (joint top with Atletico Madrid).
The last time the Champions League had a first-time winner was in 1997, when Borussia Dortmund upset Juventus in the final.
We’ll have to wait until next season (at least) to see if Hoffenheim can repeat the trick, but for now … Come on CFR Cluj!
PHOTO: Hoffenheim’s Vedad Ibisevic celebrates a goal with Chinedu Obasi during their Bundesliga victory over Karlsruhe in Mannheim, Nov. 1, 2008. REUTERS/Thomas Bohlen