Axel and Ali are not keen on international breaks because it means watching irrelevant, unbalanced matches between teams nobody remembers exists outside of these qualifiers... Anyway, we are sorting our lives out this week and will post stuff when we can. If nothing interesting happens we will be back for the return of the Bundesliga on 9th!
One story, however, which will certainly have caught the eye is the departure of Bastian Schweinsteiger, a legend of Germany and Bayern Munich and currently a reject at Manchester United under Jose Mourinho. The midfielder was part of the 2014 World Cup winning team and one of the young stars that lit up the 2006 World Cup on German soil and really made the nation believe that not only were the team heading in the right direction but that the still reasonably newly reunified country could host an amazing event on the international stage again. The generation of Basti, Phillip Lahm and Lukas Podolski, along with the likes of Miroslav Klose, defined Germany during this period and arguably none of those players captured the essence of the new Germany than Basti.
Schweinsteiger was the sort of player every professional and every fan admired, albeit often silently when he was wearing the Bayern shirt, but his loyalty and ability made him a well loved player all over Europe.
A typical Bastian Schweinsteiger conversation: "I tried to sign him on FIFA, but he turned it down to stay at Bayern...."
That the latter stages of his career have been plagued by injury and a certain amount of disrespect from his two most recent managers (Pep Guardiola sold him then Jose Mourinho forced him to train with the reserves) is a real shame, but he has shown the younger generation of players that dealing with rejection is an equally important part of being a professional. He continued to work hard for his place, for his fitness and for his reputation, refusing to criticise either the club he grew up loving and won everything with nor the managers who cast him aside. If he moves to the USA then he will be missed on European shores but at 32 he will be an incredible addition for whichever franchise secure his signature. He still hopes to run out for United, an indication of his loyalty.
If he could have retired from international football after winning Euro 2016, in the style of Phillip Lahm post world cup, then it would have been the perfect end to a stunning international career. His final game was instead at Borussia Park and was a tearful occasion in front of a packed out stadium of adoring German fans. A fitting ending for a true star.
We'll be back with more articles and fun things in the next few days!
This is where it all begins. Our resident analysts study the unrecognised players and examine the matches that are of interest across Europe.