Bundesliga Five Points: Dortmund fail to keep pace with Bayern’s title charge
Guardiola is going ...
By announcing his departure, Pep Guardiola leaves himself open to criticism in his last six months in charge. Who does this benefit? Granted, Bayern can plan, but now failure can be linked with an excuse. You can almost guarantee that if Pep doesn't win the European Cup this season, that stick will be used to beat him in the media. Replacing Guardiola, who looks bound for Manchester, is the highly-experienced Carlo Ancelotti. He's won four titles in four different countries - Spain, Italy, England and France - and three Champions League crowns with Milan and Real Madrid. What's clear is that Ancelotti won't change the tactics drastically, but he has the man-management and diplomacy skills to help Bayern towards their destination: the Champions League. He's a safe pair of hands for Bayern.
AFP/Getty ImagesNIGEL TREBLIN
Dortmund's poor end to 2015
Borussia Dortmund falling eight points behind Bayern Munich has brought a close to the championship race. At five points, it was believable, but barring a Bayern implosion, the yellow-and-blacks will need to settle for second. One needs to emphasise that this has been a superb first chunk of the season under Thomas Tuchel who has formed a team that is genuinely one of the best in Europe. With European success still possible, this season could still be historic. But if Tuchel wants his team to be genuine title contenders next season, the team needs to stamp out individual mistakes and add players with leadership skills. Mats Hummels' injury led to a late capitulation from Dortmund at Cologne on Saturday as the Billy Goats scored late to take all three points and end the year on a low note.
Borussia Dortmund/Getty ImagesAlexandre Simoes
Happy Christmas from Berlin
Who fancies Hertha Berlin and Leicester City in the Champions League next season? That might sound like a mocking tone, but Germany's capital city has been crying out for a leading club. Now, Berlin might have a team to believe in as Hertha BSC end the first half of the season in third-place and eyeing up a first Champions League appearance since the late 1990s. Pal Dardai's formula is simple: Hertha is consistent, functional and have some good players. Vladimir Darida remains one of the underrated midfielders in the league, while Salomon Kalou and Vedad Ibisevic are finding the net with impressive regularity. Then there's Mitchell Weiser, the former Bayern kid who has grown leaps and bounds this season. Dardai's side need to start 2016 with the same form, hopefully aided by new signings.
AFP/Getty ImagesROBERT MICHAEL
Didavi: Stuttgart's great hope
Stuttgart fans got the perfect Christmas wish on Saturday, with the Swabians beating Wolfsburg 3-1 at home to move clear of the relegation zone. Stuttgart is unbeaten in four games and joined the German Cup quarterfinals with an extra-time win over Braunschweig. Jürgen Kramny, the interim coach, has secured the head coach post until the summer of 2017 as a result of his results. Key to Stuttgart's success is attacking-midfielder Daniel Didavi. Blessed with terrific technique on his left-foot, the 25-year-old bagged a double to take his tally to seven for the season. Didavi's early career has been blighted by injuries, but now he's Stuttgart's leading player. January is a crossroads in Didavi's career: stay at Stuttgart or leave to join any of the top-six clubs interested in his services?
AFP/Getty ImagesDANIEL ROLAND
Who needs work done in January?
German clubs aren't big on last-gasp transfers on deadline, but you can expect Bundesliga sides to conduct business at the beginning of the month. Which clubs need to make the most changes? Well, the new sides – Darmstadt and Ingolstadt – are entering the same downward spiral that saw Paderborn and others go from mid-table to relegation in the second half of the season. A new approach will help. Elsewhere, as one sports manager in Germany put it to me, 'deals will only be done if the right quality available'. This certainly applies for Bayer Leverkusen, Borussia Mönchengladbach and Schalke who are chasing Champions League football next season. But the need for reinforcements is stronger at the bottom where Werder Bremen, Hannover and Hoffenheim occupy the bottom-three on Christmas Day.