Survival expert Labbadia struggling to keep Wolfsburg from trapdoor

first_imgfeatures Spirited Spal frustrate Juve and shake up the bottom – and top – of Serie A 9Borussia M’gladbach27-636 By the end of the weekend, it was even harder to be philosophical. Cologne’s surprise win on Sunday (see talking points) should really have been academic by this stage but such has been the rate at which current relegation play-off spot occupants Mainz and Wolfsburg – level on 25 points – are plummeting, the worst-case scenario of a bottom two finish is becoming a genuine fear. Cologne, having compiled the worst-ever start to a Bundesliga season and having appeared to be toast for months, now trail Mainz and Wolfsburg by only five points.If commentators constantly repeat how incredible it is to see Die Wölfe here, less than two years after they pushed Real Madrid to the limit in the Champions League quarter-finals, it is because it is indeed difficult to grasp. Not so much, perhaps, from the “how far they’ve fallen” angle, but more in the spirit of “how on earth were they there in the first place?” This campaign and the last have been so bad that it’s harder to remember a time when Wolfsburg weren’t a calamity club than to recall with slack-jawed awe the fact that Kevin de Bruyne and Julian Draxler were driving their dreams in the relatively recent past. The days in which the partnership of the sporting director Klaus Allofs and coach Dieter Hecking brought a welcome stability to the club – plus a Bundesliga runners-up spot, a DfB Pokal win and Champions League football – seem light years away. Both are now gone, and since Hecking left in October 2016, there have been another four head coaches. Labbadia’s appointment, after Martin Schmidt abruptly fell on his sword on the eve of a visit to his former club Mainz in February, marked the second successive season that Wolfsburg have had three different head coaches. Twitter 1Bayern Munich274666 15Wolfsburg27-925 Share via Email The effects of the Volkswagen emissions scandal have hung over the club but the troubles of this season and last are more a question of poor management than insufficient budget. Signings of substance were made at the start of (and during) the campaign, including the highly-rated Spanish midfielder Ignacio Camacho, Bundesliga experience in the imposing defender John Brooks, Divock Origi and erstwhile Leverkusen winger Admir Mehmedi. Yet there appears to still be difficulty accepting the profundity of the hole Wolfsburg have dug themselves. When, at 0-0 and with 15 minutes to go on Saturday, referee Benjamin Cortus awarded them a penalty for Matija Nastasic’s foul on Riechedly Bazoer the players visibly rejoiced, and Bazoer was embraced by Knoche, Josuha Guilavogui and Jeffrey Bruma. They celebrated, as Wolfsburger Allgemeine’s Engelbert Hensel noted, way too soon. Wolfsburg had already missed four out of five penalties this season (this season’s Leverkusen, if you will), and the malaise has now affected the usually-reliable Paul Verhaegh. He stepped up and saw his tentative kick pushed away by Ralf Fährmann. The experienced Dutch full-back has now missed two in a row, having missed only two in 20 previous attempts since arriving in the Bundesliga. 5Bayer Leverkusen271244 Read more Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball)Matches made in heaven:🍞 Beans and toast🐟 Fish and chips🦇 Batshuayi and DortmundHe’s scored again and this might be his most outrageous goal yet 😨 18, 2018 Share on Facebook 7TSG Hoffenheim27539 Thank you for your feedback. Wolfsburg Share on Messenger Show Photograph: Xinhua/REX/Shutterstock/Rex Features Quick guide Bundesliga results Bruno Labbadia has his work cut out to prevent Wolfsburg from going down. Photograph: John Macdougall/AFP/Getty Images 13Hannover 9627-632 Freiburg 1-2 Stuttgart, Eintracht Frankfurt 3-0 Mainz, Augsburg 1-3 Werder Bremen, Hamburg 1-2 Hertha Berlin, Borussia Mönchengladbach 3-3 Hoffenheim, Wolsburg 0-1 Schalke, Borussia Dortmund 1-0 Hannover, Cologne 2-0 Bayer Leverkusen, Leipzig 2-1 Bayern Munich Facebook Hide European club football PosTeamPGDPts 10Augsburg27135 2Schalke 04271149 Share on Twitter ‘Fixing matches like nobody has done before’: Skenderbeu’s amazing talecenter_img Schalke Timo Wener scores the winner past Bayern’s Sven Ulreich. Photograph: Pixathlon/REX/Shutterstock 12Werder Bremen27-233 18Hamburg27-2418 Twitter 11Hertha Berlin27035 14SC Freiburg27-1830 4Eintracht Frankfurt27845 Read more • Cologne finally moved off the bottom of the table with a derby victory over Leverkusen, while Hamburg lost at home to Hertha Berlin after leading early on. Effzeh’s 2-0 win was surprisingly straightforward with Heiko Herrlich’s side partly stymied by Lucas Alario’s first-half red card, given (correctly) by VAR after his elbow on Dominic Maroh. Rather less smooth was off the pitch, with a huge brawl between ultras the night before the match near the BayArena, and Bild crediting the police intervention which allowed the match to go ahead after safety concerns were raised at the amount of pyrotechnics brought by visiting fans. • There was no magic formula for Borussia Mönchengladbach’s ills, as discussed last week, but the tail did wag in an exciting 3-3 draw with Hoffenheim and two notable bad runs came to an end, with injury-dogged Josip Drmic scoring his first goal for the club since February 2016 – validated by VAR – and Lars Stindl celebrating his retention in the Germany squad ahead of Marco Reus (who will continue to be monitored, says Jogi Löw) with his first in 1416 minutes. Pinterest Share on Pinterest 17Cologne27-2220 Pinterest 8VfB Stuttgart27-537 6RB Leipzig27543 3Borussia Dortmund272148 Bundesliga “In our situation, you have to put away a penalty,” Verhaegh lamented. “It’s my fault and I’m so sorry for us and for the fans.” The international break might at least give the players and staff the opportunity to burn off that excess emotion. Looking dispassionately at the fixture list, Wolfsburg have every chance to make this right, with Leipzig the only remaining opponents in the top six, with seven games to go. The immediate priority is not to let the final day match with Cologne become a play-off for survival – before getting back to the drawing board in the summer and making sure this never happens again. Talking points• Bayern Munich were beaten for the first time since late November – and only the second time since Jupp Heynckes’ autumn return – and deservedly so in the late game on Sunday, losing 2-1 at Leipzig, for whom Timo Werner scored a stylish winner. Werner had been rested by Ralph Hasenhüttl after the successful Europa League trip to Zenit St Petersburg this week, but was forced into action in the first 10 minutes after Marcel Sabitzer was injured. Accordingly, Werner was even substituted before the end. It was a badly needed win too, keeping them sixth and two points off fourth. Bayern could still clinch the title in the first game after the international break – they’ll be at home to Borussia Dortmund – if they win and Schalke fail to do so against Freiburg on the same weekend. • It was more of the same from Dortmund in the early kick-off against Hannover on Sunday, as they stretched their Bundesliga run under Peter Stöger to 12 unbeaten via Michy Batshuayi’s lovely flicked winner against Hannover. BVB hit the woodwork twice but again produced a poor second-half display, and were left hanging on against opponents who have now lost four straight. Eintracht Frankfurt, so unlucky to lose at Westfalen last week, brushed aside struggling Mainz 3-0 to move back into the top four. Sportblog When Bruno Labbadia arrives in a new post, it’s with a certain label attached– that of relegation battle specialist, and it’s one well-earned in successful fights against the drop at Stuttgart and Hamburg. If there’s a bright side to be looked upon after a tough couple of opening weeks at Wolfsburg, with one point taken from his opening four games in charge, it’s that he has the perfect situation in which to fulfil that reputation.Saturday’s heartbreaking late defeat to high-flying Schalke, sealed by Robin Knoche’s unfortunate 86th-minute own goal, was hardly deserved but the result is very much the bottom line in Wolfsburg’s current state. “We wanted to close the spaces for them, to be compact, and we did a good job of succeeding,” said Labbadia. “The only thing that didn’t work is the result, and so we can’t take anything from the performance, but we have to build on what we showed today.” Facebook Share on LinkedIn Was this helpful? 16Mainz27-1725 Share on WhatsApp Topics Reuse this contentlast_img read more

Will Alberta and BC go to trade war

first_imgIt says a lot about relations between the two provinces that even when they were both governed by the NDP, they still didn’t really get along. And now, of course, Jason Kenney’s United Conservative Party has taken over for Rachel Notley’s party in Alberta-and Notley left a loaded gun on the nightstand when she left, in the form of Bill 12.Bill 12 was passed but never proclaimed, but if it was, it would allow Alberta to choke off oil headed to British Columbia — a move that would effectively cripple the province’s economy — if B.C. doesn’t play ball on support for the Trans Mountain pipeline. If that happens, B.C. would retaliate and the two provinces could find themselves in an escalating trade war. So, is it rhetoric? How would Kenney’s threat become reality? How would B.C. fight back?GUEST: Jason Markusoff, Maclean’sAudio Player Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.You can subscribe to The Big Story podcast on iTunes or Google Play.You can also find it at read more