THE BUNDESLIGA FAQ  98/99 (August)
The situation before the 98/99 season - A review on how the teams performed 97/98 and who has been Kaiserslautern... 
(This service will be continued in October)

Who are 1.FC Kaiserslautern? promoted and champions right away - the first team to accomplish this: who are they, had it been expected?
Who did how? what had been expected, who has disappointed and who has surprised, best players according to the press, a short season evaluation

Who are 1.FC Kaiserslautern? The surprise champions... 

Who are 1.FC Kaiserslautern? The surprise champions... (the short answer / introduction) 
 Kaiserslautern has been the first promoted team in 35 years of Bundesliga history that became champions right away.  No doubt, this is a sensation. When they had been relegated the year before they had been able to keep almost the whole team and started with new coach Otto Rehhagel into the 2nd Bundesliga. Rehhagel had been a long term success coach for Werder Bremen but had been fired in his first year at Bayern Munich. 
 The team that had been split into jealous groups rallyed and were repromoted right away. The support by the fans had been tremendous although Kaiserslautern is not a big town. But being the symbol of a football-crazy region they attracted as many fans as in the Bundesliga.  
 In the first week of the 97/98 season a 1:0 away win at Bayern boosted confidence further and Kaiserslautern marched on to become champions. 
 Many commentators claim now that it has not been such a big surprise as the team stayed together and has a lot of experienced players. They seem to forget that almost the same team had been relegated and many players had been considered as too old or too slow or too weak, and that many outside and inside the club had warned the team would become relegated again. Commonly the championship is considered as a masterpiece by the coach, whose work had just been questioned even from inside the club before the season (More about the coach and the players in the details). 
Who are 1.FC Kaiserslautern? The surprise champions... (some details) 
The club/The coach/The players  

The club  

 Kaiserslautern is only a small town, but center of a football crazy region. The club first fully emerged in the 1950's when they became German champions twice. They were lead then by one of the greatest German players ever, 'Fritz Walter', who was famous for his technical skill and lead Germany as captain to become World champions 1954.  Since Bundesliga was installed, they have been a first level member, apart from the 1996/1997 intermezzo. After being a team for the second half of the table most of the years, they had very succesful periods in the late 1970's/early 80's and in the first half of the 90's when they became cup winners 1990, surprise champions 1991 and vice champions 1994. (In the year of  relegation they won the cup again.) 
 The club is concious of his position in the region and taking this involvement into consideration in the long term planning (stadium, training devices, pitches for young players etc.). It looks a lot as Kaiserslautern can secure their place as at least one of the top ten football adresses in Germany (long term view, considering success, region, fans, history, European meaning, infrastructure etc.). The stadium is regularly sold out (even had been in the 2nd Bundesliga) with about 40,000 capacity. Not bad for a town with about only 100,000 inhabitants. 

The coach  

 Commonly the championship is considered as a masterpiece by the coach Otto Rehhagel, who will continue his work at Kaiserslautern. His greatest assets are his organisation of the players as a social group and his parallel abilities of concentrating the team on the next match and continous medium, maybe even long term planning. Often he has had private contacts with players he wishes to add to his group for years. He asks total control over his section, he wants to be responsible for all details concerning training, matches, and composition of the squad.  
 In his long coaching career he has been attached all possible and contradictory labels. His person proves what worth those labels have. He started successful coaching at Kickers Offenbach in the seventies and in the following he bacame known as a specialist for 'short term motivation' jobs. When a club was in danger to become relegated his name was on the list to replace the actual coach. But was not allowed to stay long as there seemed to have been not enough faith in his long term abilities. Once he became fired after losing a last match of the season 0:12 against a team for whom the goal difference was important in the fight for championship (it had not been enough, 0:15 or 0:16 would have done it). 
 Then he came to Bremen ('Werder Bremen') where he later was given the knickname 'King Otto' for his successes and for his way to lead the team. He took over the just relegated club in the 2nd Bundesliga (a parallel to Kaiserslautern now) and transformed them into a long term successful team with two Bundesliga championships, several vice-championships, two FA ('DFB') cups,  and one European Cup Winners Cup.  
 But he had not always been 'King Otto' at Bremen. After some years Bundesliga he had been labelled 'Otto the second' (Some German Kaisers had had the name Otto). He had been twice 5th and three times 2nd. And the third (the second consecutive) vice-championship had been bitter as a big lead had been squandered in the final phase of the season. His ability to lead a team to championship was questioned. And when the next year Bremen became 'only' 5th again (the sixth consecutive year among the first five) he was questioned even more. 'To long with the team', 'he can't motivate the players anymore', etc. The club leadership sticked to him and the very next year Werder Bremen became champions and Otto Rehhagel suddenly the long-term 'King'. The same happened on the European level. The team had to earn experience first (losses against clubs like Odessa) before finally having great battles against Neapel or Milan. 
 1996 he had to decide whether he would stay at Bremen forever or take one of the big clubs offers. He signed at Bayern Munich but came into a much different context. A problematic media situation, vain players, and the former international stars Hoeness, Beckenbauer (who even had been successful as coach), Rummenigge in the administration, did not leave him with as much room as before in Bremen or later at Kaiserslautern, to plan and succeed. All details of his work were discussed by players, those administrative heads, and journalists, in the press. He insisted he would be successful anyway but he was fired before the end of the season. 
 As a player Rehhagel was known as a tough defender. Knowadays his philosophy is diffferent. He is criticising the sliding tackling for several reasons.  
He has spoken very positively of the FC Barcelona style (probably of the Cruyff area) of passing, ball control, and attacking. Bremen played a slower version what was sarcastically labelled as  'controlled attacking'  by journalists because it sometimes looked like another form of defence ('if you possess the ball the others won't score') rather than a dominating pressure. A difference to that Barcelona style is the emphasis of the right and left lanes. Kaiserslautern is very dangerous especially on the right wing where a pair of players, Buck and Ratinho are playing. But the left wing with Wagner is dangerous, too. So he is able to add the threat in the air with players like Marschall at Kaiserslautern and before Riedle at Bremen. 
 In modern football it is quite seldom to find such a consistent work with a goup of a particular character, maybe this is one of the reasons for the success. In the same time other big clubs restart again with new stars, a new coach, and a new philosophy. Reaching a high level then quickly is also a question of chance, not only of millions. Only Schalke too has stuck to their philosophy for a longer period now.  
 And here we approach a difference between Schalke and Kaiserslautern and the biggest problem in the work of Otto Rehhagel: When he leaves he leaves no structures behind. Due to the fact that all responsibilities are concentrated in this one person all structures are within him. Bremen had a lot of problems after his departure. At Schalke manager Assauer claims he set up a system that guarantuees consistent work and philosophy even after a coach change but the question is, will this be the case too when the manager changes? (In Germany the 'manager' is not involved in any coaching or team selection questions. At some clubs there a managers even without football background. His job is the general and financial planning, at some clubs the managers are also responsible for the squad compostion, for hiring and sending away players). 

The team:   
it is conspicious that the whole relegated defence and attack came back but the midfield was almost fully replaced... 
player had he been member of the relegated team 95/96? how was he really considered in the press before the 97/98 season? how is he considered after the championship? next year regular?
Andreas Reincke (xx, keeper) yes (regular) inconsistent, only as substitute for the later injured Czech national keeper Kouba had some errors, but won some points too. has to battle it out with new keeper Gospodarek from Bochum
Axel Roos (xx, defender) yes (regular) too old, too slow for Bundesliga, discussed at no other club reliable as ever, concentrated, fighting yes (probably in change with new defender Hany Ramzy from Bremen)
Harry Koch (xx, defender) yes (regular) Bundesliga level too high, discussed at no other club reliable, concentrated, fighting yes (see Roos)
Miroslav Kadlec (xx, Czech, defender) yes (regular) too old, too slow, at the end of his career most important defence organisator, important for build-up no, goes home to Czech Rep, ends his professional career, will be replaced by Egyptian Samir from Al Ahly Cairo.
Michael Schjönberg (xx, Danmark, defender) no 2nd Bundesliga level player (had played there before) defensive key figure, winning mentality, fighting yes
Roger Lutz (xx, midfield or defender) yes too old, not good enough, member of the amateur squad, the second team experienced and valuable fill-holes player will remain in his stand-by mode between second and first team, can play anytime on first level
Andreas Brehme (xx, midfield player) yes old but maybe valuable because of his experience, had been World champion 1990 but also tragic key figure in the relegation season stand-by player but also important for the team because of his attitude and experience, advices in daily work no, ends career but will remain in club
Ratinho (xx, Brazilian, midfield) no even only replacement in the 2nd Bundesliga, what wants Rehhagel with him? most valuable creative player, one of the main elements yes
Alexander Buck (xx, midfield, right wing) no failed at Stuttgart after promising career start, mentally unfit for Bundesliga fast, creating dangerous situations, many do not understand why he was not selected for France98 yes
Ciriaco Sforza (swiss, midfield) no the only real first level player, but questionable because of injuries and also his role/success at Inter Mailand the year before was questionned (failure or not?)  although not completely healthy, the key figure of the team, controlling the ball play by his technical and visionary skills yes
Martin Wagner yes, had been the only player with very good prospects to find a new team but sticked with his club after some injuries the qualities of the former German international had been forgotten, his health sometimes questioned as important on the left wing as Buck and Ratinho are on the right. He impresses more by his power and his shooting. yes
Marco Reich no who? young talent, emerging from the youth team with prospects for the German international team yes
Olaf Marschall yes injury ridden forward, who did not performed up to the expectations, not discussed at other clubs  one of the four best German strikers, member of the German national team at France, especially technically strong and with a brilliant eye for the situation. Still problems with injuries. yes
Pavel Kuka yes, but wanted to leave after relegation, was forced to fulfil his contract unlucky, seemed to have lost chance in the relagation season where he squandered many opportunities what did cost not only Kaiserslautern the first Bundesliga but Czech Rep the World Cup qualification. Anyway still dangerous. still a bit unlucky and not first choice anymore. Marschall always and Rische often had preferred to him. no, left for Nürnberg and is replaced by Uwe Rösler (Manchester City)
Jürgen Rische yes only good enough for the 2nd Bundesliga, not discussed at other clubs  not a regular, but when he came in he was scorer of important goals yes
Marian Hristov (xx, Bulgarian, forward no unknown Bulgarian, no strong addition, injured right away severly injured he came back in the second half of the season to score 5 important goals yes
Otto Rehhagel, 59, coach no stubborn, unable to cooperate with criticising administratives, players, or media, self-satisfied, only successful in 2nd Bundesliga because the team consisted of first level professionals, antique training methods wise, great social leader (human qualities), miracle-man, transformed mediocre side into champions, visionary reflections of contemporary football  yes
players not listed: Michael Ballack (mf), big talent, expected to become a regular and candidate for Berti Vogts, Oliver Schäfer (def) reliable defender, used in 10 matches, technically not the most skillful, member of the relegated team, Thomas Riedl, a talent that did not accomplish yet to receive the faith of Otto Rehhagel (son of a former popular Kaiserslautern player and with a good start in the relegation year) and a bunch of (yet) seldom used replacements.

Who did how 97/98? Who has disappointed, who has surprised? What are the consequences for 98/99? 
Who did how 97/98? Who has disappointed, who has surprised? What are the consequences for 98/99? (The short answer) 
 The positive surprise, more a sensation has been the championship for Kaiserslautern, the first one for a promoted team in 35 years of Bundesliga history. Bayern who are always the favorites came in only second but the gap behind them was huge. The biggest disappointment of the favorites was that 90's giants Borussia Dortmund, who had been expected to dominate the near future of German football together with Bayern finished only 10th and are in no European Cup in the following season.  
 From places 5 to 18 the differences were small and many traditional clubs came in to trouble (see Bundesliga FAQ index -> Archives 1997/98 on the background for this phenomena). Finally it was Karlsruher SC and one of the biggest names of German football 1.FC Köln who had to join Arminia Bielfeld in relegation. Many of the small clubs looked consistent while many of the traditional clubs seemed a bit in turmoil. 
 From the 2nd Bundesliga Eintracht Frankfurt, 1.FC Nürnberg (2 traditional clubs who partially overcame some of those turmoils), and SC Freiburg (visionarily guided club who achieves much compared to their opportunities) were promoted. All have been in Bundesliga before. Nürnberg is the team that has the most championships after Bayern München but the last has been 1968. (then they had been the only team in Bundesliga history to be relegated the very next year, an inverse Kaiserslautern so to say).
Who did how 97/98? Who has disappointed, who has surprised? What are the consequences for 98/99? (some details) 
*'Kicker' is the leading German football magazine 
**for 98/99 there is no particular 'The Shot That Passed Right Through the Net' prognosis 
club prognosted by 'Kicker'* before the 97/98 season prognosted by 'The Shot That Passed Right Through The Net' before the 1997/98 season result Prognosis by 'Kicker' for 1998/99** 
the prognosis in overview everything will remain like in the year before (Bayern, Dortmund, etc.), only one team was prognosted maybe to become relegated (although three get relegated by the mode!) this strange Kicker prognosis tempted The Shot to a 'counter attempt', still aware of that prognosis in football is impossible and only a game: 
some clubs are in an instabile situation what might cause unexpected surprises in both directions, up and down / as any year there will be 3 teams relegated / as any year there will be changes and surprises in the table. 
In more detail you can read about this 'prognosis match' 
in the 'Bundesliga-Archives' (but the particular document is in German language only)
A turbulent season saw many unexpected performances of teams. Most developments and movements were stronger and different than even The Shot That Passed Right Of The Net had expected. Also for some of those clubs were thought to drop out positively, they dropped out the other way. In terms of relegation both prognosis went wrong, the only team that 'Kicker' considered as candidate, finished as one of the surprises (Rostock) It seems clear: Bayern will become champions with only Leverkusen knocking on the door a bit. Kaiserslautern is downrated again (the problem: additional involvement in Champions League / but wait and see...). Relegation candidates are the 3 promoted teams and the 'smallest name' Wolfsburg. Sounds a bit too easy, doesn't it? 
1.FC Kaiserslautern if everything runs smoothely, Kaiserslautern can reach the first 9 Kaiserslautern will have fight against relegation but should end in the second half of the midfield of the table surprise champions a candidate to reach the first five
Bayern München main candidate for championship will become champions 2nd, the difference was lost 6 points in the direct encounter, maybe the 1st week was the decisive when Kaiserslautern began with a 1:0 at Munich will become champions
Bayer Leverkusen will end among the first three among the first five 3rd, a big gap to place 2, but established as a main contemporary power will fight for place one, two, or three
VfB Stuttgart with luck among the first two, but more realistic among the first five around rank 3 4th, some difference between best and worst performances, what caused impatience in leadership despite reaching European Cup Winners Cup finals. The consequence: A new coach around 6th
Schalke 04 will play for a place among the first five midfield 5th, consistent build-up, but were struggeling to reach a place in UEFA cup. the team seems a bid aging (increase of injuries) will reach the first five
Hansa Rostock desperate fight against relegation, but they will succeed relegation candidate with good chances to stay in Bundesliga 6th, second Cinderella team. Coach Ewald Lienen turned the relegation candidate by his unconventional attitude into the side that was labelled to play the 'most beautiful football' of the league  no easy year, most optimistic: a similar role than last season
Werder Bremen minimum 6th to 10th Werder will stay in midfield of the table 7th, unconspicious but effective performance after firing of coach Dörner brought them back into the first half of the table between 7 and 11 unless more sophisticated players will become added
MSV Duisburg will remain in midfield of the table Duisburg will move a bit closer to the relegation zone 8th, hard working team with the most disappointing attendance. Losing star striker Bachirou Salou and skilled midfield player Michael Zeyer for next year. Reached Cup final against Bayern and will play in Cup winners cup because Bayern tries to qualify for Champions league. 9th to 12th
Hamburger SV midfield of table instabile situation, in danger of a crisis season but also possible to surprise a bit 9th, Fell into some troubles but recoved in the second half of the season. More problems on the administrative level might create some more dangerous scenarios in the close future. midfield of table
Borussia Dortmund main candidate for championship difficult season, no championship, but finally will end up among the first three 10th, changed coach and stuck with all players, what lead to the expected problems and resulted in the departure of the coach and a modernisation of the squad for next year will reach a place among the first five
Hertha BSC Berlin between 10 and 14 will start with many troubles and will, but only if the club keeps calm, then be able to install their kind of game and perform a good second half to rescue themselves  11th, began desastrous,, coach Röber was one match before becoming fired. But the team then landed a winning streak and ended the season medium successful. 8th to 12th
VfL Bochum between 5th and 9th in danger because of the usual problems for surprise teams in the following season  with European Cup. But this will not be so harsh that they aill become relegation candidate 12th, looked like a severe relegation candidate after the first half but were able to improve in the second half after being out of the UEFA cup. 9th to 12th
1860 München will end up among the first 10 also with European Cup plus internal problems, everything possible in both directions of the table, but despite the mentioned above more likely to become a positive sensation 13th, after internal troubles in the beginning of the season constantly injury plagued and under pressure, managed to avoid relegation but were close. between 10th and 13th
VfL Wolfsburg will fight relegation with a real chance will be a close fight to avoid  relegation 14th, were able to collect more points than the relegated teams, changed the coach for the third third. will fight against relegation again
Borussia Mönchengladbach only when some problems on some postions can be solved they can fight for a place among the first five not enough movement inside the trouble ridden squad. will play midfield with option in all directions, can become positive surprise as well 15th, miraculous escape from relegation. Team and club structure were instabile, efforts to fix problems seemed to fail until the third coach of the season was able to ask a final concentration of the group. Escaped anyway only by the help of others. Often criticised superstar Effenberg leaves to join Bayern Munich. midfield of table
Karlsruher SC hot candidate for the first five most optiomistic: place 5, more realistic: less than place 5 16th, relegated. Whether it had been internal jealousies or the sell out of players that lead to a disappointing season is hard to say. Whether the firing of long term coach Winfried Schäfer was necessary or not, also. Definitively it came the wrong moment. The team was not any more successful after. -
1.FC Köln between 8th and 12th instabile situation, especially the press/coach problem. If keeping calm, midfield, otherwise move downwards 17th. After begging for relegation for years they finally succeeded. Changed coach quite early with no positive effect also. See Bundesliga FAQ 1997/98 for general problems and reasons. Famous player Bernd Schuster will try comeback. -
Arminia Bielefeld when avoiding internal troubles, they will play for more than just to avoid relegation despite some questionable points they should be strong enough to avoid relegation 18th, relegated, internal troubles between players, managers , and coaches, the over-use of Ali Daei in the first half, bad luck, unconcentrated defence in the last minutes. Many reasons combined for the huge set-back for the promiing squad. Will keep coach. -
Eintracht Frankfurt
after restructuring they won the 2nd Bundesliga championship with an intact squad, emphasis on local players with positive attitude. But new internal troubles, limited financial ressources, and the wave for the regional concept in favour of more exotic new players make the future hard to forsee. will fight against relegation
SC Freiburg
After relegation Freiburg kept the whole infrastructure (coach) and concepts intact and exchanged almost the complete group of players to restart the whole concept with young players (from 'all over the world') again. A promising team but very unexperienced. will fight against relegation
1.FC Nürnberg
A surprise: Promoted from 3rd division they started very bad, changed coach, had an unbelievable winning streak and rescued themselves a relegation place. But the teams seems to have played above their levels. New internal problems lead to the departure of coach Felix Magath a few weeks before 1998/99 season kicks off and the strength of the team is very hard to evaluate. will fight against relegation with the most difficult prospects