After two long months and plenty of preseason games, the 2017-18 2. Bundesliga campaign finally got underway Friday. There were plenty of talking points, mad moments, and everything in between.
If you missed the main incidents and need to catch up on each encounter, look no further. The Fanatic is here for you!
VfL Bochum 0-1 FC St. Pauli
Despite neither of these two teams getting anywhere near the promotion places last season, their meetings over the past few years have rarely been lacking entertainment. In the end, it was Christopher Buchtmann’s sweeping finish that sealed the win and capped a fine performance from the Hamburg-based club.
Buchtmann picked-up right where he left off last season, as did the entire team, in truth. It’s hard to remember another side making Bochum look as totally disoriented and disorganised for an entire half the way the visitors did Friday evening.
St. Pauli had plenty of early openings but largely found Manuel Riemann in top form. Bernd Nehrig’s early burst through the middle was denied brilliantly by the Bochum stopper. After more dominance, the very impressive Sami Allagui was halted by a strong left hand from Riemann.
The hosts’ main chance came after a superb ball from the (otherwise) indifferent Stefano Celozzi picked out Thomas Eisfeld, but returning number one, Robin Himmelmann spread himself well.
Eisfeld had two further openings, one of which was cleared off the line, and Danilo Soares also found Himmelmann in imperious form. Just as the hosts looked to be building up the necessary head of steam, the clinical counter came. Celozzi was robbed of the ball after a strong start to the second half before Allagui set-up the opportunity for Buchtmann to steer the ball home.
Both sides set about trying to find a second goal in the game, but it came to little. St. Pauli’s defence and midfield were superb in a tough and testing environment.
FC Ingolstadt 0-1 Union Berlin
Even with other big games going on across the league, this one had the feeling of an early promotion battle.
Union were without flagship summer signing Akaki Gogia and opted for Marcel Hartel over Stephan Fürstner in midfield. That plan took a hit when Hartel picked up a heavy knock in the first half, though the former Kölner was able to finish the game. Ingolstadt also made a surprising switch with Phil Neumann taking over at right wing-back. To his credit, he rarely put a foot wrong.
Die Schanzer came at Union hard in the opening minutes. They created several decent openings, but were repeatedly denied by either Jakob Busk or brave team defending.
After the initial flurry, chances were scarce. Dario Lezcano wasted a golden opportunity after robbing Christopher Trimmel by firing his attempt straight at Busk. Aside from Damir Kreilach’s deflected efforts, Felix Kroos went closest for the capital club, only to see his own long-range sighter zip narrowly past the upright.
The second half was broken up at regular intervals, with a dash and splash of disagreement across the pitch. The constant handbags and fouls may have put a dampener on general proceedings, but there was nothing dull about the only goal of the game. A long throw-in was nodded to the edge of the box by Sebastian Polter, and Trimmel’s 20-yard half-volley sped past Martin Hansen before he had even fully extended his dive.
Set-pieces were a real threat for an inventive Union, and Kreilach should have doubled the lead with a looping header that fell wide.
Ingolstadt’s late flurry kept Busk busy but never overly concerned. There were a few nervous moments when three penalty appeals were turned down at the death, much to the dismay of a furious Stefan Kutschke. Creativity on a consistent basis was lacking for Maik Walpurgis’ men, and a more-attacking midfield trio could solve that issue of supply from central areas.
Arminia Bielefeld 2-1 Jahn Regensburg
Never predicted to be a classic, Regensburg’s first second-division game in five years was anything but drab, featuring a red card, some dubious decision-making on both sides, and two well-taken goals.
The errors started early. A mix up between Philipp Pentke and his midfield saw Pentke stranded 20 yards from his line. Thankfully for the ‘keeper, Fabian Klos’ snapshot was well off the mark.
Things went back and forth from there, until the breakthrough for the visitors. Marco Grüttner played the perfect ball through for Jann George, as the pair perfectly split the Bielefeld defence with their runs. The latter slid the ball past Stefan Ortega to send the 250 visiting fans delirious.
Their joy would last but 16 minutes.
Just before the break, Keanu Staude burst through from near the center line and slotted his firm effort into the bottom corner.
Before the break, Grüttner had a pair of chances, shooting one just wide and then being denied by Nils Teixeira’s excellent and timely intervention.
The welcome 15-minute break came with an Arminia revival. Staunde and Andreas Voglsammer each had good chances, with Pentke doing well to keep out a strong volley from the winger. The openings kept coming as Grüttner and Klos hit the bar and post respectively after Patrick Weihrauch nodded inches wide of the far post.
Teixeira’s fine debut was ruined by his getting sent off with a horror tackle. Arminia rallied in defence and nabbed a winning goal. A mix-up between Pentke and Marvin Knoll saw Andraz Sporar nip in-between them to flick into an empty net.
It was far from pretty, but just what the hosts wanted, as all four of their main forwards had been very useful in the entire 90 minutes. Jeff Saibene’s side may have taken all three points, but there are certainly positives to be taken from this game for Achim Beierlorzer.
SV Darmstadt 1-0 Greuther Fürth
Somewhat like prior meetings, this was a tussle with very little between the two sides.
The Shamrocks’ versatility in both their transitions and tactics meant Darmstadt could never really relax in the game, as evidenced by a late rally from Janos Radoki’s men. The visitors had to break the play up more, with Hamit Altintop rolling back the years and pulling the strings in midfield.
The efforts of both sides largely went into a grueling midfield battle. Lukas Gugganig and Adam Pinter showed that they were more than capable of shouldering the burden that Marcel Franke’s absence has left. Yet, Tobias Kempe’s revival in blue-white was evident and his crossing caused a host of problems, as well as providing Aytac Sulu service on the only goal of the game.
The goalkeeping was questionable, yet Sebastian Ernst could have levelled not long after. Daniel Heuer Fernandes did well to save with his legs. Crosses from wide areas similar to Kempe’s were the main cause to Torsten Frings’ anxiety late on. Despite the close nature of the game, the Lilies just edged the contest and have already shown their ability to win ugly.
Nürnberg 3-0 Kaiserslautern
It could have been looked at as an indicator for the way the seasons of these two sides would have shaped up, though the Red Devils might want to tread cautiously if that is the case.
After a bright beginning from Norbert Meier’s side, Marius Müller’s mistake in dealing with a long-range shot saw der Club pounce. The ball was recycled, and Hanno Behrens rifled home to mark his first game as captain in style.
Not long later, Sebastian Kerk’s corner was palmed-in by Müller. It was not the ideal start, which was compounded by the presence of banners from the away support calling out his signing and that of Gino Fechner.
The second half saw Kaiserslautern improve, though not before Kevin Möhwald add a third for Nürnberg, finding the corner from 25 yards.
That did spark somewhat of a revival from the visitors, who found Thorsten Kirschbaum in fine form. He denied Osayamen Osawe with a smart stop before going on to thwart whatever came his way. The closest that Meier’s men came saw Baris Atik work his way inside and strike against the post from 20 yards.
Had Müller been more composed, the game could have been entirely differently, and there were positives on show that will have given fans on the Betze hope that it will get better as the season goes on.
The injury to Guiliano Modica won’t help matters, as he joins Marcel Correia on the sidelines. As for Michael Köllner, he couldn’t really ask for a much better start.
Heidenheim – Erzgebirge Aue
A game that looked like an exciting on paper, sadly fell victim to the rain. It started to pour not long after kick-off, but by the 12th minute it was a struggle to see from end to end. Benjamin Brand hurriedly brought the players out of the deluge, as the weather turned from worse to near apocalyptic.
After about 20 minutes during which fans slid into the goalmouth with wild abandon and a man with a leaf blower appeared, Brand appeared to test the pitch. They were given a further 10 minutes to improve the situation, but proceedings were ultimately halted.
At the time of writing, there was no confirmation of a date for a replay.
Dynamo Dresden 1-0 MSV Duisburg
Despite being without key players — mostly Niklas Hauptman, though neither Marco Hartmann and Florian Ballas were risked — and after losing their entire attack from last season, Dynamo got the job done against a stubborn Duisburg.
The game was overshadowed somewhat by Pascal Testroet’s serious knee injury, suffered when he collided with Zebras’ stopper Mark Flekken. Uwe Neuhaus confirmed damage to his meniscus, ACL, and MCL.
The game was, for large parts, in the hosts’ hands. In the first half, Cauly and Moritz Stoppelkamp each had chances to give the visitors the lead, though failed to find a meaningful finish. At the other end, Flekken was showing his credentials after an excellent 3. Liga season to thwart repeatedly Patrick Möschl’s efforts in an entertaining goalless first period.
The second 45 saw Neuhaus’ men exert further control and knock the ball around with more confidence. Aside from Marvin Schwäbe denying Simon Brandstetter and Duisburg rattling the post, Möschl was making the most of his competitive debut. Coming inside and out, he took advantage of the space between the lines.
Yet the goal would not come from the Austrian. Lucas Röser would instead steal the headlines. He rose highest to bullet Nils Kreuzer’s corner back into the top corner in the 88th minute to seal an important morale-boosting win. It’s a game that both sides can take positives from, though Lukas Fröde’s late red card won’t please Ilia Gruev.
Holstein Kiel 2-2 SV Sandhausen
The 2. Bundesliga ship passed through Kiel for the first time in over 30 years on Sunday and in front of a packed crowd. It was a return well worth waiting for in every sense. From start to finish, and that is no exaggeration, there was entertainment on show.
The Storks’ gung-ho, direct, and never-say-die approach was as brilliant to watch in the second division as it had been in the third.
Initially, Sandhausen showed their 2. Bundesliga experience. Rafael Czichos was busy from the first minute and made a superb sliding tackle to keep out Richie Sakuta-Pasu. After Dominik Schmidt fouled Lucas Höler, the physical forward managed to convert from the spot.
Kenneth Kronholm laer was adjudged to have handled outside the area, and things went from bad to worse. The resulting free-kick wasn’t cleared, and Philipp Klingmann swerved a 25-yard volley from left-to-right as the ball crept inside the far post.
Despite being two-nil down, Kiel didn’t change their ways. The deficit only made them more determined. Marvin Ducksch’s chip that cracked the bar and Steven Lewerenz’s blocked shot were signs of what was to come. They upped their performance again after the break and saw chance after chance passed-up, with Kingsley Schindler slowly starting to find his feet and offering another wide threat for Sandhausen to deal with.
Their breakthrough finally came when a superb knockdown from substitute Manuel Janzer was hammered home off the underside of the bar by Lewerenz, proving that Kiel have a threat from the bench.
Markus Anfang’s men continued to push and found a resilient Sandhausen backline, who were slowly showing signs of fatigue. In the end, it was Ducksch’s spectacular free-kick from distance that whipped over the wall and past the static Marcel Schuhen to send the home fans wild. If there was a game to embody 2. Bundesliga, this was it.
A special note must go to Ducksch who, had he taken one more chance, was as close to putting in the complete forward performance as anyone will get.
Fortuna Düsseldorf 2-2 Eintracht Braunschweig
With all the goals, cards, and chaos that had gone before, this could have been a damp squib, and no-one would have batted an eyelid. Yet, the ESPRIT arena faithful and those making the trip down from Lower Saxony were treated to a footballing feast that topped-off the matchday in true style.
Four goals, another red card, and controversy were all on the cards in Düsseldorf as a hugely entertaining game ended 2-2.
The game began with Fortuna on the front foot, and they were duly rewarded. Niko Gießelmann won’t get credited with the assist but his run, which included a double nutmeg, and cross saw Jasmin Fejzic turn the ball away from goal but into the unsuspecting Ken Reichel. The finish for Marcel Sobottka was a routine tap-in.
It could have been two moments later, but for Gustav Valsvik’s block to flick Lukas Schmitz’s shot onto the crossbar. That came after a period of dominance from Braunschweig, where Michael Rensing had to be at his best to keep the Lions at bay.
However, he was powerless to stop them from going level midway through the half. An inventive free-kick was headed toward goal by Domi Kumbela but saved by Rensing. The rebound fell to Joseph Baffo, who made no mistake from close range.
Just before the interval, Fortuna skipper Oliver Fink had to be brought off with an injury. Cue Florian Neuhaus, one of Germany’s brightest talents. However, it would again be Gießelmann with a superb curling free-kick that went narrowly over.
Kumbela himself was then substituted with a knock, and his replacement, Christoffer Nyman, managed to turn the ball past Rensing on the hour mark after a lovely, but slightly offside move. Nevertheless, the goal stood.
The game went back and forth after that with both Rensing and Fejzic pulling off their share of superb stops. However, young Neuhaus would mark his debut in style with a cool finish from 12 yards after good work from Schmitz. Moments later, Quirin Moll was given a second yellow card. Proceedings had been totally flipped on their head, but the visitors managed to survive a late siege to grab a share of the spoils.
A weekend of leaf blowers, postponements, red cards, 95th-minute equalisers, protests about football commercialism, and some incredible goals . . . 2. Bundesliga is most certainly back.
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