September 23, 2017

2. Bundesliga Matchday 25 Preview: This One Features a German Classic

Between league and cup matches, the 1. FC Köln and 1. FC Kaiserslautern have met 91 times. Meeting number 92 comes Monday as the cherry place atop a weekend-long ice cream sundae of quality 2. Bundesliga matches to fill your football-watching belly.

Friday

SC Paderborn : Dynamo Dresden

(Hinrunde result – 2:2)

After having their eight-match unbeaten run ended in resounding fashion Sunday, SC Paderborn will look to get back to their point-winning ways to stay in the promotion mix when they host Dynamo Dresden. That Dresden has not posted a win since November 30th and have fallen back into a direct-relegation spot might make them seem an easy mark, but Dynamo had their match day 24 opponent, Fortuna Düsseldorf, on the ropes and victory in hand before an injury-time equalizer arrived against the run of play.

Paderborn has never defeated Dresden at home, with all three of their victories against Dynamo coming in Dresden. They could also be reeling slightly from having had their momentum stopped so decisively with the 0:4 loss in Karlsruhe, as well as the loss of Jens Wemmer, whose versatility on the right side has had him filling spots both in midfield and defense.

Not sure we're in a position to experiment with playing in shower shoes just yet, fellas!
Not sure we’re in a position to experiment with playing in shower shoes just yet, fellas!

VfR Aalen : VfL Bochum

(Hinrunde result – Aalen won 1:2)

As 17 of their 27 total points this season have come on the road, VfL Bochum will be happy to take their efforts to escape the relegation battle to VfR Aalen, where their hosts have won just one of their last six. Though, that victory was their most recent home match and was the one that ended Karlsruher SC’s twelve-match unbeaten run.

Bochum might be feeling the heat of pressure, sitting idly on 227 points in 15th place over last weekend while both Bielefeld and Dresden drew nearer with points taken from their matches. A victory over Aalen would be their first in four attempts, with VfR getting seven point from the only three prior meetings of the two sides. It would also be just the second victory for Bochum since November.

If there is a glimmer of hope for Bochum, it might lie in having to travel to Aalen to play.  17 of the VfL’s 27 points have come on the road.

FC Ingolstadt : FSV Frankfurt

(Hinrunde result – Frankfurt won 4:1)

FC Ingolstadt and FSV Frankfurt meet in a battle of clubs on the fringes of the relegation discussion. Each side has won nine points from the five matches played in 2014 to move from the thick of the battle a bit closer to the middle of the table. Level on points, Frankfurt sits in 12th, one spot ahead of their hosts this weekend thanks to a two-goal edge in differential.

Playing at home has been of little advantage for Ingolstadt this season, earning just ten points from eleven matches at Audi Sportpark, though their unbeaten 2014 start has included the club’s first-ever victory in their derby series with 1860 München.Frankfurt lost road matches on consecutive match days in Berlin and Fürth before suprising St. Pauli last weekend.

Current FSV boss Benno Möhlmann could probably advise his young players on good places to grab a bite to eat during their down time in Ingolstadt, having served as the head coach there for one year ending in November 2011. His experience is likely to also make him familiar with the fact that Frankfurt have taken points in all four visits to Ingolstadt since the clubs initially were promoted together to the 2.Bundesliga in 2008.

You guys again?!
You guys again?!

There is actually a little bit extra familiarity to go around in this match-up, as the two sides met in the second round of the DFB Pokal, with Ingolstadt advancing via a 0:2 defeat at the Frankfurter Volksbank Stadion. Though both matches took place before current Ingolstadt coach Ralph Hasenhüttl joined the club after the firing of Marco Kurz.

Saturday

Energie Cottbus : Karlsruher SC

(Hinrunde result – Karlsruhe won 2:0)

Energie Cottbus will face a promotion favorite for the third-consecutive week Saturday when they host Karlsruher SC, current holders of the third-place spot. Cottbus remains ten points from safety after letting slip from their grasp the opportunity to upset 1. FC Köln, allowing two late goals to fall 2:1 last Friday night. Three points from beating the club atop the table would have certainly been nice progress toward closing the distance to 15th place, as well as a further shot of confidence, which was born the prior week in an upset victory over Kaiserslautern.

"I think I can just barely see 15th place!"
“I think I can just barely see 15th place!”

Despite coming from the 3.Liga over the summer, the KSC is far from your typical Aufsteiger, having spent most of the last five months within striking distance of the promotion spots, in large part due to as 12 game run of matches without a loss.

All four of Cottbus’ victories this season have come at home. With the he last four meetings between the two clubs having all been won by the home side and considering Cottbus’ resurgent efforts, Karlsruhe is unlikely to take lightly their opponent, despite being at the bottom of the table.

Or, at least, Markus Kauczinski is looking at it that way.

“We will meet a strong opponent,” says the KSC boss of his outlook for the weekend match. “We want to continue along the patch we forged against Paderborn. That means we need to work consistently to work against the ball, to put pressure on the opponent, play fast when going forward, and take advantage of our chances.”

Kauczinski may be looking for a repeat of last weekend’s effort, but will need to get it from some new players. Manuel Torres, who opened the scoring against Paderborn, will miss the match after collecting his fifth yellow card. Striker Ilian Micanski will also miss his second-consecutive match with injury. Meanwhile, Koen van der Biezen, Manuel Gulde, Dennis Kempe, and Gaetan Krebs have all battled nagging injuries during the week, putting their availability in question.

FC Erzgebirge Aue : 1860 München

(Hinrunde result – 1860 won 3:1)

FC Erzgebirge Aue will be looking to a return of their surprise start to 2014 after blowing a two-goal lead against 1. FC Köln two weekends ago and being shutout last weekend in Bielefeld to give Arminia their first win since six attempts. Aue’s guests, 1860 München got their first victory since match day 17 last weekend, scoring a season-high four goals in a shutout of VfR Aalen.

Aue, traditionally a tough squad at Erzgebirgsstadion, have earned over two-thirds of their points at home this season. Accordingly, it was not until last season, on their seventh visit, that the Lions finally collected all three points in Aue. Repeating the task could get 1860 back into the promotion discussion.

Sunday

SpVgg Greuther Fürth : FC Union Berlin

(Hinrunde result – Fürth won 2:4)

SpVgg Greuther Fürth continue their push for a direct return to the Bundesliga by hosting another club ostensibly entertaining promotion thoughts in FC Union Berlin. Fürth have grabbed eight points in their last four matches to maintain their long-established hold on second place. Berlin needed an extra-time penalty kick to secure a single point in hosting Ingolstadt last week to stay within one match of the promotion play-off spot.

History is not on the side of the Berliners, however. The last time Union travelled to Fürth, they were sent back home with a 5:0 loss. Fürth has won the last five meetings with Union by an aggregated score of 16:3.

Fürth will be without striker Niclas Füllkrug, who will  be out three to four weeks with an ankle injury.

Dressing like a safety cone did not prevent Füllkrug from being injured.
Dressing like a safety cone did not prevent Füllkrug from being injured.

Fortuna Düsseldorf : FC St. Pauli

(Hinrunde result – 1:1)

Despite leaving Frankfurt last weekend empty-handed, FC St. Pauli remains in fifth, just a single point behind third in the table. Now the cult club will leave Hamburg for a second-consecutive weekend to visit Fortuna Düsseldorf, a club which has not yet lost a match in 2014, but has failed to reinsert itself into the promotion chase having taken all three points in just one of them. That lone victory did, however, come in Fortuna’s last home match. St. Pauli, with 21 points from 12 road matches, is the league’s second-toughest visitor this season.

Despite St. Pauli’s strong road form, Fortuna boss Lorenz-Günther Köstner likes the home crowd to even things a bit for his charges.

“With our great fans behind us, we will get something for the third-consecutive home match,” said Köstner this week. “I firmly believe that.”

You heard the coach, folks. Propel your club to points!
You heard the coach, folks. Propel your club to points!

Neither of the two coaches in this match were present for the prior meeting of the clubs, with Michael Frontzeck and Mike Büskens both having been sent packing during the Hinrunde. The replacements have already experienced moderate measures of success since overtaking their respective clubs during the winter break

Düsseldorf has yet to lose under Köstner, but have made little progress in the table as four of their five results have been draws. Roland Vrabec, on the other hand, has his club in the middle of the promotion chase, but suffered losses to two sides from the lower reaches of the table to prevent them from leaping to the front of the pack.

SV Sandhausen : Arminia Bielefeld

(Hinrunde result – Bielefeld won 2:1)

No 2.Bundesliga club has lost fewer home matches than have SV Sandhausen (okay, they are tied with three others also have just two losses at home) who will look to continue their strong form at Hardtwaldstadion to keep Arminia Bielefeld from snatching points in their struggle to avoid relegation.

Neither side has been particularly impressive so far in 2014. Over the last four match days, the teams have collectively earned four points, with Bielefeld getting a victory last weekend to hold the lion’s share of those. Sandhausen, however, has definitely fought through a tougher stretch of schedule, with all three of their losses this year coming at the hands of teams in the promotion picture (Köln, Karlsruhe, and Kaiserslautern).

Will Sandhausen unleash their young ball-eating giant on
Will Sandhausen unleash their young ball-eating giant on Bielefeld?

The end result of this match may come down to a battle of wills and styles. Bielefeld is the league’s most-porous defense, having yielded 46 goals already this season, six more than last-place Cottbus. Sandhausen is the league’s lowest-scoring side, with just 20 goals to their credit, but having also allowed just 22, making Sandhausen matches the lowest-scoring affairs in the league this season.

 

Monday

1. FC Kaiserslautern : 1. FC Köln

Hinrunde result – 0:0

With seven German football championships, including three Bundesliga titles between them, two of Germany’s “traditional clubs” square off Monday in a battle to get back to the league where they each feel they belong when 1.FC Kaiserslautern host 1 FC Köln.

Both clubs were directly relegated to the second league after the 2011-12 season. Kaiserslautern last season put an end to Köln’s 15-match unbeaten run in match day 28, which had propelled the Billy Goats into third place, supplanting Kaiserslautern after a sluggish start to the season. The victory put the Red Devils back into third place for good, giving the club a shot at the direct return to the first league through a playoff with 1899 Hoffenheim.

Köln have beaten Kaiserslautern just twice in the last 33 meetings between the two sides, the most recent coming in Feburary 2012 at Fritz-Walter-Stadion. Kaiserslautern’s 23 points from 12 home matches is the league’s best, while Köln leads not only the league table but also the ‘away table’ with 25 points from 12 road matches.

What are the odds Kevin McKenna gets on the pitch? Just for old time's sake?
What are the odds Kevin McKenna gets on the pitch? Just for old time’s sake?

Kaiserslautern will continue to be without the services of striker Albert Bunjaku, who played in just one match this season due to injury before injuring himself again in warm-ups last weekend before their match with Sandhausen.

(For a terrific slideshow of images from the long-running rivalry between the two clubs, visit the official 1. FC Kaiserslautern page.)

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Randall Hauk is a freelance writer living in the United States while covering German football. He is currently the publisher of Planet Effzeh, an English-language site covering 1. FC Köln. He wrote about the German national team for the Telegraph as part of their World Cup Nation coverage.

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