April 23, 2017

2. Bundesliga Matchday 28 in Review: Promotion and Relegation Pictures Coming into Focus

Weekend results did a lot of damage to clubs on the outside looking in at the promotion spots as well as those inside the relegation spots dreaming of escape to safety.

Six points is now the cushion between third and fourth spots in the table, as well as between 14th and 15th. With just six 2.Bundesliga matchdays remaining, odds are favorable that the roles of  top three and bottom three in the table have been cast, with the drama revolving more around positioning than anything else.

You can never fully rule out some hot and cold streaks combining for a late change in fortune for some, but, for now, there is little reason to think there will be any changes in cast. If there is, it’ll be a few weeks before we really need to discuss it.

Hence. . .

Top three leaving rest of league behind.

Both 1. FC Köln and SC Paderborn earned three points in their away matches with competition from the table’s bottom half, while SpVgg Greuther Fürth settled for just one from their trip to Hamburg against a would-be competitor.

Fürth had the toughest opponent for the matchday of the table’s top three in facing St. Pauli, which entered the weekend at fifth in the table. The loss of points from the 2:2 draw was a blow to St. Pauli’s pusuit of a top-three finish, while leaving Fürth within the reach of Paderborn with a victory Sunday.

Seven yellow cards and 66 minutes had passed before Sebastian Schachten opened the scoring and lifted the hopes of the home side getting the much-needed three points to stay in the promotion chase.

From there, the yellow cards continued, with a total of ten bookings by match end, but so did the goals.

Benedikt Röcker and Ilir Ademi registered headed goals just three minutes apart to snatch the lead from St. Pauli and threaten to take all three points with them before leaving town. But Markus Thorandt managed to get his chest on a ball directly in front of goal to level accounts.

With the door left open to get level on points with Fürth, SC Paderborn burst through with a 1:3 effort in Frankfurt to be the biggest winners of the weekend.

Mahir Saglik delivered a pair of goals shortly after halftime to build on Elias Kachunga’s 17th minute score, keeping Andre Breitenreiter’s safely out of reach of host FSV Frankfurt, even after the hosts got an 80th minute score to keep the day from being a complete washout for Frankfurt and their fans who remained through to the end of a match thoroughly dominated by the league’s hottest club.

Finally, on Sunday, Köln continued their points streak on visits to Allianz Arena . . . when the opponent is 1860 München . . . earning a late 0:1 victory. The win extended the league leader’s advantage over second-place Fürth to six points while, more importantly, took combined with draws by clubs in spots four through seven to put themselves twelve points above a non-promotion spot.

Promotion in first season? Plenty reason for Peter Stöger to smile these days.
Promotion in first season? Plenty reason for Peter Stöger to smile these days.

Bård Finne came into the match as a halftime substitute for Marcel Risse and provided the match’s lone score. The young Norwegian had already established his ability to get quality chances, but had been lacking was his debut goal since moving from SK Brann Bergen in the winter.

Now eleven points shy of third place and eleven points above fifteenth, 1860 is resolutely stuck in the middle of the table, putting to bed dreams of the first league fostered by just a three-point deficit entering 2014.

“Never again, first league?”

That was the alteration to the traditional “Nie mehr, zweite Liga” (Never again, second league) chant offered to 1. FC Kaiserslautern players after their mid-week home draw with 17th place Arminia Bielefeld.

With St. Pauli having dropped points Friday, the Red Devils visited Karlsruher SC met in a derby match where the table situation added plenty of drama to the typical heat of a meeting of local rivals. Kaiserslautern needed all three points to maintain the premise they would be challenging for promotion through the end of the season, while Karlsruhe needed a spark to reignite their barely flickering hopes of ending their impressive season in the top three.

Scoring was, for once, not the problem for the Red Devils. Simon Zoller redirected a Florian Dick cross into goal in the 53rd minute to counter a Manuel Torres chipped goal in the 26th minute which had the hosts celebrating a somewhat undeserved lead.

Simon Zoller sending a message of greetings to Manuel Torres.
Simon Zoller sending a message of greetings to Manuel Torres.

Fourteen minutes later, Zoller opportunistically ended a series of headers following a free kick into the area with an on-target shot from too near the goal for Dirk Orlishausen to do much of anything to stop it from giving Kaiserslautern the lead.

Finally securing a fairly deserved lead, Kaiserslautern reduced the offensive pressure in favor of a more-conservative finish to the match. With Runjaic’s crew withdrawing into a defensive stance to protect their lead, Dimitrij Nazarov’s bicycle kick from outside the penalty arc managed to sneak through a well-populated box and into goal for a last-minute equalizer, leading to a splitting of points and the further sinking of Kaiserslauterns dreams of a return to the Bundesliga.

Though only Kaiserslautern entered the season with expectations of making the move to the top league, both clubs have floundered in the face of opportunity to assert themselves into the race. Both clubs have three remaining matches with teams in the relegation fight, but with Paderborn consistently taking care of business, the five- and seven-point deficits for Kaiserslautern and Karlsruhe, respectively, seem insurmountable.

Zero goals and two points between three clubs at the bottom

The safety of fifteenth place drifted a bit further away from Dynamo Dresden, Arminia Bielefeld, and Energie Cottbus, as the three relegation favorites failed to score a single goal between them on matchday 28.

Dresden extended their run of matches without a victory to twelve in their Friday night goalless affair with SV Sandhausen. Dresden players faced the wrath of their vocal home support after the match, but the anger eventually turned into actual support, with those who stayed behind to vent their frustrations chanting for a win in München next Monday with  ‘Auswärtssieg! Auswärtssieg!’

Arminia Bielefeld likewise settled for a single point in a scoreless draw at home Sunday, splitting the points with VfR Aalen. Aalen is now winless in their last four, but remain seven points clear of the relegation zone. Bielefeld remains level on points with Dresden, but suffers from a minus-19 goal differential, which puts them seven goals behind the playoff spot and meaning they will likely need to outpoint Dresden over the final six matchdays to avoid the direct drop back into 3.Liga.

Not much to see in Bielefeld.
Not much to see in Bielefeld.

The stage was therefore set for Energie Cottbus to close within a point of Dresden and Bielefeld Monday night with a win at Union Berlin, but the Lusitanians could not muster a goal, much less the two that would have been needed to counteract the brace of Sören Brandy. The 2:0 victory ended a five-match winless streak for the hosts.

The race to be the King of the Goal Scorers heats up

Simon Zoller’s Saturday brace put the Red Devils striker atop the 2.Bundesliga goal-scorers leaderboard for a day with 13 goals on the season before Mahir Saglik powered SC Paderborn to victory with two goals of his own on Sunday to return to the top of the charts with 14 goals.

None of Zoller’s goals have come from the penalty spot, while Saglik has earned three of his there.

Making a late run into the top ten with ten goals is Sören Brandy, who also had two goals in matchday 28 action, giving the blonde striker four goals over Union Berlin’s last four matches, accounting for all but one of his club’s goals in that stretch.

For those a bit more interested in the service piece of goal-scoring, Torsten Mattuschka (Union), Mohamadou Idrissou (Kaiserslautern), Zoltan Stieber (Fürth), and Moritz Stoppelkamp (München) each are credited with a league-leading ten assists, none of which came over the weekend.

Pleasant weather brings out the crowds?

A weekend full of sunshine may be at least partially credited for a great weekend in 2. Bundesliga attendance. Five of the nine matchday 28 matches were attended by more than 20,000 spectators.

Allianz Arena held 33,000 to see 1860 München fall to 1. FC Köln, for the weekend’s largest crowd. The derby between Karlsruher SC and 1. FC Kaiserslautern sold 27,600, giving Wildparkstadion the weekend’s lone sell-out.

Just over 4,500 people bothered to see the 2.Bundesliga’s hottest side, SC Paderborn, take down FSV Frankfurt at Frankfurter Volksbank Stadion. It was the only match with fewer than 10,00o on hand to watch.

Matchday 28 Table

# Club W D L F:A GD Points
1 - 1.FC Köln 15 10 3 41:15 26 55
2 - SpVgg Greuther Fürth 14 7 7 51:33 18 49
3 - SC Paderborn 07 14 7 7 52:42 10 49
4 - 1.FC Kaiserslautern 12 7 9 41:29 12 43
5 - FC St. Pauli 12 7 9 36:34 2 43
6 - 1.FC Union Berlin 11 9 8 41:34 7 42
7 - Karlsruher SC 10 11 7 37:27 10 41
8 - SV Sandhausen 11 8 9 24:23 1 41
9 - TSV 1860 München 10 8 10 29:31 -2 38
10 - FC Ingolstadt 04 9 8 11 28:30 -2 35
11 - FSV Frankfurt 9 7 12 38:42 -4 34
12 - VfR Aalen 8 10 10 26:33 -7 34
13 - FC Erzgebirge Aue 9 7 12 34:42 -8 34
14 - Fortuna Düsseldorf 8 10 10 27:38 -11 34
15 - VfL Bochum 9 6 13 24:32 -8 33
16 - Dynamo Dresden 4 15 9 28:40 -12 27
17 - Arminia Bielefeld 7 6 15 32:51 -19 27
18 - FC Energie Cottbus 6 5 17 32:45 -13 23

Matchday 28 Results

Fortuna Düsseldorf - 0:0 - FC Ingolstadt 04
FC St. Pauli - 2:2 - SpVgg Greuther Fürth
Dynamo Dresden - 0:0 - SV Sandhausen
VfL Bochum - 1:0 - FC Erzgebirge Aue
Karlsruher SC - 2:2 - 1.FC Kaiserslautern
FSV Frankfurt - 1:3 - SC Paderborn 07
TSV 1860 München - 0:1 - 1.FC Köln
Arminia Bielefeld - 0:0 - VfR Aalen
1.FC Union Berlin - 2:0 - FC Energie Cottbus
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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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