April 23, 2017

2.Bundesliga Matchday 30 in Review: All the drama can be exhausting!

The 2.Bundesliga did not let a scoreless draw in Bielefeld prevent a goal-rich weekend in Germany’s second tier, with a total of 30 goals scored across the eight other matches between Friday and Monday.

Despite all the scoring, the only movement in 2.Bundesliga over the weekend happened among the middle 12 clubs in the table, as the main players in both the promotion and relegation races remained in their respective places after matchday 30 action.

Red hot Friday night in Hamburg’s red light district

FC St. Pauli welcomed FC Kaiserslautern to the Millerntor Friday night hoping to stay atop the promotion zone chase, but a match packed with yellow cards was ultimately decided in the seventh minute of extra time when Ruben Jenssen connected on a distant shot to put the Red Devils back in the driver’s seat among clubs outside the top three.

Ruben Jenssen knows he just scored a HUGE goal for FCK.
Ruben Jenssen knows he just scored a HUGE goal for FCK.

Though, what remains of Kaiserslautern’s promotion dreams is little more than a distant shot. Though Kaiserslautern’s two remaining home matches are against competition from clubs currently in the bottom four of the table, the two remaining road trips are to a pair of clubs, Union Berlin and Fortuna Düsseldorf who will be looking to finish strong to start momentum toward contending next season.

And, there’s the small matter of SC Paderborn holding a five-point lead for third place with just twelve points left at risk. Paderborn does face second-place SpVgg Greuther Fürth next week, meaning that one of the two nearest clubs will finish the weekend with no more than 53 points, giving Kaiserslautern a chance to close within one match with a victory Sunday against FSV Frankfurt.

But, before focusing on that, there’s another small matter in need of attention in the form of a mid-week trip to Allianz Arena to face the suddenly vulnerable FC Bayern München in the DFB Pokal semifinals. Achieving the finals of the cup tournament by defeating the German champions in Bavaria may not entirely assuage the burgeoning anger of FCK fans over perceived underachievement in 2014, but it’ll certainly help put some positive light on the season should the eventuality of Kaiserslautern being eliminated from promotion chances occur over the next few weeks.

For now, those same fans can take heart in the fact their side battled from behind once to take a lead and then overcame a late equalizer in extra time to rejuvenate whatever marginal hopes remain for this season.

Srdjan Lakic scored his first goal since returning to the Betzenberg, scoring on a direct free kick to equalize in the 31st minute, after John Verhoek had put the home side ahead with a clean headed finish to a terrific Marc Rzatkowski cross 16 minutes prior.

Markus Karl put Kaiserslautern ahead in the 61st minute, ending a chaotic series of play in front of the St. Pauli goal, by flicking a header past Philipp Tschauner, who had erroneously kept play alive by saving a ball from going beyond the goal line that would have actually given St. Pauli a goal kick. It was Karl’s first goal since his extra-time header ended the scoring in FCK’s 4:1 victory over Pauli in the Hinrunde.

Tschauner, who’d seemed to hurt his shoulder shortly before the events that led to the goal, was eventually substituted due to the injury.

After that, five of the match’s many yellow cards were awarded, including a second to Willi Orban, shortly after substitute Florian Kringe was in the right place to collect the ball after a Sebastian Maier free kick deflected off the post for an easy goal and apparently saving a point for the home side, setting up the thrilling conclusion.

The loss dropped St. Pauli to six points behind third, but also, more importantly also behind Kaiserslautern. The Hamburg side will travel to Cottbus in need of three points to position themselves to take advantage of next weekend’s promotion battle in Paderborn and then hope for more help the final three matchdays.

Hope fading fast for FC Energie Cottbus?

A late penalty converted by Richard Sukuta-Pasu may have finally given VfL Bochum the points needed to assure their safety in the league, moving them from 15th to 11th in the table in just one weekend, while also maybe serving at the final nail in the hopes of class retention for Energie Cottbus, which suffered its third loss over its last four matches.

Some losses are more stunning than others.
Some losses are more stunning than others.

After three wins in four matches to get back into a reasonable position from which to make a play for at least the relegation playoff spot, Cottbus has taken just one point from the last four matchdays, leaving opportunity to pass them by. Unconverted chances was also the theme of this match in particular, as Cottbus had several chances to extend the lead achieved through Charles Takyi’s 28th minute score, but the shot-precision in crucial moments was lacking.

Sven Kreye equalized in the 61st minute, striking a ball in mid-air with a high kick after Patrick Fabian won a battle for another ball in the air to provide the headed assist.

Kreyer, who came on at halftime for Christian Tiffert, was also the victim of the foul that put Sukuta-Pasu at the spot, being shoved from behind by Jurica Buljat as he attempted to position himself to play a ball in the air near the edge of the penalty area. The situation did not seem urgent enough to warrant such risk taking by the Cottbus right back, but the foul was clear and the risk penalized accordingly.

1. FC Köln on the verge of clinching promotion

A come-from-behind 2:1 victory for 1. FC Köln over 1. FC Union Berlin means the long-time table leaders could clinch their direct promotion back into the Bundesliga with as little as one point Monday night against VfL Bochum, should SC Paderborn lose to SpVgg Greuther Fürth. A home win would put the billy goats through, regardless of what happens Sunday in Paderborn.

Union controlled the match early against Köln, with a Martin Dausch goal in the tenth minute appearing as if it might temporarily derail the building excitement in the Cathedral City over the pending celebration.

Patrick Helmes brought the visitors back to even from the spot with a decisive drive past Daniel Haas. Helmes also delivered the match-winner with another hard-driven shot from a free-kick spot just outside the area.

Patrick Helmes' free kick effort lifted 1. FC Köln to victory in Berlin.
Patrick Helmes’ free kick effort lifted 1. FC Köln to victory in Berlin.

The loss was Union’s third in their last four matches. Union has just five points from their last six matches, despite having been the first side to score in each of them.

And now, the rest of the story. . . 

  • SC Paderborn kept their would-be challengers at a distance by overcoming an early deficit to win 2:1 at FC Ingolstadt, keeping intact the burgeoning importance of Sunday’s match with SpVgg Greuther Fürth, who remained one point ahead of Paderborn in the table in similar fashion, defeating FC Erzgebirge Aue 2:1 after the visitors in violet took an early lead.
  • Arminia Bielefeld managed to get a point from Karlsruher SC Saturday despite the continuation of their scoring drought, stealing a point from a scoreless draw from their fellow promoted side from last year’s 3.Liga, despite the KSC largely outplaying Bielefeld and in need of three points to have any hopes of remaining in the promotion battle.
  • Fortuna Düsseldorf, with a 3:1 thumping of VfR Aalen, secured their first back-to-back victories since December to reach the 40-point plateau, likely securing their spot in the 2. Bundesliga for next season. The loss was Aalen’s first in five matches.
  • SV Sandhausen continued their march from the middle of the table into the area where recent relegation hopefuls linger by continuing the recent miseries of FSV Frankfurt, handing their hosts an 0:3 result. The fourth-consecutive loss and sixth from their last nine matches have helped Frankfurt replace VfL Bochum as the closest target for the relegation area sides’ aims. Sandhausen now sits seventh in the table with 44 points with just one loss and four wins from their last six matches, having ridden the league’s second-stingiest defense to an implausible chance at a finish in the table’s top half, considering the club spend the summer preparing for a season in the 3.Liga. Sandhausen also get a chance to play spoiler in the promotion race, hosting both Fürth and Paderborn over the final four matchdays of the season.
  • Dynamo Dresden came out firing against a lifeless 1860 München squad to tighten their hold on the relegation playoff spot and climb within three points of 15th place FSV Frankfurt for a safety spot via their 4:2 Monday night victory.

    We're coming for you, Frankfurt!
    We’re coming for you, Frankfurt!

Matchday 30 Table

Verein W D L Goals Diff. Points
1 - 1.FC Köln 17 10 3 45:16 29 61
2 - SpVgg Greuther Fürth 15 8 7 53:34 19 53
3 - SC Paderborn 07 15 7 8 55:45 10 52
4 - 1.FC Kaiserslautern 13 8 9 45:32 13 47
5 - FC St. Pauli 13 7 10 41:39 2 46
6 - Karlsruher SC 11 12 7 40:27 13 45
7 - SV Sandhausen 12 8 10 29:26 3 44
8 - 1.FC Union Berlin 11 9 10 44:39 5 42
9 - Fortuna Düsseldorf 10 10 10 32:40 -8 40
10 - TSV 1860 München 10 8 12 31:38 -7 38
11 - VfL Bochum 10 7 13 27:34 -7 37
12 - FC Erzgebirge Aue 10 7 13 38:46 -8 37
13 - VfR Aalen 9 10 11 29:37 -8 37
14 - FC Ingolstadt 04 9 9 12 29:32 -3 36
15 - FSV Frankfurt 9 7 14 39:47 -8 34
16 - Dynamo Dresden 5 16 9 32:42 -10 31
17 - Arminia Bielefeld 7 7 16 32:53 -21 28
18 - FC Energie Cottbus 6 6 18 33:47 -14 24

Matchday 30 Results

1.FC Union Berlin - 1:2 - 1.FC Köln
FC St. Pauli - 2:3 - 1.FC Kaiserslautern
FC Ingolstadt 04 - 1:2 - SC Paderborn 07
SpVgg Greuther Fürth - 2:1 - FC Erzgebirge Aue
Arminia Bielefeld - 0:0 - Karlsruher SC
Fortuna Düsseldorf - 3:1 - VfR Aalen
FSV Frankfurt - 0:3 - SV Sandhausen
VfL Bochum - 2:1 - FC Energie Cottbus
Dynamo Dresden - 4:2 - TSV 1860 München
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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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