Two weeks ago the Fanatic discussed the seven top teams in 2. Bundesliga at that point. Those teams, which included SpVgg Greuther Furth, St. Pauli, Fortuna Dusseldorf, Eintracht Braunschweig, Eintracht Frankfurt, 1860 Munich and Energie Cottbus still remain at the top of the table, although St. Pauli have now tied Greuther Furth on points with identical 6-1-1 (Furth lead on goal differential) while Fortuna Dusseldorf are only one point behind after defeating both Karlsruher SC and Erzgebirge Aue by identical 4-2 scores in the two intervening matchdays. In this installment, we’ll look at the remaining eleven sides in 2. Bundesliga and how their seasons are going thus far, and the firing and hiring of Friedhelm Funkel, one of the most successful coaches at this level.
VfL Bochum is having a very disappointing season after earning a spot in last May’s promotion playoff, narrowly missing out on top-tier play as Borussia Monchengladbach did barely enough to keep its place in the Bundesliga. But Bochum are 1-1-6 in 2011-2012, lodged in last place with a discouraging -11 goal differential, prompting the firing last week of Coach Friedhelm Funkel, replacing him with 52 year-old Andreas Bergmann. The Steinfeld, Germany native has been with Hannover since 2007, working with the youth and reserve squads.
Funkel, 57, wasn’t unemployed long. The veteran of 1,100 Bundesliga 2. Bundesliga matches as a player and coach was brought in by Alemania Aachen to right their ship. Aachen is also at the bottom of the table, having earned the same lowly four points this year that Bochum had earned under Funkel. The coach who has on five occasions guided 2. Bundesliga sides to promotion was given a contract through June 30, 2013, replacing young Peter Hyballa. Aachen have played decent defense, but their finishing is awful, as they’ve only netted once in eight league matches. “Given the situation we’re in we wanted a coach who has seen it all. Friedhelm has experienced everything there is to experience in his career and is 100 per cent the right man to help guide Alemania in the right direction,” stated sporting director Erik Meijer. An encouraging sign for Aachen is that they held high-flying Greuther Furth to a scoreless draw this past weekend before Funkel’s hiring, but the magician will need all the tricks up his sleeve to guide Aachen to daylight.
SC Paderborn 07, FC Union Berlin, FC Ingolstadt, Dynamo Dresden, FSV Frankfurt and FC Erzgebirge Aue are hanging in the middle of the table. Paderborn, a team with modest ambitions, have done well on the road (10 points in five matches) while remaining winless at home. (For more on SC Paderborn 07, see the Fanatic’s Matt Taylor interview). Paderborn are one of three 2. Bundesliga sides averaging under 10,000 fans for home games (Ingolstadt and Aue are the others), but considering that they are undefeated in their last four matches, Paderborn are looking to exceed expectations this year.
Union Berlin finished in eleventh place last season, three points ahead of Paderborn, averaging 1.11 points gained per match, whereas in the new season they’re earning points at a 1.375 rate per match. Coach Uwe Neuhaus has been guiding the club since 2007, guiding them up to 2. Bundesliga following the 2008-2009 season, leading them to a 12th place finish in 2009-2010. The Berliners have earned nine of their eleven points at home, but only two in four road matches.
FC Ingolstadt revived in the second half of last season, after struggling mightily in the Hinrunde, appearing to be sure relegation candidates after just earning promotion. They have gained all eight points at home while not gaining a result in four away contests. Stefan Leitl, Moritz Hartmann and American Edson Buddle pace the club with two goals each.
Dynamo Dresden earned promotion to 2. Bundesliga by defeating VfL Osnabruck 4-2 on aggregate last spring. The highlights of their season thus far have been their Pokal Cup elimination of Bayer Leverkusen on July 30 along with a 4-0 slapdown of Union Berlin in August. Coach Ralf Loose, the former Borussia Dortmund sweeper, took over the coaching reins last April, and looks to gradually guide the club back to glory. Attendance thus far has been outstanding, including a crowd of almost 30,000 in attendance for the Union Berlin match.
FSV Frankfurt and Erzgebirge Aue each have only one win on the season, but are above the relegation zone based on each gaining four draws. FSV Frankfurt doesn’t have the big-name talent that their Eintracht neighbors do, but have gotten three goals from Karim Benyamina, the 29 year-old Algerian striker who spent many seasons with Union Berlin. The team has finished 15th, 15th and 13th in the last three seasons, the last two seasons under the direction of current coach Hans-Jurgen Boysen. Since the international break, FSV have gotten thumped by 1860 Munich 4-0 and drew with Aue.
FC Erzgebirge Aue opened the season with a home win over Aachen, but haven’t gotten a second win (except for their Pokal victory over 1.FC Saarbrucken). The team finished 5th last season after returning to 2. Bundesliga following two seasons in 3. Liga and are from one of the smallest German cities every to play in 2. Bundesliga, with Aue having a population of only 18,000. No one has scored more than one goal thus far for Rico Schmitt’s club, and the Violas have only five goals after eight matches while surrendering twelve.
MSV Duisburg, SC Karlsruher and Hansa Rostock are barely floating above the two automatic demotion spots in the table. Duisburg have suffered a particular fall from grace after making it to the Pokal finals last season, although their -1 goal differential indicates their current berth may be at least partially a degree of bad luck that the Zebras may be able to turn around. Karlsruher, though, have a -10 goal differential at this point, with only Bochum notching a worse mark. Along with Hansa Rostock, all three teams have tasted top-level football only a few years back, although Rostock dropped all the way to 3. Liga before bouncing back to 2. Bundesliga after last season.
Not surprisingly, the Eagles of Eintracht Frankfurt lead the 2. Bundesliga in home attendance per match, averaging 32,800 fans a game. Fortuna Dusseldorf is second with 27,480 in attendance per home game, with the league average currently at 17,183. Christopher Nothe (Furth), Dimitar Rangelov (Cottbus), Kevin Volland (1860) and Alexander Meier (Eintracht Frankfurt) lead the league with six goals each, while 1860 veteran Benjamin Lauth leads the league with five assists.