So here we are with part two of the 2. Bundesliga Hinrunde Review. As was mentioned in part one already, the 2. Bundesliga is as thrilling as it can get. The teams that are currently in mid-table cannot afford to relax, with them still having chances to end up anywhere in the table. Promotion is still on the cards but relegation is too close for comfort.
VfR Aalen played a good Hinrunde, being pretty much where they saw themselves before the season: in a mid-table spot. What Aalen were not expecting was how close this season’s 2. Bundesliga would be. With only a two-point cushion separating them from the teams below, Aalen are in serious relegation danger. Out of the last six matches before winter break, they only managed to get four points and dropped down from 6th place to 12th, so they must have been pretty happy for the winter break to come that gave them the opportunity to revitalize and get back to the performances they showed in the first half of the Hinrunde. If they can that, there will definitely be, at least, three teams below them in the table at the end of the season because due to the potential in the squad, it’s hard to see them going down.
Good. Bad. Better. That is about how you can explain Bochum’s Hinrunde. They had a good start but their loss against VfR Aalen on Matchday 8 was the beginning of a bad streak that brought them down from 4th to 16th position. They turned it around with a crucial win at Energie Cottbus on Matchday 13 and this spurred them on to a mid-table position . However, they have one big problem this season: scoring goals. Together with Aalen and 1860 München, they have the weakest attack of the league, scoring only 18 times in 19 matches. The defense, on the other hand, is pretty solid. What to expect from Bochums Rückrunde? A lot of improvement in their attacking line is on the cards. Ken Ilsø and Richard Sukuta-Pasu only joined the team this season and Ilsø in particular will have benefited from the intense training camp during winter break. It’s hard to see them gunning for promotion but a spot between 6th and 9th position should be possible.
It has been a difficult season for Fortuna. Certainly, they expected something else than being 10 points behind a top-2 promotion spot. The first half of the Hinrunde was simply way below their abilities. After two victories in a row against Fürth and Ingolstadt, it seemed like Düsseldorf could get out of the lower table, but they were brought down with a devastating 6-1 defeat against Paderborn in front of their own fans. After further unimpressive performances in the following matches, it was time for Mike Büskens to leave. Interim coach Oliver Reck managed to get Fortuna out of immediate relegation danger but, unsurprisingly, was replaced during winter break. The new man on the bench is Lorentz-Günther Köstner. In him, Düsseldorf have a highly-experienced coach but that does not necessarily mean instant success, However, Köstner is a man who can bring Düsseldorf to show what they are capable of. They have already lost too many points on the road to be considered for promotion, but they will most likely show a huge improvement on their first 19 matches.
Sandhausen were really impressive in the Hinrunde, as nobody expected much more of them than what they achieved last season (they were relegated but maintained the category thanks to Duisburg’s forceful demotion to the 3. Liga – ed.). Sandhausen officials knew that as well so decided to take action, resulting in the face of Sandhausen looking completely different this year. With an unbelievable number of new players (15 plus 3 new ones during the Winterpause), Sandhausen improved in all the aspects of the team. Other teams with a new squad have problems integrating all their new players and building a team out of them but this is exactly what has made Sandhausen successful this year: they play as one team. It’s hard to believe that this team have only been playing together for six months and while they do not have to fear the drop just yet, they are still far away from competing for the top 3 places. Sandhausen will most likely end up in the middle of the table, which is already a big success for them.
1860 are having a good season. Since Matchday 7, Friedhelm Funkel is coaching ‘Die Löwen’ after the sacking of Peter Pacult and, pretty much like every team Funkel has ever coached, they are a defensive team. In 19 matches they only conceded 21 goals, but also scored only 18 times. In the latter stages of the Hinrunde, Dominik Stahl (25) was key in the scoring department, notching 4 goals in the last 6 matches and securing his side a 4-game winning streak. 1860 is undoubtedly looking for promotion and they definitely have the chance to achieve it but they will have to improve their scoring if they want to seize that chance. With this season’s teams all being so close to each other in the table, it’s a strong possibility to see a head-to-head finale for promotion decided by goal difference.
After a pretty patchy first half of the Hinrunde, Paderborn found themselves in 16th position on Matchday 19. Just ten matches later, they are 7th in the standings only 2 points away from 3rd place. The striking fact is that Paderborn kept coach André Breitenreiter after the tough first half of the season, something unusual if the club has high expectations, which Paderborn did have. However, it was the right decision to make and Paderborn now have a shot at promotion. An area in which they have to improve, though, is their defense; with 32 goals against, they have the second worst record in the league. Due to their lack of defensive strength and looking at other teams above them, one cannot help but feel that Paderborn will be there or thereabouts at the end of the season but they will narrowly miss out on the top spots.
Will we see one of the teams above in the Bundesliga next year? Perhaps. In the next and final part we will cover the real hot prospects for promotion. Some of them are surprisingly high in the table and others actually having been higher than they already are, with huge expectations on their shoulders.
You can read Part One of the 2. Bundesliga Hinrunde Review here
Header courtesy of Getty Images
Latest posts by Marco Volkmar (see all)
- 2. Bundesliga Hinrunde Review Part Three: Two and a Half Contenders - February 8, 2014
- 2. Bundesliga Hinrunde Review Part Two: Between Heaven and Hell - February 6, 2014
- 2. Bundesliga Hinrunde Review Part One: Dog days in the lower table - February 5, 2014