2. Bundesliga Matchday 25 in Review: Catch a Breather While You Can

With the English week looming between matchdays 26 and 28, everything in the 2. Bundesliga is about to get a lot more intense.

The top two and bottom three clubs in the table remain unchanged, with SC Paderborn’s supplanting Karlsruher SC in third place the only change in the promotion or relegation spots, as the number of matchdays remaining in 2. Bundesliga dwindles into single digits.

Meanwhile, just three points separate FSV Frankfurt in tenth place and FC Erzgebirge Aue in 15th, though the entire mass of teams in the bottom half of the table not in the relegation spots are slowly floating away, making the relegation picture increasingly a three-club story.

The match day also saw the first official elimination clubs from the league title picture, as even a nine-match run of victories from this point out would not be enough to reach first place, even with the most-improbably series of results working some magic above them.

The way Cottbus have played under Jörg Böhme, however, still leaves other avenues of success open.

But today is about a weekend of very real results and consequences, to let’s get to it, shall we?

Sometimes a draw feels like a win. Sometimes like a loss.

“One point is too little. We had more of the play. Just a little bit of scoring is what falters.”

“We did a lot well. I am very, very proud and can live happily with the point.”

How valuable a coach can find a splitting of the points always depends on perspective. The disparity between the pots-match views of Kosta Runjaic and Peter Stöger illustrates that

Considering the issues both sides have had in converting chances into goals, a scoreless draw might have seemed the most-likely outcome for Monday night’s featured match between 1. FC Kaiserslautern and 1. FC Köln, but not necessarily the most-fitting for a match given plenty of conversation in the build-up and a terrific atmosphere in a packed and enthusiastic Fritz-Walter-Stadion packed to the rafters with vocal supporters.

With a decisive edge in the recent history between the two sides, the home-pitch advantage, and the added boost provided by simply needing the points more, the Red Devils had every reason to believe they could come away with all three points despite hosting the leaders of the league table.

The match certainly looked as if it might go that way as well, with the hosts outshooting their rival by more than a two-to-one margin and dominating possession, but whatever shots made it to the goal were thwarted by Köln ‘keeper Timo Horn.

Rather than springing into fourth place with a victory, Kaiserslautern will travel to München next weekend seated in sixth place. The point for Köln has the table leaders seven points ahead of fourth place and four ahead of second place Fürth, because. . .

Another draw between promotion aspirants? I’m not ignoring you!

In the US, we have a saying about a tie (draw) being like “kissing your sister.” It’s so distasteful here, in fact, it’s largely been legislated out of most of the sports leagues where it once existed.

It’s doubtful Frank Kramer and Uwe Neuhaus would wish for such action after Sunday’s 1:1 draw in Fürth, but neither coach was entirely happy with the result. Greuther Fürth certainly want to take advantage of every opportunity to disable the hopes of any of the several clubs chasing them near the top of the table, while Union Berlin have to be growing tired of setting for one point while slowly falling away from the promotion places after being level on points with third coming out of the winter break.

Four draws and just one win in 2014 feels a lot like missed opportunity for Neuhaus, who had asserted an interest in promotion upon the resumption of 2. Bundesliga play, as the Union boss indicated plainly after the match by stating, “I’m not happy with the result.”

The result, however, was entirely deserved on both ends, as Fürth’s lack of aggression in the first half led to Union outplaying them for most of the early going, with several great chances for die Eisernen finally leading to a Sören Brandy headed goal in the 43rd minute off a Torsten Mattuschka free-kick. Meanwhile, Fürth keeper Wolfgang Hesl collided with teammate Benedikt Röcker as both attempted to reach the ball before Brandy. Röcker suffered a bloody nose, but continued and played to the match’s conclusion.

Röcker’s fortitude was fortunate for Fürth, as it was his header from a corner kick that directed the ball towards the far post for the on-rushing and unmarked Ilir Azemi to finish the job and level the score in the 56th minute. The home side continued to build momentum and pressure on their guests, but another goal was not on the cards.

Everybody love Ilir Azemi. Well, the guys in green anyhow.
Everybody loves Ilir Azemi. Well, the guys in green anyhow.

The match was a bit heavy with yellow cards, with seven and a yellow-red given on the afternoon. A fifth caution for Michael Parensen means the Union left back will miss next week’s when his club hosts another team ahead of them in the promotion chase, SC Paderborn. Fürth, already without striker Niclas Füllkrug due to injury, will also be without midfielder Stephan Fürstner due to his fifth yellow and Mergim Mavraj for collecting the double yellow. The personnel issues, if mandatory, could have come at a worse time for Fürth as their next opponents, Dynamo Dresden, are mired in the relegation muck. Nevertheless, the match will be played in Dresden where Dynamo always gets great support and will be desperate for points.


Another late change of fate for Aue; another draw for München

1860 München again played in a match featuring four goals, but rather than providing all of the scoring as they did last week, the Lions split the scoring duties and points with host Erzgebirge Aue.

The visitors opened the scoring early on, getting a goal in just the second minute of the match when Yuya Osako played along a Markus Steinhöfer corner kick to Grzegorz Wojtkowiak, providing the Polish left back service for his first goal of the season.

Despite the early deficit, the hosts did not immediately snap into form, delivering several chances for their guests to increase the lead through poor passing and defense, but the Lions failed to capitalize.

Aue did slowly come to life, however, and were the stronger team heading into halftime. Upon the resumption of play, the hosts quickly pressed for an equalizer, which came off the foot of Jakub Sylvestr thanks to a Julian Wiegl error in the München end just four minutes into the second half.

This seemed to provoke 1860 and they looked to regain their lead, keeping Aue pinned in their own half for the following 15 minutes. Only the efforts of Martin Männel kept things level, with Moritz Stoppelkamp peppering the Aue keeper with shots.

With the Lions controlling much of the second half after the equalizer, the men in purple seemed to sneak a fortunate victory from the day when Arvydas Novikovas drew the attentions of the 1860 defense, leaving Rico Benatelli unmarked on the right side of the area. Novikovas managed to thread the ball to his open teammate who finished into the far corner for what appeared would be a win.

But it was not meant to be. Nearly two minutes into the announced two minutes of extra time, Yuya Osako was the benefactor and finisher of Daniel Adlung’s efforts to get the ball into an advantageous position, making it four goals in six matches for the Japanese newcomer.

It was the second-consecutive home match which saw fortunes shift for Aue in the late stages. Two weeks ago, they saw a 2:0 lead evaporate when 1. FC Köln scored twice in the last ten minutes to steal a point. Aue now sit at the bottom of the teams not in the relegation zone, though with a five-point advantage on 16th place Arminia Bielefeld and level on points with the two clubs above them.

The thrilling finish was somewhat bittersweet for München. A fourth draw in six matches since winter break has left their hopes of rejoining the promotion chase stagnating. The need for victories gets hotter as the task gets tougher; three of the next four Lions opponents are above them in the table.

Bochum’s strong away form puts pressure at the bottom

There is no truth to the rumor that Peter Neururer has petitioned the league to allow VfL Bochum to play their remaining home matches anywhere other than rewirpowerSTADION.

But you would not be able to blame Bochum’s coach if he had.

Usually, when a club has a huge disparity between home and away results, it’s the matches away from the friendly confines of one’s own stadium that cause the troubles. Not so for Bochum, who have earned two-thirds of their points so far this season on opposition turf.

Friday night saw the theme continue with Bochum snatching all three points from VfR Aalen, with the 0:2 result giving the guests their sixth clean sheet from their last seven away matches.

Bochum’s first goal came in the 23rd minute when a Felix Bastians corner was played further along by the head of Patrick Fabian, setting Mirkan Aydın up perfectly for his fourth goal of the season.

From there, Bochum were content to play deep in their defensive end and move forward solely in counter-attacking situations. Even when Aalen tried to increase the pressure in the second half, Bochum’s goal was rarely threatened.

The victory created a bit of breathing space for Bochum in the struggle to maintain their 2. Bundesliga status, going ahead of FC Erzgebirge Aue in the table on goal difference and six points above a direct-relegation spot, making the battle at the bottom of the table increasingly a three-team affair over who will at least earn the playoff spot to defend their place in the league.

Then again, there is still the matter of those pesky home matches, the next of which will occur with the visit of SV Sandhausen next Friday evening.

Beyond our featured matches:

  • It was FSV Frankfurt who got all three points and handed their hosts FC Ingolstadt their first loss of 2014 in a battle of table neighbors. A speed-fuelled individual effort by Matthew Leckie provided the lone excitement of the early going and ultimately the match’s only goal, despite a more aggressive approach offensively by die Schanzer after halftime.

    Ingolstadt's home form is frustrating for just about everyone other than the opposition.
    Ingolstadt’s home form is frustrating for just about everyone other than the opposition.
  • SC Paderborn recovered from their 0:4 performance in Karlsruhe to retake third place in the table with a 2:1 win on Friday night, their first-ever home victory over Dynamo Dresden. Marvin Bakalorz opened the scoring for Paderborn with a goal-of-the-month candidate from over 30 meters out, for his first goal since coming on loan from Eintracht Frankfurt over the winter. Johannes Wurtz doubled the lead for Paderborn shortly before the break. Half-time substitute Zlatko Dedić got one back for the visitors from the penalty spot in the 55th minute, but it would be all Dynamo could manage on the night.
  • Karlsruher SC‘s Dirk Orlishausen guessed correctly on an 81st-minute penalty from Marco Stiepermann, but Boubacar Sanogo quickly swooped in for the rebound and stuck the ball into the net to lift FC Energie Cottbus past their visitors with a 1:0 victory. The win was the second in 16 days for Cottbus since replacing Stephan Schmidt with Jörg Böhme after going nearly five months without a victory. KSC have now lost two of their last three matches since the end of their twelve-match unbeaten run.
  • When Norbert Meier took over the reigns at Arminia Bielefeld, the club was conceding an average of two goals per match. For the second consecutive match under Meier, Bielefeld held their opposition to just one goal, yet they were unable to find one for themselves as they were defeated 1:0 at SV Sandhausen. Nicky Adler scored the only goal not too long after getting a yellow card for his right hand’s imitation of Diego Maradona (or God, depending on who you believe), bringing Sandhausen to 34 points and within a whiff of the magical 40, which would ensure they don’t require a club being punished with relegation for them to stay in the league, as was the case last season.
  • Christopher Nöthe arranged service for goals by Sebastian Meier and Lennart Thy to help FC St. Pauli continue their push into the promotion picture and hand Fortuna Düsseldorf a 2:0 home defeat, their first under Lorenz-Günther Köstner. St. Pauli now sit fourth in the table, just a point behind SC Paderborn, while Fortuna Düsseldorf are now closer to a relegation spot than to a promotion spot, making the fading hopes of a direct return to the Bundesliga even grimmer.

Three Stars

  1. Yuya Osako – thinking in blue is doing the trick

    Yuya Osako – In just six matches with 1860 München after transferring from J-League side Kashima Antlers, Osako has scored four goals and assisted for one for the Hinrunde’s least-productive attacking teams, turning them into a much more threatening entity since the winter break. His injury-time goal to get a point for the Lions at Aue on Saturday was already the second time München’s new cult figure scored a late equalizer. Add to the salvage job that he set up his side’s other goal on the afternoon  by heading a corner kick toward the far post for a teammate to collect a reasonably easy goal and you have the sort of presence on the stats sheet that makes a player an easy choice for top star of the matchday.

  2. Philipp Tschauner – FC St. Pauli’s keeper kept the ball out of the net the entire day. That’s not usually enough to get in here, but Tschauner had a series of acrobatic saves to make sure his team maintained the one-goal lead they carried from the 21st minute deep into injury time, when Lennart Thy added the second score. Some clean sheets are more hard-earned than others. This one was a high-effort one away from home which led to his club being one of only two sides among the top seven in the table to earn more than one point this weekend. Hats off to Herr Tschauner.
  3. Mirkan Aydın – Scoring has been one of the many problems at VfL Bochum that have been keeping the club close to the relegation zone. Only Sandhausen have scored fewer goals, partly because Bochum went over four months without a goal from a striker. That negative streak ended in the 23rd minute on Friday night thanks to Mirkan Aydın, who put his team ahead and allowed them to play their characteristic tough defensive style and ride it to an important 0:2 victory for Peter Neururer’s side. Aydın later took the ball along the right wing from the half-way line all the way to the goal line, circumnavigating his defender and triggering a series of passes that resulted in the 0:2. The game, overall, was not one of many chances, but Aydın was in the middle of most of those Bochum had. More importantly, he was there for the two that made the difference and got Bochum all three points.

Matchday 25 Results

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

Matchday 25 Table

2.B Team W D L F:A + / – Pts.
- - 1.FC Köln 13 9 3 38:15 23 48
- - SpVgg Greuther Fürth Relegated 13 5 7 44:29 15 44
- - SC Paderborn 07 12 6 7 45:40 5 42
- - FC St. Pauli 12 5 8 34:29 5 41
- - Karlsruher SC Promoted 10 9 6 34:22 12 39
- - 1.FC Kaiserslautern 11 5 9 37:26 11 38
- - 1.FC Union Berlin 10 8 7 37:31 6 38
- - TSV 1860 München 9 8 8 27:28 -1 35
- - SV Sandhausen 9 7 9 21:22 -1 34
10 - - FSV Frankfurt 9 6 10 36:37 -1 33
11 - - Fortuna Düsseldorf Relegated 8 8 9 26:34 -8 32
12 - - VfR Aalen 8 7 10 25:32 -7 31
13 - - FC Ingolstadt 04 8 6 11 25:30 -5 30
14 - - VfL Bochum 8 6 11 23:28 -5 30
15 - - FC Erzgebirge Aue 8 6 11 31:39 -8 30
16 - - Arminia Bielefeld Promoted 7 4 14 30:47 -17 25
17 - - Dynamo Dresden 4 12 9 26:38 -12 24
18 - - FC Energie Cottbus 5 5 15 28:40 -12 20
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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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