2. Bundesliga Matchday 26 in Review: Does anyone really want to move up?

Seems a ridiculous question. Certainly, if you offered automatic promotion into the Bundesliga and all the financial gains that come with it, even the most ill-prepared club for competition at that higher level would not even hesitate to jump at it.

Yet, six of the top seven clubs in the 2.Bundesliga table settled for a single point over the weekend, leaving Kaiserslautern  the big winners of the match day with the lone victory among sides entering the matchday within four points of a promotion spot. The clubs currently occupying the top three places – Köln, Greuther Fürth, and Paderborn – can all be somewhat relieved that almost none of the competition was able to pull closer, while those in pursuit – St. Pauli, Karlsruher, and Union Berlin – are left to wonder just how many more opportunities to gain ground will be left to squander as the 34th and final matchday draws ever more near.

Fortunes can change quickly in such a tight race, and that is hardly ever more true than during English week. With three matchdays crammed into eleven calendar days, it’s a great opportunity to quickly create a new dialogue around your club. One-third of the way through the burst of action, few have made a move. This means the opportunity for others to join the surge linger, but stagnation favors those already riding where they hope to be.

Of course, the top of the table is not the only place where clubs are scrambling. The three teams in the relegation spots are at least hopeful of edging one another out for 16th place to get the chance to defend their 2.Bundesliga standing on the pitch against  the 3.Liga’s third-place finisher, but a slightly more-optimistic view would have them also closing the gap to safety.

And it’s on that end of the table where we begin.

Cottbus downs Bielefeld in big relegation battle

If current Cottbus coach Jörg Böhme was feeling a bit nostalgic for the club for which he played in over 100 matches, it did not translate into any favors on the pitch as Energie Cottbus rained on Arminia Bielefeld‘s celebration of the 800th anniversary of their host municipality by taking all three points from their hosts through a 1:3 victory.

Boubacar Sanogo’s ninth goal of the season was a headed effort off a Marco Stiepermann free kick. The ball from Stiepermann curled around the penalty spot and toward the far post before Sanogo intercepted it near the edge of the goal area and redirected it to open accounts in the 32nd minute of the match. The goal made it three-consecutive matches in which the Cottbus striker has scored after a six-month goal drought.

Already feeling pretty good with a one-goal lead, Cottbus’ fortunes seemed to be soaring when Bielefeld defensive midfielder Jan Fießer took his second caution of the match and was sent off in the 57th minute. In a match where chances had already been few and far between for either side, Bielefeld’s task of mounting a comeback to earn at least one point from seemed fairly daunting.

Norbert Meier had a joker up his sleeve, however.

Not three minutes after entering the match, Kacper Przybylko became the recipient of a Patrick Schönfeld pass and a generous decision by the covering linesman to find himself in the penalty area with the ball in a one-on-one situation with Cottbus keeper Rene Renno. Przybylko’s shot was through Renno’s legs before the keeper could get to the ground, barely deflecting the ball with his left ankle on his way to the turf, though not enough to prevent the 80th minute equalizer.

But, in a way that seems almost fitting in such an important match for a pair of clubs which have struggled all season, Stiepermann took a shot in the 90th minute that was a bit too hot for Bielefeld keeper Stefan Ortega to handle. The ball deflected sharply off Ortega’s right shoulder as he fell to the ground. The deflected ball quickly found the knees of nearby Bielefeld central defender Stephan Salger and went back past Ortega and into the netting to lift Cottbus back into the lead with little but injury time left in the match.

That didn’t deter Sanogo from adding his tenth goal of the year for the match’s final score and a bit of punctuation on the announcement that Energie Cottbus was not quite as sure a thing for direct relegation as they had seemed just a month ago.

With their third victory in their last four matches, Cottbus is the hottest team in the 2.Bundesliga, closing to within just two points of both Dynamo Dresden and Bielefeld, 16th and 17th in the table, respectively.

Quite a feat, considering the Lusatians were eight points out of 16th place when Böhme assumed coaching duties just a month ago.

Kaiserslautern dispatch 1860 München, move into fifth

Playing on Sunday gave 1. FC Kaiserslautern the chance to see the lukewarm results of their competition the last two days and arrive to their match in München knowing they had a golden opportunity to regain some ground lost due to a three-match February losing streak.

Kosta Runjaic responded by putting Srdjan Lakic and Simon Zoller together in attack with another striker, Mohamadou Idrissou, playing in midfield.

Despite the rather striker-oriented line-up, it was left wing Marcel Gaus beating Grzegorz Wojtkowiak to a ball and then deflecting a shot off the Lion defender and past a diving Gabor Kiraly providing the lone score of the match, with both Kiraly and counterpart Tobias Sippel both making several memorable saves throughout the match to keep things close.

Late goal keeps Paderborn in the playoff spot

It was a splitting of points in the only match of the weekend featuring two promotion candidates, with visiting SC Paderborn snatching a point thanks to Uwe Hünemeier’s 89th minute strike.

“To surrender the equalizer so close to the final whistle is very bitter,” said Sören Brandy after the match against his former club.

The man who had played over 100 matches in a Paderborn strip was the target of a high-arcing Torsten Mattuschka cross headed to the far post. As Paderborn keeper Lukas Kruse moved toward the post, Brandy leaped to meet and send the ball in the opposite direction of Kruse’s momentum, giving Union the lead in the 53rd minute.

Union continued to have the better chances for much of the remainder of the match until Suleyman Koc found Hünemeier with a pass to the edge of the penalty arc. Paderborn’s captain drove the ball with a first-touch strike into the upper corner of the Union goal with force.

It was the third-consecutive 1:1 for Union and their fifth draw of the last seven matches, leaving the Berliners languishing at the back of the promotion pack at seventh in the table. The point for Paderborn was enough to keep them in third place for a second-consecutive week, marking the first time this season they’ve managed to stay in a promotion spot for more than one match day.

Chase these clouds away, I hate this goalless Saturday

“I see the helpless and I see the insane
I see a pauper singing in the pouring rain
I see the means of help elude us again
I think the sun will never visit me again”

Every time I think of what happened in 2.Bundesliga Saturday, Fishbone’s “Sunless Saturday” dominates my thoughts.

So rather than me trying to write something remotely interesting about three goalless draws, how about just turning up the volume on whatever device you’re using to read this and enjoy some of the best of what the early 90’s was offering, rock-wise.

Matchday 26 Results 

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

Matchday 26 Table

Club M W D L F:A GD Pts.
1 - 1.FC Köln 26 13 10 3 38:15 23 49
2 - SpVgg Greuther Fürth Relegated 26 13 6 7 45:30 15 45
3 - SC Paderborn 07 26 12 7 7 46:41 5 43
4 - FC St. Pauli 26 12 6 8 34:29 5 42
- - 1.FC Kaiserslautern 26 12 5 9 38:26 12 41
- - Karlsruher SC Promoted 26 10 10 6 35:23 12 40
7 - 1.FC Union Berlin 26 10 9 7 38:32 6 39
- - SV Sandhausen 26 10 7 9 22:22 0 37
- - TSV 1860 München 26 9 8 9 27:29 -2 35
10 - FSV Frankfurt 26 9 7 10 36:37 -1 34
11 - Fortuna Düsseldorf Relegated 26 8 9 9 26:34 -8 33
12 - VfR Aalen 26 8 8 10 25:32 -7 32
13 - FC Ingolstadt 04 26 8 7 11 25:30 -5 31
14 - - FC Erzgebirge Aue 26 8 7 11 32:40 -8 31
15 - - VfL Bochum 26 8 6 12 23:29 -6 30
16 - - Dynamo Dresden 26 4 13 9 27:39 -12 25
17 - - Arminia Bielefeld Promoted 26 7 4 15 31:50 -19 25
18 - FC Energie Cottbus 26 6 5 15 31:41 -10 23
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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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