2. Bundesliga Matchday 27 in Review: What a difference an English Week Makes.

Matchday 26: Nine matches, twelve goals, three scoreless draws, three 1:1 draws, and virtually no movement in the table.

Matchday 27: Nine matches, 26 goals, 7 pairs of winners and losers, and not much significant movement in the table as far as the trading of places goes, but definitely some clubs being moved, practically, from the “promotion contention” box and into the “also-ran” category.

You have to love English week for bringing exciting, mid-week league football.

Table’s top three make a move away from pursuing pack

With seven matchdays remaining, victories by the top two sides in the table paired with the dropping of points by the clubs sitting between rungs four and seven to move the automatic-promotion bar to 48 points, six more than what currently is enough to hold fourth-place.

SpVgg Greuther Fürth were the big goal-scorers of the mid-week action, getting a pair of goals from Ilir Azemi on their way to a 4:1 rout of Fortuna Düsseldorf, which finds itself plummeting through the 2.Bundesliga table in a manner eerily reminiscent of last year’s Bundesliga season, on the last day of which Fortuna plummeted two spots from safety and into direct relegation.

Azemi, who now has five goals in Fürth’s last six matches, was joined on the score sheet by Daniel Brosinski and Zoltan Stieber, with Stieber’s goal poached off a deflected Azemi shot.

“I do not know what is going on,” said Azemi to Sky after the match when asked about his current form. “I’m just on a roll.”

Not only did the victory help Fürth maintain their grasp on second place, but also overnight within a point of first place.

Hence, 1. FC Köln entered their home match with direct-threat Karlsruher SC knowing anything short of all three points was going to put an excessive amount of pressure on the league’s youngest team to defend their position with a lot less margin for error than which they entered 2014. Considering Köln was coming off consecutive scoreless efforts and had held a lead for a whopping four minutes over the last four match days, taking down a hungry Karlsruhe side was far from compulsory.

The Billy Goats prevailed, nonetheless, getting goals from Miso Brecko and Patrick Helmes in a 2:0 victory that was much more dominant than the final score otherwise indicates. Köln keeper was left with nearly nothing to do for 90 minutes to earn his fourteenth clean sheet of the campaign.

After two scoreless efforts, it is a relief to get on the scoreboard for Köln.
After two scoreless efforts, it is a relief to get on the scoreboard for Köln.

Coach Peter Stöger shook-up his squad a bit by inserting winter newcomers Bård Finne and Kazuki Nagasawa for their debuts in the starting eleven. Both had shown promise in limited action as substitutes, but Nagasawa impressed for 90 minutes and maybe won himself a regular role in the stretch run to promotion.

SC Paderborn joined in the action of clubs in promotion spots delivering decisive results, extending their lead in the race for the third spot and keeping pace with Köln and Fürth, pounding FC St. Pauli 3:0.

The Hamburg side entered the contest with the opportunity to pass Paderborn in the table with a win, but instead became just another casualty of Paderborn’s surging form.

“These were again three important points for us,” said 2.Bundesliga leading scorer Mahir Saglik after the match. “(It was a) great game. This is a cool team. It is just fun.”

Saglik is all about the 'fun.'
Saglik is all about the ‘fun.’

Saglik contributed a goal from run of play and another from the penalty spot, while Alban Meha returned to the score sheet after a three-week absence to fuel the latest Paderborn victory. Andre Breitenreiter’s side has now dropped just nine points over their last twelve matches and is four points clear of 1. FC Kaiserslautern in fourth.

No change at the bottom of the table

The recent surge of Energie Cottbus to lend a bit of gravity to their determination to avoid the drop took a bit of a hit Wednesday in a loss to 1860 München.

Despite dominating the first half of the match and eventually staking to a lead in the 25th minute through a Mathias Fetsch goal, it was the hosts using a post-halftime burst of effort to equalize with a Dominik Stahl tally less than two minutes after the resumption of action.

The sides exchanged chances throughout the second half, but only Daniel Adlung was able to find the net, delivering the game-winner in the 70th minute.

Neither Dynamo Dresden nor Arminia Bielefeld were able to distance themselves further from last-place Cottbus, nor did either side gain an edge on the other, remaining level on 26 points after a pair of draws.

Despite possession and chances overwhelmingly favoring Dresden, it wasn’t until the 79th minute that the scoreless deadlock was broken by Tobias Kempe, giving the relegation-threatened guests a huge, well-deserved chance at securing their first victory since November.

Four minutes later, the hope was doused when Daniel Buballa won a penalty for VfR Aalen, which was converted into the equalizing score by Leandro Grech.

Arminia Bielefeld also earned just one point from the matchday, but as they had travelled to promotion contender 1. FC Kaiserslautern to get it, the attitude toward the splitting of points was much more positive.

Kaiserslautern took the lead in the 36th minute and appeared ready to stick close to the top three and distance themselves from the rest of the pack. Christian Müller had other ideas, however, levelling the score five minutes later on the back of a poor pass by Enis Alushi from just outside his own penalty area, which went directly to Müller’s feet. Müller had no problems putting an uncontested shot past keeper Tobias Sippel to equalize.

Sandhausen reaches the mythical “40 points and you’re safe” mark

If you’ve not already done so, it’s high time to tip your cap to the accomplishments of SV Sandhausen this season under Alois Schwartz, as a 2:1 victory over Union Berlin put them at 40 points on the season, the unofficial point total at which a team is considered to be safe from relegation.

Take your well-deserved bow, Sandhausen
Take your well-deserved bow, Sandhausen

Of course, Sandhausen was relegated to 3.Liga at the end of the 2012-13 season. When MSV Duisburg was denied a license for professional football over the summer, Sandhausen was given a second chance at the second league.

And, oh my, how incredibly well they’ve used it.

Sandhausen has risen to seventh in the table, just six points below the promotion spots. Their unlikely season has been fuelled by defensive efficiency. Last season’s club allowed a whopping 66 goals, a league-worst and fourteen goals more than any club which stayed up.

This season, Sandhausen is on pace for just 29 total goals against. Their 23 allowed so far make them the second-stingiest defense in the league behind Köln. The improved defense has allowed Sandhausen to establish themselves as a legitimate second-league presence, at least on the pitch, despite scoring at a much slower pace than even last year’s relatively punch-less bunch.

In a virtual offensive explosion for Sandhausen, Danny Blum scored in the seventh minute to erase the lead gifted Union by Manuel Riemann, when the SVS keeper grossly misplayed a Christopher Quiring free kick.

When Daniel Haas parried a Manuel Stiefler shot onto the feet of Nicky Adler, Sandhausen’s leading scorer gave his side their first multiple-goal game since November and the margin of victory to virtually assure that Sandhausen will not be needing a punishment relegation of another club to play the 2014-15 season in the 2. Bundesliga.

We salute you, SV Sandhausen.

From the department of meaningless stats:

  • On the same matchday in which FC Bayern München increased the number of Bundesliga sides mathematically eliminated from title contention to 17, FC Köln’s victory extended the same discourtesy to VfL Bochum, Dynamo Dresden, and Arminia Bielefeld.
  • That’s not all! Fürth’s three points actually makes both direct-promotion spots unreachable for all three clubs currently in the relegation zone.
  • Dynamo Dresden is the only team yet to win a match in the Rückrunde. In fact, every other club has won at least two of the first ten matches of the season’s second-half.
  • We didn’t bother to point it out, but Karlsruher SC had reached the 40-point mark in matchday 26. The club had been in the heat of the promotion race for so long, it was easy to overlook that they were in the 3.Liga last season. They may be fading from promotion contention, but they’ve had a terrific season.

Matchday 27 Table

Club W D L F:A Diff. Points
1 - 1.FC Köln 14 10 3 40:15 25 52
2 - SpVgg Greuther Fürth 14 6 7 49:31 18 48
3 - SC Paderborn 07 13 7 7 49:41 8 46
4 - 1.FC Kaiserslautern 12 6 9 39:27 12 42
5 - FC St. Pauli 12 6 9 34:32 2 42
6 - Karlsruher SC 10 10 7 35:25 10 40
7 - SV Sandhausen 11 7 9 24:23 1 40
8 - 1.FC Union Berlin 10 9 8 39:34 5 39
9 - TSV 1860 München 10 8 9 29:30 -1 38
10 - FSV Frankfurt 9 7 11 37:39 -2 34
11 - FC Ingolstadt 04 9 7 11 28:30 -2 34
12 - FC Erzgebirge Aue 9 7 11 34:41 -7 34
13 - VfR Aalen 8 9 10 26:33 -7 33
14 - Fortuna Düsseldorf 8 9 10 27:38 -11 33
15 - VfL Bochum 8 6 13 23:32 -9 30
16 - Dynamo Dresden 4 14 9 28:40 -12 26
17 - Arminia Bielefeld 7 5 15 32:51 -19 26
18 - FC Energie Cottbus 6 5 16 32:43 -11 23

Matchday 27 Results

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