Nürnberg, 1860 München, Fortuna Düsseldorf, St. Pauli . . .
The above could be a list of clubs expecting to play for promotion this season in the 2. Bundesliga. Rather, it is a list of clubs that might have had such high expectations entering the season, but are instead now locked into a battle against the dreaded false start, stuck in the bottom half of the table with disappointing results early in the season.
Meanwhile, promoted sides SV Darmstadt and RB Leipzig float near the top of the table, mingling with expected contenders Kaiserslautern and Karlsruhe.
Three matches into a 34-match slate is far from enough to preview season-end results, but that never stops antsy hand-wringing by fans of clubs failing to make the proper early impressions.
Even with a fair amount of turnover rosters in the summer, every year it is expected that at least one of the clubs relegated from Bundesliga the season prior will march right back into the top flight through relative dominance in the second division.
And, more often than not, that expectation goes unfulfilled.
Not a full month ago, 1. FC Nürnberg was the so-anointed favorite for the 2. Bundesliga title, but der Club have just one goal from their last three matches (including the DFB Cup exit to 3. Liga MSV Duisburg) and already find themselves in need of a turnaround.
Compounding the issue for Nürnberg and new coach Valerien Ismael is that Saturday’s 0:1 loss came in front of their own fans at the hands of FSV Frankfurt, a club that entered the match with plenty of question marks of its own, particularly with a defence that had already surrendered five goals in losses to Heidenheim and Karlsruhe and three more to Regionalliga side Sportfruende Sigen in cup play, surviving only thanks to penalties.
For just a touch more insult, it was former Nürnberg midfielder Hanno Balitsch delivering the dagger, heading in a Vincenzo Grifo corner to give Frankfurt their first points of the season and nudging the FSV just ahead of FCN in the table.
The Lions of 1860 München were certainly not as strong candidates for promotion as the former Bundesligists, but fans were certainly hopeful of a smoother transition to a new coach, system, and (largely) roster than opening the season with a pair of losses.
Rubin Okotie got Ricardo Moniz’s crew in front for a first-half lead over host FC Heidenheim, but surrendered goals to Florian Niederlechner and Sebastial Griesbeck in a span of three minutes shortly after the break, leading to the need for Leonardo to deliver a fantastic strike for an equaliser to lift the Lions to their first point of the season.
Though the early problems will continue to be a focus at 1860, perhaps the biggest news coming from the draw in Heidenheim is the switch in goal for 1860. Gabor Kiraly’s streak of 71-consecutive league matches between the posts in league matches was ended by Moniz when he selected newcomer Stefan Ortega for the starting eleven. When asked after the match whether Ortega maintains an edge in the keeper battle, he responded simply with a , “Ja.”
The long-term longing for Oliver Reck to win the full-time gig as Fortuna Düsseldorf was ended when the former goalkeeping coach and two-time interim success was finally given the job. But concern over having blown three individual one-goal leads in the first two matches to leave only with draws and having again exited the DFB cup in the first round seem to have ended the honeymoon already for Reck, as Fortuna fans hunger for victory.
They will have to wait at least one more week and settle for the fact that a lead was not blown, as Karlsruher SC never trailed in continuing their undefeated start to the season, collecting goals from Manuel Gulde and Reinhold Yabo in their 0:2 victory.
FC St. Pauli got its first victory of the season in thrilling fashion when Lasse Sobiech managed to drive the ball into goal off a post deep in injury time, snagging a 2:1 win over SV Sandhausen, despite the guests outplaying their hosts for the majority of the match after Christopher Nöthe‘s fifth-minute goal for St. Pauli. Rene Gartler equalized for Sandhausen in the 23rd minute and followed that with several solid shots at the Pauli goal, providing Philipp Tschauner ample opportunity to shine, making several spectacular saves to set-up the thrilling conclusion.
It won’t last forever, but RB Leipzig is the early-season sensation, topping the table largely due to having yet to concede a goal, leaving Friday night’s victim FC Erzgebirge Aue, to end the weekend as the last club in the league still in search of its first point. 3.Liga goal terror Daniel Frahn got his first goal in 2. Bundesliga just three minutes into the match, and the Bulls hung onto it to become the first victors in the newly established Sachsenderby.
The regional foes will not have to wait for the second leg of the season to resume the rivalry, however, as Leipzig will again host Aue in the second round of the DFB cup in late October.
Fellow promoted side SV Darmstadt is also off to a strong start in their first season in 2. Bundesliga since 1993, posting 2:0 victory over VfR Aalen to join the cluster of clubs at the top of the table with seven points. Hanno Behrens delighted the home fans with a laser of a strike in the 59th minute to put Darmstadt ahead.
Twelve minutes later, Dominik Stroh-Engel delivered his third goal of the season from the penalty spot after Aalen’s Phil Ofosu-Ayeh compounded his error in losing possession in the defensive half with an egregious tackle from behind Jerome Gondorf in the area.
FC Ingolstadt snagged their first win of the campaign after consecutive draws by dropping SpVgg Greuther Fürth 2:0 on Matthew Leckie‘s first goal since moving from FSV Frankfurt and an assist from the Australian national to teammate Pascal Groß, who then put the match away in the 81st minute. The match will be remembered by Fürth for the penalty not given when the match was still scoreless and Schanzer keeper Ramazan Özcan failed to get to a ball and instead slammed Benedikt Röcker to the turf during the challenge. For the FCI, though, the victory over a promotion favorite puts the pair of draws to open the season in a much better light than did last weekend’s DFB cup dismissal at the hands of Regionalligist Kickers Offenbach.
Battle at the Betzenberg
Two traditional clubs met Sunday night in the shadow of the Betzenberg for a clash of teams with big goals for the season, with former 1. FC Kaiserslautern player Torsten Lieberknecht unable to find the key to help spur the club he now coaches, Eintracht Braunschweig, to victory despite being staked to an early lead on Dennis Kruppke‘s third-minute goal.
Eight minutes after surrendering the lead, the Red Devils put themselves on the board in a flash, when a long kick from keeper Tobias Sippel was played forward by Srdjan Lakic for Karim Matmour, who ran onto the ball just inside the error and drilled it past the diving Rafal Gikiewicz to equalize.
Matmour would unwittingly repay Lakic’s service in the second half, taking advantage of a lunge in the penalty area by former Red Devil Matthias Henn, letting his left leg drag into the outstretched leg of the central defender and earning an easy penalty, which Lakic converted for his third goal of the season.
Though Kaiserslautern will be happy with the three points, the failure to convert several huge chances into a bigger lead will remind fans of problems with finishing last season, when the Red Devils had to settle for fourth place. The home fans were brought to their feet several times in the closing minutes of the match, as the frame of the goal was struck a few times and barely missed a few others.
Monday Night Football
Simon Terodde continued his hot start with new club by scoring the equalizer against his most-recent employer, keeping VfL Bochum among the unbeaten and sending Union Berlin to their third-consecutive draw of the season.
Terodde’s fourth goal in league play puts him alone atop the league scoring charts, nicely complementing his two-goal performance in the DFB cup last weekend when Bochum stunned VfB Stuttgart 2:0.
Sören Brandy’s 49th minute score delivered Union’s first lead of the season, including their 2:1 cup loss in Heidenheim, but lasted just twenty minutes before extended his scoring streak to four matches.
Match Day 3 Results
|Home team||Result||Visiting team|
|RB Leipzig||1:0||Erzgebirge Aue|
|1.FC Heidenheim||2:2||1860 München|
|FC St. Pauli||2:1||SV Sandhausen|
|1.FC Nuremberg||0:1||FSV Frankfurt|
|Fortuna Düsseldorf||0:2||Karlsruher SC|
|SV Darmstadt 98||2:0||VfR Aalen|
|FC Ingolstadt||2:0||SpVgg Greuther Fürth|
|1.FC Kaiserslautern||2:1||Eintracht Braunschweig|
|VfL Bochum||1:1||Union Berlin|
Match Day 3 Table
|3||SV Darmstadt 98||2||1||–||5:2||3||7|
|8||SpVgg Greuther Fürth||1||1||1||6:4||2||4|
|10||FC St. Pauli||1||1||1||3:4||-1||4|
Match Day 4 Fixtures
|Date||Time (CET)||Home team||Visiting team|
|Fri Aug 29, 2014||6:30 PM||FSV Frankfurt||RB Leipzig|
|VfR Aalen||1.FC Kaiserslautern|
|Union Berlin||1.FC Nürnberg|
|Sat Aug 30, 2014||1:00 PM||Erzgebirge Aue||Fortuna Düsseldorf|
|Karlsruher SC||1.FC Heidenheim|
|Sun Aug 31, 2014||1:30 PM||Eintracht Braunschweig||VfL Bochum|
|SV Sandhausen||FC Ingolstadt|
|1860 München||SV Darmstadt 98|
|Mon Sep 1, 2014||8:15 PM||SpVggGreuther Fürth||FC St. Pauli|