The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly from 2. Bundesliga

Over the course of match day five, a full third of the league members scored multiple goals in their matches. New table leader FC Ingolstadt scored more goals in their 4:1 win against VfR Aalen Friday night than three sides — SV Sandhausen, Union Berlin, and (surprise!) Erzgebirge Aue — have tallied all season. Of course, as Aue still has just one goal to its credit, all six of the wrap-around weekend’s six multi-goal scoring clubs — RB Leipzig, SV Darmstadt, 1860 München, FC Heidenheim, and Fortuna Düsseldorf, as well as the aforementioned Ingolstadt — managed more offense since the international break last week than Aue has managed in five full matches.

What’s it all mean?

Besides “Aue isn’t doing so well,” I don’t know, but I needed some sort of opening paragraph to get the ball rolling.

Otherwise, here is the Bundesliga Fanatic’s high-level view of all the action from match day five in Germany’s second division.

The Good

Dominik Stroh-Engel

It is tempting to say that DSE is having a remarkable start to his return to the 2. Bundesliga (he appeared 16 times and scored twice for Wehen Wiesbaden during the 2008-09 season), and though it wouldn’t be wrong, it would slightly confuse the fact that the driving force behind Darmstadt’s surprise start is simply doing what he’s been doing for his club for a while now: scoring on a very consistent basis.

Stroh-Engel’s fifth goal in five matches provided the final goal in Darmstadt’s 2:0 win over Aue, utilising the space given him in the area to decisively head Sandro Sirgiu’s cross past Martin Männel. DSE had earlier provided the pass on Marcel Heller’s first-half strike to give the hosts the lead they had little worries about relinquishing to their punchless guests, giving him credit for his second assist on the season.

A fan rendering of DSE leading the Darmstadt charge.

Die Lilien seem poised to go as far as their big fella can take them, though they are not entirely dependent on him to get results. Darmstadt have allowed just three goals so far, which makes them the second-stingiest defence in the league behind RB Leipzig.

Promoted Sides

SV Darmstadt was not the only recent 3. Liga resident to have a good weekend. Both RB Leipzig and FC Heidenheim had strong performances in victory to keep all three promoted sides in the top half of the table.

We can discuss the relative merits of RB Leipzig’s skirting of the spirit of the club-system rules some other time. The Bulls continue to collect points while lingering near the top of the table, this time dispensing with recent Bundesligist Eintracht Braunschweig by a 3:1 margin. Yussuf Poulsen collected a pair of goals sandwiched around one from Daniel Frahn. RB had managed just three goals from their prior four matches. If the three-goal outburst against a team favored to contend for a top spot is a sign that this team is just starting to show their full capabilities . . . uh oh . . .

Then again, the Lions have yet to really resemble the side that showed a bit of scrappiness at the end of last season when trying to survive the Bundesliga, much less the one that built a huge lead in the league the year prior to that, helping boost it to the Bundesliga despite a less-impressive second half. Torsten Lieberknecht’s crew is capable of better, and this match may have been a wake-up call.

Similarly, alarm bells are ringing even louder around Union Berlin after FC Heidenheim handed them a 3:1 loss, leaving die Eisernen languishing in a relegation spot with just one point and two goals from the season thus far.

But we’ll save the travails of Norber Düwel for another time and segment. We’re here to praise Heidenheim, who’ve collected points in all but one match thus far. Last year’s 3. Liga champion are not having quite as dramatic a success as their fellow promoted sides, both of whom currently occupy promotion spots, but are rather grinding out points in a more-sustainable fashion, compiling neither a series of clean sheets nor a hot streak of goals from a single source. Frank Schmidt’s crew instead has scratched out eight points despite having surrendered the same eight goals they’ve scored. Don’t be surprised if Heidenheim proves to be the most-consistent of the 3. Liga troika.

FC Ingolstadt

Everything I wrote last week about FC Ingolstadt continues to be true, and as long as die Schanzer continue to roll, it’ll only seem like I was understating the case.

Ralph Hasenhüttl is armed with a good squad bolstered by strong newcomers. Accordingly, the team has yet to lose and is currently on a three-match winning bend, outscoring Greuter Fürth, SV Sandhausen, and VfR Aalen nine goals to one. Aalen became the first to score on Ingolstadt since they were bounced from the DFB Pokal in mid-August, but the rain-soaked match was otherwise dominated by Ingolstadt who cruised to the top of the table on the 4:1 victory.

The Bad

Der Club

It seemed like a four-goal romp over Union Berlin could have been just what the doctor ordered for 1. FC Nürnberg which had been struggling to find its feet in the second division.

But it turned out to be nothing more than a brief holiday from longer-term issues, as der Club‘s attack again went dormant Monday night in an 0:2 loss to Fortuna Düsseldorf. Nürnberg has now gone two consecutive home matches without a goal or point, making it three of their first five matches in 2. Bundesliga they’ve failed to get a goal. There remains plenty of time for Valerian Ismail to get his squad playing like the consensus pre-season title favorite they were, but the performances thus far have resembled anything but those of a sincere promotion candidate.

Erzgebirge OW-uh

Twelve goals against. Not good.

And now that Tommy Stipic has been broken-in as coach, watching his side fairly handled in the 2:0 loss to a promoted side, the Violets now have had twice as many head coaches (two) this season as they’ve scored goals (one).

It’s easy to provide such brutal statistics for a club that is performing this miserably. I don’t want to do it, so please, Aue, get your act together. Remember last year’s scrappy Monday night match at home against Kaiserslautern when you scored early and then held on for dear life despite getting otherwise man-handled? And neutrals across the league were singing your praises? Give us some of those so we can believe you’re not just resigned to a rebuild in 3. Liga, because right now, 18th place already looks like we could etch your name on it, which is pretty bad, considering what’s happening at  . . .

The Ugly

Union Berlin

Union has three times as many goals as Aue and three more points, but that’s good enough for 17th place and headaches galore for new coach Norbert Düwel. It’s bad enough to have a winless start to the season, but to do so after jettisoning a fan favourite like Torsten Mattuschka only makes things so much worse. Mattuschka was a spirited leader for Union well before his nine-year run with the club was brought to a close by the new boss, and it’s difficult to imagine him tolerating such poor performances from his teammates.

Yet, instead of trying to push Union to better play, ‘Tusche’ is in the 3. Liga with hometown club Energie Cottbus, stating publicly his lack of appreciation for how Düwel handled him and speaking of a strong desire to play for Cottbus against Union in the 2. Bundesliga. The way things are going in Berlin, that battle has a better chance of happening in the 3. Liga anytime soon.

And until Düwel can change the story lines at Union, the new coach is going to continue to hear questions about Mattushka while all he wants to do is move on.

Well, move on and maybe win a match.

Thomas Meggle

I swear I am not picking on the new guys.

In fact, it’s completely okay by me that St. Pauli dropped their new coach’s debut 1:2 to 1860 München. The Lions were due to bite someone, and a struggling Pauli side with a new coach, even at home, seemed as likely a candidate as anyone for Ricardo Moniz’s first league win. Even with new leadership and many new faces in the starting eleven, St. Pauli played the most-inspired football they’ve played all season.

So, that’s all good.

The ugly comes from Meggle’s hot-headed demeanor leading the former St. Pauli player to appear to throw an elbow at the fourth official as he left the pitch upon being sent to the tribune for too much dissent.

Smile, or I’ll throw you an elbow, too.

So while Meggle says he’s happy with the way his team played and believes it is something on which they can build, the new coach will need to find a way to temper his temper, because it’s difficult to coach a team from the stands. Just ask the drunk guy you’ll be sitting next to next weekend should the DFB suspend you for your actions in your first match.

Match Day 5 Table

Club W D L Goals +/- Pts
FC Ingolstadt 04 3 2 0 12:4 8 11
RasenBallsport Leipzig 3 2 0 7:1 6 11
SV Darmstadt 98 3 2 0 8:3 5 11
1.FC Kaiserslautern 3 2 0 9:6 3 11
VfL Bochum 2 3 0 10:5 5 9
Karlsruher SC 2 3 0 7:4 3 9
Fortuna Düsseldorf 2 2 1 8:5 3 8
1.FC Heidenheim 1846 2 2 1 8:8 0 8
SpVgg Greuther Fürth 2 1 2 9:5 4 7
1.FC Nuremberg 2 0 3 6:8 -2 6
TSV 1860 Munich 1 2 2 7:10 -3 5
VfR Aalen 1 2 2 5:8 -3 5
Eintracht Braunschweig 1 1 3 8:9 -1 4
FSV Frankfurt 1 1 3 4:6 -2 4
SV Sandhausen 1 1 3 3:7 -4 4
FC St. Pauli 1 1 3 4:9 -5 4
1.FC Union Berlin 0 3 2 3:9 -6 3
FC Erzgebirge Aue 0 0 5 1:12 -11 0

Match Day 5 Results

Home team Result Visiting team
Karlsruher SC
VfR Aalen
FSV Frankfurt
FC Erzgebirge Aue
Eintracht Braunschweig
1.FC Union Berlin
SpVgg Greuther Fürth
TSV 1860 Munich
Fortuna Düsseldorf

Match Day 6 Fixtures

Date Time Home team Visiting team
Friday SV Darmstadt 98
FC St. Pauli
SV Sandhausen
Saturday VfL Bochum
FC Ingolstadt 04
1.FC Kaiserslautern
Sunday RasenBallsport Leipzig
1.FC Heidenheim 1846
1.FC Nuremberg

 

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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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