After the DFB-Pokal interrupted the league action last weekend, 2. Bundesliga is back. Not prepared to give up the limelight now that the Bundesliga has returned, it promises to be another weekend full of twists and turns.
Eintracht Braunschweig – Erzgebirge Aue (Friday 17:30 – all times in BST)
After both sides exited the DFB-Pokal last weekend, both Braunschweig and Aue will be keen to get back to winning ways at the first possible opportunity. This game will see both Steve Breitkreuz and Louis Samson reunited with their former team-mates after leaving in the summer, although any good will is likely to be on the back-burner until full-time. Defeat to a Kiel side that have proven themselves as more than worthy 2. Bundesliga opponents already is no shame whatsoever. With four points from two games, Torsten Lieberknecht will hope this is merely a bump in the road.
The Violets were dispatched by the in-form Wehen Wiesbaden on Sunday and, just a day later, the announcement came that Thomas Letsch had been sacked as head coach. After two defeats in 2. Bundesliga and the cup exit, Letsch’s average pre-season did not spark into something more when the competitive games got going. Robin Lenk is the man in temporary charge, and a baptism of fire will await in Braunschweig. Getting the impressive front-line of Mario Kvesic, Pascal Köpke and Dimitrij Nazarov firing could be just what the team need.
SV Darmstadt 98 – FC St. Pauli (17:30)
It’s been two seasons since these two last met, with the previous tussle ending in a one-nil win for this weekend’s host. That was the day that Darmstadt, with the help of Tobias Kempe’s free-kick, booked a return to the Bundesliga. With the winger returning again this summer, he will be hoping to help them back into the big time. Torsten Frings has led the Lilies to four points from their first six, well-placed to make the desired result come May. However, this will be their toughest test yet and a real indicator as to whether or not they will be able to sustain their early season promise.
St. Pauli have had a really difficult start and despite their Pokal departure, like Darmstadt, they can still look upon a win against VfL Bochum and a draw at home to Dynamo Dresden positively. A slightly rotated side should return to its normal set-up this Friday, with the 4-1-4-1 being ditched for the more comfortable 4-4-2. A first goal of the season for Sami Allagui would have been greatly welcomed as they aim to take the burden off Christopher Buchtmann’s shoulders. Aziz Bouhaddouz will be hoping to join his strike partner in getting off the mark this weekend.
1. FC Heidenheim – MSV Duisburg (Saturday 12:00)
Heidenheim, following their 2-1 win over Aue, got another morale-boosting victory by dispatching a tricky SpVgg Unterhaching in the DFB-Pokal. Timo Beermann continued to cement himself as key in both boxes with a fine performance and two goals, while Robert Glatzel and Kolja Pusch chipped in to make it four-nil. Another home win against the Zebras would maintain the recent spurt Heidenheim currently find themselves in. It would also reaffirm any possible aspirations of repeating their top six finish from last term.
While Frank Schmidt has picked things up after a loss, Duisburg haven’t had the best of starts. A draw with Bochum was the filling between defeat to Dynamo Dresden and a cup exit at the hands of 1. FC Nürnberg. Ilia Gruev’s men can take heart from the fact that they’ve taken three of the best teams in the league the distance, but finishing the job is a concern. Giving away goals has been an issue, as has taking chances, but a little more time to gel with the new players and Gruev could be onto the right recipe to keep them up.
Fortuna Düsseldorf – 1. FC Kaiserslautern (12:00)
Fortuna are fresh, fierce and looking like mounting a serious promotion tilt. Despite going a goal down to Arminia Bielefeld, a strong response saw them battle back to win. This side has shown grit and determination in all three games thus far, and a home win to reward their passionate, fantastic fanbase would be just reward for these first few weeks. Rouwen Hennings has three goals in his last two games and looks every bit the player he was in Karlsruhe. The question is – can he sustain that over the season?
A first win of the season was obtained by Norbert Meier’s Red Devils during the Pokal madness, a necessary victory given a slow start in the league. Yet their latest 2. Bundesliga task will be anything but easy. Baris Atik’s performance cemented the fact that he will be key in any success they have this season, while Osayamen Osawe’s double will hopefully see him kick on and find the back of the net on a more regular basis. While SV Eichede are no pushovers, a trip up the Rhein will be a different story completely.
Dynamo Dresden – SV Sandhausen (12:00)
After more DFB protests and 90 minutes of madness in Zwickau, Dynamo and Uwe Neuhaus made it through to the Pokal second round draw. Until then, attentions are back on the league and maintaining a good start. A win against Duisburg and a hard-fought draw at St. Pauli make for promising reading, and another three points at home would go a long way to keeping spirits high. With Niklas Hauptmann getting closer to full fitness day-by-day, there is surely even more to come from the biggest club in Saxony.
Kenan Kocak’s side were one of the surprise departures from the Pokal first round, though an in-form 1. FC Schweinfurt were a worthy victor. Nevertheless, a promising start to their league campaign and the win over Ingolstadt has marked them down as a possible dark horse for a promotion push. A return to fitness for Andrew Wooten would be welcomed, as he seems to have formed a real partnership with Lucas Höler. That, and a combination of Richie Sakuta-Pasu failing to take his chances, mean they’ll be hoping that Höler can ease the goalscoring burden.
1. FC Nürnberg – 1. FC Union Berlin (Sunday 12:30)
This is, without doubt, the highlight of Matchday 3. Michael Köllner’s men have won every game through from the start of pre-season through to the Monday Pokal triumph in Duisburg. Their 100% start comes as no surprise, though performances have been of a high standard and Hanno Behrens has led the team by example. His brace and the form of Kevin Möhwald have been the driving force, yet a superbly stable defence and the excellent Eduard Löwen makes for a pleasant surprise in the middle. This Saturday will be a total new challenge, however.
That tussle will be against the also unbeaten and only other 2. Bundesliga side to have won each of their three domestic games, Union Berlin. Jens Keller has picked up where he left off last year and despite not showing the same defensive resilience, the attack his continually impressed. Steven Skrzybski has hit the ground running after his injury lay-off and the addition of Marcel Hartel to midfield has brought in even more creativity. After an uninspiring Pokal showing, nothing other than their best will be good enough in Franconia.
FC Ingolstadt 04 – Jahn Regensburg (12:30)
After Pokal progression against a tough 1860 Munich side, some of the missing confidence has seeped back into the Schanzer. It was also a major boost to see Dario Lezcano and Stefan Kutschke get off the mark this season, with goals being the major issue thus far. Maik Walpurgis has shown his side to be defensively capable, but breaking down a stubborn Jahn side that have been anything but the relegation dead-certs that were predicted is going to be a tough task. Could individual inspiration prove key to grinding a way through?
Achim Beierlorzer got his first competitive win as Jahn head coach thanks to an impressive 3-1 win over Darmstadt in the Pokal. It was much-needed and gives them a huge surge in momentum that they’ll hope can topple their hosts on Sunday.
Holstein Kiel – SpVgg Greuther Fürth (12:30)
Despite not winning their first two league games, a late double salvo from the Storks kept their DFB-Pokal hopes alive in style against Eintracht Braunschweig. Marvin Ducksch was at the centre of all things good and great again, as they notched up an impressive sixth and seventh goals in just their first three games. Things were better defensively for Markus Anfang, and it will take that sort of showing again to get their first league win on the board. The addition of Tom Weilandt with more 2. Bundesliga experience will also be welcomed.
As for Fürth, it was a case of finding their finishing boots again when they took on SV Morlautern. It was a debut for Philipp Hofmann that provided two goals, as well as Sebastian Ernst and David Raum’s first for the club. After defeat to Arminia Bielefeld in the league, a game that should arguably have taken a point from, this will be a good opportunity to maintain their winning ways. With some key players still out injured, notably Richard Magyar, this can only be viewed as building momentum for when they all return.
Arminia Bielefeld – VfL Bochum (Monday 19:30)
Arminia Bielefeld are the third side sitting top of the league heading into Matchday 3. This could come as a surprise to some but after the promising end to last season, Jeff Saibene’s charges are showing what they are capable of. Mistakes against Fortuna will need to be eradicated if they are to avoid a repeat performance from the weekend, where a 1-0 lead turned into a 3-1 defeat after extra time. Fabian Klos found the net once more in that game, with the attackers in no shortage of form ahead of the Monday meeting.
A confidence-boosting win over FC Nöttingen will have done VfL Bochum the world of good, as will Lukas Hinterseer’s hat-trick. He’s the first striker to find the net in three games, and looks the most likely source of goals should they be successful in Bielefeld. The failure to take chances and defensive lapses were a worry once again, and Christian Hochstätter was particularly displeased. This was after two goals in five minutes were followed up by some lacklustre play, a lack of a cutting edge and an open defence mean that the brilliant and bizarre Bochum are still alive and well.