The international break has been the second distraction for 2. Bundesliga sides inside just four matchdays, following the first round of the DFB Pokal. The teams will now be hoping that a rest has done their players good and they can attack with renewed verve. It promises to be yet another weekend full of thrills, spills and everything in between.
1. FC Heidenheim – Jahn Regensburg (Friday 17:30)
Heidenheim will be hoping for more thrills than spills on Friday evening, after what has been a poor start to the season. They have just one win from their opening four games, and Frank Schmidt is going to be going all out for a second victory. There was no late transfer business on their part, so Schmidt is working with the same group and consistency is likely what he will work with. Their usual defensive solidity has been lacking, as have the goals, in the early part of the campaign. Marc Schnatterer will likely have to step up to breathe confidence back into the side.
Despite only being ahead of Heidenheim by virtue of goal difference, Jahn Regensburg have shown promise under Achim Beierlorzer. There is still some work to be done defensively, especially in terms of individual errors and concentration, but Regensburg have been a delight going forward. Jann George and Marco Grüttner have been the two stand-out players in attack, with both creating plenty of problems for opposition defences. If they can continue their menacing streak, Regensburg could take advantage of Heidenheim’s sluggish start.
Dynamo Dresden – SpVgg Greuther Fürth
Dynamo have major injury concerns coming into this game, with Sören Gonther, Erich Berko and Justin Löwe all out. There are doubts over Fabian Müller, Patrick Möschl and Manuel Konrad. However, Niklas Hauptmann will return to the squad after missing the start of the season. Peniel Mlapa could also make his first appearance in Dynamo colours after he arrived from VfL Bochum on deadline day. Uwe Neuhaus’ men has had real trouble making the most of their promising wide play, and Mlapa’s physicality could prove to be a difference maker.
The Kleeblatt are one of two sides yet to win this season, and still haven’t found a replacement for Janos Radoki after he was sacked after their last game. Bernd Hollerbach is the latest name to be brought into the discussion, though it is still not clear who Helmut Hack and the board will opt for. They are without any new injury worries, and will hope the loan addition of Julian Green and Levent Aycicek’s arrival from Werder Bremen can aid them in attack. With Richard Magyar now fit, he could add some much-needed steel to their defence, also.
Arminia Bielefeld – MSV Duisburg (Saturday 12:00)
Many thought Arminia’s bright spark would have ended with a tricky trip to the capital to take on 1. FC Union Berlin. However, that didn’t stop them from making their mark and coming away with a hard-earned point which underlined their ambitions this season. Despite falling to a draw in the end, a return to the Bielefelder Alm in front of an expected 20,000 fans should have Jeff Saibene’s men in the mood. They have no concerns of suspension or fitness heading into this one, and can look forward to potentially going clear at the top of the table.
Ilia Gruev and the Zebras will be doing their utmost to prevent that from happening, and instead build upon a steady start back in 2. Bundesliga. Much like their hosts, it will be a full strength Duisburg side that make the trip to Ostwestfalen. While there are the long-term absentees of Zlatko Janjic and Tim Albutat, those who have deputised in their absence have been more than useful. Gerrit Nauber has been very impressive since his summer move, while Lukas Fröde and Cauly Oliveira Souza have also acquitted themselves well. Defence and attack will have to be in tune to get a result on Saturday.
FC Ingolstadt 04 – Erzgebirge Aue
Two sides with two fresh-faced managers will go head-to-head at the Audi-Sportpark on Saturday, with Stefan Leitl taking on Hannes Drews. It’s Leitl’s second game in charge, while Drews was announced as the Violets’ new boss on Thursday and is facing a tricky task on his professional managerial debut. From a Schanzer perspective, Leitl got off to a winning start before the international break and will be keen to continue that after key players came back fit. This is a good chance to build on momentum, and secure a first home win.
However, they’ll face an Aue side that look much more like the Domenico Tedesco side from last year under Lenk. Sadly, he can’t take permanent control due to a lack of coaching qualifications. That means all eyes turn to Drews, who will hope to show that the appointment of Thomas Letsch was a blip in the board’s decision-making. The 35-year-old is likely to keep things as they were under Lenk, and why would he change after their superb 3-1 win over 1. FC Nürnberg. With their exciting front-line, anything is possible.
Holstein Kiel – 1. FC Kaiserslautern
Markus Anfang has enjoyed a very positive beginning (no pun intended!) to his 2. Bundesliga managerial career, with Kiel sitting pretty on seven points from four games. The Storks have been a breath of fresh air and their attacking style has seen them find the net at will, more than any other side, in fact. They are without Christopher Lenz after the defender tore his hamstring, putting paid to a very promising start. Johannes van den Bergh will likely be his replacement, after being brought in on a late loan deal. However, it’s fair to expect more of the same from Marvin Ducksch and co.
Kaiserslautern haven’t had the same joy, and have scored the least goals of any team this season along with Fürth. They have tried to address that with the signing of
Eintracht Braunschweig – SV Sandhausen (Sunday 12:30)
One of the several games that could be argued as the stand-out for Matchday 5, Torsten Lieberknecht will be hoping he can get his Lions back to winning ways after three draws in their opening four games. Despite being behind for all of 28 minutes this season, Braunschweig just have not been able to get across the line. The return of Christoffer Nyman will be warmly welcomed, especially after he scored for Sweden during the international break, and Özkan Yıldırım may make his debut after a late move from Fortuna.
As for Sandhausen, their defeat to Fortuna is the only blot on an otherwise clean copybook. It was narrow, and a draw wouldn’t have been unfair given the chances created, but Kenan Kocak’s men can hold their heads high with such a strong start to the campaign. Andrew Wooten is fit again, which should be of major benefit to Lucas Höler, Nejmeddin Daghfous and Philipp Klingmann who could have used his services in that last game. While both sides are after all three points, a win here would really outline Sandhausen’s charge for the top is not just a flash in the pan.
Fortuna Düsseldorf – 1. FC Union Berlin
What probably is the game of the weekend, however, is Union’s trip to Fortuna. Friedhelm Funkel and his men were scoffed at when Bild put them down as promotion contenders this season, yet they have fully delivered and sit top of the tree. This will be a major test of their credentials to stay there, especially after the loss of Ihlas Bebou late in the window. Takashi Usami is tasked with replacing him, although it is unclear as to whether or not he will start alongside Rouwen Hennings. Michael Rensing is likely to miss out again, with Raphael Wolf deputising once more.
As for Union, they have doubts over Marc Torrejon and Steven Skrzybski’s fitness heading into this key game while Grischa Prömel will serve the final game of his suspension. That should give Akaki Gogia a first start in Union colours, and a real stage to show he was worth the big transfer fee this summer. Jens Keller can still look towards the superb Simon Hedlund and his excellent form to date, and will hope that Sebastian Polter can now start to find the net on a regular basis following the international break.
SV Darmstadt 98 – VfL Bochum
The Lilies have been one of the three form sides thus far, and have shown they have the ability to win ugly, late or with class. Torsten Frings can count on the always loyal and loud home support that has seen the team secure many a famous result. Daniel Heuer Fernandes has been excellent, and Marvin Mehlem has proved a very worthwhile addition at the heart of midfield. The men in the middle have been key to goalscoring in the opening four games, and should the strikers start scoring then Frings’ men will really be in business.
Ismail Atalan finally got his first league win as Bochum boss at the fourth attempt, thanks to Lukas Hinterseer’s late strike against Dynamo Dresden. It could be just the confidence boost they needed. Injury problems have again hurt their preparation, with Vitaly Janelt, Jannik Bandowski, Thomas Eisfeld and Timo Perthel all joining Manuel Riemann on the sidelines. The return of Jan Gyamerah and Patrick Fabian add welcome defensive depth, and Felix Dornebusch will make his league debut after his impressive showing in the DFB-Pokal. This is his best chance to stake a starting claim.
1. FC Nürnberg – FC St. Pauli (Monday 19:30)
The final game of Matchday 5 has potential to be a real barnstormer. Sebastian Kerk, Dennis Lippert, Patrick Kammerbauer, Enis Alushi and Rurik Gislason are all absent, however, as Michael Köllner seems to be edging towards a switch of formation and to the 3-4-3. It’s not yet clear if that will happen or not, but the need to bounce back after the disappointing defeat in Aue is clear. After the promising start to the season, that loss was a real reality check but all will be forgotten if a solid performance is obtained against St. Pauli.
There are also injury concerns for the opposition, with Aziz Bouhaddouz and Christopher Buchtmann missing on Monday evening. Olaf Janßen earned a vitally important win over Heidenheim before the break to keep St. Pauli in touching distance at the top, though this is a different proposition altogether. A tough away trip, a long away trip on a Monday is even less favourable, but it is a game where the Hamburg-based outfit will no doubt be looking to show some more dogged determination in a bid to keep pushing for a Bundesliga spot.