After a weekend that only further proved the unpredictability of 2. Bundesliga, it returns for the start of the Englishe Woche. Sadly, there will be games kicking off at the ridiculous time of 16:30BST on Tuesday and Wednesday, but it does take away the need for a Monday night game. Swings and roundabouts, eh? With that said, let’s get stuck into the Matchday 6 preview.
1. FC Union Berlin – Eintracht Braunschweig (Friday, 17:30BST)
Union started the season impressively, yet two draws and a defeat have seen the capital club miss the chance to go top on two separate occasions this term. However, due to the nature of 2. Bundesliga this season, they are still just five points off the top. Injuries to Marc Torrejon and Steven Skrzybski haven’t helped, though the latter is set to return for this game. Sebastian Polter has also been rather quiet in terms of finding the net. It would be of huge benefit if he could lift some of the scoring burden off the midfield. Being back in front of their home fans will be a substantial boost, too.
Torsten Lieberknecht’s side are one of only two unbeaten teams left in the league, but four draws surrounding their matchday two win has left cause for concern. With three as 1-1 stalemates, the other a 2-2 draw with Fortuna, it’s clear that the Lions are having real issues when it comes to kicking on and killed a match off. This could well be a game decided by just one goal, though the level of performance will have to rise significantly to get a result away at Union. They have been behind for 21 minutes so far, should they manage to get past their mental block this could be a good base to build from.
Erzgebirge Aue – Holstein Kiel
Contrasting that with the other Friday game, Aue and Kiel are in fine form. Aue secured their first win under Hannes Drews with a performance that could be labelled as stoic, strong, fortunate and clinical. That said, they look to have found their footing again after Thomas Letsch’s departure and are back to their old form under Domenico Tedesco. Pascal Köpke is continuing to show that he is one of Germany’s brightest young strikers with his performance against Ingolstadt last weekend. However, it was the defence that shone in a 2-1 away win where they battled against 30 shots to secure the win.
As for Kiel, their incredible start showed no signs of slowing against Kaiserslautern as another dramatic finish saw Stipe Vucur’s own-goal give them a second home win this season. They will be without Manuel Janzer for a considerable amount of time, however, as the winger tore his Achilles in training. Sebastian Heidinger did a fine job filling in for the other long-term absentee, Christopher Lenz at the weekend and should continue at left-back. This should prove to be a really interesting game, given the strength of both sides going forward and the form of both Köpke and Dominick Drexler.
FC St. Pauli – FC Ingolstadt 04 (Saturday, 12:00)
Things weren’t terribly stylish on Monday night, but St. Pauli managed to get the job done against a very good Nürnberg side. A third 1-0 win of the season and a first goal that Christopher Buchtmann didn’t have a hand in was just what was needed on a difficult trip south. Now, it’s a return home and a chance to go top of the table along with Fortuna before the rest of the chasing pack play. Still without Buchtmann, it will be a tricky task to get past an Ingolstadt side with plenty to prove. However, Aziz Bouhaddouz is battling to be fit. Given it’s the Englishe Woche, he may not be risked.
It’s probably not the ideal scenario that Ingolstadt face St. Pauli, given that they put in a similar performance to Aue against the Schanzer at the weekend. Despite dominating and losing, having a goal chalked off and some debatable decisions go against them, it was still a performance that held some positives for Stefan Lietl. Dario Lezcano finally got off the mark in the league, and both Sonny Kittel and Thomas Pledl played well. However, the concerns have not left in a defensive sense and St. Pauli will be as unforgiving as Aue were if the right chance comes their way.
MSV Duisburg – 1. FC Nürnberg
Ilia Gruev’s men will be confident of paying FCN back from their DFB-Pokal exit earlier in the season on Saturday, especially after a stunning 4-0 triumph in Bielefeld. Cauly Oliveira Souza showed why he had been brought from Regionalliga with a super brace, and Moritz Stoppelkamp has continued to roll back the years at his first club. They have no injury concerns from that win over Arminia so should name an unchanged side, unless Gruev wishes to mix up the strike partnership. Yet, given the way Borys Tashchy and Stanislav Iljutchenko linked up, that is very unlikely.
For the visitors, another frustrating evening was capped by Waldemar Sobota’s winner for St. Pauli after doing everything but put the ball in the net. They’re also likely to be without star playmaker, Kevin Möhwald for this game after he went off injured on Monday. There were positives in Lucas Hufnagel’s performance in Möhwald’s absence, and he’ll have to do similar again to help unlock a stubborn Zebras’ backline. The switch to a back three generally seems to have been a positive one for Michael Köllner, he now needs the results to back up the performances.
SV Sandhausen – 1. FC Kaiserslautern
People would have been forgiven if they’d thought Sandhausen were headed down the table after that late loss to Fortuna, though a dogged and determined performance in Braunschweig without their usual central midfield duo showed real bite. With Lucas Höler and Philipp Klingmann still proving to be their two main threats, a return of Andrew Wooten would be welcomed by both. That said, for their injury worries, Kenan Kocak does have the depth to cope with problems and key players being absent but one of Stefan Kulovits or Denis Linsmayer being fit would help, given FCK’s midfield strength.
Given that Norbert Meier really, really needs a win – going to Sandhausen, where the Red Devils have never won, isn’t exactly a great omen heading into this game. That said, Sebastian Andersson getting off the mark at the first time of asking against Kiel will be a big relief as they try to find more goals. Like quite a few sides in the league, defence is still a real problem. The decision to drop Philipp Mwene was not well received and he should make a return, allowing Benjamin Kessel into the heart of defence. Mads Albaek or Christoph Moritz slotting back into midfield would also be a bonus.
Jahn Regensburg – Dynamo Dresden (Sunday, 12:30)
Jahn’s super start continued last weekend, with a superb victory in Heidenheim. Marvin Knoll looks like a different beast moved up into midfield, and Marco Grüttner gives off the confidence of a striker who has spent their entire career in 2. Bundesliga. Despite being just their second win of the campaign, Achim Beierlorzer’s side have certainly not looked out of place and have been on the wrong end of some very narrow defeats. The next challenge to overcome will be a securing a first clean sheet and moving forward from there, something they will look to do on Sunday.
The pressure is building on Dynamo, however. After a win against Duisburg, Uwe Neuhaus’ men are still waiting on a second victory to follow that up. It hasn’t been through a lack of trying, though finishing has cost them points and at crucial stages in games thus far – something that again shone through with their draw against the Shamrocks. Philip Heise is now sidelined with a muscle problem, meaning there may well need to be a shift in formation to make up for his loss. It could turn out to be a blessing in disguise, although it would be as much of a surprise to see Dynamo out of their 4-3-3.
SV Darmstadt 98 – Arminia Bielefeld
Despite defeat to VfL Bochum last weekend, Torsten Frings’ Lilies will be confident of putting in the complete performance against Bielefeld. They slowed in the second half which allowed the guests to claim all three points, and he will want to avoid a repeat at all costs. This game sees second play fourth in an early top of the table clash. After a sluggish showing against Bochum, Artur Sobiech could be sacrificed for one of several central striking options. Felix Platte and Terrence Boyd are the leading candidates, with the former’s youthful exuberance possibly a deciding factor.
For Arminia, it will also be a case of bouncing back from a first league defeat after they surprisingly fell at home to Duisburg. Their usual intensity was not present throughout, in a similar sense to what Darmstadt endured in their previous game. Nevertheless, having Tom Schütz back should give some added tempo to their midfield play. Jeff Saibene will have his side fully up for this game, in what could be a real marker of how the rest of their season plays out. Fabian Klos has been relatively quiet in recent weeks, and this is a great stage for him to burst onto the scene once more.
SpVgg Greuther Fürth – Fortuna Düsseldorf
Greuther Fürth havethe chance in Sunday’s match to go top of the eternal 2. Bundesliga table, on goal difference from Alemannia Aachen. This is a big carrot in itself, although a win against Fortuna is much more important for their current situation. Their draw against Dynamo Dresden showed promise, in what was a game filled with missed chances and dubious decisions. Philipp Hofmann got off the mark which was a plus and Julian Green also looked dangerous. They have the full compliment to choose from this weekend, and a few changes in defence might be made by new head coach, Damir Buric.
Friedhelm Funkel is still without Michael Rensing through injury, though Raphael Wolf has certainly softened that blow with two assured performances between the sticks. The win over Union Berlin was Fortuna’s fourth in a row and took them clear at the top of the table – somewhere they haven’t been for a fair few years. Lukas Schmitz may return on the left to allow the side to switch back to the usual 3-5-2 away from home, though Funkel can put full confidence in this exciting side regardless of the set-up. Backed by loyal travelling support, another result is expected.
VfL Bochum – 1. FC Heidenheim
After two wins in a row, the mood around the Ruhrstadion is decidedly more positive. The way the team won in Darmstadt, after two goals in the final 10 minutes and Felix Bastians’ super show of fair play, is a huge part of the increased morale. Dimitrios Diamantakos may see some action from the beginning after his heroics off the bench, and could well see Bochum turn to a 4-4-2 after how effective it was at Darmstadt. Robert Tesche is also pushing for a starting berth, leaving Ismail Atalan with a few selection headaches ahead of the game.
As for Heidenheim, Sunday will mark 10 years in charge for Frank Schmidt. He’s been the mastermind behind their rise, but this season is possibly the most testing start to a campaign he’s had in charge. With just a solitary win and four defeats from five games, the Voith-Arena outfit are in desperate need of three points to avoid slipping further into a rut. With a full squad available outside of Dennis Thomalla, many have expected a lot better for a side that has been associated with solidity and strong showings. Marc Schnatterer has also been quiet, and a good performance from him could be key.