We are back! After two weeks of rather entertaining and exciting international football, the best league in the world is back with a bang. There are a mouth-watering selection of games that feature some of the players who were involved for their respective nations, but now it’s all about club football. Here’s your 2. Bundesliga Matchday 10 preview.
FC St. Pauli – 1. FC Kaiserslautern (Friday 17:30, FOX Soccer Match Pass)
Olaf Janßen has spoken about how much he enjoys Friday night’s under the Millerntor in the build-up, and he’ll be hoping his players can transfer that excitement onto the pitch come game time. St. Pauli got a huge win away at Eintracht Braunschweig before the break, with Christopher Buchtmann marking his return with a well-taken finish. They will have to do without Aziz Bouhaddouz through injury, with Marc Hornschuh also sidelined. That should mean a very similar line-up to that which won in Lower Saxony, with the hopes of securing a necessary three points to keep them in the title race.
Similarly, Jeff Strasser’s men picked up a vital win in the week prior to the internationals. Sebastian Andersson’s hat-trick gave them a huge boost in the battle to beat the drop, and now they sit three points behind 1. FC Heidenheim in 16th. There has been no new injury concerns over the period, which is another positive for Strasser. Much like their Hamburg counterparts, the Red Devils should look to name an unchanged side from their 3-0 win over Greuther Fürth. A win would also put huge pressure on the sides above, and begin to make those sweat over a previously comfortable position.
MSV Duisburg – Eintracht Braunschweig (Friday 17:30)
The Zebras are one of the sides that will begin to fret if Kaiserslautern do pick up a second win on the bounce. It’s going to be a very difficult game, but Ilia Gruev’s men are due some luck after an almost unbelievable set of circumstances in recent weeks. Against Fortuna, they hit the post three times within two seconds. It has been the same story throughout the last run of games, and sometimes seeing is believing with how well they’ve played and how Duisburg have been thwarted. With Borys Tashchy now back in the side, this should at least help with their recent profligacy.
Torsten Lieberknecht is scraping the bare bones of his squad heading into this weekend’s game. While there may be hopes over the likes of Totte Nyman regaining fitness in time to play a part, they are certainly not at the level they’d like to be at. The fact that Ken Reichel should be fit is huge, though finishing off the chances that he and others creates is a much greater problem. Without Nyman, the Lions couldn’t find the necessary cutting edge to take advantage of the openings and it came back to haunt them. Lieberknecht’s men are desperate for the three points to keep them in the promotion race.
Arminia Bielefeld – Fortuna Düsseldorf (Saturday 12:00, FOX Soccer Match Pass)
Arminia and Jeff Saibene fought back to claim a memorable 2-1 win in the Max-Morlock-Stadion before the break, as Andraz Sporar and Konstantin Kerschbaumer came off the bench to secure the three points. That was a big game for the Bielefelder Alm outfit, but this one carries even more importance and the chance to close the gap to top spot to just two points. The international pause has given the team time to fully recover from any niggles previous, and Saibene has a full-strength squad to choose from – Christopher Nöthe aside – for the top of the table clash.
Friedhelm Funkel’s men are keen to pick up their second win in Bielefeld this season, having dumped them out of the DFB-Pokal in extra-time in August. They’ve not looked back either, with just the one league defeat this campaign seeing them sit three points clear at the top. Another win on Saturday would further outline their credentials, but also make it one of the best ever 2. Bundesliga starts. Fortuna will still be without Michael Rensing for this game, although Raphael Wolf quickly recovered after the knock he picked up in the Monday night derby game and will be fit to start in goal.
Dynamo Dresden – FC Ingolstadt 04 (Saturday 12:00, FOX Soccer Match Pass)
An important win before the break gave Uwe Neuhaus some necessary breathing space from the bottom three, in what was a crucial clash early on between themselves and Heidenheim. Niklas Kreuzer showed his class from set-pieces with a fantastic opener, and Peniel Mlapa furthered himself in his best efforts to cement his place as the leading man for the centre-forward role. This will be another tough test between two of the strongest midfield trios in the league. Neuhaus has a full strength squad available, which is a big bonus.
Stefan Leitl has got Ingolstadt onto a much more stable footing after their initial struggles under Maik Walpurgis. They have a long way to go to recover to the previous heights of the promotion favourites that the Schanzer were billed as in pre-season, but some steady results have shown improvement. Their 3-0 win over Darmstadt shocked a lot of people, as did the triumph over St. Pauli. Sonny Kittel has set the league alight in recent weeks and with Stefan Kutschke finally getting off the mark, his former club could face the full wrath of both players.
VfL Bochum – SV Sandhausen (Saturday 12:00, BT Sport 1)
VfL Hollywood. They may have a fan friendship with FC Bayern, but this week Bochum out-did their counterparts from Munich. After voting to spin-off part of the club on Saturday, Ismail Atalan was sacked and Felix Bastians suspended on Monday. Since then, the back and forth between Bastians and Christian Hochstätter has continued. This apparently came from Bastians complaining about train arrangements and taking an allergic reaction to food, to which he told Christian Hochstätter Jr that “Bread can mould, you can’t do anything”. He apologised, but did not accept a fine.
On the pitch, Bochum will be without Bastians and Tim Hoogland. Therefore, interim coach, Jens Rasiejewski will be forced to play with a make shift central defence. Patrick Fabian should be present, but whether it is with Maxim Leitsch or Florian Baack remains to be seen. Kevin Stöger’s return from injury is a rare bright point for the Ruhrpott club, though Dimitrios Diamantakos will be sidelined still with his current fitness issues. Bochum will look towards Stöger and the in-form Robbie Kruse for inspiration, with their captain, top-scorer and identification figure sidelined for two weeks.
As for Sandhausen and Kenan Kocak, it has been a relatively serene international break. He was his usual self in the pre-match press conference, and confirmed that Andrew Wooten would still be unavailable due to an ongoing problem. That aside, only the long-term absentees are missing for SVS going into a game they will very much fancy their chances of taking all three points in due to the current commotion surrounding Bochum. Their only real issue is figuring out how the hosts will play, otherwise Lucas Höler will be desperate to continue his excellent goalscoring form.
1. FC Heidenheim – Holstein Kiel (Sunday 12:30)
Heidenheim will be looking to bounce back after a really rough start to the season, which sees them sit in 16th place. It’s an unusual position for Frank Schmidt’s men to be in given their usual strength at the beginning of the campaign, and this game will certainly not be easy. The Voith-Arena outfit will hope that any disputes between the ultras and the club have blown over to give them the full-backing required to push for a result. Kevin Müller’s absence is the only one of note, otherwise Schmidt has everyone available. Marc Schnatterer will have to be at his best to make something happen.
Kiel’s incredible start to the season was put on hold throughout the international break, but if anything it allowed a chance to look back on just how impressive it was. A three-nil win over Bochum, despite their best efforts to aid them in doing so, rubber-stamped them as a side that would not be letting up on a potential promotion charge. Aside from those long-term injured, it’s a full-strength side that will travel to Heidenheim in the hope of keeping pace with Fortuna playing on Saturday. If they were to lose and Markus Anfang’s attacking outfit pick up all three points, then they’ll sit top.
Jahn Regensburg – 1. FC Union Berlin (Sunday 12:30, FOX Soccer Match Pass)
Jahn are somewhat similar to Duisburg, in the sense that they’ve played well and perhaps been unfortunate that the table reflects otherwise. Currently 14th on nine points, Achim Beierlorzer’s men have been reliant on Jann George and Marco Grüttner to provide their main goal-scoring threat thus far. Yet with the latter on the verge of a fifth yellow card, he may have to rein himself in to avoid suspension for a massive game at Aue next weekend. That said, aside from the suspended Asger Sørensen, Beierlorzer has no new injury concerns to trouble team selection.
Union have seemingly got their act together once more, and ended the last group of games with a 5-0 win over Kaiserslautern and a hard-fought 2-1 triumph at Erzgebirge Aue. They can expect another tricky trip on Sunday afternoon, although Jens Keller will be confident that a fit and firing Sebastian Polter can propel them even further than their current position of seventh. Just one win and a handful of favourable results away from going third, it’s imperative that the capital club don’t let the international break curb their goalscoring threat.
SpVgg Greuther Fürth – Erzgebirge Aue (Sunday 12:30)
The Shamrocks are gearing up for their 1000th 2. Bundesliga game this weekend, and have the chance to finally move clear of Alemannia Aachen – on points, they are already well ahead on goal difference – at the top of the eternal league table. While that mark will be nice to call their own, the current situation in the current league table is less exciting. Bottom with three points from eight games, Damir Buric needs a reaction from his men to try and haul them out of the mire. Fürth will be hoping that the signing of Roberto Hilbert can add some experience in their time of need.
As for Aue and Hannes Drews, there is room for improvement despite a strong start to the season. The Violets are currently ninth but, as with a lot of sides, would put themselves firmly in the promotion picture with three points. Aside from Nicky Adler’s injury from the beginning of the campaign, there were no fresh worries for Drews over the break. A lack of clinical finishing cost them a result against Union but, with Pascal Köpke undoubtedly keen to get back on the scoresheet, they will be desperate to put that right.
SV Darmstadt 98 – 1. FC Nürnberg (Monday 19:30, FOX Soccer Match Pass and BT Sport 3)
No-one is a fan of Monday night games, but this could be a real cracker at the Bölle between two of the promotion chasers. Torsten Frings’ Lilies need to bounce back after their shock defeat to Ingolstadt, which slipped them down to eighth. While there are just a few points between themselves and the promotion places, in a week whether the sides above them could drop points is too good of a chance to pass up. Darmstadt shouldn’t have too much to worry about in terms of fitness, and Frings can look forward to a full programme of players to pick from.
For their Franconian opposition, they also enter the game on the back of a loss. Between Stefan Ortega and the aluminium, they couldn’t find a crucial second goal against Arminia and were duly punished. They’ll be hoping that Michael Köllner has some more depth to work with ahead of that game, although FCN aren’t too far off where they’d want to be. Much like Darmstadt, a win will be crucial. They could move up to second if results were to go their way, though both sides will be desperate to get the upper-hand ahead of some tough fixtures ahead.