After the Englische Woche in midweek, it was three matches in the space of seven days for most of the teams in the league and this seemed to affect those at the bottom of the table. The biggest result of the day in terms of goals scored and importance came in Darmstadt, with the Lilies hosting Hallescher FC, coming into the match unbeaten in five. The other match of the day was played on the Sunday, with Stuttgart II welcoming Elversberg for a relegation battle.
Order of Top 3 places still undecided
Very few people would bet against Heidenheim, RB Leipzig and SV Darmstadt finishing in the top 3 places in the table. However, recent form from all three teams suggests that the order might not yet be decided and that Heidenheim’s six-point lead over Leipzig and their own respective 3-point lead over Darmstadt is far from sufficient. Heidenheim dropped 9 points in the 13-point lead after a poor spell but Leipzig failed to capitalise with two consecutive 1-1 draws against Heidenheim themselves and Unterhaching.
Darmstadt are currently the most in-form team in the league with no defeats since November and with four wins in their last five outings. After three consecutive 1-0 victories and a 0-0 draw, Darmstadt managed to score more than one goal in a game and thrashed Halle 4-1 at the Stadion am Böllenfalltor. League top-scorer Dominik Stroh-Engel increased his tally for the season to 26 with two further goals. Jérôme Gondorf and Hanno Behrens added the rest while Timo Furuholm scored a consolation for the visitors. Heidenheim, meanwhile, overcame Rot-Weiß Erfurt 2-1 thanks to second-half goals by Marc Schnatterer and Patrick Mayer after going a goal down to Nils Pfingsten-Reddig’s effort. RB Leipzig got back to winning ways after a strong 3-0 victory at Jahn Regensburg. With RB Leipzig hosting Darmstadt in three weeks time, it’s still all to play for.
Werner helps Stuttgart II overcome Elversberg in relegation battle
Stuttgart’s U23 manager Jürgen Kramny must be delighted to be able to call up a luxury reinforcement from the first team. For the first time this season, Timo Werner, one of the Bundesliga’s youngest sensations of this season, dropped down a couple of divisions to play for the club’s second-string team and made an immediate impact. Defeat against SV Elversberg would have meant that the Swabians would have been in deep relegation trouble and there would be a three-point gap between them and the team above them. However, Werner delivered just 17 minutes into the match after he capitalised from a poor back-pass from SV07 defender Sebastian Wolf. In a tense match, Pascal Breier doubled Stuttgart’s lead on 78 minutes but a Patrick Funk own goal with five minutes to go made it a nervy end to the game. However, Stuttgart managed the all-important win, their first in eight games, and leapfrogged Elversberg one point ahead of them, with both sides still very much in the mix for the relegation spots.
Duisburg’s good form is too little, too late
One of the most frustrating sides to watch this season has been MSV Duisburg. With a practically new squad in place, the Zebras have handled their forceful relegation from the 2. Bundesliga relatively well in terms of survival but have failed to go on any kind of winning streak that has enabled them to challenge for an immediate promotion. It took until Matchday 32 for them to get three wins on the bounce but that’s just what they managed with this weekend’s victory against relegation-bound Saarbrücken. Karsten Baumann’s team managed to secure a 2-0 victory with goals at either side of the break from Michael Gardawski and Branimir Bajić from the penalty spot. On top of the three consecutive wins, Duisburg have not allowed a single goal in any of them, but their 13-point gap to Darmstadt is almost impossible to recover in the six games that remain. Still, it’s a platform to work on for next season as one cannot help but feel that a club like Duisburg should be playing their football much higher up the German ladder. Whether Baumann is the man to lead them back into the 2. Bundesliga remains to be seen taking into account this season’s circumstances.
Two is company, three is a crowd
Duisburg are not the only club in the league to record three consecutive results in a row. Stuttgarter Kickers and Borussia Dortmund II are currently subscribed to the draw, as they are now on the back of three consecutive one-point matches. After a fantastic run in January and February, Kickers have lost their way in March and recorded four draws and just one win out of the six matches. This weekend it was ‘business as usual’ as they shared the points with Hansa Rostock after a 2-2 scoreline, although they did manage to come back from two goals down at the break. Dortmund themselves managed a 1-1 draw against Preußen Münster but it came at the price of losing captain David Solga for three matches due to the straight red card he picked up. Six points ahead of the relegation zone, Dortmund look safe for now but will need more than six points in the remaining six matches to guarantee their 3. Liga status.
A major transfer coup emerged this week as Duisburg have secured the services of Preußen Münster’s Denis Grote for next season on a free transfer. Grote has arguably been Preußen’s best player this season with 9 goals and 9 assists, a key member of Ralf Loose’s turnaround campaign at the club. Grote, 27, began his career at his current club at youth level but moved to VfL Bochum and Rot-Weiß Oberhausen before coming back home in January 2012.
On the other hand, Darmstadt Jan Zimmermann has announced that he will be leaving the club at the end of the season. Zimmermann, 28, has been Darmstadt’s #1 goalkeeper for three and a half seasons now after his arrival from Eintracht Frankfurt in 2011. It’s a strange move by Zimmermann since promotion is a strong possibility with The Lilies this season but he is looking forward to “new sporting challenges”, most likely in the 2. Bundesliga. Zimmermann has been ever-present this season so far and has conceded 24 goals in 32 matches, the fewest from all goalkeepers in the league.
RESULTS 32. SPIELTAG
|1.FC Saarbrücken||0:2||MSV Duisburg|
|SV Darmstadt 98||4:1||Hallescher FC|
|FC Hansa Rostock||2:2||Stuttgarter Kickers|
|VfL Osnabrück||4:0||Holstein Kiel|
|SpVgg Unterhaching||1:1||SV Wehen Wiesbaden|
|1.FC Heidenheim||2:1||FC Rot-Weiß Erfurt|
|SSV Jahn Regensburg||0:3||RasenBallsport Leipzig|
|Chemnitzer FC||1:0||SV Wacker Burghausen|
|Borussia Dortmund II||1:1||SC Preußen Münster|
|VfB Stuttgart II||2:1||SV 07 Elversberg|
TABELLE 32. SPIELTAG
|3||SV Darmstadt 98||32||17||9||6||51:24||27||60|
|13||B. Dortmund II||32||11||7||14||39:45||-6||40|
|16||VfB Stuttg. II||32||10||7||15||40:48||-8||37|