2.Bundesliga Matchday 31 in Review: 1. FC Köln back where they belong!

Another exciting weekend in the 2.Bundesliga yielded 28 goals and its first secured departure of the season, as 1. FC Köln secured the league title and, hence, direct promotion to the Bundesliga Monday night with their wildly celebrated victory over VfL Bochum.

Meanwhile, 1. FC Kaiserslautern drew nearer to the two remaining spots in the promotion zone, with the aspirations of Karlsruher SC and FC St. Pauli essentially on life support at this point.

Things at the bottom of the table remained fairly static. Of the bottom four clubs, only 18th place Energie Cottbus earned points over the weekend, and that single point was just enough to keep 15th place technically within reach, but not nearly enough to give any confidence to the idea of catching any of the clubs above them.

Easter Monday sees Köln celebrate their Bundesliga return

1. FC Köln entered Monday night’s match with their direct promotion about 99% secured, but could assure both the goal of promotion as well as the 2.Bundesliga title with a victory over VfL Bochum. Three second-half goals for the home side erased a halftime deficit and launched Köln into an ecstatic celebration of their fifth-ever promotion from the second tier.

Yet, the day-long festivities were temporarily dampened by an Adam Matuschyk own goal late in the first half following a Bochum corner, suddenly reminding everyone of Peter Neururer’s history of success against  the club he once coached in the Bundesliga, including having been the first team to defeat the Billy Goats during the current season.

The fifteen minutes of halftime made up the majority of time during which Bochum held the lead, however, as Marcel Risse, a halftime substitute for Matuschyk, needed just five minutes and a semi-errant Slawomir Peszko pass to level the score for his hometown club.

Köln took the lead in the 64th minute, shortly after Jonas Acquistapace earned a red card for toppling Patrick Helmes just inside the penalty area. Andreas Luthe added a save of a penalty to what was a very strong match for the Bochum keeper, but Helmes was able to collect the rebound and deposit it into the unguarded goal to give Köln the lead.

Risse, the kid from the Kalk district, played a major role in the final score of the match, setting up Anthony Ujah’s 3:1 to give the home side the insurance goal that put the match out of reach for a ten-man side against the league’s stingiest defense.

From there, it was just a matter of the final whistle, beer showers, a storming of the pitch, and a city-wide celebration.

Paderborn and Fürth split points in a thriller

Even with the league title on the line the following night, Sunday afternoon’s match between SC Paderborn and SpVgg Greuther Fürth was the most-hotly anticipated match of the weekend, and the battle between the second- and third-placed sides in the table lived up to the hype of being a true battle, delivering a gritty match filled with individual battles and a back-and-forth  exchange of four goals between the sides, ending on a controversial extra-time equalizer.

The match’s first lead was taken by the home side in the 39th minute through Marvin Bakalorz’s terrifically timed through-ball assist to lead Süleyman Koc to his first goal of the season.

Ilir Azemi got the first of his two controversial goals in the 59th minute to pull Fürth back to level terms, heading the ball into an empty net in the action following a Daniel Brosinski free kick. Replays of the action would show Azemi to have been offside in preceding action, but the linesman did not raise the flag, and the goal would stand.

Bakalorz earned credit for the assist on Paderborn’s 75th minute goal to again seize a lead, but it was all Marc Vucinovic on a hammered shot from distance that left Fürth keeper Wolfgang Hesl no chance of preserving the lead.

Azemi was again the center of controversy at the end of the match, when the Albanian striker cleared space for himself in front of the Paderborn goal with a seemingly obvious shove that was not whistled. Azemi, hence, was somewhat free to tidily use his head to collect his second goal on the day and eleventh on the season.

Azemi and Fürth escape Paderborn with a point and their advantage intact.

The draw preserved Fürth’s one-point lead over Paderborn in the table and, hence, on what turned out to be the last remaining direct-promotion spot.

Red Devils back in the hunt?

1. FC Kaiserslautern took three of five goals scored in the first-half to get three points from FSV Frankfurt, marking their first such success in their last three home matches against sides from the relegation fight.

A goal like the one Dick just scored deserves a primal scream.

Florian Dick hammered home a corner kick in the 23rd minute to erase the visitors’ lead earned in just the third minute of the match through a Matthew Leckie header. Mohamadou Idrissou gave the devils a lead in the 37th minute from the penalty spot after a handball was spotted by referee Patrick Ittrich.

The Devils’ lead did not last long, however, as Andrew Wooten equalized off an Odise Roshi cross while the home fans were still celebrating their lead. Fortunately, the home fans didn’t have to stew over the quickly surrendered lead through halftime, thanks to Markus Karl’s 45th minute header to give Kaiserslautern a lead they would not surrender.

Thanks to the draw in Paderborn, Kaiserslautern used the victory to draw within three points of third place and four of second, putting the Red Devils in perfect ambush position, the next time either of the two sides above them drop points.

FSV Frankfurt, meanwhile, can be thankful the loss did not drag them further into the relegation muck by cutting their three-point cushion above the relegation zone. The FSV is the only club not currently in the bottom three still in potential danger of a direct relegation.

And now, the rest of the story. . . 

  •  SV Sandhausen, despite taking an 0:3 beating from the rejuvenated Fortuna Düsseldorf, has yet to be mathematically eliminated from the promotion chase, though they would need nine points from their final three matches, as well as for the four teams above them to drop nearly all their remaining points. Or, in other words, it’s 2.Bundesliga again for Sandhausen, though I’d guess they’re happy to settle for that considering they could easily be facing another 3.Liga season.Fortuna’s victory, officially put the club out of reach of all three sides in the relegation zone and secured their place in next season’s 2.Bundesliga.
  • Erzgebirge Aue reached the 40-point mark with a 2:0 victory over long-time East Germany foe Dynamo Dresden. The next point earned by Aue or dropped by Dresden will assure Aue of their maintaining the class, even though the club has already bettered their point total from last season by three points.Dresden, with a win, could have pulled even on points with FSV Frankfurt, but now are facing at trying to close the three-point gap by getting points against two clubs currently still in the promotion chase.Ironically, Aue and Dresden finished with identical records last season. Aue avoided the relegation playoff with a superior goal-differential. Right now, Aue would have to drop all three of their remaining m
  • FC St. Pauli drew 1:1 at Energie Cottbus, leaving five of six points on the table since grabbing fourth place after matchday 29, greatly increasing the likelihood of a third-consecutive season in the second league for the Hamburg side. St Pauli does have two home matches remaining, plus a trip to Köln to face a side which will have little at stake, but even taking all nine points will require help from other clubs to be of much use at this point.Two more points for Cottbus would not have been enough to get them out of last place, but would have been a bit of momentum for them heading into next weekend’s match at FSV Frankfurt. The single point kept hopes of catching Frankfurt from being extinguished completely, but only just.
  • 1860 München rebounded from last weekend’s embarrassing performance in Dresden by extending the misery of Arminia Bielefeld, downing the relegation favorite 2:1 in the Lions’ first home match under interim head coach Markus von Ahlen. Friedhelm Funkel’s temporary replacement sent shockwaves through the club when he dismissed captain Guillermo Vallori from the team entirely. Kai Bülow broke a 1:1 deadlock in the 72nd minute while wearing the captain’s armband in Vallori’s stead.
    The latest man to lead 1860 München

    The victory put the Lions over the magical 40-point mark with 41 total, which also put them out of reach of Dynamo Dresden, assuring any further team collapses could not be enough for the club to suffer relegation from it.

    Bielefeld remained four points behind Dynamo Dresden in the playoff spot and six behind Frankfurt for safety.

  • Karlsruher SC continued to refuse to quietly exit the promotion discussion, getting the better piece of a five-goal second half to down Union Berlin by a 3:2 count.Markus Kauczinski’s surprising squad has been one of the season’s top stories, but don’t seem to be quite finished. Even if the KSC cannot get the help needed to prevent Fürth and Paderborn from climbing out of their reach, nine points from the remaining three matches are the target, especially with two winnable road matches surrounding a visit from Fortuna Düsseldorf, an opponent that looked a lot-less dangerous a few weeks ago.The loss was a third-consecutive for Union and finally sealed their destination for the 2014-15 season, leaving the side once considered a promotion dark horse in need of three victories to better their points total from last season.
  • The lone scoreless draw of the weekend took place between VfR Aalen and FC Ingolstadt. Ingolstadt has now not lost on the road over their last twelve times out, but it was also their fourth scoreless draw from their last six matches overall.

Matchday 30 Table

Wins Draws Losses Goals
Diff. Points
1 - 1.FC Köln 18 10 3 48:17 31 64
2 - SpVgg Greuther Fürth 15 9 7 55:36 19 54
3 - SC Paderborn 07 15 8 8 57:47 10 53
4 - 1.FC Kaiserslautern 14 8 9 48:34 14 50
5 - Karlsruher SC 12 12 7 43:29 14 48
6 - FC St. Pauli 13 8 10 42:40 2 47
7 - SV Sandhausen 12 8 11 29:29 0 44
8 - Fortuna Düsseldorf 11 10 10 35:40 -5 43
9 - 1.FC Union Berlin 11 9 11 46:42 4 42
10 - TSV 1860 München 11 8 12 33:39 -6 41
11 - FC Erzgebirge Aue 11 7 13 40:46 -6 40
12 - VfR Aalen 9 11 11 29:37 -8 38
13 - FC Ingolstadt 04 9 10 12 29:32 -3 37
14 - VfL Bochum 10 7 14 28:37 -9 37
15 - FSV Frankfurt 9 7 15 41:50 -9 34
16 - Dynamo Dresden 5 16 10 32:44 -12 31
17 - Arminia Bielefeld 7 7 17 33:55 -22 28
18 - FC Energie Cottbus 6 7 18 34:48 -14 25

Matchday 30 Results

FC Energie Cottbus - 1:1 - FC St. Pauli
SV Sandhausen - 0:3 - Fortuna Düsseldorf
FC Erzgebirge Aue - 2:0 - Dynamo Dresden
TSV 1860 München - 2:1 - Arminia Bielefeld
Karlsruher SC - 3:2 - 1.FC Union Berlin
1.FC Kaiserslautern - 3:2 - FSV Frankfurt
VfR Aalen - 0:0 - FC Ingolstadt 04
SC Paderborn 07 - 2:2 - SpVgg Greuther Fürth
1.FC Köln - 3:1 - VfL Bochum

Sidebar: The author apologizes for bringing this to you later than usual, but, as an unapologetic fan of the Bundesliga’s newest member club, he was distracted for most of Monday when he’s normally be doing the bulk of his writing!)

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Randall Hauk is a freelance writer living in the United States while covering German football. He is currently the publisher of Planet Effzeh, an English-language site covering 1. FC Köln. He wrote about the German national team for the Telegraph as part of their World Cup Nation coverage.

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