Dynamo Dresden 4-3 Bayer Leverkusen

The first half formations

Champions League-bound Bayer Leverkusen squandered a 3-0 lead with 22 minutes of the regulation 90 to play to lose an incredible DFB-Pokal tie 4-3 to their until then overwhelmed 2. Bundesliga hosts.

Match preview here

Dresden sat off their guests initially, inviting them into the attacking half. Although this worked in halting Leverkusen’s early stroll forwards, the hosts soon got sucked further up the pitch, leaving their deep defence exposed to an early André Schürrle dribble towards the D and a shot that wasn’t too far wide. Dresden looked ill at ease in their 4-2-3-1 system, and this was exploited in the third minute; Hanno Balitsch fed with time and space to reach the byline. His subsequent pull-back only just evaded Erin Derdiyok, with the yellow-shirted defenders around him running about like headless chickens. Continue reading

Dynamo Dresden-Bayer Leverkusen preview

The 2011/12 2. Bundesliga season is being interrupted after just two matches to accommodate the opening round of the DFB-Pokal – Germany’s equivalent to England’s League Cup in terms of structure, albeit the equivalent of England’s FA Cup in terms of stature. Spread over three days and numerous time slots, the 64-team tournament sees all the top division sides and those in the league below who haven’t just been promoted there given away games to start with – hence why last season’s 3. Liga bronze-medallists Dresden have been given home advantage against last season’s Bundesliga runners-up, Leverkusen. Continue reading

Eintracht Braunschweig 3-1 1860 Munich

The first half formations

Newly-promoted Eintracht Braunschweig fired a warning shot to the rest of the league as they tactically outwitted 2. Bundesliga stalwarts 1860 Munich with a potent display.

Match preview here.

A vociferous home crowd couldn’t prevent the visitors from jumping into the driving seat early on, bossing the ball, winning a corner, and having three blocked efforts on goal. With Collin Benjamin throwing himself into a mopping up job with relish, the former HSV man helped maintain 1860s pacy start, and ruined Braunschweig’s attempts to position their midfield bank of four as near to the lone striker Dominick Kumbela as possible. Nevertheless, the away side gradually became a bit too quick for their own good, and began to leave gaps. Braunschweig were beginning to acclimatise to the tempo by the fifth minute, and when Dennis Malura was robbed on a burst upfield, Mirko Boland robbed him, played a one-two with Kumbela, and his subsequent jinx drew a free-kick on the wing in a decent position. Continue reading

Eintracht Braunschweig-1860 Munich preview

The opening round of the 2011/12 2. Bundesliga season enters its third day today, with the club promoted as champions from 3. Liga hosting the perennially troubled capital city side. Little over ten years ago, 1860 Munich were playing Leeds United in a Champions League tie. But, in the years since, both clubs have suffered financial turmoil and prolonged spells in the lower leagues, although Leeds’ star shined a little longer than 1860’s before dimming. Nevertheless, the Bavarian club’s financial situation is getting better thanks to some mooted Jordanian investment, and a wage dispute dating back to November was resolved earlier this week. Continue reading

Erzgebirge Aue 1-0 Alemannia Aachen

The first half formations

Limited but determined Aue overcame an Aachen side who forgot to bring their shooting boots with them to East Germany.

Match preview here.

The away side started the game brightly, stringing together a number of sharp one-twos, looking comfortable and confident both in possession and in their formation, and playing in particular off roving front-man Marco Stiepermann, who showed some neat touches early on. But it was Rico Schmitt’s Aue who created the game’s first chance after Jan Hochscheidt showed power and strength to run from the byline boomerang-style to the D, before skying a right-footed rocket over, ruining his good work. Whereas the hosts were initially more direct in their approach to attacking, often knocking a ball down the wing for one of the widemen to chase, Aachen adopted a more structured approach, generally getting Stiepermann to drop and attempt a flick on for Benjamin Auer after building from the back. Continue reading

Erzgebirge Aue-Alemannia Aachen preview

The new 2. Bundesliga season continues this afternoon with one of the division’s former East German sides coming up against a club who, as recently as six years ago, reached the last 16 stage of the UEFA Cup. But you’re only as good as your last result, so the cliché goes, and if we apply that unwritten rule to league placings, then the team which represents the city of Aue (population 18,000) currently has the higher standing in German football. Whereas Aachen and their leaky defence finished in 10th place at the end of 2010/11, just as close to bottom side Arminia Bielefeld as they were to champions Hertha Berlin, today’s hosts finished in 5th spot. Nevertheless, Rico Schmitt’s side weren’t always the best  side to watch, with few goals going in at either end. Peter Hyballa’s visitors, on the other hand, took a more liberal approach to defending, but perhaps as expected from a coach who joined Aachen from the BVB youth set-up, the side could be quite exciting and very positive in attack. Continue reading

Greuther Fürth 2-3 Eintracht Frankfurt

The first half formations

Karim Matmour’s late strike helped Eintracht Frankfurt come from 2-0 down to win a fairly even opening day 2. Bundesliga match 3-2. The Algerian international, on as a sub, benefited from some tactical indiscipline by SpVgg Greuther Fürth in the 89th minute to trap a slick cross-box pass from two-goal hero Alexander Meier, before burying his finish spectacularly into the bottom corner.

Match preview here  

The home side began the game like there was no tomorrow, most noticeably by pressing at pace when out of possession, and playing direct passes to the nippy wingers as soon as the ball was their’s to use. Rather than trying to match this style of play, Frankfurt instead did things more calmly, more concerned with keeping their 4-1-2-2-1 shape, and thus making it difficult for their hosts to make truly incisive passes or win any loose balls. And, whereas Fürth started their pressing about three-quarters of the way up the pitch, Frankfurt were more content to do their’s on or just behind the halfway line, one man at a time. Continue reading

Greuther Fürth-Eintracht Frankfurt preview

The 15,000-seater Trolli Arena is expected to be sold out tomorrow evening for the 2. Bundesliga opening round showdown between SpVgg Greuther Fürth and Eintracht Frankfurt. Two of the favourites for promotion, 2011/12 is Fürth’s 15th consecutive season in the second division, but the club’s fans must be feeling that this is now surely the year in which they enter the national top-flight for the first ever time. The Bavarian club were one of the dominant forces in German football prior to the formation of the Bundesliga in 1963, but after missing out on a place in that ‘by invitation only’ début season, Fürth have endured years of frustration since: including eight top-five finishes in the last 12 seasons. Continue reading

Rapid Vienna 0-0 Hoffenheim

The first half formations

A superior yet tactically avant-garde Hoffenheim failed to overcome their average Austrian opponents in this Sunday teatime friendly match between two sides gearing up for the 2011/12 season with new coaches.

Match preview here

Rapid drew their guests onto them right away, before scooping a ball over the caught-out Fabian Johnson for Christopher Drazan to chase and win a corner from. That was as good as it got for the hosts in the opening ten minutes,however,  as their German opponents soon got a hold on things. Holger Stanislawski’s side pressed high and fast through the miniature but fierce centre-midfield duo of Tobias Weis and Dominik Kaiser: this ensured that they kept Rapid penned back in their own half and in the habit of giving the ball away whenever they did get on it. However, Hoffe’s former St Pauli coach deployed an intriguing 4-2-4-0 system during the first 45 minutes, which although giving his side width and creativity, meant that there was no one in and around the box to feed. Continue reading

Rapid Vienna-Hoffenheim preview

At the end of December 2008, a period which marks the conclusion of the winter campaign for many leagues across Europe, Ralf Rangnick’s Hoffenheim sat proudly on top of the German Bundesliga, and just over the border in Austria, Peter Pacult’s Rapid Vienna were in the runners-up spot behind SV Ried.

But how times change.

Hoffenheim collapsed spectacularly in the second half of the 2008/09 campaign, eventually missing out on a Europa League spot: and in the two seasons played since then, they’ve dropped even further away from the division’s European qualification places. Rapid Vienna, meanwhile, are a shadow of the side which dominated the domestic league in the 1980s, and didn’t go on to win the title in the aforementioned 2008/09 season either. Yet, at least they qualified for Europe in that campaign: the capital city side finished fifth in a ten-team league last season, just as close to the team which finished third-bottom as the newly-crowned Austrian champions (Sturm Graz). Continue reading

Borussia Dortmund-FC Zürich preview

Borussia Dortmund and FC Zürich have never met in a competitive match, but with both sides taking part in next season’s Champions League, that fact could be soon eradicated. Thus, as well as continuing the sides’ preparations for the campaigns ahead, this Saturday teatime pre-season friendly – staged as part of the annual Uhrencup – is the perfect opportunity for each club to unearth some potentially useful information on an unfamiliar opponent.  Continue reading