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.
Their opponents for this fixture are also likely to believe that they don’t belong in 2. Bundesliga after a disastrous second half to the 2010/11 campaign culminated in the most unlikely of relegations. Despite shifting some of the dead weight out of that squad, stars such as Pirmin Schwegler remain at the club, young talents such as Sonny Kittel now have the opportunity to prove to the world just how good they are, and some of the players brought in for new coach Armin Veh are more than good enough for this division; Erwin Hoffer, Karim Matmour and Dominik Schmidt, to name but three.
Mike Büskens, who switched between 4-4-2, 4-2-3-1 and 4-1-3-2 formations throughout last season, will have to rely on less stellar names than those Veh is blessed with if the former Schalke midfielder is to finally take Fürth up to the big time. Transfer activity at his club has been thin on the ground save for one notable departure – young midfield magician and last season’s top scorer Nicolai Müller left for Mainz in a €1.8million deal. It might be going a little too far to suggest that Fürth will be looking to avenge the defeat they suffered the last time these two sides met, as that was on March 21, 2005. Frankfurt, who yo-yo’ed between the top two divisions from the late nineties to the mid-noughties, won 1-0 that day in front of just 27,000 fans at the Commerzbank-Arena.
For this game, the hosts will have to do without Nigerian striker Kingsley Onuegbu, who is recovering from injury, while the visitors look set to be shorn of four key players in Kittel, Schmidt, Martin Fenin and Giórgos Tzavélas.
Kicking off at 7.30pm in the UK, the match can be viewed on Bet365.com.