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.
Their opponents from Lower Saxony, Eintracht Braunschweig, are also notorious for their financial misdemeanours and escapades: the club were embroiled in the Bundesliga match fixing scandal of 1971, but were also the first German side to stitch a sponsor logo on their jerseys two years later. This is their first stint in 2. Bundesliga since the 2006/07 season (the campaign in which they and 1860 last shared a division, exchanging 2-0 wins in the process), and coach Torsten Lieberknecht has noted that as they face a battle to stay in the division, he may therefore have to alter his favoured 4-1-4-1 formation on occasion to ensure things are kept as tight as possible at the back.
There haven’t been too many comings and goings for today’s hosts when it comes to transfers, and the three players of note who have been acquired – former Germany U20 right-back Oliver Petersch (Bayer Leverkusen II), Portuguese centre-back Marcel Correia (Kaiserslautern II), and centre-midfielder Nico Zimmermann (Saarbrücken) – were all freebies from the lower leagues. Alas, the one player of note who has left the club is last year’s 3. Liga talisman, 21-year-old Karim Bellarabi. The youngster, who has been snapped up by Bayer Leverkusen, weighed in with eight goals and 16 assists last season, and will be sorely missed. Nevertheless, attacking duo Dennis Kruppke and Dominick Kumbela, who scored 16 and 19 goals respectively in the 2010/11 campaign, along with ten and eight assists respectively, are still with the club, as is influential midfielder Mirko Boland. All are expected to play their part against 1860 Munich today, but key centre-back Deniz Doğan looks set to miss out.
Meanwhile, 1860 coach Reiner Maurer has seen a number of players arrive for his use this season. His squad, who finished 10th in the 18-team division last season, has been boosted by the arrivals of right-back Dennis Malura (Rot-Weiss Erfurt), left-back Arne Feick, midfielder Collin Benjamin (HSV) and goalkeeper Timo Ochs (Nuremberg). The former pair are expected to feature today, with Benjamin not expected to be fit enough to feature, and Ochs behind former Crystal Palace and Aston Villa ‘keeper Gábor Király in the pecking order. Departures-wise, 1860 fans have been spared a mass exodus, with only several squad players leaving for pastures new.
With striking hotshot Kevin Volland staying at the club for one more season, Maurer is expected to continue partnering the now Hoffenheim-owned youngster up front with Benjamin Lauth in his favoured 4-4-2 system. The pair scored 22 goals between them last season, aided by 23-year-old midfielder Daniel Halfar, who provided a number of assists. All three are expected to start at the 25,000-seater Eintracht-stadion, but midfielder Stefan Aigner and defender Necat Aygün look like missing out through injury.
The match kicks off at 2.30pm in the UK, and can be watched live on Bet365.com.