Energie Cottbus-1860 Munich preview

The third round of the 2011/12 2. Bundesliga season continues tomorrow with two of the division’s bigger sides going head to head. Both Energie Cottbus and 1860Munich have spent time in the top tier during the latest millennium, but if you had to put your money on either of the two getting back there in the near future, it’d go on current table-toppers Cottbus.

With two league wins out of two under their belt, Claus-Dieter ‘Pele’ Wollitz’s side have made a strong start to the 2. Bundesliga campaign, ahead of every side bar Eintracht Braunschweig, who’ve also taken six points from a possible six. Nevertheless, the East German outfit were humiliated in the first round of the DFB-Pokal last weekend, losing 3-0 to lower league side Holstein Kiel. And without the classy figure of Nils Petersen leading the line, the striker departing for Bayern Munich at the end of the last campaign, you wonder if on-loan BVB man Dimitar Rangelov has it in him to score the 20 or so goals his side will need to haul themselves out of the division this year.

Wollitz will be looking for his side to bounce back from that setback at the 22,500-capacity Stadion der Freundschaft against 1860 this weekend, however. Helping his and the side’s cause will be Ivica Banović, signed during the week from Freiburg. It’s unlikely that Wollitz will risk his new midfielder from the start, though, as the 46-year-old coach has near enough a full squad to choose from anyway, save for the injured duo of key defender Markus Brzenska and goalkeeper Thorsten Kirschbaum.

Despite winning their cup tie last weekend 3-2 against VfL Osnabruck, 1860 started the league season disappointly by losing 3-1 to Braunschweig, before bouncing back with a 2-1 home win against Karlsruhe. They’ll have to do without Collin Benjamin, Stefan Buck and Necat Aygün for the trip to Cottbus, but former Energie youth player and first-teamer Arne Feick’s knowledge of the home side could come in handy.

The last time these two sides met (last season in the 2. Bundesliga, when neither side did anything too memorable), 1860 tore up the form book to hammer Cottbus 4-0 at the Allianz Arena. However, Cottbus have lost just one of their last 14 games at home, and Wollitz is just one win away from notching up half a century of wins with the 2. Bundesliga promotion contenders.

Another man celebrating an anniversary, though, is 1860 striker Benjamin Lauth, who turned 30 yesterday and will make his 100th appearance in the second tier for 1860 against Cottbus. He’ll be up against two former team mates in Alexander Ludwig and Mustafa Kucukovic; the former joining Cottbus as recently as this summer, with the latter leaving 1860 a few years back.

For expected line-ups, see here.

 The game kicks off at 12pm in the UK, and can be watched on Bet365.com.


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