Mainz 2-0 Bayer Leverkusen

The first half formations.

Sami Allagui bounced back from missing the crucial penalty in the midweek Europa League exit to Gaz Metan by scoring the opening goal as Mainz defeated Bayer Leverkusen in the first match of the new Bundesliga season. The home side, making their second official appearance in their new Coface Arena, played a superb pressing game off-ball, and a slick, passing, dribbling, gung-ho one on it. Leverkusen didn’t quite have a shocker, but, they did struggle to find a consistent rhythm and style, and also seemed unable to cope with the unrelenting pace of the game. After losing to Dynamo Dresden 4-3 in the cup last week, new coach Robin Dutt is already under pressure to prove that he is the man to take the perennial runners-up to the next level; and, to make matters worse, the defender he helped bring to the club, Ömer Toprak, steered into his own net in the dying stages to help seal Mainz’s deserved victory.

Match preview here. 

Mainz, as is their way, pressed high and hard from kick-off, but Bayer Leverkusen looked prepared and therefore remained assured on the ball, even if they did little with it in the opening few minutes. Continue reading

FSV Frankfurt 0-0 Duisburg

The formations in the first half.

Two sides struggling at the wrong end of the 2. Bundesliga table did battle in a poor game short on chances, belief and quality. Whereas FSV had something of a monopolization on possession, they lacked presence and nous in the box. Duisburg, on the other hand, looked disjointed and shorn of confidence – a shadow of the side that was challenging for promotion and a cup final just a few months ago. Nevertheless, both sides’ defences must take some of the credit, as should the goalkeepers, as all ten players were solid from first minute to last, albeit under little pressure.

Match preview here.

After FSV started the game with positive intent, looking to play long diagonals to the wideman and bombarding full-backs, Duisburg soon took charge; mainly because Vasileios Pliatsikas was always in the right place to mop up and set the tempo. Continue reading

Mainz-Bayer Leverkusen preview

They might not yet have even played their first Bundesliga game of the 2011/12 season, but Mainz have already played in two cup competitions. Although coach Thomas Tuchel’s side squeezed past SV Niederauerbach in the DFB-Pokal last weekend, they suffered an early Europa League exit at the hands of Romanian side Gaz Metan on Thursday, however. But, Tuchel has called on his heartbroken players to put aside the disappointment of that elimination as they prepare to kick off their league campaign against Bayer Leverkusen, a side they spent a large chunk of last season battling for Champions League qualification with. The young miracle worker has told his players that defeats are just a part of football that they have to learn to accept, and that they couldn’t have wished to meet a better opponent at this moment in time than Bayer. Given that this will be the first ever Bundesliga game staged at Mainz’s new Coface Arena stadium, there’s no danger that the home fans will be suffering an emotional hangover, and Bayer Leverkusen and the Mainz representatives on the pitch themselves can expect a wall of noise. Continue reading

FSV Frankfurt-Duisburg preview

The third round of the new 2. Bundesliga season continues today, with last season’s cup finalists travelling to one of the division’s smaller sides. Nevertheless, Hans-Jürgen Boysen’s FSV Frankfurt have made a better start to the season than their more illustrate opponents – taking one point from a possible six, compared to Milan Šašić’s Duisburg, joint bottom and yet to take a point. Nevertheless, it’s surely only a matter of time before Duisburg bounce back, not just because of the size of the club, but also because of the players they’ve managed to bring in. Some of the more notable additions include Jürgen Gjasula, acquired from FSV, Florian Fromlowitz (Hannover), Vasileios Pliatsikas (Schalke), Valeri Domovchiyski (Hertha BSC), Džemal Berberović (Litex Lovech), Jiayi Shao and Emil Jula (both Energie Cottbus), and Sergei Karimov (Wolfsburg). Essentially, therefore, they’ve brought in the spine of a brand new team. Thus, it’s going to take a while for these new players to gel, but as they have been added to an already strong 2. Bundesliga squad (albeit one which has lost five players of note in striker Stefan Maierhofer, goakeeper David Yelldell and midfielders Olcay Şahan, Ivica Banović  and Filip Trojan, who chipped in with seven assists last season), when it clicks, they’ll be up there challenging for promotion. Continue reading