The 2. Bundesliga season is now in full swing, entering its fourth round with a fixture between the sides currently in sixth and seventh spot respectively; newly promoted Eintracht Braunschweig visiting Baden-Württemberg side Karlsruhe, stuck in the second tier since Bundesliga relegation in 2009. The game will be played at the Wildparkstadion, which hosted the midweek U21 international between Germany and Cyprus, and the referee is Thomas Metzen.
After starting out with home and away wins against 1860 Munich and Alemannia Aachen, Braunschweig have been brought back down to earth recently after a cup exit to Bayern Munich, and a 3-0 league hammering by Eintracht Frankfurt. The Lower Saxony side, 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), are experiencing their first stint in 2. Bundesliga since the 2006/07 season. As a result, coach Torsten Lieberknecht has noted that as they face a battle to stay in the division, he may 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 visitors 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 three have already taken to the second division like ducks to water, and will hope to maintain their good form whilst steering their club to nine points out of a possible 12 against Karlsruhe tomorrow evening. Their side will find life difficult, however, because goalkeeper Marjan Petković, defenders Matthias Henn and Deniz Doğan, and midfielder Steffen Bohl are all expected to miss out through injury.
Tomorrow night’s hosts also come into this game with six points (having beaten Aue and Duisburg, but losing to 1860 Munich), although they are also in the next round of the cup, having knocked out Aachen a fortnight ago. Long-serving Georgian striker Alexander Iashvili has already netted three times in the league, and his coach Rainer Scharinger will be hoping he keeps that early season form up, as Karlsruhe’s lack of goals nearly saw them lose their 2. Bundesliga status last season.
Seven attackers were added to the squad over the summer in a bid to solve that problem, although two of them, Moses Lamidi (Rot Weiss Oberhausen) and Marcus Piossek (Rot Weiss Ahlen), will join fellow striker Andrei Cristea on the sidelines tomorrow. Nevertheless, defensive signings Steffan Haas (Kickers Offenbach), Florian Lechner (St Pauli), Patrick Milchraum (Aue) and former Slovenian international striker Klemen Lavrič are all expected to feature.
It’s little surprise that so many new players have come in, as top scorer Macauley Chrisantus has returned to Hamburg (then FSV Frankfurt) after a loan spell, defender Sebastian Langkamp has moved to Augsburg for €100,000, and full-back Matthias Zimmermann and midfielder Luke Rupp have moved to Borussia Mönchengladbach for €1million and €600,000 respectively.
Karlsruhe vs Eintracht Braunschweig kicks off at 5pm UK time tomorrow evening, and can be watched on Bet365.com.