Duisburg-Hansa Rostock preview

Two of the early season strugglers meet tomorrow lunchtime in the 2. Bundesliga, as newly-promoted Hansa Rostock travel to Duisburg. After a surprise defeat to Paderborn on the opening day of the new league season, Rostock have gone on to draw three successive games – 1-1 against Dynamo Dresden and 0-0 with Bochum in 2. Bundesliga, and a 2-2 draw and penalties exit to Bochum, again, in the cup. Therefore, Peter Vollmann’s East German outfit boast one more point than last season’s cup-finalists Duisburg, who stopped a losing streak of two games by beating Babelsberg in the cup, before drawing 0-0 away at FSV Frankfurt last weekend (despite putting in a lifeless performance).

I noted before Duisburg’s game against FSV that 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 this summer. Continue reading

Borussia Mönchengladbach 1-1 Stuttgart

The first half formations.

Borussia Mönchengladbach and Stuttgart played out an entertaining draw on day two of the Bundesliga, as both sides made it four points out of a possible six. Although the attack-minded Stuttgart pressed brilliantly and played some nice first-time and full-back led football, 19-year-old ‘keeper Marc-André ter Stegen was on top form. Although his Gladbach outfield colleagues were second-best for large periods of the game, they did show occasional signs of being a decent footballing side capable of splicing an opposition defence with some first-time triangle-based football of their own. And out of possession, they sat off in an impressively disciplined 4-4-1-1, limiting the amount of space wanted by Stuttgart’s marquee summer signing, William Kvist, in the quarterback position.

Match preview here. 

The home side immediately took charge of the game, opening the visitors’ defence up within 90 seconds. The recipient of that bouncing pass, Marco Reus, attempted to lob the onrushing Sven Ulreich, but the midfielder’s effort landed just over the left stanchion. With Stuttgart standing relatively high early on, Gladbach continued to ping passes over the top of their defence, Raúl Bobadilla the primary chaser and target. Continue reading

Hoffenheim 1-0 Borussia Dortmund

The formations in the first half, which Hoffenheim won 1-0.

Tactically adventurous Hoffenheim deservedly beat champions Borussia Dortmund, who put in a performance bereft of energy, imagination, confidence and precision. Jürgen Klopp’s side have now lost 1-0 at the Rhein-Neckar Arena twice in the space of six months, but the credit must go to the seemingly staunch-4-4-2 man Holger Stanislawski and his players, who showed discipline, zip and tremendous spirit to decisively earn their first three points of the new season.

Match preview here.

If you were being cruel/brutally honest, you would suggest that Hoffenheim coach Stanislawski sent out a side consisting of one goalkeeper, five defenders and five midfielders. Continue reading

Paderborn 0-1 Greuther Fürth

The first half formations.

Greuther Fürth maintained their great start to the new campaign by deservedly beating a limited Paderborn side on matchday four of the 2011/12 2. Bundesliga season. In a match short on chances, the away side showed why they are one of this season’s promotion favourites by seeing the game out after taking an early-ish second half lead. Mike Büskens’ side move up to second place as a result of this win, while Paderborn slip nearer a relegation zone they know they’ll likely spend the season battling to stay out of.

Match preview here.

The game began with Paderborn immediately surging high and hard to press the ball: despite this, their guests looked sharp and comfortable in possession. Whenever the home side did get the chance to attack early on, they showed their lack of quality by going at it a bit too hammer and tongs – crossing early to no one in particular, or trying to make too incisive a pass too hastily, for example. Continue reading

Borussia Mönchengladbach-Stuttgart preview

The second round of the new Bundesliga season continues this evening with a clash between two of the opening day’s biggest expectation-exceeders. Whereas disciplined Borussia Mönchengladbach – who, lest we forget, only just edged out Bochum three months back to preserve their top-flight status – won 1-0 away to Bayern Munich after riding the storm, Stuttgart put in a commanding performance to beat Schalke 3-0. Those results last weekend ensured that both Lucien Favre and Bruno Labbadia – tonight’s home and away side coaches respectively – boast 100 percent records in 2011/12 so far; the former’s side knocking Jahn Regensburg out of the cup and the latter’s overcoming SV Wehen in the same competition two weeks back.

No one would be surprised if Stuttgart managed to keep up their early season form until Christmas, but it’s how they fare after the winter break that counts. Both the club and coach Bruno Labbadia himself have a reputation for producing spectacular half-season showings, but they always follow or precede 17 games of relegation form. Continue reading

Hoffenheim-Borussia Dortmund preview

The Bundesliga season continues today with last season’s champions Borussia Dortmund visiting perennial mid-table finishers Hoffenheim. However, when the sides last met at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena back in March, Hoffe surprisingly won 1-0. Fatigue might well have played a factor in that result, so as this is a round two fixture, both teams should be fresh enough to battle it out fair and square.

Several players set to be involved in this game also featured and starred in midweek friendly internationals, including the German national team’s 3-2 win against Brazil (BVB pair Mario Götze and Mats Hummels), and the Germany U21 side’s victory against Cyprus (Hoffe duo Peniel Mlapa and Sebastian Rudy). After yet another superhuman performance against the 2002 world champions, following on from being at the heart of everything during last weekend’s highly impressive 3-1 victory at home to a shellshocked Hamburg, it’ll be interesting to see whether 18-year-old Götze is a marked man in this game. Continue reading