Dynamo Dresden-Bochum preview

The 2. Bundesliga sides sat third bottom and last but one respectively meet tomorrow evening knowing that at least one of them will at last claw their way out of the relegation zone by the end of the match. Although Dynamo Dresden’s season will forever be associated with that spectacular 4-3 cup victory over Bayer Leverkusen, their league form has been little short of disastrous. Bochum, meanwhile, who were so narrowly edged out of the promotion play-off by Borussia Mönchengladbach just a few months ago, are also conspiring to go from bad to worse in the second tier. Why? No one seems to know. Dresden, through, have brought in and released a number of players over the summer, and with the break between seasons shorter than ever before, it looks as though their players are now paying the price on the pitch for the lack of time they’ve had to get to know one another. Continue reading

Anzhi Makhachkala 2-1 Volga Nizhny Novgorod

A general depiction of how the sides were set up during the first half.

Samuel Eto’o scored on his home début for new club Anzhi Makhachkala, as the big-spending Dagestani side moved up to fourth place in the Russian Premier League. The home side never looked convincing against a defensively dogged and sprint-pressing Volga outfit, who themselves offered nothing in attack. There were occasional flashes of invention from some of the players you’d expect to see them from, but generally, Anzhi’s play was sluggish, their passes sideways, and their spirit conspicuous only by its absence. Nevertheless, the three points are ultimately all that matters, and Anzhi need to make up four of them to overtake CSKA Moscow in the third and final Champions League spot. Volga, on the other hand, are now just one point above the drop zone.

Match preview here.

Volga instantly sat off their illustrious opponents, letting the home side dictate the tempo and monopolize possession. Anzhi attempted to work their way towards goal with floor-based football from the word ‘go’, and some of their initial play – started via Roberto Carlos and brought into the opposition half mostly by Benoit Angbwa – was slick. But, Volga looked potent and quick on the break, especially Sanzhar Tursunov on the left. However, in the third minute, it was Andrey Eshchenko who zoomed down the right, before the ball was switched for the tricky Tursunov to make a one-two with Mate Vatsadze. The Georgian forward had other ideas, though, and instead of returning the pass, teed up Romanian midfielder Mihăiţă Pleşan. Pleşan’s first-time blast deflected off centre-back Rasim Tagirbekov, and went into the net for a 1-0 Volga lead!  Continue reading

Union Berlin 4-1 Ingolstadt

The general first half formations. In the closing stages, the home side 2-1 ahead, Ingolstadt adopted more of a 4-4-2 diamond, while Union deployed a 4-1-3-2 Edson Buddle started the game, but limped off early on through injury.

Union Berlin moved back into the top half of the 2. Bundesliga table after a hard-working and clinical performance against Ingolstadt saw them come from behind to win comfortably. Ingolstadt lacked invention in the final-third until it was too late, and the quality of their crosses left a lot to be desired throughout. But while not necessarily inventive, Union had several players capable of making incisions in their Bavarian opponents’ rearguard, and notched up their third victory in the space of an international football-interruped month.

Match preview here.

Union started the game with confidence, waiting for the right moment to send Patrick Kohlmann down the channel, before the former Irish U21 international used the good holding technique of Colombian striker John Jairo Mosquera to collect a return pass and feed Silvio. The Brazilian showed strength to retain possession in the box, and teed up Mosquera for a – wayward – shot. Ingolstadt were focused on sitting off from their urgent and occasionally direct hosts in a compact 4-4-1-1 (Buddle dropping deeper than Moritz Hartmann). They only pressed in their own half, and as a result, managed to limit the waves of Union attacks to scant consolation prizes such as the odd final-third throw-in or scuffed long-range efforts wide of the target.

Silvio was the key man for the Berlin side, as the Brazilian looked to bob between the Ingolstadt defence and midfield banks to collect passes, as well as occasionally making last-shoulder runs while standing on a centre-back. Continue reading

Anzhi Makhachkala-Volga Nizhny Novgorod preview

Big-spending Anzhi take on relegation-battling Volga in the 23rd round of the Russian Premier League season later on this evening (8.30pm local time). The clash will see Anzhi’s marquee buy Samuel Eto’o handed his home début at the 20,000-seater Dinamo Stadium, with the Cameroonian striker likely to make a first start for his new employers (despite travelling to Africa during the past fortnight for a Cup of Nations qualifier). During that time, those of his teammates not on international duty met Kazakhstani outfit Aktobe in a friendly scheduled as part of the preparation for the clash with Volga – playing in the top-flight for the first time since being reformed in 1998. Continue reading