Wolfsburg 1-0 Kaiserslautern

The first half formations.

An incredible second half performance by substitute Mario Mandžukić saw ten man Wolfsburg defeat Kaiserslautern. Sotirios Kyrgiakos’ sending off at the end of an invention-free, chance-light and dire first half made the visitors favourites to snatch all three points in the second half, especially as Marco Kurz’s strikers showed much better movement in the opening 45 minutes than their Wolfsburg counterparts. But, Felix Magath’s inspired decision to unleash the Croatian from the bench changed the game, although it was Ashkan Dejagah who bagged the goal which lifts Wolfsburg up to 12th in the Bundesliga.

Match preview here

An open start to the match saw some nice football being played, with both sides looking to spread the ball about among the outfield players at a good tempo, before releasing either a full-back or forward on a dart into the final-third. The visitors barely pressed Wolfsburg when the centre-backs had the ball, instead content to sit off in their high and compact 4-4-2. This tactic frustrated the hosts in their attempts to make attacks, and resulted in Patrick Helmes and Srđan Lakić playing too far apart from one another in the opening five minutes.

When the home side did manage to play a ball into the final-third and then keep it there with the next pass, they pushed as many outfield players into and around the Kaiserslautern box as was possible.  Continue reading

Fortuna Düsseldorf 4-2 Energie Cottbus

The first half formations.

Fortuna Düsseldorf crawled back to the top of the 2. Bundesliga table thanks to a disciplined and ruthless first half display that took full advantage of three key Energie Cottbus errors. However, despite being reduced to ten men straight into the second half, the visitors nigh-on instantly scored two goals to pull it back to 3-2! However, former BVB striker Dimitar Rangelov stupidly lost his head, and earned himself a red card with 16 minutes still to play. Down to nine men, Cottbus’ chances of taking even a point from the game were gone, but they deserve credit anyway for a much-improved second half showing where they had Düsseldorf on the ropes.

Match preview here.

The visitors got us under way amid a tremendous noise from a highly-populated crowd, and managed to launch the first ball into the box in the opening minute. This came from the long-throw weapon of right-back Christopher Schorch, but Dimitar Rangelov wasted the chance to make something of the invitation through his over-physicality. For the next five minutes, though, the ball belonged to the hosts. They went calmly from their own box to Cottbus’, spreading side to side with confidence and precision. It was becoming a backs-to-the-wall job for the visitors, and with the box blocked off by bodies, this was what perhaps encouraged Andreas Lambertz to try his luck from range in the fourth minute. Thorsten Kirschbaum dropped the tricky – but not particularly fierce – shot straight into the path of Max Beister, who had been allowed to wander freely into the path of a tap-in by the ball-watching Roger. The in-form attacker made no mistake, firing the 2. Bundesliga high-fliers into an early 1-0 lead! Continue reading

Hansa Rostock-Karlsruhe preview

Leaky Karlsruhe make the seven-and-a-half-hour drive to stalemate specialists Hansa Rostock tomorrow lunchtime for a clash between two of the second division’s strugglers. The visitors sit one point and place above their hosts in15th, but they’ve lost five games on the spin, conceding 15 goals in the process. Despite being a Karlsruhe native who represented the club in his playing career, coach Rainer Scharinger is under serious pressure, and has been told by general manager Oliver Kreuzer that losing this tie is “forbidden”. Hansa, on the other hand, come into this game without a single win to their name (unlike Karlsruhe, who won on the opening day of the season, and managed to win their DFB-Pokal match in regulation time). However, tomorrow’s hosts have drawn four of their last six games 0-0, and teams visiting the DKB-Arena find them extremely difficult to break down. Continue reading