Hoffenheim-Eintracht Frankfurt preview

ONE of Germany’s more storied clubs take on the footballing epitome of the nouveau riche this weekend, as Eintracht Frankfurt travel to Hoffenheim. While Frankfurt may not be Germany’s most fashionable or celebrated club these days, they do have a UEFA Cup and several DFB-Pokal trophies in the cabinet. Hoffenheim, on the other hand, were playing in the fifth-tier as recently as 1999. Since then, though, software mogul Dietmar Hopp has ploughed a small fortune into Hoffe, building a 30,000-seater stadium – that is usually at least 90 per cent full – and turning the club into an established top-flight side: albeit one unpopular with football fans who deem them to be a soulless club, and an un-German-like rich man’s plaything.

Despite having history on their side, Armin Veh’s Frankfurt spent last season in the second-tier. They returned to 1. Bundesliga with a bang, defeating Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 at their Commerzbank Arena last Saturday evening. Markus Babbel’s Hoffenheim, meanwhile, slumped to a 2-1 defeat at Borussia Mönchengladbach. This will be the seventh time these two sides have met in the top-flight, with Hoffenheim winning the last encounter – in April 2011 – 1-0. A 19-year-old Roberto Firmino scored his first goal for Hoffenheim that day, and continued his new club’s streak of never having lost to Eintracht Frankfurt. Continue reading

Augsburg 0-2 Fortuna Düsseldorf

TWO moments of class from Bundesliga and Düsseldorf debutant Dani Schahin allowed Norbert Meier’s side to win their first 1. Bundesliga game in 15 years. Augsburg had looked much the better team until the 23-year-old grabbed his first goal midway through the second half, before the same player sealed the win with another memorable strike with 12 minutes left to play. One might argue the Lebanese-German striker’s brace merely papered over the cracks of a shaky performance by the side promoted from 2. Bundesliga in May, but Meier included seven summer signings in this afternoon’s game – the first of the 2012/13 league season – at the SGL-Arena, highlighting the fact Düsseldorf are still a work in progress.

Augsburg, meanwhile, only have themselves to blame for failing to get anything from this match. They could have been 2-0 up themselves before Schahin – signed for free from fellow promoted club Greuther Fürth over the summer – grabbed his side’s first, and ultimately paid for their profligacy in front of goal. Nevertheless, new coach Markus Weinzierl will take some positives from defeat: on the whole, his defence – unchanged from last season, when the club confounded critics to stay in the top-flight with some ease – looked reasonably solid, some of his side’s passing was crisp and fluid, and Augsburg were able to get in behind a team looking to sit back and not concede. The Bavarian outfit travel to Schalke next weekend looking to make amends, while North Rhine-Westphalian side Fortuna host Mönchengladbach in a half empty stadium (restrictions being put on attendance at the Esprit Arena due to the trouble which occurred during the victorious play-off match against Hertha Berlin in May).

Match preview here.

Starting line-ups

Augsburg (4-2-3-1, from right to left): Simon Jentzsch; Paul Verhaegh, Gibril Sankoh, Sebastian Langkamp, Matthias Ostrzolek; Daniel Baier, Andreas Ottl; Knowledge Musona, Ja-Cheol Koo, Jan Morávek; Aristide Bancé

Fortuna Düsseldorf (4-4-1-1, from right to left): Fabian Giefer; Tobias Levels, Stelios Malezas, Jens Langeneke, Johannes van den Bergh; Robbie Kruse, Adam Bodzek, Oliver Fink, Axel Bellinghausen; Andriy Voronin; Nando Rafael  Continue reading

Augsburg-Fortuna Düsseldorf preview

CONTROVERSIALLY-promoted Fortuna Düsseldorf travel to last season’s surprise package Augsburg on the opening day of the 2012/13 1. Bundesliga season. Düsseldorf needed a play-off against Hertha Berlin to secure their position in the top-flight after a poor second half to the 2. Bundesliga campaign, and despite winning that tie over two legs, a pitch invasion before the match had finished led to the capital city side protesting the result.

However, it was allowed to stand, and Fortuna now have the chance to show that they merit their place in 1. Bundesliga. Coach Norbert Meier has seen his squad transformed over the summer by sporting director Wolf Werner, who has given the former West Germany international the kind of players needed to help the club stave off the threat of relegation. Augsburg, meanwhile, start the new league season with a new coach, Markus Weinzierl. The 37-year-old – who has impressed in recent seasons with Jahn Regensburg – has replaced the popular Dutchman Jos Luhukay, who surprisingly left at the end of the 2011/12 campaign, and is now at the helm of Hertha Berlin. Continue reading

St Pauli 1-1 Ingolstadt

TWO goals in the space of a minute shortly after the start of the second half allowed this quality-lacking 2. Bundesliga contest between St Pauli and Ingolstadt to finish level. While the home side did most of the attacking, with Ingolstadt looking to play on the break, consistently terrible finishing and woeful passing in the final-third cost St Pauli any hope of winning this game. They fell behind in the 55th minute when the lively Caiuby crossed for Christian Eigler to score at the near post. A minute later, though, Ingolstadt ruined all the good work they had done defensively up to that point by allowing home debutant Florian Moht a free header to make it 1-1. Coach Tomas Oral seemingly played for a point at the Millerntor-Stadion, so will probably be happier than his opposite number André Schubert, who has already stated his intention to bring more quality players to St Pauli before the transfer window closes. His side and Oral’s have now drawn both of their 2012/13 2. Bundesliga games, and the two coaches will be hoping ties against regional sides in the cup next weekend will give their respective players a chance to sample what winning feels like.

Match preview here.

Starting formations

St Pauli (4-4-2, from right to left, brown shirts): Philipp Tschauner; Jan-Philipp Kalla, Florian Mohr, Markus Thorandt, Florian Kringe; Florian Bruns, Dennis Daube, Fabian Boll, Fin Bartels; Marius Ebbers, Lennart Thy

Ingolstadt (4-4-2, from right to left, white shirts): Ramazan Özcan; Danny da Costa, Marino Biliškov, Ralph Gunesch, Andreas Schäfer; Stefan Leitl, Marvin Matip, Pascal Groβ, Ümit Korkmaz; Caiuby, Christian Eigler Continue reading

St Pauli-Ingolstadt preview

INGOLSTADT will attempt to bounce back from throwing away a two-goal lead on the opening day of the 2012/13 2. Bundesliga season as they travel to St Pauli this weekend. Both teams have made significant changes to their squads over the summer, meaning that the scouts from either club will have had their work cut out preparing dossiers for their respective team’s coaches this weekend. Only four of the players who started in St Pauli’s final game of the 2011/12 season featured in last Friday’s 0-0 draw at Aue, for instance.

It was a familiar face, though, who fired Ingolstadt into a 2-0 lead against Energie Cottbus last weekend, as club stalwart Stefan Leitl’s brace gave his side what appeared to be an insurmountable cushion going into the final ten minutes. However, Boubacar Sanogo pounced twice in the closing stages to earn a point for Cottbus, amid some questionable defending from the home side. Continue reading

Bochum 2-1 Dynamo Dresden

BOCHUM made a dream start to the 2012/13 2. Bundesliga season as the club’s midfield master and his apprentice got on the scoresheet to lead the team to a 2-1 win against Dynamo Dresden. Club stalwart Paul Freier bagged the winner three minutes from time, after 17-year-old debutant midfielder Leon Goretzka headed home in the 53rd minute to cancel out Mickaël Poté’s 27th-minute opener for Dresden. Bochum were by far the better of the two sides over the course of the match, and looked more adroit tactically, technically cleverer and sharper fitness-wise. Although Poté and experienced midfielder Filip Trojan showed occasional moments of their class, Dresden did little to inspire, even if they were ultimately let down by their inability to defend set-pieces. The day, though, will be forever remembered for yet another Freier winner, and a first ever senior goal for Goretzka – a player openly courted by Bayern Munich. As if Germany needs another precociously-talented teenage attacking-midfielder…

Match preview here.

Starting formations

Bochum (4-4-2, from right to left): Andreas Luthe; Carsten Rothenbach, Marcel Maltritz, Lukas Sinkiewicz, Florian Brügmann; Goretzka, Christoph Dabrowski, Christoph Kramer, Yusuke Tasaka; Alexander Iashvili, Zlatko Dedič

Dynamo Dresden (4-4-2 from right to left): Benjamin Kirsten; Cheikh Gueye, Romain Brégerie, Vujadin Savić, Sebastian Schuppan; Robert Koch, Anthony Losilla, Yiannis Papadopoulos, Trojan; Pavel Fořt, Poté Continue reading

Bochum-Dynamo Dresden preview

They’ve beaten West Ham United 3-0 and held English Premier League champions Manchester City to a 0-0 draw this summer, but such morale-boosting results will count for nothing if Dynamo Dresden don’t produce the goods on the pitch against Bochum this weekend. This is the first match of the 2012/13 2. Bundesliga season for these two sides, both of whom harbour promotion aspirations, and have the history to back such claims up: Bochum have spent seven of the last ten seasons in the top-flight, while Dresden are moving in the right direction after a decade and a half of difficulties following their relegation from the Bundesliga in 1995.

After an unbeaten pre-season, and with a victory at the RewirPower-Stadion already under their belts this calendar year (2-0 in March… preceded by a 2-1 home victory in September), Dresden will be the more confident of the two sides coming into this game (even if club captain Cristian Fiél did take the decision to step down from the role during the week for personal reasons, and promising young attacker Hasan Pepic was sentenced to seven days in a youth detention centre for fare-dodging on Wednesday). Bochum, meanwhile, have not been in the greatest form this summer (culminating in a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Borussia Mönchengladbach last Saturday), and star player Takashi Inui has left for pastures new (Eintracht Frankfurt). Continue reading