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).
These sides finished 11th and ninth respectively last season, and both Andreas Bergmann and Ralf Loose will be under pressure to better those positions this time round. To be fair to the latter, Dresden had a radical squad overhaul last summer after securing promotion from 3. Liga, and therefore took a while to gel as a team. Bochum, though, went into the season with much higher expectations after losing a promotion play-off at the end of the 2010/11 season, only for coach Friedhelm Funkel and his players to spend a large chunk of the early part of last season dangerously close to the drop-zone.
Funkel was given his marching orders in September, with Bergmann taking over shortly after. Despite guiding the team to impressive victories such as a 6-0 thrashing of Aue, Bochum were still bewilderingly inconsistent under the 53-year-old. For a squad which contained players as gifted as Inui, Faton Toski, and Kevin Vogt, along with a number of top-flight veterans, finishing a mere four points above the relegation zone made for a highly disappointing campaign.
As well as Inui, Bergmann comes into the 2012/13 campaign having lost the aforementioned Vogt (Augsburg), Björn Kopplin (Union Berlin), Mimoun Azaouagh (Kaiserslautern), Philipp Bönig and Matías Concha (unknown), and Giovanni Federico (retired).
Taking those players’ places in the squad, however, are Kevin Scheidhauer (a 20-year-old striker who arrives on a two-year loan from Wolfsburg), Alexander Iashvili (a 34-year-old centre-forward acquired on a free transfer from relegated Karlsruhe), Yusuke Taska (a 27-year-old centre-midfielder purchased from Kawasaki Frontale), Mounir Chaftar (a 26-year-old left back taken from Wacker Burghausen on a free transfer), Carsten Rothenbach (a 31-year-old right-back who arrives from St Pauli on a free) and Sören Bertram (a young midfielder taken off Hamburg’s hands for free).
While last summer was characterised by an astonishing number of new arrivals, things have been less frantic this summer for Dynamo Dresden, with 11 players leaving, and eight arriving. However, doubts have persisted about the future of star striker Mickaël Poté, who, towards the end of the 2011/12 season, formed a superb partnership with the on-loan Zlatko Dedič – a player owned by Bochum, and one who is likely to line up against Dresden this weekend. However, earlier this week, Loose told kicker.de that he is planning for life this season with Poté in either a 4-4-2 or 4-2-3-1. He referred to the Beninese international as “a great sportsman and team player with an excellent character.”
Other Dynamo departees this summer include Maik Kegel and Sascha Pfeffer (Chemnitz), Marcel Heller (Aachen), Wolfgang Hesl (Fürth), Martin Stoll (Karlsruhe), Marvin Knoll (who returns to Hertha BSC after a loan spell) and Clemens Walch (now back at Kaiserslautern after a loan spell). Arriving in their places are the likes of Florian Fromlowitz (a hot-headed, erratic but talented goalkeeper from Duisburg), Bjarne Thoelke (a talented young defender who was given a baptism of fire in Wolfsburg’s dodgy rearguard last season), Cüneyt Köz (recruited from Bayern Munich II), Idir Ouali (a midfielder who has joined from Le Mans) and Anthony Losilla (another midfielder brought in from the French lower-leagues).
Perhaps more important than those additions, though, has been the club’s ability to retain strapping Serb centre-back Vujadin Savić, and Muhamed Subašić. The latter, who scored twice against Bochum in Dresden’s 2-1 home league win last season, will remain at the Glücksgas Stadion on loan from FK Olimpik Sarajevo for another two years. Hopefully during that time period, the behaviour of the club’s fans – which at one point had resulted in the team being banned from this season’s DFB-Pokal, before that decision was overturned – improves, as such actions only serve to hinder the team’s progress.
Led by new captain Robert Koch, Dynamo are likely to start in a 4-4-2 system on the weekend, with Poté joined up front by Pavel Fořt. The only player anticpiated to be absent for the visitors is Markus Scholz. Bergmann, on the other hand, is likely to have to contend with a number of missing players, including Toski (groin injury). Michael Esser, Michael Delura, Jonas Acquistapace, Patrick Fabian and Mirkan Aydın will also all be missing due to injury this weekend for the hosts, who are likely to start in a 4-4-2 formation.
Bochum against Dynamo Dresden kicks off at 2.30pm UK time on Saturday, and can be watched, live, on Bet365.com.