1860 Munich 1-1 Eintracht Braunschweig

EINTRACHT Braunschweig’s 100 per cent start to the season came to an end at a packed Allianz Arena this afternoon, as the 2. Bundesliga leaders were held to a 1-1 draw by 1860 Munich. Both sides missed a number of chances, with Braunschweig guilty of not putting the game to bed in the first half following Domi Kumbela’s opener, and 1860 Munich guilty of not making the most of their improved penetration and attempts on goal in the second period. By the end of the game, a nervy, bitty and generally uninspiring affair, Braunschweig coach Torsten Lieberknecht looked to hold onto the draw – a result that gives his side a two-point lead over second-placed Energie Cottbus in the table. As for 1860 coach Reiner Maurer, although he will be pleased that his side maintained their own unbeaten start to the 2012/13 campaign, he will be disappointed his side did not go on and win today, as come the end of the season, it is far likelier they – rather than Braunschweig – will be challenging for promotion.

Match preview here.

Starting formations

1860 Munich (4-2-3-1, from right to left): Gábor Király; Grzegorz Wojtkowiak, Necat Aygün, Guillermo Vallori, Moritz Volz; Dominik Stahl, Kai Bülow; Marin Tomasov, Daniel Bierofka, Daniel Halfar; Benjamin Lauth

Eintracht Braunschweig (4-4-2, from right to left): Daniel Davari; Marcel Correia, Ermin Bičakčić, Deniz Doğan, Ken Reichel; Dennis Kruppke, Kevin Kratz, Norman Theuerkauf, Mirko Boland; Kumbela, Orhan Ademi Continue reading

1860 Munich-Eintracht Braunschweig preview

RUNAWAY 2. Bundesliga leaders Eintracht Braunschweig travel to fellow unbeaten side 1860 Munich this weekend looking to make it six wins out of six. The Lower Saxony minnows – who were in Germany’s 3. Liga as recently as last May – didn’t spend a cent on transfers over the summer, which makes their start to the 2012/13 season all the more impressive. Goals and assists have been spread out among the squad so far too, which bodes well for the rest of the campaign, because Braunschweig don’t have any star names in their squad, let alone a 20-goal-a-season striker.

Torsten Lieberknecht’s side will face their sternest test of the campaign to date in travelling to the 69,000-seater Allianz Arena on Sunday. Laying in wait are an 1860 Munich side who boast a number of ‘star’ names and have only conceded in one of their six games so far this season (ditto Braunschweig). The Bavarian side have also been more prolific in front of goal than the league-leaders, who have scored eight goals to 1860’s ten. However, although the visitors netted just 37 goals in 34 games last season, they conceded the third least amount of goals in 2. Bundesliga: therefore, this match promises to be tight, but also a real litmus test for both sides.

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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

Freiburg 4-1 Cologne

Two assists and a goal from the outstanding Daniel Caligiuri helped in-form Freiburg defeat relegation-fearing Cologne 4-1, meaning that if the visitors lose to or draw with Bayern Munich next weekend and Hertha BSC defeat Hoffenheim, Lukas Podolski & co. will be relegated to 2. Bundesliga. The Germany international striker started up front on his own against Freiburg, and not only did he lack support, the midfield behind Podolski weren’t good enough to create chances against a well-drilled and heavy-pressing home side who deserved their win. Freiburg – who made sure of their place in the 2012/13 Bundesliga last weekend – were in control for most of the match, and looked slice, assured, energetic and penetrative. Christian Streich’s side could even finish the season in the top half of the table if they beat Borussia Dortmund next weekend – not bad for a side who were bottom of the division with a mere 13 points on the board at Christmas.

Meanwhile, as a result of this loss, Frank Schaefer’s Cologne now only have two outcomes from the 34-game season – either they go down automatically (they are currently two points clear of 17th-placed Hertha BSC, who lost at Schalke, though), or they stay in 16th and contest the relegation play-off against whichever team finishes third in 2. Bundesliga (either Paderborn, St Pauli or Fortuna Düsseldorf). It has been an absolute shambles of a season for Cologne, and one fears that things will only get worse, especially with the talismanic Podolski – who scored a fine individual goal this afternoon to briefly draw his side level – set  to leave. As for Freiburg, if they take this confidence, tactical discipline and momentum into next season, and manage to hold onto players such as Caligiuri, they surely won’t find themselves in a situation where they’re securing their place in the top-flight in April again.

Match preview here. 

Starting formations

Freiburg (4-4-1-1, from right to left): Oliver Baumann; Mensur Mujdža, Matthias Ginter, Fallou Diagné, Oliver Sorg; Jonathan Schmid, Karim Guédé, Cédric Makiadi, Caligiuri; Jan Rosenthal; Sebastian Freis

Cologne (4-2-3-1, from right to left): Michael Rensing; Mišo Brečko, Kevin McKenna, Pedro Geromel, Christian Eichner; Martin Lanig, Sascha Riether; Sławomir Peszko, Mato Jajalo, Christian Clemens; Podolski Continue reading

Freiburg-Cologne preview

The penultimate round of the 2011/12 Bundesliga season sees a desperate relegation-battling Cologne travel to Rückrunde heroes Freiburg on Saturday afternoon. Cologne, four points behind Augsburg in the relegation play-off place, have to win at Freiburg – and hope Borussia Mönchengladbach defeat or draw with Augsburg – in order to keep up their hopes of avoiding the drop. A draw at the MAGE SOLAR Stadion simply won’t be good enough, as Cologne are 16 goals worse off than Jos Luhukay’s Bavarian side. Despite being bottom of the league at the conclusion of the first half of the season (Hinrunde), Freiburg have been the fifth best team in Germany’s top-flight since the winter break, and last week’s 0-0 draw away at Hannover secured their place in the 2012/13 Bundesliga. Continue reading

Erzgebirge Aue 1-1 Greuther Fürth

Greuther Fürth suffered a setback in their bid to win promotion to 1. Bundesliga after they were held 1-1 at Aue. Although Mike Büskens’ side looked good in spells, too often there was energy, urgency and invention missing to their game against a hard-working and direct Aue side. As a result of Fürth dropping two points, they’ll end round 27 of the 2011/12 2. Bundesliga season in second-place, because Eintracht Frankfurt leapfrogged them in the table by beating Bochum 3-0 last night. Meanwhile, if Fortuna Düsseldorf win on Monday at home to St Pauli, Büskens’ Franconian side will only be four points ahead of the North-Rhine Westphalian outfit in the second-division’s final automatic promotion spot.

As for Aue, their coach Karsten Baumann will be delighted with this point, which moves them closer to safety and continues their fine run of form. Although the players at the coach’s disposal are limited, their clearly is belief underpinning a game-plan that the players understand, meaning that the recipe for success is there at FCE. If anything, Baumann might actually be disappointed that his players didn’t take all three points here this afternoon, as the visitors only scored after some calamitous defending.

Match preview here. 

Starting formations

Erzgebirge Aue (4-4-2, from right to left): Martin Männel; Pierre le Beau, René Klingbeil, Dominic Rau, Kevin Schlitte; Fabian Müller, Nicolas Höfler, Jan Hochscheidt, Guido Kocer; Ronny König, Halil Savran

Greuther Fürth (4-4-2, from right to left): Max Grün; Bernd Nehrig, Thomas Kleine, Mergim Mavraj, Heinrich Schmidtgal; Felix Klaus, Stephan Fürstner, Edgar Prib, Sercan Sararer; Olivier Occean, Christopher Nöthe Continue reading

Erzgebirge Aue-Greuther Fürth preview

This Saturday afternoon, 2. Bundesliga-leaders Greuther Fürth visit an Aue side who still need a few points to make certain of their place in Germany’s second division for the 2012/13 campaign. With seven games of this season remaining, Mike Büskens’ side are sitting pretty at the top of the league, six points ahead of third-placed Fortuna Düsseldorf (note: only the top two go up automatically). Spurred on by the acquisition of free-agent Gerald Asamoah in January, Fürth have won seven of their last eight 2. Bundesliga games, including key victories over fellow promotion challengers 1860 Munich and Paderborn. The only time the Franconians have suffered defeat since February 3 was against Borussia Dortmund in the DFB-Pokal semi-finals (and even the 1. Bundesliga-leaders needed 120 minutes to put Büskens’ side to the sword). Continue reading

Cologne 1-6 Borussia Dortmund

Borussia Dortmund capped a memorable week by hammering Cologne 6-1 to restore their five-point cushion over Bayern Munich at the top of the Bundesliga table. Coming on the back of reaching the German Cup final after defeating Greuther Fürth on Tuesday, Jürgen Klopp’s side were simply too good for Ståle Solbakken’s relegation battlers, who end the weekend just one point above the drop-zone. This result is also the joint-worst in Cologne’s history of home games: the other side to have ever beaten them 6-1 in the cathedral city? Borussia Dortmund, this time in 1994.

But, here and now, the technically limited 2012 crop of players were unable to get star man Lukas Podolski into today’s game, and as a result, Cologne rarely troubled their guests, who look inspired in attack thanks to the efforts of the magnificent and effervescent Shinji Kagawa. Solbakken’s side now face an absolutely crucial game away at a rejuvenated Augsburg next weekend, while Klopp’s champions-elect face a trickier tie than the one they breezed through at the RheinEnergieStadion this afternoon as they host in-form Stuttgart at the Westfalenstadion.

Match preview here.

Starting formations

Cologne (4-4-2, from right to left): Michael Rensing; Mišo Brečko, Henrique Sereno, Pedro Geromel, Christian Eichner; Christian Clemens, Martin Lanig, Sascha Riether, Sławomir Peszko; Podolski, Milivoje Novakovič

Borussia Dortmund (4-2-3-1, from right to left): Roman Weidenfeller; Łukasz Piszczek, Neven Subotić, Mats Hummels, Marcel Schmelzer; Sven Bender, İlkay Gündoğan; Jakub ‘Kuba’ Błaszczykowski, Kagawa, Kevin Großkreutz; Robert Lewandowski Continue reading

Cologne-Borussia Dortmund preview

After securing a record 20th game without defeat last weekend, and then reaching the DFB-Pokal final in the week, Borussia Dortmund travel to Cologne this Sunday looking to continue a run of form that bears all the hallmarks of a Championship-winning side. In defeating Werder Bremen 1-0 at the Westfalenstadion thanks to an early goal from the in-form Shinji Kagawa, Jürgen Klopp’s side ensured that they entered the 27th round of the 34-game season with a five-point cushion over second-placed Bayern Munich. The Bavarian side, who have a far superior goal difference to Dortmund thanks primarily to their recent thrashings of Hoffenheim and Hertha BSC, will meet Dortmund later on this season in the German Cup final, after they defeated Borussia Mönchengladbach on Wednesday – one day after Klopp’s side put plucky 2. Bundesliga-leaders Greuther Fürth to the sword. Continue reading

Kaiserslautern 0-0 Wolfsburg

Kaiserslautern slipped to the bottom of the Bundesliga table and remain without a win since October after failing to beat the worst away team in the division. A nervy and foul-riddled match which Wolfsburg had the better of in the first half, and Kaiserslautern the second, it was easy to tell why both these teams are struggling against the drop this season, with the quality in the final-third conspicuous mostly by its absence. Although Kaiserslautern’s fans stuck with their players – including unfamiliar faces such as Andrew Wooten and Julian Derstroff – throughout the 90 minutes, jeers accompanied the final whistle at the Betzenberg. With Kaiserslautern’s immediate relegation rivals Freiburg and Hertha Berlin both picking up three points this afternoon, beating top-six teams Schalke and Werder Bremen respectively, and Augsburg picking up a point at high-flying Hannover, this draw could be the final straw for Stefan Kuntz and the Lautern board when it comes to coach Marco Kurz, with the team now four points from safety. Wolfsburg, meanwhile, do end the day six points rather than seven clear of the bottom three, but the very fact that they avoided defeat in a tricky away tie will please coach Felix Magath, and give his players some much-needed confidence.

Match preview here.

Starting formations

Kaiserslautern (4-2-3-1, from right to left): Tobias Sippel; Florian Dick, Jan Šimůnek, Mathias Abel, Leon Jessen; Ariel Borysiuk, Pierre de Wit; Richard Sukuta-Pasu, Christian Tiffert, Derstroff; Sandro Wagner

Wolfsburg (4-4-2, from right to left): Diego Benaglio; Christian Träsch, Marco Russ, Felipe Lopes, Ricardo Rodríguez; Ashkan Dejagah, Chris, Josué, Marcel Schäfer; Patrick Helmes, Mario Mandžukić Continue reading

Kaiserslautern-Wolfsburg preview

It’s the stadium where Australian football fans experienced a heartbreaking injustice at the 2006 World Cup, and this Saturday afternoon, the Betzenberg’s primary users, Kaiserslautern, will be hoping for some Italy-esque luck in their battle to avoid the drop. Marco Kurz’s side, firmly planted in the Bundesliga relegation zone and without a win since October, host Wolfsburg – several spaces above Kaiserslautern in the league, but by no means certain themselves of avoiding the drop to 2. Bundesliga just yet. Both these sides have been Bundesliga champions since the German men’s senior side last won a trophy (the 1996 European Championships), and although Wolfsburg’s title-winning coach Felix Magath is still at the club, the only truly notable thing about his side’s 2011/12 campaign is the fact that the 58-year-old has set a new record for the highest number of players used by a coach in a German football season (36 – a figure bolstered significantly after the winter break, because Magath signed nine players in January, the majority of whom he is now using in the first-team). Continue reading

Cologne 0-1 Hamburg

José Paolo Guerrero struck three minutes from time to secure another vital win for resurgent Hamburg. The result leaves Thorsten Fink’s side eight points above the relegation zone and five points behind the Europa League qualification zone: ensuring that everybody associated with the club can now at last start looking up rather than down the table. The Swiss coach set his side out in a bold 3-3-2-2 system, and this ensured that Hamburg dominated possession for nearly the entire match. However, Cologne, who seemed content and tactically geared towards sitting off their guests, defended resolutely, rendering the game a chance-free and not particularly memorable spectacle. Hamburg fans, though, won’t be forgetting their Peruvian hero’s RheinEnergieStadion-silencing strike in the 87th minute in a hurry; the 28-year-old nabbing his sixth goal of the 2011/12 Bundesliga campaign. Hamburg end the weekend in tenth spot, with Cologne two places and two points behind them.

Match preview here.

Starting formations

Cologne (4-2-3-1, from right to left): Michael Rensing; Henrique Sereno Fonseca, Pedro Geromel, Ammar Jemal, Christian Eichner; Martin Lanig, Sascha Riether; Christian Clemens, Mato Jajalo, Sławomir Peszko; Milivoje Novakovič

Hamburg (3-3-2-2, from right to left): Jaroslav Drobný; Heiko Westermann, Gojko Kačar, Slobodan Rajković; Dennis Diekmeier, David Jarolím, Dennis Aogo; Jacopo Sala, Marcell Jansen; José Paolo Guerrero, Mladen Petrić Continue reading