Mainz-Bayer Leverkusen preview

They might not yet have even played their first Bundesliga game of the 2011/12 season, but Mainz have already played in two cup competitions. Although coach Thomas Tuchel’s side squeezed past SV Niederauerbach in the DFB-Pokal last weekend, they suffered an early Europa League exit at the hands of Romanian side Gaz Metan on Thursday, however. But, Tuchel has called on his heartbroken players to put aside the disappointment of that elimination as they prepare to kick off their league campaign against Bayer Leverkusen, a side they spent a large chunk of last season battling for Champions League qualification with. The young miracle worker has told his players that defeats are just a part of football that they have to learn to accept, and that they couldn’t have wished to meet a better opponent at this moment in time than Bayer. Given that this will be the first ever Bundesliga game staged at Mainz’s new Coface Arena stadium, there’s no danger that the home fans will be suffering an emotional hangover, and Bayer Leverkusen and the Mainz representatives on the pitch themselves can expect a wall of noise. Continue reading

FSV Frankfurt-Duisburg preview

The third round of the new 2. Bundesliga season continues today, with last season’s cup finalists travelling to one of the division’s smaller sides. Nevertheless, Hans-Jürgen Boysen’s FSV Frankfurt have made a better start to the season than their more illustrate opponents – taking one point from a possible six, compared to Milan Šašić’s Duisburg, joint bottom and yet to take a point. Nevertheless, it’s surely only a matter of time before Duisburg bounce back, not just because of the size of the club, but also because of the players they’ve managed to bring in. Some of the more notable additions include Jürgen Gjasula, acquired from FSV, Florian Fromlowitz (Hannover), Vasileios Pliatsikas (Schalke), Valeri Domovchiyski (Hertha BSC), Džemal Berberović (Litex Lovech), Jiayi Shao and Emil Jula (both Energie Cottbus), and Sergei Karimov (Wolfsburg). Essentially, therefore, they’ve brought in the spine of a brand new team. Thus, it’s going to take a while for these new players to gel, but as they have been added to an already strong 2. Bundesliga squad (albeit one which has lost five players of note in striker Stefan Maierhofer, goakeeper David Yelldell and midfielders Olcay Şahan, Ivica Banović  and Filip Trojan, who chipped in with seven assists last season), when it clicks, they’ll be up there challenging for promotion. Continue reading

Dynamo Dresden 4-3 Bayer Leverkusen

The first half formations

Champions League-bound Bayer Leverkusen squandered a 3-0 lead with 22 minutes of the regulation 90 to play to lose an incredible DFB-Pokal tie 4-3 to their until then overwhelmed 2. Bundesliga hosts.

Match preview here

Dresden sat off their guests initially, inviting them into the attacking half. Although this worked in halting Leverkusen’s early stroll forwards, the hosts soon got sucked further up the pitch, leaving their deep defence exposed to an early André Schürrle dribble towards the D and a shot that wasn’t too far wide. Dresden looked ill at ease in their 4-2-3-1 system, and this was exploited in the third minute; Hanno Balitsch fed with time and space to reach the byline. His subsequent pull-back only just evaded Erin Derdiyok, with the yellow-shirted defenders around him running about like headless chickens. Continue reading

Dynamo Dresden-Bayer Leverkusen preview

The 2011/12 2. Bundesliga season is being interrupted after just two matches to accommodate the opening round of the DFB-Pokal – Germany’s equivalent to England’s League Cup in terms of structure, albeit the equivalent of England’s FA Cup in terms of stature. Spread over three days and numerous time slots, the 64-team tournament sees all the top division sides and those in the league below who haven’t just been promoted there given away games to start with – hence why last season’s 3. Liga bronze-medallists Dresden have been given home advantage against last season’s Bundesliga runners-up, Leverkusen. Continue reading

Bochum 3-1 Duisburg

The first half formations.

Bochum are just 180 minutes away from promotion to the Bundesliga after an accomplished performance against also-ran Duisburg.

This round 34 tie in 2. Bundesliga involved two sides with all still to play for. Bochum, two points ahead of fourth-placed Greuther Fürth, knew that a win here would earn them a place in the Bundesliga’s two-legged play-off against the top division’s third-worst side, Borussia Mönchengladbach. But if Bochum were to draw this home tie and Greuther Fürth won their home game against mid-table Fortuna Düsseldorf it would be the minnows who’d leapfrog Bochum into third spot due to a far superior goal difference. So ultimately, it was third-place or nothing for Friedhelm Funkel’s side, with Augsburg and Hertha BSC having already secured the league’s only two automatic promotion spots. Continue reading