Freiburg-Borussia Dortmund preview

They may have beaten Real Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday night, but Borussia Dortmund travel to a Freiburg side who sit just one point behind them in the table this weekend. Jürgen Klopp’s reigning 1. Bundesliga champions currently trail league-leading Bavarian giants Bayern Munich by 12 points after just eight games, with inconsistent away form being Dortmund’s major problem.

However, last weekend’s home loss in the Revierderby against Schalke emphasised just what a difficult period Dortmund are currently enduring domestically, with Klopp’s decision to play a three-man defence in that game backfiring. The return to his usual 4-2-3-1 in the 2-1 victory over Real Madrid means that such an experiment is extremely unlikely to be risked again tomorrow.

Freiburg, meanwhile, are floating along nicely, although given the limited resources at coach Christian Streich’s disposal, he’ll be thinking the sooner his side can reach the 35-point mark, the better. After last weekend’s 2-0 win over woeful Wolfsburg, Freiburg only need another 24 points from the 26 matchdays left to play to achieve that target, and who would bet against them at this stage to earn a fifth successive season in 1. Bundesliga? 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

Energie Cottbus 1-4 St Pauli

The first half formations.

St Pauli moved level on points with 2. Bundesliga league-leaders Eintracht Frankfurt and Greuther Fürth after punishing Energie Cottbus’ mistake-laden defence. The home side cannot stop shipping goals this season, but the worst part was that against St Pauli, they barely created enough chances to compensate for their numerous lapses in concentration at the back. Full credit to the visitors, though, who put in a disciplined performance on and off the ball, capping it by showing their top-flight credentials in front of goal.

Match preview here. 

The opening exchanges were a tad bitty, with both sides looking to use throw-ins from their respective second-third areas of the pitch for the lone strikers to flick on for a roving midfielder. However, fouls and poor clearances, passes and free-kick delivery kept possession going back and fore. Plus, with neither side under the kosh, the midfield and centre of the pitch area remained congested.  The Cottbus defence were the first to try a bit of a deep melina in order to drag the visitors’ banks up the field and widen their corridors, but Pauli’s off-ball 4-4-2 barely pressed, and in the end, the sloppiness that pervaded this encounter in the early stages was epitomised by an underhit long-diagonal from Christopher Schorch, equalled only by Sebastian Schachten’s subsequent scoop-pass for Marius Ebbers, which rolled harmlessly to a grateful Thorsten Kirschbaum. Continue reading

Energie Cottbus-St Pauli preview

Two of the pre-season promotion favourites will try and get their flagging 2. Bundesliga campaigns back on track on Saturday afternoon as St Pauli visit Energie Cottbus. Both teams lost last weekend, with Cottbus going down 4-2 to Fortuna Düsseldorf, and St Pauli suffering their first home defeat at the hands of Aue.

Saturday lunchtime’s visitors have looked a bit iffy on the road so far this season, having lost to Eintracht Braunschweig and Eintracht Trier (in the cup), and also sharing a draw with another Eintracht, Frankfurt. However, they comprehensively and professionally defeated Karlsruhe in their last away match, showcasing the effectiveness of new coach André Schubert’s floor-based and positionally-fluid football system. Cottbus, meanwhile, sat five points and five places behind Pauli in ninth, are certainly missing the presence of last season’s 2. Bundesliga golden boot Nils Petersen (who joined Bayern Munich over the summer). Continue reading