Hoffenheim 0-4 Eintracht Frankfurt

HOFFENHEIM paid the price for missing a number of gilt-edged chances early on, as Eintracht Frankfurt struck twice towards the end of both the first and second half to make it two wins out of two in the new 1. Bundesliga season. The home side finished the match with nine men after right-back Stephan Schröck and substitute midfielder Sejad Salihović picked up red cards midway through the second half. However, Hoffenheim hadn’t looked like they were going to get back into the game even with a full complement of players on the pitch, with Frankfurt both mentally and tactically adroit after getting their two-goal cushion shortly before the break. In fairness to Hoffe coach Markus Babbel, whose side have now lost two league games and one cup tie in the 2012/13 campaign, he got his tactics spot on at the start of the match. Allowing the visitors to monopolize possession, the former Liverpool and Stuttgart defender utilised the counter-attacking talents of his foremost four players, as Hoffenheim created – but spurned – a number of one-on-one opportunities. But, once his team had fallen behind through an own goal and a spectacular Pirmin Schwegler strike, Babbel was unable to get his team back into the game, and could only watch on helplessly as his players lost their heads. Lose next week’s match at Freiburg, and the young tactician’s position might become untenable.

Match preview here.

Starting formations

Hoffenheim (4-2-3-1, from right to left): Tim Wiese; Schröck, Matthieu Delpierre, Marvin Compper, Fabian Johnson; Tobias Weis, Sebastian Rudy; Boris Vukčević, Kevin Volland, Roberto Firmino; Erin Derdiyok

Eintracht Frankfurt (4-2-3-1, from right to left): Kevin Trapp; Sebastian Jung, Carlos Zambrano, Bamba Anderson, Bastian Oczipka; Schwegler, Sebastian Rode; Stefan Aigner, Alexander Meier, Takashi Inui; Olivier Occéan Continue reading

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

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

Energie Cottbus 0-2 Greuther Fürth

The first half formations.

Fürth beat Energie Cottbus 2-0 and shot back to the top of the 2. Bundesliga table thanks to a performance that was built on a solid defence and deadly attack. The Bavarians were just too good for their East German hosts, who struggled for inspiration and urgency. Although the visitors were under the kosh for about 20 minutes straight during the second half, Cottbus barely created a single chance in that period, let alone during the whole match. Fürth could easily have scored several more goals at the Stadion der Freundschaft this afternoon, and nobody in green put a foot wrong all game: defensive midfielder Edgar Prib was in particularly fine form, and my man of the match. Surely there can be nobody out there now who doubts the title-winning credentials of Mike Büskens’ side?

Match preview here.

Fürth looked comfortable on the ball from the first peep of Florian Meyer’s whistle, although all they had to show for their early spell of ball monopolisation was Olivier Occean’s sliced left-footed shot which sailed over. Cottbus were just as keen to knock the ball about in a calm and slow manner whenever they got a hold on possession, and with neither side doing much in the way of pressing, the first ten minutes were a largely unforgettable affair, the two coaches clearly waiting for their opposite number to show his hand. Continue reading

Energie Cottbus-Greuther Fürth preview

One of 2. Bundesliga’s leakiest defences is gearing up to host the division’s leaders this Saturday lunchtime, as eighth-placed Energie Cottbus host high-flying Greuther Fürth. The former’s form has caused a surge in scalp irritation for 2. Bundesliga devotees, with Cottbus following a narrow win here and there by losing games in the most humiliating fashion possible. Myself and many others, therefore, have been left scratching our heads as to how a team which has flitted between the top two divisions over the last decade has reached mid-October having shipped three goals or more in a single match to each of 1860 Munich, St Pauli, Eintracht Frankfurt, Eintracht Braunschweig, Fortuna Düsseldorf and even Holstein Kiel in a humiliating cup exit. The latter match was preceded by two victories, but since then, Claus-Dieter Wollitz’s side have won a paltry three games out of the last nine – a miserly total for a side considered to be one of the promotion favourites in the summer, even with the loss of last season’s top scorer Nils Petersen taken into account. Continue reading

Alemannia Aachen-SpVgg Greuther Fürth preview

It’s a top against bottom clash in 2. Bundesliga tomorrow lunchtime, as SpVgg Greuther Fürth travel north to take on Alemannia Aachen. If Greuther Fürth hadn’t thrown away the 2-0 lead they held at home to Eintracht Frankfurt on the opening day of the 2011/12 campaign, they’d be sat on top of the league with 21 points from a possible 21 right now. Nevertheless, they have bounced back strongly after that agonizing round one setback, knocking lowly Eimsbütteler TV out of the cup with a 10-0 scoreline and winning every league game since the Frankfurt setback.

Aachen, on the other hand, are yet to win a game, and have scored just one goal all season – 16 less than their guests for this clash. Coach Peter Hyballa was sacked on Monday and replaced – temporarily – by the man in charge of the U23 team, Ralf Außem. The former had managed to stop the rot a little at Aachen, as the club have drawn the last three games played. However, for a side supposedly built around their attack, these games have all finished 0-0; which, despite keeping their relatively impressive goals conceded tally down to eight, hasn’t done much for their hopes of ejecting out of bottom spot. Continue reading

Paderborn 0-1 Greuther Fürth

The first half formations.

Greuther Fürth maintained their great start to the new campaign by deservedly beating a limited Paderborn side on matchday four of the 2011/12 2. Bundesliga season. In a match short on chances, the away side showed why they are one of this season’s promotion favourites by seeing the game out after taking an early-ish second half lead. Mike Büskens’ side move up to second place as a result of this win, while Paderborn slip nearer a relegation zone they know they’ll likely spend the season battling to stay out of.

Match preview here.

The game began with Paderborn immediately surging high and hard to press the ball: despite this, their guests looked sharp and comfortable in possession. Whenever the home side did get the chance to attack early on, they showed their lack of quality by going at it a bit too hammer and tongs – crossing early to no one in particular, or trying to make too incisive a pass too hastily, for example. Continue reading

Paderborn-Greuther Fürth preview

The 2. Bundesliga season continues tomorrow afternoon as the side currently sat in seventh visit a team who have started the new league campaign with one win, one draw and a loss. If Greuther Fürth hadn’t thrown away the 2-0 lead they held at home to Eintracht Frankfurt on the opening day of the 2011/12 campaign, they’d be sat on top of the league right now with nine points out of a possible nine rather than six. Nevertheless, they have bounced back strongly after that agonizing round one setback, beating Union Berlin 4-0, Dynamo Dresden 1-0, and knocking lowly Eimsbütteler TV out of the cup with a 10-0 scoreline. Make no mistake – coach Mike Büskens and his side will be among the promotion contenders come the final month or two of the season. And, who knows, they might just go all the way after being the bridesmaid for so many recent seasons if new Canadian signing Olivier Occean keeps up his great form in front of goal. Continue reading

Greuther Fürth 2-3 Eintracht Frankfurt

The first half formations

Karim Matmour’s late strike helped Eintracht Frankfurt come from 2-0 down to win a fairly even opening day 2. Bundesliga match 3-2. The Algerian international, on as a sub, benefited from some tactical indiscipline by SpVgg Greuther Fürth in the 89th minute to trap a slick cross-box pass from two-goal hero Alexander Meier, before burying his finish spectacularly into the bottom corner.

Match preview here  

The home side began the game like there was no tomorrow, most noticeably by pressing at pace when out of possession, and playing direct passes to the nippy wingers as soon as the ball was their’s to use. Rather than trying to match this style of play, Frankfurt instead did things more calmly, more concerned with keeping their 4-1-2-2-1 shape, and thus making it difficult for their hosts to make truly incisive passes or win any loose balls. And, whereas Fürth started their pressing about three-quarters of the way up the pitch, Frankfurt were more content to do their’s on or just behind the halfway line, one man at a time. Continue reading

Greuther Fürth-Eintracht Frankfurt preview

The 15,000-seater Trolli Arena is expected to be sold out tomorrow evening for the 2. Bundesliga opening round showdown between SpVgg Greuther Fürth and Eintracht Frankfurt. Two of the favourites for promotion, 2011/12 is Fürth’s 15th consecutive season in the second division, but the club’s fans must be feeling that this is now surely the year in which they enter the national top-flight for the first ever time. The Bavarian club were one of the dominant forces in German football prior to the formation of the Bundesliga in 1963, but after missing out on a place in that ‘by invitation only’ début season, Fürth have endured years of frustration since: including eight top-five finishes in the last 12 seasons. Continue reading