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The Second Tier: Season Preview

13 Jul

Hi everyone, it’s been a while. Thanks to all for being so patient for the last month whilst I’ve been away but as promised, I’m back and ready for the start of the 2.Bundesliga season on Friday. Here we go…

It’s the 13th July. In just two days time, before the extremely successful Women’s World Cup has drawn to a close, Germany’s unified second division will kick off for a 20th time. It seems a bizarre time to be starting a season – in the height of summer – but when voted on, only tiny FSV Frankfurt opposed the motion. (Although Bochum gaffer Friedhelm Funkel didn’t mince his words when more recently slating the ‘shit’ decision.)

Of course then, FSV would be one of the four teams to get the ball rolling. The other three – East German outfits.

Last season was something of a renaissance for former DDR-Oberliga sides. Although 2011/12 will be the third year running that all eighteen sides in the top tier are from the former West, both Hansa Rostock and Dynamo Dresden were promoted from the 3.Liga. With Union Berlin, Energie Cottbus and Erzgebirge Aue also there, the 2.Bundesliga will have five representatives from the former East – the most since the league was unified in 1992/1993.

Eintracht have required well since relegation

So what can we expect from this season, save for some feisty games between these Eastern sides and culture-club St. Pauli? It could be the most competitive promotion race in years. Assuming Eintracht live up to their billing – you can only get around 2/1 on them ending up champions – the fight for second and third could involve any two from around 10 teams.

The relegation battle could be equally as tense. The promoted clubs will be looking to get to around 37 points as quick as possible, and the teams that narrowly avoided the drop last season – Ingolstadt, Paderborn, Karlsruhe and the likes – are all likely to struggle again whilst teams like Union, FSV and even a side like Aachen could be dragged in.

So what do we think will happen? I’ll start with my expectations but please feel free to add to the debate below! It’s always a good laugh come May when we’ve accurately predicted nothing but our own idiocy.

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Judgement Day: relegation battle as it happened

14 May

After 33 matchdays in which Dortmund dominated, Mainz and Hannover impressed and Bayern flattered to deceive we have reached the final weekend. Only formalities at the top remain but we still have a three way battle between Wolfsburg, ‘Gladbach and Eintracht Frankfurt to come.

Remember in this mini-league, top means safety, second the play-offs and last the second tier…

Here we go:

12 mins: Kuba fouled in the box but Barrios’ penalty is brilliantly saved by Ralf Fährmann. [Dortmund 0-0 Eintracht Frankfurt]

  • Wolfsburg – 36 pts (- 7)
  • Borussia M’gladbach – 36 pts (-17)
  • Eintracht Frankfurt – 35 pts (-16)

25 mins: Elia goal disallowed as Ben Hatira commits a foul off the ball. [HSV 0-0 Gladbach]

29 mins: Grafite goes through on goal but his rather weak attempt is saved by Starke in the Hoffenheim goal. [Hoffenheim 0-0 Wolfsburg]

37 mins: Lewandowski goes through one-on-one with Fährmann but the goalkeeper stands up well and the Pole sends the rebound wide. [Dortmund 0-0 Eintracht Frankfurt]

41 mins:  GOAL: Arango’s stunning free kick from at least 30 yards beats Rost to lift Gladbach up to 15th. [HSV 0-1 Gladbach]

  • Borussia M’gladbach – 38 pts (-16)
  • Wolfsburg – 36 pts (- 7)
  • Eintracht Frankfurt – 35 pts (-16)

43 mins: Long range effort from Caio almost sneaks in but Roman Weidenfeller gets down well and pushes the ball round the post for a corner. [Dortmund 0-0 Eintracht Frankfurt]

45 mins: Gekas gets onto the end of a long ball but his stretching effort is just about tipped onto the bar by Weidenfeller. [Dortmund 0-0 Eintracht Frankfurt]

Half TimeHSV 0-1 Gladbach, Hoffenheim 0-0 Wolfsburg, Dortmund 0-0 Eintracht Frankfurt

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Bundesliga – Week 34 Relegation Permutations

7 May

With matters at the top all but settled, attention turns to the wrong end of the table.

Hoffenheim, Kaiserslautern, Stuttgart, Werder Bremen, Köln and Schalke all (in one way or another) saved themselves on Saturday.

As Wolfsburg and Eintracht Frankfurt slipped to desperate defeats, Borussia Mönchengladbach got out of the relegation zone for the first time since week 8. With Pauli gone, this has set up an almighty 3-way scrap for to avoid 2nd and 3rd bottom.

15. Wolfsburg – 35 pts (-7 GD) @ Hoffenheim

16. Borussia M’gladbach – 35 pts (-17GD) @ Hamburg

17. Eintracht Frankfurt – 34 pts (-16GD) @ Borussia Dortmund

Obviously Wolfsburg remain in the driving seat because of their goal difference, but when you look at it from a statistical, home vs away record basis, Gladbach look the most likely to avoid relegation:

  • Wolfsburg (3 away wins all year) at Hoffenheim (4 home defeats all year)
  • Gladbach (5 away wins all year) at Hamburg (5 home defeats all year)
  • Frankfurt (4 away wins all year) at Dortmund (1 home defeat all year)

With football unlikely to work the way the statistics suggest, here’s the rundown on what would see which club safe:

Wolfsburg will STAY UP (finish 15th) if:

  • They win
  • They draw and both Frankfurt and Gladbach fail to win
  • They lose and Frankfurt fail to win and Gladbach lose

Gladbach will STAY UP (finish 15th) if:

  • They win and Wolfsburg fail to win
  • They draw and Wolfsburg lose and Frankfurt fail to win

Frankfurt will STAY UP (finish 15th) if:

  • They win and both Wolfsburg and Gladbach fail to win