After a number of teams were involved in midweek DFB Pokal action (some some successful, others not) matchday 13 of the 2. Bundesliga season is upon us. The battle at the top is intensifying, while the strugglers at the bottom are starting to worry about the dreaded drop. Here’s a preview of the weekend action from th second tier.
SV Darmstadt v Holstein Kiel
It has been a very good seven days for Darmstadt, and they will be hoping their good fortune can continue this weekend. Last week saw them take advantage of Hamburg’s defeat in the derby to reclaim top spot in the league thanks to their own win at Karlsruhe. Then in midweek they knocked Bundesliga giants Borussia Mönchengladbach out of the Pokal with a 2-1 win at the Böllenfalltor.
Torsten Lieberknecht will have worse weeks as a trainer and will want to see his side maintain top spot as they host a Kiel side looking to perhaps take advantage of a Cup hangover. Die Störche themselves moved up to sixth last week with a 3-1 victory over Heidenheim but face a tough challenge on Friday as they travel to face the league leaders.
Hansa Rostock v Kaiserslautern
Neither Rostock nor Kaiserslautern were involved in midweek action after both falling at the first hurdle in the DFB Pokal. Hansa could only draw last week with strugglers Greuther Fürth and dropped to 13th in the table. After John Verhoek was sent off on the hour, they needed an injury time penalty from Ryan Malone to rescue a point. With one win in their last eight games the direction of travel is not good for Rostock and three points would do them the world of good.
Kaiserslautern are only two points better off and suffered a 3-0 home defeat last week at the hands of Jahn Regensburg. Goals at the start of each half were their undoing and a reaction will be expected when they travel North to the Ostseestadion.
1FC Nürnberg v Hannover
New Nürnberg coach Markus Weinzierl got his first win last week against away at Fortuna Düsseldorf and then followed it with an away win in midweek when he led der Klub into the DFB Pokal third round with a victory over Waldhof Mannheim. The task now is to gain his first home win against Hannover.
Die Roten came up short in their cup clash with Borussia Dortmund but will want to get back to winning ways after losing two of their last three (HSV and Heidenheim). Promotion remains the season aim, so they cannot afford to fall too far behind the leading pack. They may have lost to Dortmund, but their performance won many admirers and that needs turning into a push into the top three.
Jahn Regensburg v SV Sandhausen
Regensburg and Sandhausen had conflicting fortunes in the Pokal in midweek with the latter winning through on penalties and the former going out after a 3-0 home defeat to Düsseldorf. The two sides also had conflicting fortunes last weekend, but in reverse.
Jahn secured three points with a 3-0 away win at Kaiserslautern, while Sandhausen lost 3-0 at Paderborn. Who is going to bet on a 3-0 scoreline this weekend for either side?
Eintracht Braunschweig v SC Paderborn
Braunschweig’s recovery continued last week with a 2-0 win at Magdeburg to take them to 11th in the table. Die Löwen were in the bottom three a few weeks ago, but they are now six games unbeaten in the league. They did however exit the Pokal in midweek at the hands of Niedersachsen neighbours VfL Wolfsburg,
Paderborn also leapfrogged Hamburg into second spot last week with their 3-0 win over Sandhausen. A penalty shoot-out victory over Werder Bremen followed in midweek and the carrot of the number one spot in the division beckons this weekend.
Arminia Bielefeld v St. Pauli
Bielefeld must be thinking things can’t get much worse. They remain rooted to the bottom of the table after a 2-0 loss to Hannover (their third on the bounce). Then came a Cup elimination with Bundesliga strugglers Stuttgart literally knocking them for six.
St. Pauli were unable to build upon their Stadtderby win over HSV as they lost to Freiburg, but they pushed the Bundesliga side all the way away from home. The task now is to take advantage of a wounded Bielefeld and grab three points.
Hamburger SV v FC Magdeburg
A loss in the derby to St. Pauli, giving up top spot, and finally a Cup exit at the hands of RB Leipzig hasn’t made the past week the most enjoyable for Hamburg fans. Three expected points and the prospect of top spot will no doubt cheer them up as Magdeburg are the visitors to the Volksparkstadion on Sunday.
Der Blau will want to avoid a third consecutive league loss after previous defeats to both Braunschweig and Sandhausen have seen them drop into the bottom two.
Heidenheim v Greuther Fürth
Fürth sacked their coach Marc Schneider after last week’s 2-2 home draw with Hansa Rostock so will be led on Sunday by co-trainers Stefan Kleineheismann and Rainer Widmayer as they look to extricate themselves from the bottom three. A trip to Heidenheim doesn’t provide an easy out for the struggling team relegated from the Bundesliga last season.
Heidenheim now have the league as their sole focus after their cup loss to Union Berlin in midweek. Losing to the Bundesliga league leaders is no big shock, although a few years ago, the two would have been parallel in the 2. Liga.
Karlsruher SC v Fortuna Düsseldorf
KSC and Fortuna complete the weekend action with both teams on 17 points after 12 games. Both sides lost at home last weekend. Karlsruher SC were unlucky to lose on penalties in the midweek Pokal clash with Sandhausen, while Düsseldorf progressed with a 3-0 win over fellow 2. Bundesliga side Jahn Regensburg.