Winter break: 2.Liga Review

The standings:

1 Fortuna Düsseldorf              19   12 6 1    43:20  +23     42
2 SpVgg Greuther Fürth          19   12 4 3    41:14  +27    40
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3 Eintracht Frankfurt (A)           19   11 6 2    41:19  +22   39

4 FC St. Pauli (A)                     19   12 3 4    38:21  +17    39
5 SC Paderborn 07                 19   11 6 2    29:15  +14    39
6 1860 München                     19   10 2 7    40:28  +12    32
7 1. FC Union Berlin                19     9 4 6    30:29  +1      31
8 Eintracht Braunschweig (N)  19     8 5 6    25:22  +3      29
9 VfL Bochum                         19     7 3 9    25:29  -4       24
10 Energie Cottbus                 19     6 5 8    20:30  -10     23
11 Dynamo Dresden (N)          19     6 4 9    33:34  -1       22
12 MSV Duisburg                    19     5 5 9    24:27  -3       20
13 Erzgebirge Aue                   19    4 7 8    16:31   -15    19
14 Alemannia Aachen              19    2 9 8    17:26   -9      15
15 FC Ingolstadt 04                 19    3 5 11   21:39  -18    14
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16 FSV Frankfurt                     19     2 8 9    18:36  -18     14
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17 Hansa Rostock (N)             19     1 9 9    13:30  -17     12
18 Karlsruher SC                    19     3 3 13   19:43 -24     12

Clearly, another interesting season in the Zweite Bundesliga.

In less detail than the Bundesliga clubs, here is my view on first half performance:

 

Fortuna Düsseldorf        1st  Place, Grade: A

No question, Düsseldorf is on the verge of something special. After 20 straight seasons in the top flight, Fortuna was without luck. They got relegated in 1992, bounced up and down, and by the end of the 1990s starting dropping like a stone, eventually ending up in the Oberliga. But an amazing first half of the season (they were unbeaten until round 19) sees them at the top of the table and potentially back to the Bundesliga…and they’re doing it with a squad that’s only valued around mid level for the 2.Liga. The defense is led Congan Assani Lukimya, who has been one of the 2.Liga’s best performers. Andreas Lambertz has had a fine year in midfield. Fellow midfielder Max Beister has 8 goals. But the MVP so far is veteran forward Sascha Rösler (34), who played some 60 Bundesliga matches, but has almost 300 2.Liga games. So far, he has been outstanding, scoring 11 goals. The 2.Liga is almost always a dogfight, but Düsseldorf clearly has a good chance.

SpVgg Greuther Fürth       2nd Place, Grade: A

Fürth has been a contender off-and-on for years, but usually choke down the stretch. This year’s squad is pushing the envelope even tighter. The league’s best defense is partnered with a potent attack. GK Max Grün, and the defense is led by one of the best defenders, Stephan Schröck. He’s half-Filipino, and has actually been capped 3 times for the Phillipines. The attack has a one-two punch with Christopher Nöthe and Canadian Oliver Occean, each with 10 goals.

Eintracht Frankfurt        3rd Place, Grade: A-

Relegated Frankfurt was expected to contend, as their market value of close to 40 million euros is more than double that of almost any other 2.Liga club. And they’ve played well, although perhaps they’ve conceded too many draws. Much travelled coach Armin Veh has them moving in the right direction, but you need to finish 1st or 2nd, since 3rd place means a playoff, and that hasn’t turned out too well for the 2.Liga contender. Oldtimer Oka Nikolov is still in goal, but he hasn’t been great. The defense has performed, but no one has been outstanding. However Sebastian Jung (21) is a German U21 international and considered the man to watch. Familiar faces include midfielder Benjamin Köhler (5 goals) and forwards Theofanis Gekas and Mohammed Idrissou, each with 7 goals and vast Bundesliga experience. Swiss international Pirmin Schwegler has been pretty solid. However the jewel in the crown is still Alexander Meier, an underated midifielder. He leads the team with 8 goals. Frankfurt is good enough to bounce right back up, but there’s no guarantee they’ll do so.

FC St.Pauli        4th Place, Grade: A-

The Paulistas have been pretty good and are certainly threatening to bounce back into the Bundesliga. The GK Phillip Tschauner (26) has been around a long time, but is getting his chance. Not outstanding, basically average at best so far. The defense hasn’t been really impressive, but at least haven’t conceded lots of goals. But there is some potential to get better. Moritz Volz is known in England for his playing time with Fulham and Ipswich, and has recently comeback after a broken shin. Peruvian Carlos Zambrano (22) is highly rated, but not played due to injury. The midfield has been generally good, led by veteran Fabian Boll and youngster Max Kruse (22), who may be one of the best attacking midfielders in the league. He has already notched 10 goals to lead the team. The attack has been OK, with veteran Marius Ebbers scoring 4 in limited playing time. (Ebbers has almost 100 2.Liga srikes in over 230 matches). Ex-Wuppertaler Mahir Saglik has bounced around since leaving the legendary WSV and has also contributed 4 goals as a regular. St.Pauli is probbaly good enough to get promoted, but it’s a dogfight.

SC Paderborn       5th Place, Grade: A

Paderborn is quite the surprise. When you think about clubs from Westfalen, you always think Bielefeld, then usually Ahlen. If you’re older, you also think Gütersloh. But Paderborn is never on anyone’s charts, but they’ve been outstanding so far. They’ve only lost twice, and brought Düsseldorf their only defeat. Hard nosed defense from a bunch of nobodies. The only semi-known player Congan-German midfielder Rolf-Christel Guié-Mien as actually been one of worst regulars. The “star” of the team appears to be forward Nico Proschwitz, who leads the 2.Liga with 12 goals. The team is one of the lower valued squads in the league, with the average player rated only around 450,000 euros.

1860 München      6th Place, Grade: B

1860 started out rather crap, but have slowly been improving. This team relies on veterans in key positions, such as well travelled Hungarian GK Gabor Kiraly, midfielders Colin Benjamin, Stefan Aigner and Daniel Bierofka. Up front, oldie Benny Lauth has scored 6 times, but youngster Kevin Volland (19) is making a name for himself, 9 goals already. Despite improvement, I find it unlikely that 1860 will threaten promotion, as they are a good 8 points off the pace as it is.

1.FC Union Berlin         7th place, Grade: B

Going nowhere, but keeping the flag flying. Union doesn’t have the resources to compete at the top level, but they’re a solid 2.Liga competitor.

Eintracht Braunschweig       8th place, Grade: A-

Promoted Braunschweig has done much better than expected. They supposedly have the cheapest squad by far, average player valuation around 350,000 euros. (So many a Bundesliga player could buy a Brauni as a pet). However they’ve fought hard and received strong support from their fans, the reward being a solid mid table standing.

VfL Bochum         9th Place, Grade: C

Another vast disappointment, especially after coming close last season. (Lost to Gladbach in the playoff). But this year has been a disaster. The only bright spot is that GK Andreas Luthe is ranking as the top player in the league so far. Japanese midfielder Takashi Inui has also been pretty good. Veteran Paul Freier has only been average, and semi-exotic North Korean Chong Tese is behind last year’s pace, with only 4 goals.

Energie Cottbus          10th Place, Grade: C

Energie is a scrappy team. This season is going nowhere, but in a couple of years, they could be knocking on the door of the Bundesliga again. This is perhaps the best managed of the former GDR clubs, and they’ve gotten quite a bit of mileage from what should really be just a (small) regional club.

Dynamo Dresden          11th Place, Grade: B-

Dresden’s loyal fans expect more, but Dynamo just isn’t that good. On the positive, they’ve floated well above relegation, which should be the goal of any newly promoted side. The highlight so far is that French forward Mickael Poté has been outstanding, rated top field player in the 2.Liga so far, and has 11 goals.

MSV Duisburg         12th Place, Grade: C-

The Zebras have largely sucked and might as well write off yet another season. They haven’t lived up to their potential and seem to be drifting aimlessly, not unlike the past few seasons.

Erzgebirge Aue        13th Place, Grade: C

What a difference a year makes! Aue was the toast of the 2.Liga last season, battling and finally finishing 5th in a fine inaugural campaign. This year, they largely suck, but this shouldn’t really surprise anybody. The problem last year was that they couldn’t score enough, and that’s even worse this year. The difference is that now the defense sucks as well, so Aue may well worry about relegation

Alemannia Aachen        14th Place, Grade: D

After a respectable Bundesliga season in 2007 (despite relegation, they played well), Aachen figured to bounce back, but although they came close once, they’ve fallen well off pace. This season is a struggle, as they’ve only managed two wins, conceding too many draws. They seem strong enough to pull themselves out of danger, but it won’t be easy

FC Ingolstadt           15th Place, Grade: D+

Ingolstadt looked dead and buried, but just prior to winterbreak they caught themselves and have a fighting chance. Not much of a squad to write about.

FSV Frankfurt         16th Place, Grade: D

As usual, about this time we’re talking about FSV being dead and buried. The best thing about this season is that they had a Frankfurt derby with Eintracht for the first time in probably half a century. Now usually FSV dismissed, but they put on a strong effort in the second half and save themselves. Given that track record, you can’t write them off, but they’ve lost some of their talent, so this may be the year they finally go down.

Hansa Rostock         17th Place, Grade: D-

This is not the long lasting ex-GDR club that battled into the Bundesliga and 2.Liga. They dropped down in to the 3.Liga before getting promoted this season. And given their financial problems, the club has a modest squad, ranked only above Braunschweig in valuation. Only one win to their credit, that about says it all. The offense is pathetic.

Karlsruher SC         18th Place, Grade: F

Famous club. They suck. Nuff said….well, not…

Well, they’ve fallen on hard times, but the signs were there last season, as they only barely escaped relegation. This year they are the worst team in the 2.Liga. There are several veterans that are probably ready to be put out to pasture, such as midifielder Alexander Iashvili, a stalwart with Freiburg and almost 400 matches in Germany. The Georgian has actually done quite well, probably KSC’s best player, and top scorer with 5. South African Delron Buckley should be back from injury. He was once a hot property, but now should be collecting social security. Coach Jörn Andersen doesn’t seem to have a clue. Only with the club for 5 matches (all losses), he has openly questioned KSC ability to survive. OK, maybe he’s just being brutally honest, but then he should be a worthless blogger like me, not a coach hired to salvage a 2.Liga club. The only good thing is that there are several clubs above them that are capable of total crapola, and they’re only a couple of points behind.

 

 

 

 

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