Thursday, August 21, 2008

Bundesliga Week 2 Preview

Friday 22nd August (all times local)
20:30 Hannover – Energie Cottbus
Saturday 23rd August
15:30 Werder Bremen - Schalke
15:30 Hamburg - Karlsruhe
15:30 Borussia Dortmund – Bayern Munich
15:30 VfB Stuttgart – Bayer Leverkusen
15:30 Hertha Berlin – Arminia Bielefeld
15:30 1899 Hoffenheim – Borussia Mönchengladbach
Sunday 24th August
17:00 Bochum - Wolfsburg
17:00 1.FC Köln – Eintracht Frankfurt
Hannover – Energie Cottbus
The weekend action gets underway at the AWD Arena as Hannover entertain Energie Cottbus. Both sides suffered 3-0 defeats on the opening weekend and will be keen to avoid a second consecutive loss at the start of the season. Hannover were beaten away to Schalke, whereas Energie Cottbus, who had a season-long battle against relegation last time round were soundly beaten by newly promoted Hoffenheim. Dieter Hecking was disappointed with the defending against Schalke with all three goals coming from set-pieces. Equally worrying was the lack of chances at the other end and an improvement against Cottbus will be needed. Having struggled last season only to claw themselves clear of relegation, Cottbus trainer Bojan Prasnikar was looking to start the new season on a positive note against Hoffenheim. What he got however was a poor display and a 3-0 home defeat. Another defeat to Hannover will have the talk of another relegation struggle raising its head.
Werder Bremen – Schalke 04
The first meeting of the ‘big guns’ takes place at the Weser Stadion on Saturday as Werder Bremen entertain Schalke. Two genuine title contenders go head to head and these results against each other may have a huge bearing on their eventual title hopes. Just like last season, Werder opened with a 2-2 draw away from home (to Bielefeld) despite the fact they should have won. Thomas Schaaf and Torsten Frings have been highly critical of the defence this week and that back four is sure to be put under pressure by the visitors this weekend. Claudio Pizarro is expected to make his debut for the club after signing a one-year loan deal from Chelsea. This will be his second spell at the club and he will be hoping to add to his 100 Bundesliga goals and three league titles. The Königsblauen maintained their momentum after their Champions League win over Atletico Madrid by beating Hannover last week. A brace from Kevin Kuranyi and one from Marcelo Bordon (all from set-pieces) set up the win and Fred Rutten will no doubt we wanting more of the same at the Weser Stadion. Jermaine Jones will be missing after injuring his ankle last week.
Hamburg – Karlsruhe
With all the headlines being about Bayern not winning, some of the attention has been taken away from what a good performance Hamburg put in. The loss of Rafael van der Vaart wasn’t noticeable as HSV really pushed Bayern at the Allianz Arena. De Jong, Jarolim and Trochowski orchestrated the midfield, while Olic ran and ran for the team. The signing of Mladen Petric this week will further strengthen the side and he is expected to make his first appearance this season partnering his Croatian countryman Olic up front. Karlsruhe also opened with a win, but it was a close-run thing against Bochum at the Wildparkstadion with a Christian Eichner goal giving them their first win over Bochum since 1994. Edmund Becker’s side will not want a repeat of the performance from their last game at the HSH Nordbank Arena. The final game of last season saw the ‘Badener’ thrashed 7-0 by a rampant Hamburg side.
Borussia Dortmund – Bayern Munich
It’s the battle of the two Jürgens at the Signal Iduna Park as Klopp’s Dortmund welcome Klinsmann’s Bayern. Borussia got their season off to a great start with a 3-2 win away to Leverkusen last week and will be looking to maintain that positive start against Bayern. The defence was BVB’s weak spot last season, but both Neven Subotic and Mats Hummels looked good last week and Hummels in particular will relish the challenge of facing Bayern. Midweek signing Mohamed Zidan will want to make his debut against Bayern, against whom he scored last season. He will probably partner Nelson Valdez who scored one and set one up against Leverkusen. Diego Klimowicz would then drop to the bench. Dortmund will however have to do without full back Dede and goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller. The pair were both injured during the opening match at the Bay Arena. The good news for Bayern is that Luca Toni is ready to return against Dortmund after recovering from his calf injury. The dilemma for Klinsmann is whether to pair him with Klose or Podolski. Tim Borowski is also ready to be called upon, but Franck Ribéry remains on the sidelines. Bayern’s defending is the concern at the moment. A weeks worth of work on the training pitch would have helped but the midweek internationals put paid to that.
VfB Stuttgart – Bayer Leverkusen
Both these sides missed out on European qualification last season by finishing 6th and 7th respectively. Stuttgart subsequently went into the InterToto Cup and look set to make it into the Uefa Cup group stage. VfB got off to a winning start last week with a 3-1 away win over newly promoted Mönchengladbach. Three first half goals put the game beyond Gladbach. However the Swabians are not getting carried away and will no doubt face a tougher challenge against Leverkusen at the Mercedes Benz Arena. There were highly promising debuts from Jens Lehmann and midfielder Jan Simak, while both Ciprian Marica and Mario Gomez opened their scoring accounts. Bruno Labbadia got his Bundesliga coaching career off to a bad start last week losing at home to Borussia Dortmund and will be desperate to gain his side’s first points against Stuttgart. The forward pairing of Kiessling and Helmes looked good, while Brazilian midfielder Renato Augusto also impressed on his debut. An interesting game is in store this Saturday.
Hertha Berlin – Arminia Bielefeld
The ‘Old Lady, got off to the ideal start last weekend with a 2-0 away win over Eintracht Frankfurt and they did it without Marko Pantelic getting on the score sheet. He did though set up both goals for Raffael and Patrick Ebert. This weekend sees them make their home bow at the Olympiastadion with Arminia Bielefeld the visitors. Another three points would represent a very successful start to the season for Lucien Favre’s team. Bielefeld held Werder to a 2-2 draw last week with Artur Wichniarek grabbing two goals. They will be looking to build upon that performance against Hertha. Arminia know that a fight against relegation awaits them this season, and points picked up early in the season will take the pressure off.
1899 Hoffenheim – Borussia Mönchengladbach
Last season’s second division champions take on the runners-up this weekend as Hoffenheim play their first home game in the Bundesliga against Mönchengladbach. I say ‘home’, but home this season is the Carl Benz Stadion in Mannheim until their own stadium is built. Hoffenheim made a dream start to life in the top flight with a 3-0 win away to Energie Cottbus and will be looking to make it two wins out of two against Gladbach. They currently sit atop the embryonic league table and have Vedad Ibisevic leading the scoring charts. That is unlikely to last, but they can enjoy it while it does. Gladbach on the other hand made a losing start to life in the top flight with a 3-1 home loss to Stuttgart. The damage was all done in the first half with three goals putting the result beyond much doubt before 45 minutes were up. An improved defensive display will be required, and even more eyes will be on winger Marko Marin after his sublime goal for Germany in midweek.
Bochum – Wolfsburg
Bochum play Wolfsburg on Sunday at the Rewirpower Stadion looking to secure their first points of the season. A 1-0 loss to Karlsruhe sees the Bochumer pointless at the moment. The home fans will no doubt be looking for a repeat of the goal-fest and the result from last season, which saw Bochum win 5-3. Star man Stanislav Sestak was awesome that day and the club will look to him to provide the inspiration this weekend. Wolfsburg opened with a 2-1 win last week over 1.FC Köln thanks to a much better second half display. They still have Grafite unavailable thanks to his suspension, while Zvejezdan Misimovic returns to his former club looking to help the Wölfe to their second win. To some, Wolfsburg are an outside bet to become title contenders, so games like these need to be won.
1. FC Köln – Eintracht Frankfurt
Both Köln and Frankfurt will be looking to pick up their first points of the season in the weekend’s final game at the Rhein-Energie Stadion. Köln succumbed to a second half fight-back from Wolfsburg last weekend, while Frankfurt went down to a 2-0 home defeat to Hertha. The atmosphere in side the stadium will be excellent for this first home game of the season and Christoph Daum will want to give the fans something to cheer about with their first three points of the season. Hertha at home and Köln away, was on paper not the hardest opener for Friedhelm Funkel’s side, but if they were to lose again on Sunday, it would set them back and have them playing catch-up already. A much improved display from last Sunday is required if the ‘Eagles’ are to triumph over the ‘Billy Goats’.

No comments: