After YSP’s jaunt to Hamburg this weekend without me (!) and a run of fixtures that make streaming impossible, I’m pleased to announce the next set of Yorkshire St. Pauli screenings are at our home, Wharf Chambers Co-operative Club in Leeds. We’ve decided to go old school and kick off on Saturday afternoons at 3pm!
Saturday 4 Oct FCSP v 1FC Union Berlin (“we’ll beat the fakking onion”) Saturday 25 October v Karlsruher SC (erm, not much I can say about Karlsruhe) Saturday 8 November v 1FC Heidenheim (1FC? The first football club of Heidenheim? Is there any other club in Heidenheim? Actually, where in blinking ‘ell is Heidenheim?!)
I have consulted the official Yorkshire constitution and the Bundesverfassungsgericht (ah yes, Karlsruhe!) and I can confirm that we will endeavour to have as much fun at the streams as is legally allowed in Yorkshire. If you think a ‘who can hit a nail into a piece of wood’ competition was the zenith of excitement, you’ve seen nowt yet! More details to follow…
German football is awesome, but it can also involve spending countless hours refreshing kicker’s Matchkalendar and sounding out various eight-hour Regionalbahn journeys on bahn.de, only to find out your away in Aalen is on a Friday at 6pm. For fans travelling from the UK, this can be even more frustrating and sometimes the only option you’re left with is to give Michael O’Leary’s firm rather more coin than you had planned on doing.
Over the years I’ve been following German football, the DFB and DFL have got better when it comes to announcing kick-off times (believe it or not). I’ve identified a few common patterns that I want to share here to ease the pain of waiting for something you feel is never going to arrive. So here we go:
First things first, organising fixtures and kick-off times is ridiculously complex – obvious things like 1860 and Bayern not being at home on the same weekend are combined with less obvious pairings (like the Mainz-Kaiserslautern-Frankfurt triumvirate, in which only one side can play at home at any given weekend) European competition and completely separate issues like athletics at the Olympiastadion or something.
Season frameworks vary, so this should be seen as a rough guide for the 2. Bundesliga.
The fixtures for the Bundesliga and the 2. Bundesliga are announced at the beginning of the last week in June. For the last few years the dates have been 23 June (2014), 21 June (2013), 22 June (2012), 21 June (2011), so you can be fairly sure of this one.
First up – the final two matchdays of the season in both the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga are already fixed, as every team is required to play at the same time (once at home, once away). So feel free to whip out Skyscanner and stick Aue into Google Maps for that final away match of the season. Joy of joys.
Matchdays 1 and 2 are usually before the first round of the cup, and in most cases the kick-off times are announced by the DFL relatively swiftly after fixtures are announced. This year, this happened one week later on 30 June 2014.
Kick-off times for the first round of the cup then follow, again relatively quickly after MD 1 and 2 have been announced. These are announced by the DFB, though, and there are about a million different potential kick-off times (ideal for a weekend of hopping). In 2014, these were: Friday 6pm & 8pm, Saturday 3:30pm, 6pm and 8:30pm, Sunday 2:30pm, 4pm, 6:30pm, 8:30pm and Monday 6:30pm and Monday 8:30pm. It’s important to be aware of that when planning flights, especially those awful Monday 6:30pm ones.
The next major milestone are the draws for the playoff rounds of the Champions League and Europa League, which usually take place at the end of August. The draw for these is in late July, so expect the matchdays directly after this week – as a rule, from the end of August to mid-/late September – to be announced in early August.
Again, the Europa League (and to a lesser extent the Champions League) dictates kick-off times through the autumn. If Mainz 05 were to qualify for the Europa League group stage, that means they play every home match following a Europa League matchday on a Sunday, meaning that Eintracht Frankfurt and Kaiserslautern have to play away, and probably on the Friday and Saturday respectively. The Champions League and Europa League draws usually take place in the final week of August, giving the DFL a clear structure for midweek games through until mid-December. As a result, expect matchdays in October and early/mid-November through until/just after the second round of the cup (midweek, usually in the final week of October around Reformation Day [31 October] and All Saints Day [1 November]) to be announced approximately one week after the Champions League and Europa League draws.
This season (2014/15), the kick-off times for the rest of the matchdays from mid-/late November to Christmas have not been announced with the rest of the autumn fixtures, which is odd, as there don’t appear to be any other variables in autumn that would influence decisions. My guess would be that they are holding fire for TV (Sky/Sport1) to decide which matches are Topspiele and which aren’t. In 2012, the DFL announced kick-off times for all matches through to Christmas in early September. In 2013, the announcement came on 14 October.
Before Christmas, the Champions League and Europe League knockout rounds are drawn so the DFL usually announces the kick-off times from after the winter break (early/mid-February) through to mid-March before Christmas. You can be relatively sure on that.
From now on, a lot depends on when Easter falls. Watch out though: By law, no Bundesliga matches can be held on Good Friday – so all 2. Bundesliga/Bundesliga matches that would normally be played on the Friday evening that weekend take place on the evening of Maundy Thursday. Easter Sunday is fine though, strangely.
As at the start of the season, kick-off times for the rest of the season are dictated by the draws for the Champions League, Europa League and DFB-Pokal. If you are wondering when one particular fixture is going to be announced, my tip would be to check whether there are midweek European matches directly before or after and assume that the kick-off time/date will be announced shortly (usually one week) after the respective draw. As I mentioned earlier, this has been improving over recent years. As a guide, in the 2013/14 season the DFL announced the kick-off times for all remaining matches on 17 March.
After the disappointing 3-0 defeat in Fürth on Monday night, it was little shock that the club decided to part company with manager Roland Vrabec after picking up only 4 points in the first 4 games of the season. But the problems with Vrabec went back longer than the start of this season, with only 4 wins from the 15 games after last season’s winter break.
And yet, Vrabec’s tenure at St. Pauli got off to a fantastic start. He was appointed interim manager following the dismissal of Michael Frontzeck, and won 4 of his opening 5 games as interim boss. By the time St. Pauli faced Karlsruhe ahead of the final weekend before the winter break, the appointment of Vrabec was a mere formality, and the club were talking about the possibility of promotion – such was the impact of Vrabec. In his time as interim manager, the team had looked rejuvenated, exciting and the tactics employed by Vrabec were a key in that. The defeat against Karlsruhe at home just before Christmas was disappointing, but it did nothing to change the club’s mind on Vrabec. The only other blip on his record had been an understandable 3-0 defeat at home to FC. Koln, whose superior quality eventually saw them walk the league.
Away from home during his interim spell, Vrabec had worked on the shape of the side – making the defence more resilient and playing counter attacking football with some fantastic results. He employed Fin Bartels as a striker, and Bartels was key in the weeks leading up to the break – in particular instrumental in the wins at 1860 Munich and Aue.
But the winter break came at the wrong time for Vrabec and the club, and the momentum built up was soon lost after the return to the league in February. The tactics that had worked so well before the break were no longer employed, Bartels was no longer instrumental (notable that he’d already agreed a deal with Werder Bremen by this point) and the wheels on Vrabec’s promotion push quickly fell off in dramatic fashion. Since taking over the job full time, Vrabec won 25% of the club’s competitive matches – and one of those was in the DFB Pokal against Optik Rathenow. In contrast, 8 losses in 20 games was the telling statistic, and the defeat in Fürth left the majority of St. Pauli fans (81% of a Hamburg newspaper poll) thinking it was time for him to go.
After holding talks with Michael Büskens, the former Greuther Fürth manager who had worked with sporting director Rachid Azzouzi before, the club opted to look closer to home for Vrabec’s successor. And you don’t get much closer to St. Pauli than Thomas Meggle. The 39 year old former St. Pauli player had 3 separate spells at the club, playing 133 times in total. He had then worked as assistant manager during the spells of Holger Stanislawski, André Schubert and Michael Frontzeck, and was previously in charge of the U23 side – a position he had taken with the club seemingly intent on one day making him manager of the first team. Perhaps though, it happened sooner than he expected!
The message from Meggle is simple. “Hard work, coupled with lots of fun, is the key to success. Football is a game, and a game should be fun in the first place. But the basis is hard work. Then the success will come. Whether it’s short, medium or long term remains to be seen”. As for Meggle’s ethic, “now i purely jump into the deep end and work like a madman, trying to make the most of every day”. What Meggle lacks for in managerial experience, he makes up for in his knowledge, understanding and passion for this club. Which counts for a lot when it comes to St. Pauli.
Two weeks ago we held the second Yorkshire St. Pauli ANTIRA football tournament in tropical conditions at Leeds Carribean Cricket Club. After playing in previous tournaments organised by FC Kolektivo Victoria (FCKV) and Republica Internationale in recent years, we hosted our first tournament back in February and it was so much fun that we decided to do it all again in the Summer. A date was set, teams were invited and the finer details were put into place. All we had to do now was turn up, build some goals, make some pitches and play some football. Ace.
Unfortunately the winner’s from February, United Glasgow FC, couldn’t make the long trip down to Yorkshire, so the title was well and truly up for grabs! The draw for the tournament had already been made in the week leading up to the event, and the tournament would be split into two after the initial group phases. With 8 teams split into 2 groups, the teams who finish 1st and 2nd in each group would go into the ‘higher’ knockout tournament, and the teams who finish 3rd and 4th would compete in the ‘lower’ knockout tournament. The format means that every team, regardless of ability, have something to play for at the end of the day and each team plays an equal amount of games.
Mount Pleasant Park FC – A “community football” organisation that stands for equality, social integration and multicultural respect & learning. Some of our members are part of the DIY & World music & arts community scenes, some others from the Anti-Fascist or Vegan networks but some others simply like to engage with their neighbours once a week and feel part of a big community. Based in the multicultural epicentre of Sheffield (Sharrow) Mount Pleasant Park F.C. started with ad-hock “three sided football” sessions 4 years ago and has evolved into a weekly session where everyone is welcomed. Football for all..football against racism!
A completely unknown quantity, but the fact they have ‘FC’ after their name suggests they know how to kick a football. Potentially a surprise package.
YSP FC 2 – YSP FC started 18 months ago with a friendly kick about against Republica Internationale, and soon competed in a couple of friendly tournaments that had been organised by Republica and FCKV. These inspired us to see whether we could get our members to play football, and then developed when we started to link up with local refugee charity PAFRAS. We used football as a social tool to welcome refugees and asylum seekers into our group, to play football for free and to provide a welcoming community for them. This has developed further in recent months with our ‘Football For All’ project, which is a friendly and uncompetitive kickabout every Sunday afternoon, where refugees and asylum seekers play for free, with the cost of the football subsidised by waged players.
With a squad of 14 players to select from, the Yorkshire St. Pauli FC contingent fielded two teams for the tournament – with a mixture of YSP members alongside a number of service users from PAFRAS. The teams would be fairly divided by football shirts randomly thrown at individuals in no particular order to divide players into two teams. YSP FC 2 for the purposes of the competition would wear the famous brown jerseys of FC St. Pauli. It’s fair to say that the success of YSP FC in recent tournaments has been nothing short of spectacularly poor, having only ever won 2 games in competitive tournaments.
Leeds Caribbean Cricket Club – The first Caribbean Cricket club set up in the UK, it was established in 1948 by the Jamaica Society in Leeds as a social gathering for mainly West Indian men, although predominately those from Jamaica. In 2007 Caribbean Cricket Club’s 1st & 2nd teams both won Leeds West Riding league and also the 20/20 festival cup. In the same year they formed a women’s group at the club.
Our hosts for the day who have dropped their cricket bats and pads and donned a football kit. An unknown quantity!
FCKV (from Leicester) – We are a football club based at Victoria Park, Leicester who recognise the fundamental equality of all people, irrespective of age, class, culture, disability, gender, race, religion, or sexuality. We seek to enjoy sport as part of strengthening local and international solidarity, performing to the best of our potential, and enjoying being part of a team. We seek to further mutual understanding and respect for all people and to challenge discrimination. The club will not tolerate prejudiced or abusive behaviour.
The team responsible for inviting us to our first ever ANTIRA tournament and for introducing us into the great world of ANTIRA footy.
The 1 in 12 Club (from Bradford) – The 1 in 12 Club is a not for profit organisation relying heavily on the time donated by its unpaid members. It is managed, owned and run by its members, founded on the anarchistic values of self-management, co-operation & mutual aid. Together we are a community of people aiming to provide an affordable, non-commercial venue for events, socialising, meetings & information.
Stalwarts of these competitions, the 1 in 12 are the team to watch out for. They’re renowned for their organisation and have two young lads (who don’t look so young these days!) upfront who cause all sorts of problems. One of the favourites.
Republica – A Leeds-based Socialist football team and part of an international network of like-minded teams, distinguished by our philosophy and by our political commitment, all committed to ‘freedom through football’. That slogan attempts to capture what we, and the other teams, share philosophically, because in many other ways we’re quite different. We don’t believe in political cloning, but we do believe in sharing alternative ideas about anti-oppressive culture and action.
We play grass-roots football (both in Leeds and abroad), but we also socialise enthusiastically, and engage in other forms of political action. We’re trying to keep politics in sport, and have a good time as well. We’re not perfect, but we do try. We endeavour not to be too dogmatic about our beliefs, and to be as inclusive as we can.”
The team that really encouraged us and started the Yorkshire St. Pauli FC movement, by showing us what can be achieved through football. As a club, they’ve been fantastic in their support of us over the years. The work they do is fantastic, and they’ve seemingly being doing it forever too!
LAFN – With a recent resurgence of the far-right and a feeling that the tactics of UAF aren’t effective, activists in Leeds have felt that something needs to change with the way we do anti-fascism and have committed to a critical look at how we can work together resisting fascism on the streets and in our communities. We are made up of members of groups from different parts of the left as well as non-aligned individuals and are committed to remaining independent of any political party or organisation. We believe that the way to counter fascism isn’t through liberalism but through grass-roots organising and resistance amongst the working class.
A relatively new group, but already a regular at these events and they know how to enjoy football and play it in the right spirit, regardless of results! They bring the party (and the beer!) and they pro-actively stand up for what is right.
YSP FC 1 – See YSP FC 2 above. Not to be confused with YSP FC 2. YSP FC 1 will wear the ‘away’ strip of red.
THE GROUP STAGES
The schedule was thrown out of the window before the competition had even kicked off due to a disastrous journey from Leicester for FCKV. Thankfully, preparations at the Leeds Caribbean Cricket Club were also behind schedule, with numerous confused faces trying to build the football goals and cone out pitches on some of the flatter surfaces of the cricket pitch. With the wicket cordoned off to ensure it wasn’t damaged by clumsy anti-fascists trying to play football and FCKV promptly arriving late (and with rumours of them heading straight to the bar for a beer !), we were ready to kick-off.
In the opening games, Mount Pleasant narrowly defeated Leeds Caribbean Cricket Club with a 1-0 victory, whereas the game on the other pitch was less close, with Bradford’s 1 in 12 Club showing their credentials by keeping a clean sheet and putting five goals past the Leeds Anti-Fascist network. Next up saw the two Yorkshire St. Pauli sides both in action. YSP FC 2 were up against FCKV, who had just arrived after a nightmare journey, and YSP FC 1 were up against Republica.
YSP FC 2 made the most of the tiredness of FCKV, who were still recovering from a long journey, and ran out 4-1 winners – including a hat-trick from striker Yaya, who was playing despite feeling ill. In the other game, YSP FC 1 and Republica played out an even contest and the game finished 1-1.
Having drawn 1-1 with Republica, YSP FC 1 then faced the Leeds Anti-Fascist Network and were unlucky to lose 1-0. FCKV had woken up from their long journey and beat Leeds Carribean Cricket Club 2-0. YSP FC 2’s second game came against Mount Pleasant, who had the better chances in the game but had been denied time and time again by Lee in goal – who had pulled off numerous wonder saves to keep the game at 0-0. But eventually the pressure told and Sheffield’s Mount Pleasant found a way past him to take the victory.
After their 5-0 opening game victory, 1 in 12 again showed their credentials with a 2-0 defeat of Republica, and they finished their group stage campaign with a 1-0 victory against YSP FC 1. It meant that 1 in 12 had won all 3 games, scoring 8 without conceding a single goal. In Group A, Mount Pleasant had been in similar form and picked up their third consecutive 1-0 victory against FCKV to send them through as group winners with a maximum 9 points.
The last games of the group stages would decide the places of the other teams in the groups. In Group A, YSP FC 2 would finish 2nd and go into the ‘Higher’ knockout stage as long as they avoided losing by a 3 goal margin against Leeds Carribean Cricket Club. The YSP FC 2 team had thrown a bit of caution to the wind in this game, playing some more attacking football and goalkeeper Lee swapping with Yaya and having a stint upfront. It worked well for the opening minutes, and they went ahead through one of the goals of the tournament. A quick short corner was taken and crossed deep to the back post, where Lee headed it back across goal into the top corner. Never mind the opposition being stunned, YSP FC 2 could barely believe it! But tiredness started to kick in for the YSP FC 2 team with a couple of players fasting during Eid, and the momentum quickly shifted towards the Carribean Cricket Club, with Joe (a loan signing for the tournament from Republica) particularly influential for them. They quickly turned the game around and ended up winning 3-1. With 3 teams in Group A having picked up 3 points, YSP FC 2 went through on goal difference by a single goal.
In the other game, Republica needed nothing less than a victory over the Leeds Anti-Fascist Network – who would finish above Republica otherwise. Republica managed to secure a 2-1 victory to send them through to the Higher Knockout stages.
1 IN 12
The first of the Lower Knockout semi-finals saw Leeds Carribean Cricket Club take on YSP FC 1, who had finished bottom of Group B after some rather unlucky moments in their group games. But they had seemingly being rejuvenated by the lunch break, and quickly raced into a two goal lead in the early minutes of the game. Khaled opened the scoring after a mix-up in the Carribean Cricket Club, and pivotal lone striker Chris Webster doubled the lead with a tidy finish from all of 2 yards after Khaled had beaten the defence twice before crossing. But the momentum shifted after a penalty was given away for an American football style tackle inside the box, and Tom Leak in the YSP FC 1 goal couldn’t keep out the penalty. An equaliser soon followed, and the game was only ever going one way. It was 3-2 before half time, and it stayed that way.KNOCKOUT STAGES
In the other semi-final, FCKV had picked up an impressive 4-0 victory against the Leeds Anti-Fascist network to book their place in the final against the Carribean Cricket Club.
Onto the Higher Knockout semi-finals, and Mount Pleasant and Republica played out a tough 0-0 draw during normal time before Mount Pleasant scored twice in extra time to take the victory. In the other game, YSP FC 2 were trying to come to terms with stopping the runaway train that was the 1 in 12 team from Bradford. Having heard rumours that they were yet to drop a point or concede a goal, the YSP FC 2 team discussed tactics and decided that to abandon the reckless free-flowing attacking football that had been on show in the group stage defeat to Leeds Carribean Cricket Club and instead to adopt a somewhat cynically defensive approach and hope to nick a goal on the counter attack. The plan got off to a better start than the YSP team could have imagined, scoring a goal in the opening stages of the game. The battle lines were drawn, it was now attack against defence. Unconfirmed Opta stats show that 1 in 12 had 95% of possession during the game, but the YSP FC 2 defence were standing up to most things, and when they weren’t, Lee in goal was stopping everything thrown at him. Clearances were being put into the car park or onto the dual carriageway on Scott Hall Road as the game reached the final minutes, and YSP FC 2 player Fuzz had to be substituted after an accidental head collision leaving him with a nasty swollen eye. It was backs to the wall stuff from YSP and long throw-ins and corners were pumped into the box, and they were desperate. So desperate that the YSP goalkeeper Lee took a goal kick in the final moments of the game that cleared the opposition crossbar. Cynical, but effective.It was the last highlight of the game, and YSP FC 2 had somehow beaten the unbeatable 1 in 12.
You can listen to Rob from Yorkshire St. Pauli providing full match commentary on the game using the link below:
There was more drama to follow in the third placed playoff for the lower knockout trophy, as YSP FC 1 took an early lead against the Leeds Anti-Fascist Network before controversy ensued. With only a few minutes on the clock, YSP FC 1 had been awarded a corner and goalkeeper Tom Leak had left his goal with reckless abandon to go up for the corner. Sensibly, striker Chris Webster had seen the danger and stood in the goal to cover for his goalkeeper. But LAFN counter-attacked from the corner and Tom Leak was stranded. Chris Webster blocked a goal-bound shot with his arm, which the referee didn’t see! (Note – the referee was a Yorkshire St. Pauli member…) Chris owned up to it and advised it should be a free-kick, and the referee having been told what happened took the decision to send him off! In what was possibly an ANTIRA football tournament first, someone had actually been sent off. Tom Leak wasn’t happy with the decision and berated the referee, and almost found himself sent off too! Somehow though, YSP FC 1 held on to claim their first victory of the tournament. Despite the unhelpful and selfish actions of Chris Webster.
In the third placed playoff for the higher knockout trophy, Republica picked up an impressive 2-0 victory over 1 in 12.
FCKV – LCCC (Lower Final)
FCKV, despite all the problems they had faced on the day, had a chance of glory in the final against Leeds Carribean Cricket Club who had found some form after losing their opening two group games without scoring. LCCC continued their run of good form and took an early lead, and they looked to have won it going into the final minute. For detail on what happened next, here is the description from the report of the tournament from FCKV…
And so, with the game still at 0-1 and less than a minute to go, FCKV won a throw-in. As is the done thing, our goalkeeper made his way up. A headed flick on in the area and a full on goalmouth scramble broke out. Cats, dogs, random passers-by, all got sucked into it. At one point I think I even spotted Nick in the middle of it all, naked and daubed in some kind of ritualistic body paint as the very fabric of society unravelled before our very eyes.
The ball ping ponged about. I think we hit the post but the sound could easily have just been someone taking one of the uprights and wrapping it around the nearest FCKV player. Somehow the ball squirmed under the LCCC goalkeeper and Blue was there to toe poke in from about 10cm. FCKV went batshit and the referee blew for full-time.
Extra time followed but the two teams couldn’t be separated and it went to penalties! After 5 penalties each, FCKV scored their 6th and the pressure was on LCCC. The LCCC player, carrying a can of lager in his hand, stepped up for the big moment. He tried to dink it down the middle of the goal but it didn’t fool the FCKV goalkeeper who saved it comfortably and that was that. FCKV had won the lower tournament!
YSP FC 2 – Mount Pleasant FC (Higher Final)
Having beaten Goliath in the semi finals, it seemed Goliath had done what every kid did during a fight – told on his older, taller brother to deal with you. YSP FC 2 faced Mount Pleasant FC, who were still to concede a goal and had already beaten YSP FC 2 by a single goal in the group stages. The tactics of YSP FC 2 remained the same – somehow score, somehow defend and don’t concede. Forget parking the bus, this was a convoy of HGV lorries in front of the goal. A couple minutes into the game and central defender Scott went on what can only be described as a mesmerising run down the wing. The run had caused so much confusion in the Mount Pleasant defence that the resulting cross towards the back post was turned into the goal by a Mount Pleasant player. Mount Pleasant played some great football to try and get back into the game, and YSP FC 2 were sitting deeper and deeper in the final minutes.
It seemed an equaliser was only a matter of time, and in the final minute their goalkeeper came forward for a corner and had a great chance to equalise but the chance was missed. The final whistle was blown and somehow YSP FC 2 had won. Scenes of jubilation, shock and general bewilderment followed. After finishing last in almost everything we do and just having fun finishing last, we’d finally found something to put in the YSP trophy cabinet we’d bought on Gumtree years ago when all this started.
Also a huge well done to the Leeds Anti-Fascist Network who picked up the fair play award as voted for by the referees. Well done, and keep up the great work!
We have to say a huge public thank you to all the teams and players who turned up and took part. To Leeds Carribean Cricket Club for being excellent and friendly hosts and for helping us out. To Blu from Republica for sorting things out, alongside Scott, Shaun and Nicole from Yorkshire St. Pauli. Gary and John for refereeing. To Rob helping out on the day and to JP for taking photso, and to everyone else who turned up and watched. It was an absolute pleasure hosting it, and a fantastic day. I would say we’ll do it again next year, but i think it’s only fitting that we now retire the YSP ANTIRA tournament and the trophy stays with the winners…
Finally, two years ago we played in our first tournament held by FC FC Kolektivo Victoria, and we were thumped in every game. Our record in most games since has been along the same lines. But in recent months we’ve had great fun with our ‘Football For All’ initiative, which is essentially a weekly kickabout session open to everyone and we invited refugees and asylum seekers to play for free. The sessions have been a huge success, and more than anything we’ve built a fantastic group of friends with a real team and community spirit. In many ways, it echoes the spirit of St. Pauli. Our victory was a success for everything we’ve built in the last few months, and everyone who has helped us. Forza Yorkshire St. Pauli!
Here we go again. It’s 83 days since the last competitive game for St. Pauli, but AC/DC’s ‘Hells Bells’ will finally ring out at the Millerntor later today as St. Pauli host Ingolstadt (2.30pm kick off, UK time).
St. Pauli struggled massively at home last season, losing 7 home games which cost them their chance to really fight for the promotion places. But there’s no looking back for coach Roland Vrabec, “We are focused on the new season. I look forward to goosebump moments when the stadium explodes”.
St. Pauli will be missing Fabian Boll, with the iconic captain retiring at the end of last season, and Fin Bartels has moved to the Bundesliga with Werder Bremen. But new recruits Lasse Sobiech, Daniel Buballa and Michael Görlitz have arrived, and all that is missing from the shopping list is a new striker. Sporting director Rachid Azzouzi has been frustrated in his efforts to bring in a new forward, so for the time being the existing strikers will have chance to prove their worth. And there’s a new captain too, Sören Gonther will take the armband.
St. Pauli has have an almost full squad to select from. Unfortunately Christopher Nöthe picked up an injury in training during the week so is a doubt. Only Marcel Halstenberg and Robin Himmelmann will definitely miss the game. In contrast, Ingolstadt have a number of injury concerns ahead of the game.
As ever, competition in the 2.Bundesliga is fierce. Vrabec highlighted this, saying “Only Nuremberg is the clear favorite. However, Braunschweig, Fürth, Dusseldorf, 1860 and Leipzig have claims”.
St. Pauli have a good record in opening day games, with the last defeat coming in 2007 against FC Cologne. Let’s hope that continues later today…