Matchday 23 Preview.

Last weekend was a good weekend for St Pauli. 3 points at Duisburg were secured, whilst Fortuna Dusseldorf lost at 1860 Munich and Paderborn and Furth could only pick up a point each in their respective games. The only disappointment was that Eintracht Frankfurt picked up a resounding 6-1 victory against rivals FSV Frankfurt. You can’t have it all, i suppose.

1860 Munich have thrown their names into the promotion hat too, with the impressive victory over Dusseldorf. 1860 now sit 8 points behind leaders Eintracht Frankfurt, but have a game in hand. They are the form team in the 2.Bundesliga, having picked up 6 wins and 1 draw in their last 7 games – including victories against both Eintracht Frankfurt and Fortuna Dusseldorf.  The table now looks like this:

1) Eintracht Frankfurt – 46 points

2) St Pauli – 45 points

3) Greuther Furth – 44 points

4) Fortuna Dusseldorf – 44 points

5) Paderborn – 43 points

6) 1860 Munich – 38 points (game in hand)

So here’s a run down of the fixtures for this weekend.

The main game of the weekend is undoubtedly the Sunday afternoon fixture between Paderborn and Eintracht Frankfurt. It was 0-0 when these two sides met back in August, and it has all the makings of another close encounter. Eintracht Frankfurt are the joint best away side in the division (along with Paderborn), and confidence will be high after the hammering of FSV Frankfurt last weekend. Paderborn in contrast have struggled in recent weeks, losing 5-1 to Furth and then needing a last gasp equaliser to snatch a point at home to Dynamo Dresden last weekend.

Elsewhere, the rest of the top 6 have games that their fans will expect them to win – but they face decent opposition. St Pauli will host Eintracht Braunschweig, who were early season leaders of the 2.Bundesliga but now find themselves in 8th place. Braunschweig haven’t won in 5, and have struggled against the ‘weaker’ sides in the division – only managing draws against Aue and Karlsruhe in their last two games.  They are particularly struggling in front of goal, and have only scored 3 in their last 5.  When the sides met earlier in the season, Braunschweig won 1-0 in what was one of the poorest St Pauli performances of the season but with a home crowd behind them – St Pauli should be expecting to pick up three points.

On Friday evening, 1860 Munich face a challenging trip to Union Berlin. As mentioned earlier, 1860 are unbeaten in 7 and they face an indifferent Union Berlin side who sit one place behind them in 7th. Union Berlin are usually very good at home however, having won 8 of their 11 home games this season. They have the joint best defensive record at home too, only conceding 8 goals in those 11 games. The problem for Union Berlin is there away form – with only 2 wins from 11 away fixtures. It will be a difficult fixture for 1860, but if they are to continue their push towards the promotion places they’ll need at pick up a point at the very minimum, particularly as their next fixture after this weekend will be a home tie against St Pauli.

At one stage in the season, Fortuna Dusseldorf looked like they were nailed on for promotion. But their promotion challenge has halted in recent weeks, they are now 5 without a win. Granted, those points were dropped against the likes of Paderborn, Eintracht Frankfurt and 1860 Munich – and the other two were difficult away games at Ingolstadt and Bochum. The coming weeks though will provide Dusseldorf with a chance to regain their confidence – with four winnable fixtures against sides struggling in the lower regions of the table, starting with a home tie against Aachen, followed by Karlsruhe, Aue and Cottbus. It’s foreseeable that they could pick up 12 points from those 4 games. Stats can be deceiving and misinterpreted – and Aachen’s form is a case in point. They are unbeaten in 7, but at the same time they’ve only picked up 11 points from those 7 games – with 2 wins and 5 draws. They have drawn 50% of their games this season. Most importantly however, they have only won once away from home all season. So, take those stats and make of them what you will! This game is the Monday evening game.

The final game to preview featuring the top 6 sees Greuther Furth host Bochum. Bochum have been impressive in the past month or two, and have picked up 10 points from their past 5 games. Their only defeat in this run was the 2-1 away defeat to St Pauli. However Furth have the best home record in the division, with 9 wins from 11, scoring an impressive 30 goals in those 11 games! 17 of these goals have come in their last 4 home games, including the 5-1 hammering of Paderborn. Furth will be expected to defeat Bochum on Saturday.

Elsewhere in the division, Friday evening sees rock bottom Hansa Rostock host Ingolstadt, and Dynamo Dresden host Duisburg. Rostock have only 2 wins all season, and Ingolstadt have drawn their last 4 games. Dresden have had a decent season and sit in 10th, and play a Duisburg side who have lost their last 3 games.

On Saturday, Cottbus – without a win in 7, with face Aue – without a win in 6. Cottbus have only 2 home games, Aue have only 2 away wins. The reverse fixture was 0-0 in August, so i wouldn’t be surprised to see the same scoreline again!

On Sunday two other relegation battlers face off against each other. FSV Frankfurt – who remarkably haven’t won a home game all season (but have 7 draws from 11 home games) face Karlsruhe who have 1 win and 2 draws from 11 away games. Karlsruhe have had a miny rivival though in recent weeks – beating fellow strugglers Aue and Cottbus, and getting a decent point away in Braunschweig.

So the weekend will all be about those who take their oppurtunities. Enjoy – and if you fancy watching the St Pauli game, we’ll be showing a stream in ‘The Well’ in Leeds from 4.30pm on Sunday. Forza!