After a ton of football, we’ve had a chance for a breather following the English week (for the uninitiated – a German term for when football is played in midweek), a chance to reflect on where we are in the 2. Bundesliga.
In truth, the last week of games hasn’t really settled much in the grand picture, and with five matches left to go in the season, everything remains up for grabs. Although it does seem increasingly likely that Arminia Bielefeld will fill one of the promotion places.
Here’s a few talking points from the games just gone.
Shock in the Hamburg goal
The shock of matchday 29 was not a result, but rather a team selection. Dieter Hecking’s decision to recall Julian Pollersbeck to the Hamburger SV team against SV Wehen Wiesbaden came completely out of the blue.
The former Germany Under-21 goalkeeper was demoted to number three, behind Daniel Heuer Fernandes and Tom Mickel, at the start of the season for apparent performance issues. Although they had been positive words from the coach in recent months, there was no indication he would suddenly be back in goal, or that Heuer Fernandes would drop out of the squad entirely.
It comes after increasing doubts over the former SV Darmstadt 98 keeper, who has impressed in patches but hasn’t been convincing at all times this season. Form doesn’t appear to be the reason he was left out though. “Daniel Heuer Fernandes has had three really tough games from a mental point of view,” according to the Hamburg coach. “He got a day off because I need freshness.”
He also cited the last-minute goal against Stuttgart. “We were disappointed with the late goal,” he explained, suggesting Heuer Fernandes had appeared “mentally tired and not there as you would like him to be.”
Wait. WHO just scored?
There have of course been a couple of unlikely heroes in the past week. Starting off, Dennis Diekmeier scored the only goal for SV Sandhausen last week against Wiesbaden. It was his first professional goal, and his first goal at any level since scoring against VfL Wolfsburg II for Hamburger SV II in September 2010.
Another long-awaited goal came on Saturday. The much-derided Sven Schipplock (pictured above) has had to wait just over three years to hit the back of the net. On that occasion, it was a 2-2 draw with Borussia Mönchengladbach when he was playing for Darmstadt. He has been blighted by injuries since then, but his winner against Holstein Kiel was a big step towards Bielefeld’s likely promotion.
Schäffler the man for big goals
In the realm of less surprising goalscorers, there’s a new king un the goal-scoring charts after this weekend’s games. Fabian Klos has been dethroned, having gone two games without a goal, with Wiesbaden’s Manuel Schäffler now a goal ahead after his double against Hamburg.
It’s been clear for most of the season that Wehen are dependent on the 31-year-old’s goals, having won just twice without him contributing all season. The fact he wasn’t fully fit at the start of the season can’t have helped during the team’s awful start.
He showed on Sunday that he is also a man for the big occasion. He contributed to both victorires after VfB Stuttgart, and had them on course to beat Hamburg with his brace as well. One dare says though that he would happily exchange those goals for survival in the club’s relegation battle. They certainly need him to add to his tally of 18, starting against Dynamo Dresden next weekend.
Going back to matchday 27, FC St. Pauli made history by becoming the first team to ever make a quadruple substitution in a competitive match. They were 1-0 down to Darmstadt at that point, and Jos Luhkuay was perhaps putting right some poor calls in his starting line-up. The changes didn’t work. They lost 4-0.
It is interesting to see how managers make use of the extra two changes they can make. Some are more than happy just to make three or four still, whilst others will use the full qutoa. It’s allowed a few youngsters to get on for minutes that they may not have had, as well as other players who haven’t had much game time.
The debate is beginning over whether the rule should remain even after the current circumstances change. They aren’t necessarily disrupting the game, but the multiple changes can disrupt a team’s rhythm, and the bigger clubs are likely to benefit more.
Black Lives Matter
It feels amiss not to mention what is happening in the US at the moment, even if there were no noticeable protests or statements in the 2. Bundesliga like there were in the Bundesliga.
Racism may not be a major problem in the league but that’s not to say it isn’t is. Is it really a coincidence, for example, that there is only one black manager in the top two divisions of German football – namely VfL Osnabrück‘s Daniel Thioune (pictured above)?
It is possible that there will be some sort of statement from 2. Liga players this coming weekend. Let’s hope the DFB/DFL see sense and don’t enact any punishments, as this would send an awful message given football’s constant attempts to kick racism out of football.