Bundesliga 2 – 2018/19 Season Preview – Part I

Bundesliga 2 – 2018/19 Season Preview – Part I

Nürnberg and Fortuna Düsseldorf – A symptom of unfair television distribution
Markus Anfang – Holstein Kiel’s Head Coach Profiled
Hwang Hee-Chan – Hamburg’s transfer coup scouted

Manuel Veth –

The 2018/19 Bundesliga 2 season kicks off in less than a week. One of the closest leagues in Europe the Bundesliga 2 offers the sort of drama that has been absent due to Bayern’s dominance in the German top flight. With Hamburger SV and Köln two giants will be playing in the division and with Magdeburg, a former UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup is coming up from Liga 3. Hence, once again Bundesliga 2 will be a close-fought division in which any club could be relegated or promoted.

Part I of our preview series will introduce the two newly promoted sides 1.FC Magdeburg and SC Paderborn as well as Erzgebirge Aue, Greuther Fürth, Dynamo Dresden and 1.FC Heidenheim.

Bundesliga 2 – Team by team breakdown – Part I

1.FC Magdeburg

Last Season

1.FC Magdeburg dominated Liga 3 last season. The club won 27 out of 38 games and recorded 85 points winning the league two points ahead of second-placed SC Paderborn. Magdeburg are one of most historic sides originating in the former German Democratic Republic. The club won the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in 1974, but after re-unification, the three-time DDR-Oberliga champions struggled to get a foothold in professional football. Placed in the third division after the fall of the wall the club never played above the third tier of German football but since 2015 has been on a steady upward trend, following a strict financial plan by management, to be promoted to the Bundesliga 2 finally.

Manager

Head coach Jens Härtel was hired in 2014 during a time in which the club still performed in the Regionalliga Nordost. Signed from RB Leipzig’s youth system, Härtel is a system coach, who likes to work with young players and at the same time plays attractive football preferring a 3-4-3 system with three true forwards.

Key Players

Look out for striker Christian Beck, who leads the lineup front. The likes of Michel Niemeyer and loanee Mërgim Berisha were brought throught the RB Leipzig academy. New signings also include former Aleksandar Ignjovski. The former 1860 München, Werder Bremen and SC Freiburg player brings plenty of experience and is still only 27.

Aleksandar Ignjovski of 1. FC Magdeburg poses during the team presentation at MDCC-Arena on July 23, 2018 in Magdeburg, Germany. (Photo by Ronny Hartmann/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Aleksandar Ignjovski of 1. FC Magdeburg poses during the team presentation at MDCC-Arena on July 23, 2018 in Magdeburg, Germany. (Photo by Ronny Hartmann/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Predictions

Magdeburg are a long-term project and medium-term want to compete for a spot in the Bundesliga. This year will be all about consolidating themselves in the second division.

SC Paderborn

Last Season

Paderborn are one of the most remarkable stories in German football. The club were relegated from the Bundesliga at the end of 2014/15 season finishing the league in 18th place. The following year the club were relegated once again after finishing the 2015/16 season in last place and then in 2016/17 the club should have been relegated from Liga 3. Only 1860’s drop from Bundesliga 2 to the Regionalliga Bayern saved Paderborn from relegation to amateur football. Then last season the club managed the big turnaround scoring 90 goals and collecting 83 points Paderborn finished 14 points ahead of Karlsruhe to win promotion and will now be back in Bundesliga 2.

Manager

Steffen Baumgart was signed in April 2017 to rescue the club from relegation. In the end, that mission was only achieved because of 1860’s drop to the Regionalliga. Baumgart, however, was allowed to continue and guided the club back to Bundesliga 2 playing the most attractive football in the entire division.

Key Players

Captain Christian Strohdiek is the rock in Paderborn’s foundation at the back. He will be joined by Uwe Hünemeier, who the club signed from Brighton & Hove Albion this summer. Marlon Ritter, signed from Fortuna Düsseldorf, and Bernard Tekpetey, brought in from Schalke, are two more players to watch this season.

Uwe Hünemeier is back in German football and will play for Paderborn in Bundesliga 2 this season (Photo by Thomas Starke/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Uwe Hünemeier is back in German football and will play for Paderborn in Bundesliga 2 this season (Photo by Thomas Starke/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Predictions

Bundesliga 2 is unpredictable and Paderborn’s momentum from last season could go a long way to establish the club back in Germany’s two top flights. But as a newly promoted team, Paderborn will also have to have an eye on the dropzone.

Erzgebirge Aue

Last Season

Erzgebirge Aue were in the relegation pack for most of the season. Even on points with Greuther Fürth Aue’s goal differential of -14, as opposed to Fürth’s goal differential of -11, meant that Aue, and not Fürth had to play in the relegation playoffs. There Aue drew Karlsruhe in the first leg and then managed a 3-1 victory in the second leg to stay in Bundesliga 2.

Manager

The 38-year-old Daniel Meyer replaced Hannes Drews, who kept Aue in the league, this summer. The 38-year-old Meyer is the latest young head coach to get a chance at Aue. Aue was also where current Schalke head coach Dominico Tedesco was given his first chance at coaching a professional club. The club now continues the tradition of appointing young coaches with little to no previous professional experience.

Key Players

The Russian-German striker Maximilian Pronichev has come in on loan from Hertha to replace Pascal Köpke, who is moving the other way to Hertha. Pronichev will be joined by the experienced Albert Bunjaku up front the Swiss-Kosovo-Albanian has plenty of German top flight experience, which could help Aue in the relegation battle.

Albert Bunjaku will be Erzgebirge's key player (Photo by Karina Hessland/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Albert Bunjaku will be Erzgebirge’s key player (Photo by Karina Hessland/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Predictions

Aue will once again fight against the drop.

Greuther Fürth

Last Season

Greuther Fürth were another side stuck in the relegation battle for much of the season. Replacing coaches twice, Janos Radoki was sacked in August and interims coach Mirko Dickhaut replaced by Damir Burić in September Fürth were only saved on the final day of the season thanks to a better goal differential.

Manager

Damir Burić came in an saved the club from relegation. The 54-year-old Croat had two difficult spells at Hajduk Split in Croatia and Admira Wacker in Austria. Expectations are that he needs to stabilise the club otherwise he is a candidate for an early dismissal.

Key Players

US national team player Julian Green has been signed full-time this season. Previously, on loan from VfB Stuttgart Green was Fürth’s best player last season and is finally getting first team minutes in German football. Fabian Reese, on loan from Schalke, is another player to watch. The striker is considered a bright talent and will be looking for first team minutes in the second division.

Julian Green is finally getting much needed playing time (Photo by Karina Hessland-Wissel/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Julian Green is finally getting much needed playing time (Photo by Karina Hessland-Wissel/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Predictions

Fürth will finish in the middle of the pack this season.

Dynamo Dresden

Last Season

Dynamo Dresden were among the teams that had to worry at the last day of the season. At the end, however, the club managed to stay in the league, which is a success given that the club has a history of going up and down between the second and third tiers of German football. A giant of East German football Dynamo Dresden last played in the Bundesliga in 1994/95 and medium-term the club would like to return to the top flight.

Manager

Despite being stuck in the relegation battle for most of the season, Dynamo stuck to their head coach Uwe Neuhaus throughout the season. The former Union Berlin coach will also be in charge going into this season highlighting that consistency is crucial in Dresden’s attempt to once again become a powerhouse of German football.

Key Players

Senegalese forward Moussa Koné looked like promising prospect when the Futbolgrad Network visited the club at the last day of the season in May. The 20-year-old striker has both the power and the technical ability to become a top striker in this league.

Moussa Kone of Dresden looks on during the Second Bundesliga match between SG Dynamo Dresden and 1.FC Union Berlin at DDV-Stadion on May 13, 2018 in Dresden, Germany. (Photo by Matthias Kern/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Moussa Kone of Dresden looks on during the Second Bundesliga match between SG Dynamo Dresden and 1.FC Union Berlin at DDV-Stadion on May 13, 2018 in Dresden, Germany. (Photo by Matthias Kern/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Predictions

Dresden will improve from last season and finish in the top half of the table.

1.FC Heidenheim

Last Season

Heidenheim continue to be one of the most consistent clubs in the second division. Head coach Frank Schmidt has been in charge since 2007 and guided the club to the second division at the end of the 2013/14 season. Since then Heidenheim have flirted with relegation at times without ever seriously threatened to go down. Last season was a good example of that with the club being listed among the potential teams that could go down but never having to truly worry about relegation.

Manager

Frank Schmidt already played for the club when 1.FC Heidenheim was still part of the Heidenheimer Sportbund in 2003. In 2007 the football association of the Sportbund founded 1.FC Heidenheim and became an independent club. Schmidt was appointed the club’s first coach and 11-years later is still in charge of the club.

Key Players

Like head coach Schmidt attacking-midfielder Marc Schnatterer is an institution at the club. Signed in the summer of 2008 from Karlsruhe’s reserve side the midfielder has been at the club for ten years and in 359 games has scored 106 goals and 106 assists for the club. Last year Schnatterer scored eight goals and 14 assists highlighting once again that he is the club’s most valuable player.

Marc Schnatterer of Heidenheim (r) celebrates his teams third goal during the Second Bundesliga match between 1. FC Heidenheim 1846 and Holstein Kiel at Voith-Arena on October 15, 2017 in Heidenheim, Germany. (Photo by Deniz Calagan/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Marc Schnatterer of Heidenheim (r) celebrates his teams third goal during the Second Bundesliga match between 1. FC Heidenheim 1846 and Holstein Kiel at Voith-Arena on October 15, 2017 in Heidenheim, Germany. (Photo by Deniz Calagan/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Predictions

Heidenheim will once again have a solid mid-table season.

Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others works for the Bundesliga and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada.  Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.

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