Bundesliga 2 – 2018/19 Season Preview – Part II

Bundesliga 2 – 2018/19 Season Preview – Part II

Bundesliga 2 – 2018/19 Season Preview – Part I
1.FC Kaiserslautern – The Long Demise of the Legendary Red Devils
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 II of our preview series will bring you everything you need to know about FC St. Pauli, SV Sandhausen, Darmstadt, FC Ingolstadt, Union Berlin and MSV Duisburg.

Bundesliga 2 – Team by team breakdown – Part II

MSV Duisburg

Last Season

Once a solid Bundesliga side in the 1960s, 70s, 80s and even into the 90s MSV Duisburg have fallen down the ladder in the recent decade. After spending about ten years bouncing between the Bundesliga and Bundesliga,own 2 financial problems hit the club Duisburg were relegated to the third division in 2012/13 what followed was an up and down between Liga 3 and Bundesliga 2. Duisburg were a promoted side last year but put in a solid season exceeding expectations the Zebras finished seventh in the league and were even in contention for promotion at one point.

Manager

Ilya Gruev has been in charge since 2015. Brought in at the time to prevent the drop from Bundesliga 2 to Liga 3 Gruev was not able to accomplish his mission. But the Bulgarian was allowed to repair the damage in Liga and led the club back to the second division by winning the Liga 3 championship. Back in the Bundesliga 2 Gruev has led Duisburg to the club’s best finish since the 2009/10 season.

Key Players

Left-winger Moritz Stoppelkamp is an experienced Bundesliga 2 player and will be asked to lead the side in the upcoming season. Also look out for Ukrainian striker Borys Tashchy, who managed 11 goals in 32 Bundesliga 2 games for Duisburg last season. Kevin Wolze and Christian Gartner are specialists for set-pieces a key element in Germany’s second division.

Moritz Stoppelkamp #33 of MSV Duisburg controls the ball during the Second Bundesliga match between MSV Duisburg and Fortuna Duesseldorf at Schauinsland-Reisen-Arena on March 11, 2018 in Duisburg, Germany. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Moritz Stoppelkamp #33 of MSV Duisburg controls the ball during the Second Bundesliga match between MSV Duisburg and Fortuna Duesseldorf at Schauinsland-Reisen-Arena on March 11, 2018 in Duisburg, Germany. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Predictions

Duisburg have improved their squad from last season and will once again compete for a single digit position in the league and may even challenge for a promotion/relegation playoff spot.

Union Berlin

Last Season

It was a somewhat disappointing season for Union Berlin. Just one year ago the club came close to reach a promotion/relegation playoff spot under then head coach Jens Keller. A slow start to the season meant that Keller was sacked in December and replaced by André Hofschneider. Under Hofschneider the club finished in the eighth spot but were part of the relegation battle until the second last day of the season.

Manager

Hofschneider was replaced this summer by the Swiss coach Urs Fischer. Fischer won the Swiss championship with FC Basel on two occasions (2016 and 2017) and is considered a progressive as well as demanding coach. Expect Fischer to utilize a 4-2-3-1 formation in which athleticism will be the key to success.

Key Players

Union Berlin have lost star Steven Skrzybski in the summer. New signings Manuel Schiedebach, Florian Hübner (both Hannover), Sebastian Andersson (Kaiserslautern) and keeper Rafael Gikiewicz (Freiburg) will all play prominent roles this season. Meanwhile, midfielder Felix Kroos, younger brother of Real Madrid star Toni Kroos, will lead the team as the captain.

Felix Kroos of Berlin gestures during the Bundesliga 2 match between 1. FC Union Berlin and 1. FC Kaiserslautern at Stadion An der Alten Foersterei on September 25, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Matthias Kern/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Felix Kroos of Berlin gestures during the Bundesliga 2 match between 1. FC Union Berlin and 1. FC Kaiserslautern at Stadion An der Alten Foersterei on September 25, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Matthias Kern/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Predictions

Union will once again finish in the top half of the table but are not strong enough to compete for promotion.

FC Ingolstadt

Last Season

Ingolstadt were back in Bundesliga 2 after spending two seasons in the Bundesliga. Die Schanzer played a solid role last season after sacking new coach Maik Walpurgis in August and replaced him with Stefan Leitl.

Manager

Stefan Leitl was put in charge last season and managed to stabilise the club after a slow start. At the club since 20007 Leitl is a respected personality at the club and unlike last season, where he took over the club after three matches, he was able to construct the squad in his image.

Key Players

Ingolstadt have signed players for the total sum of €6.15 million. Decent money for a second division club and the new signings include the likes of Brazilian defender Lucas Galvão, who was signed from Austrian side Rapid Wien. New signings Thorsten Röcher (Sturm Graz), Benedikt Gimber (Hoffenheim), Konstantin Kerschbaumer (Brentford), Agyemag Diawusie (RB Leipzig), Charlison Benschop (Hannover) and Osayamen Osawe (Kaiserslautern) will all be an important part of Ingolstadt’s rebuild. Also look out for Darío Lezcano. The Paraguayan has been linked with a move away from the club but will likely stick around for the opening of the season.

Dario Lezcano of Ingolstadt looks on during the Second Bundesliga match between SSV Jahn Regensburg and FC Ingolstadt 04 at Continental Arena on January 26, 2018 in Regensburg, Germany. (Photo by Sebastian Widmann/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Dario Lezcano of Ingolstadt looks on during the Second Bundesliga match between SSV Jahn Regensburg and FC Ingolstadt 04 at Continental Arena on January 26, 2018 in Regensburg, Germany. (Photo by Sebastian Widmann/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Predictions

Ingolstadt will finish in the top half of the table and could even be among the clubs fighting for promotion should either HSV or Köln get in trouble.

SV Darmstadt 98

Last Season

After being relegated from the Bundesliga Darmstadt had a tough start into the second division last season. Struggling against relegation Darmstadt fired Torsten Frings in December and replaced him with former head coach Dirk Schuster. Under Schuster, the club stabilised and managed a respectable tenth place finish.

Manager

Under Dirk Schuster Darmstadt once again looked like the side that managed promotion to the Bundesliga in the 2014/15 season. Schuster had left the club after the 2015/16 season joining FC Augsburg. It was a transfer that kicked up some dust and as a result it was somewhat surprising that Schuster was brought back to the club last winter. But it was a move that worked out as it is back to the future for die Lillien.

Key Players

Darmstadt are one of the structural weaker clubs in Germany’s top two flights and as a result are not a big spender. Hence, the players that were already part of last season’s squad will constitute the backbone of this season’s squad. Look out for American striker Terrence Boyd. A typical second division striker, who combines hard work ethics with speed and a nose for goals is a true Bundesliga 2 working class hero.

Christopher Avevor (L) of Pauli and Terrence Boyd (R) of Darmstadt compete for the ball during the Second Bundesliga match between FC St. Pauli and SV Darmstadt 98 at Millerntor Stadium on January 28, 2018 in Hamburg, Germany. (Photo by Oliver Hardt/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Christopher Avevor (L) of Pauli and Terrence Boyd (R) of Darmstadt compete for the ball during the Second Bundesliga match between FC St. Pauli and SV Darmstadt 98 at Millerntor Stadium on January 28, 2018 in Hamburg, Germany. (Photo by Oliver Hardt/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Predictions

Darmstadt have some work to do on the transfer market. Otherwise, the club will face another difficult season.

SV Sandhausen

Last Season

Sandhausen, located just south of Heidelberg, with a population of 14,000 is the smallest community represented in the two top flights when one excludes Hoffenheim, who play in Sinsheim. Promoted in 2012 the club have been the number one candidate to be relegated back to Liga 3 ever since. But Sandhausen will now go into their seventh season in a row after fighting off relegation once again last year.

Manager

Kenan Kocak has been in charge since July 2016. Although born in Turkey Kocak has been rooted in the region ever since joining SV Waldhof Mannheim as a youth player in 1999. Kocak works well with young players and likes to play attractive football.

Key Players

SV Sandhausen had the best defence among all second division clubs last season. Defender Tim Kister, however, has been out with an injury for several months and it will be interesting to see whether he will be able to regain his form quickly enough to once again shut the shop at the back. Also look out for Jesper Verlaat. The defender is the son of former Bundesliga star Frank Verlaat and was brought in to aid Sandhausen’s defence.

Tim Kister of Sandhausen and team mates celebrate after the Second Bundesliga match between 1. FC Kaiserslautern and SV Sandhausen at Fritz-Walter-Stadion on February 16, 2018 in Kaiserslautern, Germany. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Tim Kister of Sandhausen and team mates celebrate after the Second Bundesliga match between 1. FC Kaiserslautern and SV Sandhausen at Fritz-Walter-Stadion on February 16, 2018 in Kaiserslautern, Germany. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Predictions

Hop or top.  Sandhausen are a small club and if everything goes right will have nothing to do with relegation. At the same time, it is a small line for the likes of Darmstadt and a few key injuries and the club could end up relegated.

FC St. Pauli

Last Season

St. Pauli is one of the most legendary clubs in German football. The Millerntor-Stadion is known for its fantastic atmosphere. Despite all of that FC St. Pauli had a season to forget. The cult club fought against relegation for almost the entire season. The club fired head coach Olaf Janßen and replaced him with Markus Kauczinski in December. But even under Kauczinski, there was very little improvement in terms of results.

Manager

Despite the criticism, Markus Kauczinski was allowed to stay on. The head coach, however, will be closely watched as club officials expect an improvement from last season.

Key Players

Signed from 1860 München last summer midfielder Richard Neudecker is a fascinating midfield prospect. The 21-year-old is expected to become a solid Bundesliga player one day and is expected to make a big jump in his development this season.

Richard Neudecker of St. Pauli runs with the ball during the preseason friendly match between Buxtehuder SV and FC St. Pauli at on June 24, 2017 in Buxtehude, Germany. (Photo by Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Richard Neudecker of St. Pauli runs with the ball during the preseason friendly match between Buxtehuder SV and FC St. Pauli at on June 24, 2017 in Buxtehude, Germany. (Photo by Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Predictions

St. Pauli will have solid midfield finish.

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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