Bundesliga 2 – 2018/19 Season Preview – Part III

Bundesliga 2 – 2018/19 Season Preview – Part III

Holstein Kiel are out for revenge against 1860 München
Hamburg vs Eintracht Frankfurt – Bundesliga – Preview
Japanese Players in the Bundesliga – Examining the Success of Kagawa & Co.

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 III of our preview series will bring you everything you need to know about VfL Bochum, Jahn Regensburg, Arminia Bielefeld, Holstein Kiel, 1.FC Köln and Hamburger SV.

Bundesliga 2 – Team by team breakdown – Part III

Hamburger SV

Last Season

Last season was a disaster and ended in the club’s first ever relegation from the top flight. Despite starting the season on a high Hamburg were quickly sucked into the relegation battle and in January fired head coach Markus Gisdol. Gisdol was then replaced by Bernd Hollerbach, who in turn was sacked after just two months in charge of the club. Former youth coach Christian Tietz then came close in saving the club, but in the end, the club was relegated on the final day of the season.

Manager

Christian Tietz came close in resurrecting the club and keeping Hamburg’s run in the Bundesliga alive. Playing wonderful football Hamburger SV were within two points of achieving a miracle, and as a result, the 47-year-old Tietz was handed a new contract and will be in charge as Hamburg plot their course back to the Bundesliga.

Key Players

The likes of Lewis Holtby and Aaron Hunt quickly signed new contracts after the club was relegated. Both will be leading the club in the upcoming season. Meanwhile, youngsters Tatsuya Ito and Jann-Fiete Arp, who rejected a move to Bayern, will be one to watch as well. Furthermore, it will be interesting to see whether HSV can hang on to the likes of Filip Kostić and Kyriakos Papadopoulos. New Scottish signing David Bates (from Glasgow Rangers) will rekindle Hamburg’s UK connection and will add some much-needed stability at the back.

Lewis Holtby decided to stay in Hamburg after the club's relegation to Bundesliga 2 (Photo by Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Lewis Holtby decided to stay in Hamburg after the club’s relegation to Bundesliga 2 (Photo by Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Prediction

Overall, Hamburg have managed to keep the core of last season’s team and were able to add some interesting pieces on top of that. Tietz is a good manager, and Hamburg will go straight back up under his leadership.

1.FC Köln

Last Season

It was not supposed to be like this. At the end of the 2016/17 season, Köln were celebrating the return to European football. Head coach Peter Stöger and sporting director Jörg Schmadtke were the heroes of the city, but by December they were both gone as Köln failed to win a match until matchday 17 of the 2017/18 Bundesliga season. The club started the second half of the season with three wins bringing back some hope that the club could manage a miracle and stay in the top flight after all. But only two more wins from matchday 20 to matchday 34 under Stefan Ruthenbeck meant that the club would be relegated in a season that was supposed to be the club’s most memorable in history.

Manager

Markus Anfang has come in to replace Ruthenbeck this summer. Anfang is a native of Köln but played most of his Bundesliga football for Bayer Leverkusen. Nonetheless, he is an outspoken fan of the club and as a native to the city understands the club, and all its difficulties, all too well. Furthermore, Anfang proved that he can be successful in this league. Last season he guided newly promoted Holstein Kiel to a promotion playoff spot but lost to VfL Wolfsburg in the relegation playoffs.

Key Players

National team player Jonas Hector became the face of the club when he decided to renew his contract despite having an offer from Borussia Dortmund. The national team player was then joined by goalkeeper Timo Horn, who also renewed his contract ahead of the club’s relegation. The two will now try to guide Köln straight back to the Bundesliga. They are joined in their attempt by striker Jhon Córdoba. The Colombian forward was brought in to replace Anthony Modeste last summer but started the season with injury problems and never truly arrived at the club. A step back to the second division could help the forward to find his lost form.

National team player Jonas Hector renewed his contract in Köln despite the club's relegation (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

National team player Jonas Hector renewed his contract in Köln despite the club’s relegation (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Prediction

Köln will go straight back up.

Holstein Kiel

Last Season

Newly promoted from Liga 3 at the end of the 2016/17 season Holstein Kiel could not stop losing games. Guided by now Köln coach Anfang Kiel took the league by storm but towards the tail end somewhat drifted off and finished in third place. Wolfsburg in the relegation playoffs was then a step too far for the club. But Kiel is understood to be more of a long-term project anyhow and the dream of having Schleswig-Holstein, the only Bundesland in Germany to have never been represented in the top flight, to finally get a Bundesliga side lives on.

Manager

Tim Walter was signed from Bayern’s reserve side. The 42-year-old managed a respectable second place finish in the Regionalliga Bayern behind 1860 München last season. In fact, his young Bayern II side would have probably walked the league had it not been for 1860’s relegation from the second to the fourth division. Walter is a coach, who works well with young players and is also a project coach and, as a result, should fit in well at Holstein Kiel.

Key Players

A successful season meant that Kiel had to deal with several top players leaving the club. Top striker Marvin Ducksch left for Fortuna Düsseldorf, and Dominick Drexler would eventually end up with Köln, after a very brief stint in Denmark. In his stead, Kiel signed Jae-song Lee – the South Korean was part of South Korea’s sensational 2-0 victory over Germany at the World Cup. Also, watch out for the talented striker Janni Serra. The 20-year-old joins Kiel from Borussia Dortmund.

A World Cup star for Kiel. Lee is expected to become Holstein's new playmaker (Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP)

A World Cup star for Kiel. Lee is expected to become Holstein’s new playmaker (Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP)

Prediction

Holstein Kiel will have a season of consolidation ahead of them and finish in the middle of the table.

Arminia Bielefeld

Last Season

Armenia Bielefeld had a great season. The club finished the 2017/18 season in fourth place and even briefly flirted with promotion. Die Arminen, in fact, were by many considered a potential candidate for relegation ahead of the season but instead played a solid year in which they were never in trouble.

Manager

Head coach Jeff Saibene saved the club from relegation after taking over in March 2017. The 49-year-old then rebuild the side into a team that medium-term could compete for promotion to the Bundesliga.

Key Players

Fabian Klos is mister reliable up front. The 30-year-old is a typical Bundesliga 2 striker. Averaging a goal every 239 minutes Klos will once again lead the lineup front. Meanwhile, look out for Roberto Massimo. The 17-year-old Italo-German is considered one of the brightest talents in German football and will join VfB Stuttgart at the end of the season.

Fabian Klos (L) of Bielefeld and Gustav Valsvik of Braunschweig fight for the ball during the Second Bundesliga match between Eintracht Braunschweig and DSC Arminia Bielefeld at Eintracht Stadion on April 20, 2018 in Braunschweig, Germany. (Photo by Thomas Starke/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Fabian Klos (L) of Bielefeld and Gustav Valsvik of Braunschweig fight for the ball during the Second Bundesliga match between Eintracht Braunschweig and DSC Arminia Bielefeld at Eintracht Stadion on April 20, 2018 in Braunschweig, Germany. (Photo by Thomas Starke/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Prediction

Arminia have no aspirations to achieve promotion this season and instead are looking for a solid year in which they hope to finish on a single digit spot.

Jahn Regensburg

Last Season

Jahn Regensburg were promoted to the Bundesliga 2 after relegating 1860 München in the promotion/relegation playoffs at the end of the 2016/17 season. The club then lost head coach Heiko Herrlich – he moved to Bayer Leverkusen – but played a fantastic season under Achim Beierlorzer, finishing fifth.

Manager

After years of working for RB Leipzig, where he was an interims-coach at one point and also acted as Ralf Rangnick’s assistant, Achim Beierlorzer was appointed head coach last summer. Beierlorzer then had the thankless task of following Heiko Herrlich and managed the challenge without a problem. Regensburg have always been a troubled club and only now, slowly but surely, are rebuilding their accord with their fan base. This is too large parts thanks to Beierlorzer. The head coach is intelligent and direct in his conversations with the media. Furthermore, he has played a team that plays attractive football.

Key Players

Defensive midfielder Andreas Geipl was once considered a bright prospect in 1860’s academy. But instead of a promising Bundesliga career, Geipl struggled to make the next step for many years. Now at Jahn, he is one of the leaders in midfield and a key player for the club.

Andreas Geipl of Jahn Regensburg poses during the team presentation at Continental Arena on July 17, 2018 in Regensburg, Germany. (Photo by Sebastian Widmann/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Andreas Geipl of Jahn Regensburg poses during the team presentation at Continental Arena on July 17, 2018 in Regensburg, Germany. (Photo by Sebastian Widmann/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Prediction

Jahn Regensburg will not finish fifth again. But at the same time, the Bavarians will also have nothing to do with relegation and finish mid-table.

VfL Bochum

Last Season

VfL Bochum had a chaotic season in which the club briefly could dream of promotion. Hiring promising head coach Ismail Atalan in the summer, the coach was sacked in October as the club’s decision makers were not convinced that he was the right person for the job. Atalan was then replaced by Jens Rasiejewski, who in turn was fired in February, briefly replaced by Heiko Butscher, and then the club was taken over by Robin Dutt. Dutt then guided the club to a sixth-place finish.

Manager

Robin Dutt was like a win in the lottery for the club. Calm and collected the 53-year-old stabilised the club last season and also tactically advanced the side. Under Dutt, Bochum played both 4-2-3-1 and 4-4-2 and were pleasing to watch at times.

Key Players

Former Bundesliga, and national team, star Sidney Sam has finally gotten his career back on track in Bochum. The fas winger will be among the players to guide Bochum’s attacking line. Also, watch out for Sebastian Maier. The midfielder is another 1860 academy prospect but struggled to make a name for himself at Hannover 96. Bundesliga 2 football could now rekindle his career. Finally, Milos Pantović joins Bochum from Bayern II, and the winger was one the best players in the Regionalliga Bayern last season and should be ready to make the jump to professional football this season.

Sidney Sam of Bochum issues instructions during the Bundesliga 2 match between VfL Bochum 1848 and SV Darmstadt 98 at Vonovia Ruhrstadion on February 9, 2018 in Bochum, Germany.The match between Bochum and Darmstadt ended 2-1. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Sidney Sam of Bochum issues instructions during the Bundesliga 2 match between VfL Bochum 1848 and SV Darmstadt 98 at Vonovia Ruhrstadion on February 9, 2018 in Bochum, Germany.The match between Bochum and Darmstadt ended 2-1. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Prediction

Bochum could be among the sides that could surprise this season. A promotion push is possible should Köln or Hamburg struggle.

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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