Liga 3 – The Full 2018/19 Season Preview

Liga 3 – The Full 2018/19 Season Preview

Regionalliga – The Need to Reform Germany’s Fourth Division
1860 München vs Bayern II – Münchner Derby Preview
Kaiserslautern look to upset the apple-cart against Hoffenheim

Manuel Veth –

Liga 3, or die Dritte Liga in German will kick off this weekend. Introduced in 2008 Germany’s third division was originally supposed to be called 3. Bundesliga. But because the competition is directly administered by the DFB, the German football association, rather than the DFL, the body that runs Bundesliga 1 and 2, league officials quickly settled for 3. Liga rather than Bundesliga 3.

Previously, Germany’s third division had been subdivided into regional divisions, Regionalligen. Those Regionalligen now make up the fourth division of German football.

Clubs and fans have not universally loved Liga 3. Spread out over all of Germany many clubs struggled with the extra travel cost and the league has operated at a net until finally making a profit in 2013/14.

At the same, time while there has been talk about re-introducing regional leagues in place of the Liga 3 over the last few years, the competition has become more stable and is now considered a strong foundation below the two top divisions.

This year, in fact, might be the most attractive Liga 3 season yet. Advertised as the best Liga 3 of all time the competition this year includes former Bundesliga mainstays Kaiserslautern, Eintracht Braunschweig, both relegated from Bundesliga 2, Hansa Rostock, Karlsruhe SC, who have found a more permanent home in the third division and newly promoted 1860 München, KFC Uerdingen and Energie Cottbus, all promoted from the Regionalliga.

Those big traditional clubs are joined by Fortuna Köln, SpVgg Unterhaching, and Preußen Münster, who have all featured in the Bundesliga in the past. Furthermore, Hallescher FC, FSV Zwickau and Carl Zeiss Jena are clubs that bring plenty of DDR-Oberliga history to the competition.

With all this in mind, Liga 3 might be even more interesting than Bundesliga 2 and it is no surprise that Kaiserslautern’s opening match against 1860 will have in excess of 40,000 visitors to open the season.

Well without further ado here is our team-to-team breakdown of the 2018/19 Liga 3 season.

Liga 3 – 2018/19 Preview

Eintracht Braunschweig

Last Season

It was a big drop for Eintracht Braunschweig. In the spring of 2017, Eintracht were playing local rival VfL Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga relegation playoffs. Narrowly beaten Braunschweig then struggled all last season and were then relegated to the third division despite starting the season with promotion aspirations.

Manager

The drop was a watershed moment for the club and meant the end of long-serving head coach Thorsten Lieberknecht. Lieberknecht had been a coach since 2008 and a player since 2003. But following the club’s relegation Lieberknecht was fired and replaced with the Danish coach Henrik Pedersen. Pedersen has never worked as a head coach in Germany before and was last working as an assistant at Union Berlin under Jens Keller.

Key Players

The club went separate ways with 18 players and brought in 19 new players, including players from the youth team and reserve side. It will be interesting to watch young players like the Wolfsburg loanee Yari Otto and Ivan Franjic, signed from Germania Halberstadt perform in this side. But overall, it will be the players from the second division that remained with the club that will carry the club. Look out for winger Onur Bulut and striker Christoffer Nyman to provide leadership.

nur Bulut of Braunschweig during the Second Bundesliga match between Eintracht Braunschweig and 1. FC Kaiserslautern at Eintracht Stadion on February 4, 2018 in Braunschweig, Germany. (Photo by Joachim Sielski/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Onur Bulut of Braunschweig during the Second Bundesliga match between Eintracht Braunschweig and 1. FC Kaiserslautern at Eintracht Stadion on February 4, 2018 in Braunschweig, Germany. (Photo by Joachim Sielski/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Prediction

Braunschweig will compete for a promotion spot.

Kaiserslautern

Last Season

Last season was a disaster for Kaiserslautern. The once proud club, home of large portion of the 1954 World Cup winning side, were relegated to Germany’s third division for the first time in the club’s history. A four-time German champion Kaiserslautern were one of the founding members of the Bundesliga and were never relegated before the 1995/96 season. They quickly recovered from that disaster by not only winning straight promotion back to the Bundesliga but also win the Bundesliga title in their first year back in the Bundesliga in 1997/98. Since then, however, the club, located in one of the weakest areas in Germany, in terms of infrastructure and industry, has struggled and slowly declined before finally being dropped down into the third division last season.

Manager

Michael Frontzeck will now be in charge of picking up the pieces in Kaiserslautern. The 54-year-old took over in February 2018 and was not able to avoid the drop to the third division. Previous jobs with Mönchengladbach, St. Pauli and Hannover 96 suggest that Frontzeck is a talented coach. At the same time he never lasted longer than a full season and with Kaiserslautern under pressure to go straight back up will face a difficult task at the club.

Key Players

Not surprising there has been a big change-over from last season’s squad to this season’s squad. Kaiserslautern had 29 new arrivals, including loaned out players and lost 22 players. Frontzeck will, therefore, have to form a completely new squad. Watch out for Liga 3 experienced players like the Canadian defender Andre Hainault, signed from Magdeburg, and new captain Florian Dick to take over leadership. Interesting players to watch include the Lithuanian-German Lukas Spalvis, who already spent last season on loan from Sporting Lisbon with the club, and was now signed on a permanent transfer.

Andre Hainault of Kaiserslautern poses during the team presentation on July 19, 2018 in Kaiserslautern, Germany. (Photo by Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Andre Hainault of Kaiserslautern poses during the team presentation on July 19, 2018 in Kaiserslautern, Germany. (Photo by Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Prediction

Kaiserslautern will go straight back up to Bundesliga 2.

Karlsruher SC

Last Season

Karlsruhe finished third in Liga 3 last season and as a result, had to play Erzgebirge Aue in the promotion playoffs. After a 0-0 draw in the first-leg, Karlsruhe lost the second leg 1-3 and will, therefore, have to make another run at promotion this season. A former Bundesliga giant Karlsruhe have last featured in the top flight in 2009 and for the first time in the club’s history will now spend two continues seasons in the Regionalliga.

Manager

Alois Schwartz oversaw Karlsruhe’s third-place finish last season. The 51-year-old head coach has previously worked at Erfurt, Sandhausen and Nürnberg. An experienced coach Schwartz has his sides play pragmatic football, which is highlighted by, the fact, that Karlsruhe had the best defence of all teams in Liga 3 last season.

Key Players

With the club coming close to achieve promotion last season the club ended up making some key signings that should improve the squad. At the same time, top striker Fabian Schleusener left the club for Sandhausen this summer. As a result, much of the attacking play will be concentrated on the experienced Anton Fink, who was the club’s second best striker last year. Also look out for Marvin Pourié. The 27-year-old was once considered among the most talented strikers in Germany but failed to manage a breakthrough. In Karlsruhe, however, he finally seems to have found a permanent home.

Anton Fink of Karlsruher SC looks on during the Liga 3 match between 1. FC Magdeburg and Karlsruher SC at MDCC-Arena on April 7, 2018 in Magdeburg, Germany. (Photo by Ronny Hartmann/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Anton Fink of Karlsruher SC looks on during the Liga 3 match between 1. FC Magdeburg and Karlsruher SC at MDCC-Arena on April 7, 2018 in Magdeburg, Germany. (Photo by Ronny Hartmann/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Prediction

Karlsruhe will once again compete for a promotion spot.

Wehen Wiesbaden

Last Season

SV Wehen Wiesbaden came within one point of third place last season. With 68 points in 38 games, in fact, Wehen Wiesbaden were perhaps a bit unlucky to not finish further up the table. But the dominance of Magdeburg and Paderborn meant that there was a large gap between the top two and the clubs following the promoted sides. Wehen Wiesbaden were among the pack of teams competing for the promotion playoff spot for most of the season and scored even more goals than champion Magdeburg (76 vs 70 goals).

Manager

Manager Rüdiger Rehm never was a top player. Instead, the 40-year-old spent most of his playing career playing for third and second division sides all over Germany. He then began his coaching career ten years ago at SG Sonnenhof Großaspach. Rehm took over Wehen Wiesbaden last summer and is playing some attractive football.

Key Players

Wehen Wiesbaden had a relatively small turnover throughout the summer and should once again have a very competitive squad. Look out for striker Manuel Schäffler, who scored 22 goals and seven assists in 36 games last season.

Manuel Schaeffler of Wiesbaden scores his second goal during the 3. Liga match between SV Wehen Wiesbaden and FSV Zwickau at Brita-Arena on April 28, 2018 in Wiesbaden, Germany. (Photo by Thomas Niedermueller/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Manuel Schaeffler of Wiesbaden scores his second goal during the 3. Liga match between SV Wehen Wiesbaden and FSV Zwickau at Brita-Arena on April 28, 2018 in Wiesbaden, Germany. (Photo by Thomas Niedermueller/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Prediction

Wehen Wiesbaden will once again compete in the upper half of the table.

Würzburger Kicker

Last Season

Relegated from Bundesliga 2 the previous season Würzburg’s goal was to consolidate in Liga 3. The club achieved that mission by finishing fifth and even flirted with promotion for long parts of the season before dropping off at the tail end of the season.

Manager

The Red Shorts are managed by Michael Schiele, who had the tough job to consolidate the club after successful head coach Bernd Hollerbach left Würzburg last summer. Würzburg is Schiele’s first job as a head coach and a fifth-place finish will look good on his resume as he looks to further consolidate the club.

Key Players

Würzburg had a large turnover in the summer adding 10 new players to the squad. Schiele will now be tasked to form all the new players into a cohesive unit. Look out for Swiss striker Orhan Ademi, who was the club’s best striker last season. Captain Sebastian Schuppan, in the meantime, will bring both defensive stability and leadership.

Sebastian Schuppan of Wuerzburg (R) is challenged by Marcel Hilssner of Rostock during the 3. Liga match between FC Wuerzburger Kickers and F.C. Hansa Rostock at Flyeralarm-Arena on August 20, 2017 in Wuerzburg, Germany. (Photo by Daniel Kopatsch/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Sebastian Schuppan of Wuerzburg (R) is challenged by Marcel Hilssner of Rostock during the 3. Liga match between FC Wuerzburger Kickers and F.C. Hansa Rostock at Flyeralarm-Arena on August 20, 2017 in Wuerzburg, Germany. (Photo by Daniel Kopatsch/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Prediction

Würzburg will finish mid-table.

Hansa Rostock

Last Season

For many years Hansa Rostock were the positive example of East German football. A mainstay in the Bundesliga in the 1990s the club, however, run into trouble after renovating their stadium and has competed in the third division since the 2012/13 season. Furthermore, Hansa struggled to make ends meet in Liga 3, as well and came close to relegation a few times. Last season was the club’s best finish since going down in 2012 and there is now hope that the club can consolidate and slowly but surely climb back up the ladder.

Manager

Bulgarian head coach Pavel Dochev is a well-known figure in German football. A typical lower league coach Dochev has worked successfully in Bundesliga 2 and Liga 3. Taking over Rostock last summer he is now in charge of getting Rostock back to Bundesliga football.

Key Players

Former 1860 München and Karlsruher SC defender Kai Bülow is a new arrival at the club. Originally, brought through Hansa’s academy Bülow was born in Rostock and now has returned home to see out his professional career. Also look out for Wolfsburg loanee Anton Donkor. The 20-year-old forward will provide some much needed attacking flair.

Kai Bülow joins Rostock from Karlsruher SC (Photo by Andreas Schlichter/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Kai Bülow joins Rostock from Karlsruher SC (Photo by Andreas Schlichter/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Prediction

With an experienced squad and a head coach, who knows how to build a winner in lower division football, expect Rostock to compete for a promotion playoff spot.

SV Meppen

Last Season

For many years SV Meppen have been a synonym with Bundesliga 2 football. In 1998 the club, however, was relegated from Bundesliga 2 and fell down the league ladder all the way to the fifth division. Promoted back into professional football at the end of the 2016/17 season Meppen played a surprisingly good role in Liga 3 last year by finishing seventh.

Manager

Head coach Christian Neidhart has been in charge of the club since 2013 and oversaw Meppen’s mini-revival and return to professional football. The 49-year-old played mostly in Germany’s lower division and then worked as a head coach for Willhelmshaven before joining Meppen.

Key Players

Meppen are all about consistency. The club signed just nine new players, which is a small makeover in comparison to most other sides in the league and will mostly rely on the players that led the club last season. However, with the likes of top striker Benjamin Girth leaving the club, he moved on to Holstein Kiel, Meppen had to sign three new strikers in Deniz Undav (Braunschweig), Max Wegner (Lotte) and also brought up Sven Goldschmidt through the youth ranks. The rest of the squad is relatively unchanged and will be led by captain, and playmaker, Martin Wagner.

Benjamin Girth of Meppen celebrates the first goal during the 3. Liga match between SV Meppen and Chemnitzer FC at Haensch Arena on November 4, 2017 in Meppen, Germany. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Benjamin Girth of Meppen celebrates the first goal during the 3. Liga match between SV Meppen and Chemnitzer FC at Haensch Arena on November 4, 2017 in Meppen, Germany. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Prediction

Meppen overperformed last season and the loss of Girth will be hard to compensate. The club could, therefore, end up fighting against relegation.

Fortuna Köln

Last Season

Fortuna Köln are another club that was once synonymous with second division football. Dropping down all the way to the fifth division Fortuna even had to declare insolvency in 2005. Since then the club has been slowly revitalised and since returning to professional football has become a typical Liga 3 mid-table club. Last season Fortuna played a solid season and were never threatened by relegation.

Manager

Uwe Koschinat is the father of Fortuna’s revival. Head coach since 2011 Koschinat has been in charge of 262 games winning 117 of them for a win percentage of 44.66%. The 46-year-old has never worked as a head coach at another club and is the symbol for a new found stability at Köln’s second club.

Key Players

Fitting to Fortuna’s stability the club also made very few changes in the offseason. Perhaps the most significant signing is Moritz Hartmann. The striker was signed from Ingolstadt and is supposed to lead Fortuna Köln’s attack this season.

Moritz Hartmann poses during the team presentation of Fortuna Koeln at Suedstadion on July 3, 2018 in Cologne, Germany. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Moritz Hartmann poses during the team presentation of Fortuna Koeln at Suedstadion on July 3, 2018 in Cologne, Germany. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Prediction

Another mid-table finish awaits.

SpVgg Unterhaching

Last Season

Munich’s third club after Bayern München and 1860 München was briefly the second biggest club in Bavaria’s capital – at least for one season. Promoted to Liga 3 ahead of last season Unterhaching, located just on the outskirts of Munich, played a good role in Liga 3 and a ninth-place finish was considered a major success. Run by chairman, and former 1860 captain, Manfred Schwabl, Unterhaching once played in the Bundesliga where the club had fierce derbies against the two other Munich based clubs. This year Munich can be excited about the revival of the small Munich derby between the Spielvereinigung and 1860.

Manager

Claus Schromm guided Unterhaching back from the Regionalliga to professional Liga 3. Schromm previously worked at SV Heimstetten, another club at the outskirts of Munich, and is known for working well with young players that failed to make an impression at the academies of 1860 and Bayern.

Key Players

Striker Stephan Hain led the charge for Unterhaching last season. Also look out for new signing Lucas Hufnagel. The Georgian national team player was signed from Bundesliga side SC Freiburg and as a playmaker is supposed to string together the midfield.

Stefan Wannenwetsch of Hansa Rostock and Stephan Hain of Unterhaching compete for the ball during the 3. Liga match between SpVgg Unterhaching and F.C. Hansa Rostock at Alpenbauer Sportpark on October 27, 2017 in Unterhaching, Germany. (Photo by Sebastian Widmann/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Stefan Wannenwetsch of Hansa Rostock and Stephan Hain of Unterhaching compete for the ball during the 3. Liga match between SpVgg Unterhaching and F.C. Hansa Rostock at Alpenbauer Sportpark on October 27, 2017 in Unterhaching, Germany. (Photo by Sebastian Widmann/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Prediction

Another mid-table finish awaits for Unterhaching fans.

Preußen Münster

Last Season

Preußen Münster were a founding member of the Bundesliga. These days, however, they are a stable Liga 3 side with plenty of ambitions. Preußen have ambitions to medium term return to at least Bundesliga 2. Hence, last season was considered another stepping stone towards returning Preußen to its former glory.

Manager

Head coach Marco Antwerpen joined Preußen last December. It was a transfer that came with a lot of noise as Antwerpen broke his contract at Viktoria Köln to join the Liga 3 side. Considered a talented coach Antwerpen is now under the spotlight to form an attractive team in Münster, which sooner, rather than later, can compete for promotion.

Key Players

Preußen’s ambitions are reflected in the squad. The club made several key signings this summer among them the talented Azeri striker Rufat Dadashov (Dynamo Berlin) and Kevin Rodrigues Pires (SF Lotte).

Rufat Dadashov poses during the Team Presentation of Preussen Muenster at Preussenstadion on July 20, 2018 in Muenster, Germany. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Rufat Dadashov poses during the Team Presentation of Preussen Muenster at Preussenstadion on July 20, 2018 in Muenster, Germany. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Prediction

Münster will compete for a spot in the top-half of the table.

Carl Zeiss Jena

Last Season

Carl Zeiss Jena are another traditional club in German football. Once a finalist in the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, where they were beaten by Dinamo Tbilisi in 1981, Jena are now a decent Liga 3 side that medium-term wants to compete for a spot in Bundesliga 2. Finishing eleventh last season, Jena were never in danger of relegation while at the same time never seriously threatening the top of the table either.

Manager

Marc Zimmermann has worked for Jena in one capacity or another since 2008. Working his way up from assistant coach to the head coach position Zimmermann was placed in charge of the first team in July 2016. Winning 51.81% of his games Zimmermann oversaw Jena’s promotion from the fourth division to Liga 3 in 2016/17 and then guided the club to quick safety last season.

Key Players

Jena are largely dependent by the investments made by the Belgian investor Roland Duchâtelet. Through him, Jena are able to put together a competitive squad that could turn some heads next season. Look out for French winger Fabien Tchenkoua, who was signed from Bourg-en-Bresse Péronnas, as well as New Zealand playmaker Logan Rogerson signed from Wellington Phoenix.

Fabien Mouko Tchenkoua of Jena poses during the Team Presentation of FC Carl Zeiss Jena at Ernst-Abbe Sportfeld on July 24, 2018 in Jena, Germany. (Photo by Karina Hessland/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Fabien Mouko Tchenkoua of Jena poses during the Team Presentation of FC Carl Zeiss Jena at Ernst-Abbe Sportfeld on July 24, 2018 in Jena, Germany. (Photo by Karina Hessland/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Prediction

Carl Zeiss Jena will once again finish in the middle of the Liga 3 pack.

VfR Aalen

Last Season

VfR Aalen are a typical Liga 3 side and have spent most of their existence in the third division. Founded in 1921 the club from Baden-Württemberg finished in 12th spot last season and had a solid year.

Manager

Argirios Giannikis replaced long-serving head coach Christian Vollmann this summer. Previously, a head coach at RW Essen and an assistant at FC Ingolstadt this wil be Giannikis’ first season as a head coach in German professional football.

Key Players

Defender Marian Sarr was once considered the brightest centre-back talent in German football. Jürgen Klopp even fielded the now 23-year-old in a Champions League match during the 2013/14 season. Since then Sarr, however, has struggled to make a mark in professional football and after a stint with Wolfsburg is now looking to revitalise his career in Aalen.

Marian Sarr is looking revitalise his career at VfR Aalen (Photo by Thomas Niedermueller/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Marian Sarr is looking revitalise his career at VfR Aalen (Photo by Thomas Niedermueller/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Prediction

Aalen will have to keep an eye on the drop-zone.

Hallescher FC

Last Season

Hallescher FC is one of five former DDR-Oberliga clubs in Liga 3. Founded in 1966 Halle have now been a stable member of the third division since achieving promotion from the Regionalliga Nord in 2012. Last season was no different with the club neither flirting with promotion or relegation.

Manager

Torsten Ziegner took over from Rico Schmitt this summer. Ziegner previously coached FSV Zwickau were he averaged 1.7 points in 213 games but was fired in April as Zwickau were fighting against relegation.

Key Players

Striker Mathias Fetsch will be one to watch. The 29-year-old has plenty of Liga 3 experience and will be expected to lead this side in what could be a difficult season.

Mathias Fetsch of Halle reacts during the 3. Liga match between Chemnitzer FC and Hallescher FC at community4you ARENA on March 11, 2018 in Chemnitz, Germany. (Photo by Thomas Eisenhuth/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Mathias Fetsch of Halle reacts during the 3. Liga match between Chemnitzer FC and Hallescher FC at community4you ARENA on March 11, 2018 in Chemnitz, Germany. (Photo by Thomas Eisenhuth/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Prediction

Halle will have to fight against relegation but will survive.

Sonnenhof Großaspach

Last Season

Based out of the Mechatronik Arena Sonnenhof Großaspach managed a respectable 14th place finish last season without ever being seriously threatened by relegation. A plastic club Sonnenhof Großaspach are run by a local investor and were only founded in 1994. Promoted to Liga 3 in 2014 the club is a typical mid-table club.

Manager

Sascha Hildemann oversaw the club last season after being signed in the summer of 2017. Hildemann previously worked in Mainz’s academy and is charged in spotting young players that have fallen out of the academies of bigger sides in Bundesliga 2 and the Bundesliga.

Key Players

The club’s philosophy is to identify young players and have them make the next step in Aspach. Among those to watch will be defender Korbinian Burger, who was signed from SpVgg Greuther Fürth this summer.

Korbinian Burger of SG Sonnenhof Grossaspach poses during the team presentation on July 16, 2018 in Grossaspach, Germany. (Photo by Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Korbinian Burger of SG Sonnenhof Grossaspach poses during the team presentation on July 16, 2018 in Grossaspach, Germany. (Photo by Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Prediction

Großaspach could be among the relegation candidates.

FSV Zwickau

Last Season

FSV Zwickau briefly flirted with relegation last season but in the end, managed to steer a comfortable ten points clear of the relegation zone. The drop, however, was only avoided after the club fired Thorsten Ziegner in April. Danny König came in on an interims-basis and managed to keep the club from dropping to the Regionalliga.

Manager

In the summer Zwickau announced the signing of Joe Enochs. The American played one game with the United States and has been a professional football in Germany since 1996. Playing 359 games with VfL Osnabrück Enochs also coached Osnabrück from 2015 to 2017. Sacked in October 2017 this will be Enochs first season away from Osnabrück since first coming over to Germany 22 years ago.

Key Players

The 35-year-old Ronny König is the club’s most experienced player and is expected to once again lead the line for the club. Also look out for talented striker Tarsis Bonga, who is on loan from Fortuna Düsseldorf.

Ronny König of Zwickau plays the ball during the Liga 3 match between FSV Zwickau and VfL Osnabrueck at Stadion Zwickau on April 8, 2018 in Zwickau, Germany. (Photo by Thomas Eisenhuth/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Ronny König of Zwickau plays the ball during the Liga 3 match between FSV Zwickau and VfL Osnabrueck at Stadion Zwickau on April 8, 2018 in Zwickau, Germany. (Photo by Thomas Eisenhuth/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Prediction

The club will once again fight against relegation.

Sportfreunde Lotte

Last Season

Sportfreunde Lotte were first promoted to Liga 3 at the end of the 2015/16 season. In their second season in a row in Germany’s third division Lotte struggled against relegation all year but in the end comfortably remained in the top flight by collecting 40 points out of 38 games.

Manager

Matthias Maucksch replaces Andreas Golombeck, who was signed in November 2017 replacing former head coach Marc Fascher. Maucksch previously coached in the Regionalliga Nordost where he was in charge of Union Fürstenwalde. The 49-year-old averaged 1.51 points with the small East German club and as a result, has now been given his first opportunity in professional football.

Key Players

Canadian centre-back Adam Straith is expected to provide much-needed leadership. The native of Surrey, British Columbia has played regular numbers in Europe since coming over to Energie Cottbus in 2009.

Adam Straith of Lotte runs with the ball during the 3. Liga match between Sportfreunde Lotte and Hallescher FC at Frimo Stadium on September 29, 2017 in Lotte, Germany. (Photo by Thomas Starke/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Adam Straith of Lotte runs with the ball during the 3. Liga match between Sportfreunde Lotte and Hallescher FC at Frimo Stadium on September 29, 2017 in Lotte, Germany. (Photo by Thomas Starke/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Prediction

With 1860 München, Cottbus and Uerdingen the league is getting stronger and Lotte will likely be among those that could face relegation at the end of the season.

VfL Osnabrück

Last Season

It was a tough season for Osnabrück. Facing relegation most of the year Osnabrück had to sack long-standing head coach Enochs in October. He was replaced by Daniel Thioune. Thioune managed to avoid the drop by steering the club six points clear from the relegation zone.

Manager

Daniel Thioune averaged just one point per game last season. At the club, since 2013 the Senegalese-German head coach will be closely watched at the start of the season as Osnabrück could once again be in trouble.

Key Players

Defensive midfielder Ulrich Taffertshofer was signed from Unterhaching this summer. He is supposed to bring some much-needed stability to the club. Meanwhile, Anas Ouahim was signed from Köln, and the 20-year-old attacking midfielder is one of the most interesting player in the league this season.

Ulrich Taffertshofer of Unterhaching kicks the ball during the 3. Liga match between SpVgg Unterhaching and SV Wehen Wiesbaden at on January 27, 2018 in Unterhaching, Germany. (Photo by Jan Hetfleisch/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Ulrich Taffertshofer of Unterhaching kicks the ball during the 3. Liga match between SpVgg Unterhaching and SV Wehen Wiesbaden at on January 27, 2018 in Unterhaching, Germany. (Photo by Jan Hetfleisch/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Prediction

Osnabrück will find it tough to avoid the drop.

1860 München

Last Season

For the first time in the club’s history, 1860 München were forced to compete in the fourth division. Forced down into amateur football due to financial problems Die Löwen dominated the fourth division last year. Not only that the club was also able to finally return to its historic home ground, the Grünwalder Stadion and as a result rekindled the love with much of its fan-base. Despite the historic drop last season was a success and 1860 is once again found its true identity.

Manager

39-year-old head coach Daniel Bierofka is the father of 1860’s success. The head coach built a team out of nowhere following the club’s relegation last summer. He then guided that team to dominant first-place finish. This season, however, he will have to spend some time away from the club to complete his coaching license.

Key Players

1860 München were able to hang on to most of their fourth division heroes. Furthermore, the club added striker Adriano Grimaldi, who signed from Münster. Leading the line, however, will be once again Sascha Mölders, who was very much the face of the club last year. In defence the likes of Jan Mauersberger and Felix Weber provided much-needed leadership. Also look out for the talented Simon Lorenz, who was signed on loan from VfL Bochum.

Sascha Mölders of 1860 München plays the ball during the Regionalliga Bayern match between FC Bayern Muenchen II and TSV 1860 Muenchen at Stadion an der Gruenwalder Strasse on April 29, 2018 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Sebastian Widmann/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Sascha Mölders of 1860 München plays the ball during the Regionalliga Bayern match between FC Bayern Muenchen II and TSV 1860 Muenchen at Stadion an der Gruenwalder Strasse on April 29, 2018 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Sebastian Widmann/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Prediction

1860 wants to use this season to consolidate. But the squad might be strong enough to allow 1860 fans to dream of more…

KFC Uerdingen

Last Season

Like 1860 Uerdingen dominated their Regionalliga division. Chaired by the Russian oligarch, Mikhail Ponomarev Uerdingen managed two straight promotions first from the Oberliga to the Regionalliga and then to Liga 3. Despite their dominance, Uerdingen fired head coach Michael Wiesinger in the spring replacing him with Krämer, who then oversaw the club’s promotion. The promotion was then followed with some uncertainty as the club did not hand in all documents on time and was briefly threatenebynot being allowed promotion.

Manager

Stefan Krämer guided the club to promotion. Krämer is what they call in German a Fußballlehrer a football teacher. A tactician and football thinker Krämer is a bit of a theorist and thus far has never lasted longer than three years at any club he coached.

Key Players

Thanks to the club’s Russian investor Uerdingen had the funds to complete the signings of several key players. The most prominent players are Stefan Aigner and World Cup winner Kevin Großkreutz.

Stefan Aigner poses during the Team Presentation of KFC Uerdingen at Grotenburg Stadium on June 29, 2018 in Krefeld, Germany. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Stefan Aigner poses during the Team Presentation of KFC Uerdingen at Grotenburg Stadium on June 29, 2018 in Krefeld, Germany. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Prediction

Critiques have argued that Uerdingen are attempting to buy success with players that a past their zenith. The likes of Aigner and Großkeutz are indeed stars that would be beyond the reach of most Liga 3 sides. As such it is difficult to predict where the club will finish next season. Everything from promotion to relegation seems possible in Uerdingen.

Energie Cottbus

Last Season

Cottbus have returned to professional football after a dominant season in the Regionalliga Nordost. Cottbus won their division by losing just one game. With 89 points from 34 games, Cottbus collected 31 more points than second-placed Wacker Nordhausen. Energie then defeated Weiche Flensburg 3-2 on aggregate in the relegation playoffs.

Manager

Claus-Dieter Wollitz guided Cottbus back to professional football. The 53-year-old was brought in in 2016 to fight off relegation from Liga 3. Unfortunately, he was unable to keep the club in the league but then stayed to rebuild Energie and oversee promotion this year.

Key Players

Striker Streli Mamba scored 19 goals and eight assists in 26 games for Cottbus last season. With the club being relative inactive this summer when it comes to new signings players like Mamba will have to carry most of the workload for the club.

 Streli Mamba of Cottbus jubilates after scoring the first goal during the Third League Playoff Leg 1 match between SC Weiche Flensburg 08 and FC Energie Cottbus at Holstein Stadion on May 24, 2018 in Kiel, Germany. (Photo by Matthias Kern/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Streli Mamba of Cottbus jubilates after scoring the first goal during the Third League Playoff Leg 1 match between SC Weiche Flensburg 08 and FC Energie Cottbus at Holstein Stadion on May 24, 2018 in Kiel, Germany. (Photo by Matthias Kern/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Prediction

Cottbus will have to consolidate this season and will finish mid-table.

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.

COMMENTS

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    Eisern Union 3 weeks

    Thanks for this. Great work!

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