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2. Bundesliga Update - Matchday 25

The relegation fight heats up

VfB Stuttgart v DSC Arminia Bielefeld - Second Bundesliga Photo by Matthias Hangst/Bongarts/Getty Images

On a weekend where first and second places in the table faced off, things tightened up at the bottom of the table. Here are the results from Matchday 25:

Wiesbaden 6 – Osnabrück 2

Talk about kicking things off with a bang.

Wiesbaden picked up just their 6th league win of the season and hauled themselves out of the direct relegation zone, running Osnabrück’s winless run in the league to 8 matches in the process.

The conditions at the Stadion an der Bremer Brücke on Friday evening were abysmal. Heavy rains prior to kickoff had turned the pitch into a mud pit with grass sprouting out of it. But unlike the typical low-scoring affairs we see in such conditions, the goals were flying in almost from the opening whistle of this contest.

Kiel loanee Benjamin Girth opened the scoring in the 3rd minute for the hosts. Teammate Marcos Álvarez somehow managed to elevate the ball up and over keeper Heinz Lindner with his right foot as he was being pulled the ground by a marker. The ball struck the crossbar, but rebounded straight to Girth who passed the ball into an empty net.

But things quickly unraveled for Lila-Weiß as Wiesbaden turned the remainder of the first half into a rout. Just two minutes after the opening goal, Osnabrück’s David Blacha and Felix Agu failed to clear the ball from their box after dispossessing Stefan Aigner, and Wiesbaden striker Manuel Schäffler stepped in between them and beat keeper Philipp Kühn at his near post.

Schäffler was to be the danger man all night. Merely two minutes after tying the match, he snuck behind the Lila-Weiß defense and ran onto a beautiful through ball from teammate Tobias Schwede. The striker then unselfishly crossed to Max Dittgen who powered a shot past Kühn for 2-1. Dittgen then turned provider in the 15th minute, although the assist could’ve been given as much to the poor pitch as to him, because Agu slipped and fell as the ball was in the air, leaving Aigner with a free header that he duly hit the target with.

Lila-Weiß substitute Kevin Wolze, who replaced Agu after just 22 minutes, was the next man to slip, gifting the ball to Aigner and despite slipping himself, he managed to cross the ball to Schäffler who scored his second of the match in the 26th minute. Schäffler then notched a first half hat-trick in the 45th minute, and Osnabrück’s Moritz Heyer scored the seventh goal of the half in stoppage time.

Osnabrück ended up with a mammoth possession advantage on the night (76%-24%), but chances tapered off in the second half. VAR cancelled out a Wiesbaden penalty in the 60th minute after replay showed Daniel-Kofi Kyereh had not been fouled, but rather slipped on the turf, and Osnabrück struck the crossbar shortly thereafter. But the only goal of the second half went to Wiesbaden in stoppage time. Schäffler was denied a fourth goal by the crossbar, but Kyereh was in the right place at the right time to tuck in the rebound.

Wiesbaden will gladly take the 3 points, but Osnabrück are beginning to feel the heat as they have still yet to notch their first win of 2020 and are slipping further down the table.

Hannover 3 – Nürnberg 0

Visiting Hannover came out the winner in a clash of division heavyweights at the Max-Morlock-Stadion.

Alavés loanee John Guidetti has made himself right at home with Die Roten and he came close to giving his side the opener early on when he shot wide from distance. Guidetti then had another chance on a Waldermar Anton cutback in the 17th minute, but keeper Christian Mathenia pushed the shot around the post. Hannover however would open the scoring from the resulting corner, with center-back Timo Hübers outjumping his marker and heading into the top corner.

Cedric Teuchert set up Linton Maina for Die Roten’s second in the 27th minute and from that point on, Hannover never really looked back. Nürnberg ended up with more possession on the evening (61%-39%), but despite this, Der Club never really seemed all that dangerous.

The closest the hosts came was when captain Hanno Behrens headed just wide from a second half corner, but by the time Hendrik Weydandt scored Hannover’s third goal of the contest in the 90th minute, the result had been effectively sealed for a while.

The win pulls Hannover further away from the relegation fight and toward the middle of the table. Nürnberg remain 5 points clear of the relegation zone, but they still have work to do to stay above it.

UPDATE: On the Wednesday following the match, Hannover goalscorer Timo Hübers tested positive for COVID-19.

Hübers contracted the virus during a public event in his hometown of Hildesheim on Saturday evening. A fellow attendee who he was with tested positive for COVID-19 shortly after and Hübers went into self-quarantine shortly thereafter.

Hübers has not shown any symptoms thus far and has not been in any contact with his teammates since the public event. The rest of the Hannover squad and coaching staff will be tested for COVID-19 nevertheless.

Heidenheim 3 – Karlsruher 1

Heidenheim picked up a valuable 3 points at the Voith-Arena as they kept pace with the top of the table, while Karlsruher continue to struggle.

The hosts were on the front foot early in the first half, with team captain Marc Schnatterer and midfielder Robert Leipertz both coming close in the opening 20 minutes. It was striker Tim Kleindienst who created the opener shortly after Leipertz’s miss, when his mazy run down the left side allowed him to cut the ball back to Konstantin Kerschbaumer, who passed the ball in off the far post.

KSC had the league’s worst defense going into matchday 25, and it didn’t get any better as the first half progressed. Heidenheim right-back Marnon-Thomas Busch crossed into the box and none of the KSC defenders were able to intercept it, leaving Kleindienst with an easy tap in to double the hosts’ lead in the 37th minute. Kleindienst then added another in first half stoppage time that was strikingly similar to his first: a cross from the right eluded the KSC defense and keeper Benjamin Uphoff, leaving Kleindienst with a simple finish.

The visitors clawed one back early in the second half when Christoph Kobald headed in from Marvin Wanitzek’s corner, but they really couldn’t put anything together from there. Their misery was compounded when Änis Ben-Hatira was sent off with a straight red card in second half stoppage time after a last man foul on Heidenheim’s Niklas Dorsch.

The win keeps Heidenheim secure in 4th place, while Karlsruher fall back into the direct relegation zone.

Darmstadt 0 – Bochum 0

For in depth analysis of the match between Darmstadt and Bochum at the Merck-Stadion am Böllenfalltor, let’s get an eye witness report from our yellow man on the scene.

In all seriousness, this match was a testy affair that resulted in as many cards as shots on target. Nobody on either side seemed to have brought their scoring boots. Darmstadt, who are now unbeaten in their last 10 league matches going back to December, did manage to test Bochum keeper Manuel Riemann three times in 90 minutes, but couldn’t get the ball past him.

That was a hard day’s work compared to what Darmstadt keeper Marcel Schuhen had to do. He may as well have pulled up a folding chair and read a book, because Bochum failed to put a single shot on target the whole match.

While Darmstadt’s 4 match winning streak came to an end, the draw keeps them in the top 6, while Bochum remain 15th, still perilously close to the relegation zone.

Hamburg 2 – Jahn Regensburg 1

Hosts Hamburg snapped a 3 match winless run on Saturday afternoon with a deserved victory at the Volksparkstadion over visiting Regensburg.

The first 20 minutes or so saw little action in either penalty area as Regensburg came out in a high press trying to unsettle the hosts into a mistake. HSV held their own and took the lead in the 24th minute off a set piece. Louis Schaub’s free kick missed everyone, including Regensburg keeper Alexander Meyer, and glanced off the far post. Fortunately for the hosts, the ball rebounded directly to center-back Timo Letschert, who merely had to poke the ball over the line into an empty net to give his side the lead.

Regensburg gradually found their way into the match as the first half wound down and they equalized via a set piece of their own in the 40th minute. Jann-Christopher George took a quick free kick and sent teammate Max Besuschkow through down the left. His cross into the box was blocked, but striker Marco Grüttner was trailing behind and shot low into the net before the Hamburg defense could react.

Things picked right back up in the second half. Shortly after Regensburg had a goal taken back due a foul by Andreas Albers in the build-up, HSV retook the lead through captain Aaron Hunt. Good work from Bakery Jatta and Tim Leibold down the left allowed the latter to drive to the byline and cut back for Hunt to blast in from 6 yards out.

Regensburg pressed hard for a second equalizer, but despite some tense moments, Hamburg were able to see out the result and a take a much needed 3 points in their quest for promotion.

They sit 3rd while Regensburg drop to 10th in the table.

Dynamo Dresden 2 – Erzgebirge Aue 1

Are Dresden turning things around? The league’s bottom club has now won 2 consecutive league matches after besting Erzgebirge, the other East German side in the league, at the Rudolf-Harbig-Stadion on Sunday afternoon.

Things got off a bad start for the hosts in the opening minutes. Shortly after Erzgebirge center-back Marko Mihojević hit the post off a Jan Hochscheidt free kick, the visitors took the lead in the 6th minute. After Dresden cleared the ball from their box, Erzgebirge defender Jacob Rasmussen headed the ball back up the pitch and the Dresden defense were all caught ball watching, which allowed Hochscheidt to slip past them and finish high into the top of the net.

Dresden slowly began to work their way back into the match however. Striker Simon Makienok tested Erzgebirge keeper Martin Männel just a few moments after the opener. While Erzgebirge were let off this time, they should’ve paid close attention to the man who set up Makienok’s chance, Nordsjælland loanee Godsway Donyoh.

Donyoh was a menace down the left throughout the match and just before halftime, in a very similar situation to the earlier miss, Donyoh outraced the Erzgebirge defense and crossed into the box. This time, Dresden’s Patrick Schmidt beat Männel to level the score.

Dresden nearly took the lead before the halftime whistle, but after a chaotic goalmouth scramble caused by a header hitting the crossbar, Makienok somehow failed to put the ball in the net and the match stayed tied at the half.

The hosts were in the ascendancy in the second half, with Männel having to make two excellent saves to keep out Makienok and Donyoh. But he could do nothing to stop Schmidt’s acrobatic overhead kick in the 59th minute and the Heidenheim loanee’s brace gave Dresden a lead they would not relinquish. Erzgebirge’s Calogero Rizzuto was sent off with a second yellow card in second half stoppage time, but the result had been all but sealed before then.

Dresden’s 6th win of the season gives them a much needed window of opportunity to escape the relegation zone, while Erzgebirge continue to scuffle in the second half of the season.

Holstein Kiel 1 – Greuther Fürth 1

Kiel and Fürth battled to a 1-all draw at Holstein-Stadion on Sunday afternoon.

Kleeblätter took an opening minute lead through midfielder Sebastian Ernst. The Kiel defense failed to deal with a long ball forward and Fürth’s Kenny Prince Redondo headed the ball out wide to Ernst, who shot across keeper Ioannis Gelios into the far corner.

Die Störche however fought their way back into the match and got an assist from VAR in the 35th minute. Referee Frank Willenborg initially waved off appeals for a penalty when Lee Jae-sung went down under a challenge from Fürth midfielder Paul Seguin, but the video assistant called him over for a review and upon consultation, a penalty was awarded. Alexander Mühling beat keeper Sascha Burchert to his right and everything was square.

Both keepers made fine saves in the second half to keep the score level and ultimately there wasn’t another goal to be found before the final whistle.

The draw keeps both sides in the top half of the table: Fürth in 5th and Kiel in 7th.

Sandhausen 2 – St Pauli 2

A see-saw battle at the BWT-Stadion am Hardtwald saw hosts Sandhausen share points with visiting St Pauli.

Looking for their first win in 6 matches, Sandhausen came out of the gate firing. Aziz Bouhaddouz shot wide in the early minutes and St Pauli keeper Robin Himmelmann had to make a desperate save to deny Kevin Behrens a few moments later. Kiezkicker gradually worked their way into things however and took the lead in the 28th minute. Ryo Miyaichi’s fabulous pass covered half the pitch and found Brighton loanee Viktor Gyökeres in stride. With a little fancy footwork, the Swedish international sidestepped a defender and prodded the ball past keeper Martin Fraisl to give the visitors the lead.

Fraisl saved from Miyaichi later in the half and Sandhausen would pull things level from the spot just before halftime. St Pauli’s Matt Penney fouled Sandhausen full-back Dennis Diekmeier in the box as the latter tried to run beneath a lofted ball forward and Behrens made no mistake from the penalty spot.

After a testy opening to the second half, Sandhausen grabbed the lead in rather fortuitous circumstances in the 62nd minute. Kiezkicker failed to clear a corner and the ball rolled to Robin Scheu just outside the penalty area. Scheu scuffed his shot into the turf, but the ball ballooned up into the air and over everyone, including Himmelmann, and nestled into the back of the net.

Himmelmann did well to deny Diekmeier in the 74th minute and four minutes later, St Pauli equalized through a great run by striker Dimitris Diamantakos. Sandhausen substitute Denis Linsmayer almost won the match for the hosts in stoppage time, but his header rather cruelly struck the bar and the match finished as a draw.

Both sides remain in the bottom half of the table.

Stuttgart 1 – Arminia Bielefeld 1

The weekend’s topspiel took place at the Mercedes-Benz Arena on Monday evening as second placed Stuttgart hosted league leaders Bielefeld.

Bielefeld manager Uwe Neuhaus opted for a more defensive midfield setup in this match to try and keep Stuttgart’s attack at bay and it worked for large stages of the first half. Stuttgart’s only real dangerous chance came in the 3rd minute when Mario Gómez had an effort blocked just in front of the goal line. The visitors then had a couple of chances at the other end, but couldn’t get anything past keeper Gregor Kobel.

The match stayed scoreless until the 53rd minute, when a mistake by the Bielefeld defense allowed Gómez a free header. Nicolás González’s cross from the left didn’t seem all that dangerous, but Gómez snuck away from ball-watching center-back Joakim Nilsson and put the ball just out of keeper Stefan Ortega’s reach.

Bielefeld turned up the wick after conceding and Stuttgart were on the back foot for the next 20 minutes or so, desperately trying to keep hold of their lead. Kobel did his part with a fantastic save from a Fabian Klos header in the 75th minute, but Bielefeld would find their equalizer from the subsequent throw-in. Despite several Stuttgart defenders focusing on him, Klos was able to get his head to the ball and flick it across the penalty area to where substitute Cebio Soukou was lurking. Soukou turned and quickly took the shot with his left foot, leaving Kobel no time to react.

It was end-to-end action in the final 10 minutes or so, but ultimately neither side had a further goal in them, which meant that it was shared points on the evening.

The result means that Bielefeld remain 6 points clear at the top of the table with 9 matches remaining.

Table

1. Arminia Bielefeld – 51 points

2. Stuttgart – 45 points

3. Hamburg – 44 points

4. Heidenheim – 41 points

5. Fürth – 36 points (+4 GD)

6. Darmstadt – 36 points (0 GD)

Top Scorers

1. Fabian Klos (Arminia Bielefeld) – 16 goals

2. Manuel Schäffler (Wiesbaden) – 15 goals

3. Tim Kleindienst (Heidenheim) – 12 goals

Key Upcoming Matches – Matchday 26 (March 13 – 16)

Osnabrück @ Arminia Bielefeld – Friday 3/13, 1:30 pm EST

Hamburg @ Fürth – Friday 3/13, 1:30 pm EST

Heidenheim @ Bochum – Saturday 3/14, 8:00 am EST

Stuttgart @ Wiesbaden – Sunday 3/15, 8:30 am EST