Bundesliga Season Preview Part II - Mid-tablers and relegation worriers



Click here for Part I

Continuing the Bundesbag's 2010/11
Bundesliga Season Preview, let us look at the middle pack, the outsiders, survival specialists and newly promoted teams. The midfield battle promises to be an intriguing one as teams attempt to solidify their positions, try to force their way into the upper echelons or just try to stay alive for another season.


Mainz


The 0-Fives' start to the last campaign couldn't have got off to a worse start when their coach Jorn Andersen was sacked after losing in the first round of the German Cup and before a ball was kicked in the Bundesliga. Thomas Tuchel was promoted to the top spot and Mainz did not look back. Tuchel's players managed to beat most of their rivals for relegation as well as registering a famous victory over Bayern Munich. The result was a more than creditable ninth placed finish. This year could be somewhat trickier. Key player Andreas Ivanschitz has stayed. However, striker Ariste Bance has moved on. In truth, it is difficult to tell from here if the players they have brought in will improve the squad sufficiently to emulate their achievements. Lewis Holtby had a decent season for Bochum and joins the club on a season long loan from Schalke.

Hannover 96

Last season was one to both forget and remember as the Reds went through three managers in their ultimately successful attempt to stay in the Bundesliga First Division. Ex-Schalke coach Mirko Slomka managed to get his team just over the line in the end. However, last season will always be remembered for the loss of their goalkeeper Robert Enke who chose to end his life after a long battle with depression. In the summer, no less that 13 players have been shipped but as Slomka attempts to his the club out of trouble this season. However, an early exit from the German Cup to Elversberg will not help the confidence and it's hard to see Hannover doing anything but struggle this season.

Eintracht Frankfurt

A club with a famous name but has had very little reason to celebrate in recent seasons. They were losing finalists in the 2006 German Cup and that's about it. However, theirs is a proud history and I'm sure that Frankfurt fans will be encouraged by a much improved team performance last season after welcoming Michael Skibbe as their new coach. Having briefly flirted with relegation in the 08/09 season, Skibbe lifted the Eagles to an unspectacular tenth but with signs of promise for the season ahead. The addition of Halil Altintop from Schalke last January injected added creativity into Skibbe's attack and the Turkish international seemed to relish the extra game time and responsibility. Joining him in the summer is Greek journeyman 'Fanis Geikas who is always worth a goal or five in the Bundesliga and his countryman Giorgos Tzavellas from Panionios to reinforce the defence. It would help Frankfurt's cause no end if striker Ioannis Amanatidis could have an injury free campaign.

Hoffenheim

Amidst great controversy, the little village club kicked open the Bundesliga's windows and let in a huge waft of nouveau riche air two seasons ago when they were first promoted to the Bundesliga. With software billionaire Dietmar Hopp's money, coach Ralf Rangnick's attack-minded tactics and Vedad Ibisevic's goals, Hoffenhein raced to the top of the table and won the Winter Championship. However, once they'd moved into their new stadium things went a little flat and the Hoff seemed to have settled in as a mid-table top flight club. This in itself is still a mighty achievement given their initial roots. Rangnik's team still play decent football and he is committed to developing a strong youth squad to bring home grown players into the first team. At present though, it seems the club is drawing breath after such a monumental rise through the leagues.

Borussia Monchengladbach

'Gladbach enjoyed an uninspired if improved second season back in the Bundesliga under new coach Michael Frontzeck who brought in Juan Arango and Raul Bobadilla to inject some interest into the squad along with the brilliant young German Marco Reus (of whom much is expected this season). This summer, Frontzeck as recruited the attacking prowess of Igor de Camargo from the Standard club in Liege. Another season of consolidation is in store to use the old cliche.



Koln

Lucas Podolski returned last season from his miserable exile in Munich and Zvonimir Soldo's team were expected to kick on with the German international star back in the fold. In fact they were wretched and Zoldo is under pressure from the start. He can hope that Poldi was doing a John Lennon in Abbey Road and sitting on his best material for the World Cup. Now he is back from South Africa Lucas will be critical in making Koln remotely interesting to watch. Sorry.

Freiburg

Three wins from their last four games were enough to drag Freiburg to safety last season. This season they have lost Mohammed Issidrou who fell out with the coach Robin Dutt during the last campaign. Very little has been done to expand the squad in the Summer (£495,000 for Jan Rosenthal is the only cash transfer paid so far) so it looks like Freiburg are in for a difficult second season in the Bundesliga.

Nurnberg

Promoted two seasons ago via the Relegation/Promotion Play-Off and survived last season by the same method after beating 2. Bundelsiga club Augsburg. Dieter Hecking's magnificent eyebrow will see a lot of furling this season. Having said that the former Hannover coach has form when it comes to surviving the drop and has used what little transfer money he has (mostly from the sale of Dennis Diemeier) on a squad refresh. Thirteen players in, twelve players out.



Kaiserlautern


Champions as recently as 1998, FCK's return to the Bundesliga is a most welcome one after gaining promotion as Second Division winners. The Red Devils have been out of the top flight for four seasons to think about what they've done after the financial excesses of the last decade. Having said that the K-Town club have been splashing the cash around on new players. Napoli fans will be curious to see how Austrian striker Erwin Hoffer gets on in his season long loan. Coach Marco Kurz is determined to keep his team out of trouble and I think that of the two teams promoted, 'Lautern have the best chance to do something interesting in this league.

FC St Pauli

Everyone’s second team right? The club that exists to promote socialist values as well as play football. FC St Pauli are defined by their progressive agenda which has been the inspiration behind the loyal and vocal support. Many an English fan has gone to the Millerntorn and become converted to their cause. However, the Rieperbahn club are in amongst the uber-capitalists now and already there are signs that the club are entering a new era of pragmatism as they bid to stay in the Bundesliga after gaining promotion last season (leaving Union Berlin alone among the senior clubs to carry the torch of for the Revolution). Let’s hope they don’t sell out completely if they do survive.

Previous post: Bundesliga Season Preview Part I.

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