The 2. Bundesliga returns this weekend and if you want late drama, goals and loyal supporters, there’s no better league to watch. Here are four teams you should watch out for.
While it may be a fairly obvious and boring inclusion, Schalke have faced a drastic turnaround regarding their squad this summer. A far cry from the side that narrowly failed to escape the clutches of relegation from the Bundesliga last term, a squad overhaul means that Die Knappen look like a whole new outfit. With six signings thus far with twelve departures, Thomas Reis may be looking to build a side he can identify with after joining the side just prior to the World Cup break. The most intriguing difference that Schalke possess is a whole new midfield trio that looks primed to dominate games in Germany’s second tier. The experience of Paul Seguin, combined with the quality of Ron Schallenberg and Lino Tempelmann means that Die Knappen could already be the side to beat this season. Undoubtedly they will be the favourites for many to gain promotion, but they may just do it in style.
While Magdeburg may sit outside the cluster of clubs that are considered as some of Germany’s finest that are currently plying their trade in the second tier, Der Blau hold a proud history of their own. The only East German side to lift European silverware – after overcoming a remarkable AC Milan side in the 1974 European Cup Winners’ Cup final – Magdeburg look to build their way back to prominence after years in the doldrums. A rampant 2021/22 campaign saw the club comfortably promoted to the 2. Bundesliga last year and while it was Kaiserslautern that finished higher than any of the three promoted sides, Magdeburg finished the season in style. With phenomenal victories against Arminia Bielefeld and Hamburg, as well as holding eventual champions Heidenheim to a goalless draw at home, Magdeburg have the quality in their side to battle against the best. With some smart additions so far this summer, and with a bit of consistency, they could surprise the league’s elite.
Unlike Magdeburg, who turned on the style towards the end of the campaign, Hannover floundered over the finish line last term. As the Hinrunde came to a close, Die Roten left themselves in a position where fighting for promotion was on the cards. However, a slump in form suggested at one stage that a relegation battle may commence. A disastrous loss away at rivals Eintracht Braunschweig had also meant that head coach Stefan Leitl was left in a vulnerable position. Nevertheless, the relatively young head coach has been given another year to guide the side back to the Bundesliga. Experienced within this field, Leitl powered Greuther Fürth to Germany’s top tier during the 2020/21 campaign with a second-place finish, and one would imagine that the head coach is expected to achieve likewise this term with Hannover. With the relentless Derrick Köhn still in the ranks, as well as some phenomenal signings such as Marcel Halstenberg, a promotion push for the Reds is certainly on the cards.
This is no left-wing shout for Osnabrück to surprise the world and earn back-to-back promotions to the Bundesliga, however, being written off as relegation fodder before the season starts would be unfair on the newly-promoted side. As seen with Kaiserslautern last season through the promotion/relegation playoffs, the way in which a side earns promotion can act as a catalyst to push on for success in the following campaign. Two late goals in the 94th and 96th minute saw the side turn their fortunes around in the most dramatic circumstances in order to earn promotion back to the 2. Bundesliga. Despite losing some key players such as Sven Köhler and talisman Ba-Muaka Simakala, some smart signings have been made. Establishing themselves back in Germany’s second tier is the priority and there is no reason why this can not be done. A well-drilled side that could cause significant upsets against some of the league’s top sides, it certainly will be entertaining watching Osnabrück this season.
GGFN | Will Shopland