Hinrunde draws to a close in Braunschweig
The first half of fixtures in the 2. Bundesliga comes to an end at the Eintracht-Stadion on Saturday (kick-off 1:00pm CET).
Almost halfway through but no time to let up just yet. The end of the Hinrunde, the first half of matches in German football, usually signals the end of proceedings before the Christmas break, but, like everything this year, plans have been turned upside down and adapting to the new situation is key. With three games in the space of eight days and Tuesday’s trip to in-form Fortuna Düsseldorf marking the start of the Rückrunde, the Rothosen have little time to contemplate all that has happened before. A more intense game than Monday night’s 5-0 romp against Osnabrück is expected, Braunschweig finding themselves in the middle of a relegation battle, and ready to throw everything at their guests on Saturday, on a pitch that is unlikely to be conducive to passing football.
Focus on the hosts
Braunschweiger Turn- und Sportverein Eintracht von 1895 e. V., more commonly known as Eintracht Braunschweig, were one of the founding members of the Bundesliga in 1963, even winning the top division for the side’s first, and to this date only, major trophy in 1967. Based near Hannover in the state of Lower Saxony, Eintracht have had to play second fiddle to their more successful neighbours and bitter rivals Hannover 96, Volkswagen-backed VfL Wolfsburg having also entered the picture since the 1990s. Having been relegated from the Bundesliga in 1985, BTSV have spent the majority of their recent existence in the second and third tier, save for a one-year spell in the Bundesliga from 2013-14. Relegation from the second tier in 2017/18 almost resulted in back-to-back relegations, but Eintracht fought back admirably to avoid relegation and last season to secure promotion back to the 2. Bundesliga with a win over Waldhof Mannheim on the penultimate matchday.
Manager Marco Antwerpen was surprisingly relieved of his duties after promotion as part of a summer of upheaval at the Eintracht-Stadion, replaced by former Erzgebirge Aue manager Daniel Meyer. 14 players arrived at the club and 15 departed, as Braunschweig looked to rebuild and stabilise themselves in the second tier. The team and manager Meyer have failed to click just yet, heading into Matchday 17 on 14 points in the relegation play-off spot, one in front of St. Pauli, yet also level on points with 15th-placed Sandhausen. The Eintracht-Stadion pitch has not fared well in the winter weather and with more use than normal, the surface unlikely to suit the kind of passing play that Daniel Thioune prefers.
Opposition scouting report
Eintracht’s last two games have seen goalless draws against both Fortuna Düsseldorf and fellow strugglers Würzburger Kickers, lining up in a 3-4-1-2 on both occasions. The change-up in tactics from Meyer may be to stem the tide of goals, only Sandhausen and Würzburg having conceded more than Braunschweig’s 32 in 16 games, and the 41-year-old would likely have little problem if his side collected their third clean sheet in a row.
Goalscoring is another problem altogether, the Yellow and Blues being the least effective attacking force in the division with 14 strikes so far, and three goals in their past six outings. Captain Martin Kobylanski started the season strongly with two goals and two assists, but, similarly to his colleagues, has found it difficult to adjust to life in the second tier. Meyer’s most prolific forward has been 34-year-old journeyman Nick Proschwitz with five goals and two assists. With attacking play unlikely to flourish, HSV may have to be patient against a well-drilled team fighting for every point.
Complacency unwelcome for HSV after Osnabrück victory
HSV’s unbeaten run stretched to six matches on Monday night with the 5-0 thrashing of VfL Osnabrück at the Volksparkstadion, heading back to the top of the 2. Bundesliga standings on 33 points, one ahead of Bochum and three ahead of Tuesday night’s opponents, Fortuna Düsseldorf. The visitors certainly weren’t at their best on Monday, exposed by a ruthless home side, but manager Daniel Thioune didn’t want to get carried away with the scoreline at Thursday’s pre-match press conference: "The 5-0 on Monday also offers a risk, because the expectations after such a result are naturally very high. But we have to differentiate between the two games, we should see the result against Osnabrück as motivation." The 45-year-old may be able to name an unchanged starting line-up for the third match in a row, with no fresh injuries and no need to change a winning formula. Jan Gyamerah and Rick van Drongelen were able to take part in training again this week but aren’t ready for competitive action just yet, whilst Klaus Gjasula is still sidelined with a knee injury.
The 5-0 win over Osnabrück on Monday night was the Rothosen’s greatest margin of victory ever in a 2. Bundesliga game, and the first win by five clear goals since a 5-0 win over 1. FC Nürnberg in October 2013.
Eintracht are unbeaten against the top 4 teams this season, having beaten Bochum 2-1 and drawn 0-0 with Kiel and Düsseldorf, and are unbeaten in seven games at home in the 2. Bundesliga, against teams who have travelled to the Hamburger Straße as league leaders.
This is the first meeting between the two sides in the 2. Bundesliga. The last of 42 meetings in the top division was in February 2014, as Braunschweig celebrated a 4-2 home win.
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