Introducing Eintracht Braunschweig

This is a series I wanna have featured as often as possible. Guest writers tell us a bit about their favorite club, whether it’s the history or the current season. In this case we have both, written by the excellent Saurabh, the man behind The Hoffside, the best Hoffenheim blog out there (now you’re gonna be confused: he’s a fan of Braunschweig and Hoffenheim, this could become a problem soon if Braunschweig continues to perform like this but that’s still a long way off), and Four Added On, an ambitious blog covering pretty much everything of significance in football. But don’t worry, this feature won’t replace the match previews. Get to know Bayern’s next opponent, sit back and enjoy.

Eintracht Braunschweig is one of Germany’s most storied teams. After going through their golden era in the early Bundesliga years, the team fell down into the lower leagues after serious financial issues. Now that they’ve managed to get their footing back, Braunschweig are looking to push for a spot in the league they helped found.

Touted as one of the tough challenges of the 1st round, Bayern ended up drawing high-flying Eintracht Braunschweig. After falling just short a couple of seasons ago, Braunschweig made the right signings, bringing in striker Dominik Kumbela. In 2010/11 Eintracht completely dominated the 3. Liga, scoring 81 goals on their way to the title. Braunschweig were so dominant that they ended up winning the title two months before the season even ended.

Right now, at the start of the 2. Bundesliga, Braunschweig stand at the top of the league. Despite having 2. Bundesliga level players, they were quickly pencilled into the list of teams that would have to fight off relegation.

Amazingly, Braunschweig are first in the 2. Bundesliga despite having only 35% of possession in their opening pair of games. They have  areal bite going forward right

across the field. The pure poaching ability of Kumbela is second to none on the team. He finished the 2010/11 season as the team’s top scorer, putting away 19 goals. The wingers, Nico Zimmermann and Mirko Boland both have the skill and crossing ability to hurt the opposition. Both wingers do cut inside on occasion as well, but obviously will depend where they’re playing. Both Zimmermann and Boland are capable of playing on both wings.

In midfield is Damir Vrancic who is a well-rounded midfielder able to help both defensively and offensively. They’re all tied together by their captain and talisman, Dennis Kruppke. Kruppke usually plays just behind Kumbela and drops into midfield to pull the strings. He’s no stranger in front of goal either. Kruppke also chipped in with 16 goals during the previous campaign. They make their chances pays and with the defensive struggles we’ve seen Bayern have during this preseason, Neuer will have to be wary.

Their counter attacking style leaves them a little vulnerable at the back. While 2. Bundesliga teams are easy to shut down, a team with Bayern’s quality could easily exploit this and command the game. The man to watch out for at the back is the goalkeeper, Marjan Petkovic. In terms of talent, he’s right up there with the league’s best shot stoppers. Petkovic has very good reflexes. He often comes out to punch the ball and rarely misses.

Despite having such a style of play, they still seem to control games a lot more than the stats suggest. Their counter attacks are very effective and Bayern will have to watch out for those smash and grab goals. Defensively they like to keep the ball in the middle of the park even when they aren’t in possession. They start defending very high up the pitch with the midfielders pressing the ball heavily.

Braunschweig will definitely look to put the pressure on Bayern and with a few upsets already taking place in the first round this weekend it wouldn’t be a surprise if Braunschweig left their stadium victorious.

Follow Saurabh on Twitter and visit The Hoffside and Four Added On.

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