SC Paderborn 07; 2013/14 – 2nd in Bundesliga 2 (Promoted)
Paderborn will be enjoying their first ever season in the Bundesliga this campaign, and were delighted to find that their Benteler Arena will host their opening game against Mainz, a side that have also worked their way upwards to a lofty position – a role model that Andre Breitenreiter’s side will be trying to emulate.
If there was one thing that typified Paderborn’s campaign it was goals. Not the 15-0 by which they won their first friendly this season against Verne, nor the 14-0 by which they won the second, against Geseke. Not even the 26-1 by which they larruped Oesterholz-Kohlstaedt (rather poetically, Paderborn’s website describes the avalanche of goals – which took eight minutes to begin – ‘came like ripe fruit’). They were rather brought down to earth in their fourth friendly this season – a 2-0 defeat by Arminia Bielefeld, with both strikes headers from corners within the first two minutes.
Goals, though, at both ends, were a feature – the 3.26 goal per game average the highest in Bundeliga 2 by a quarter – indeed, one has to go down to eighth spot to see a team that conceded more, St Pauli (49) than Paderborn’s 48. The club have made a number of additions over the summer, but all have been midfielders or forwards, so it is fair to assume that Breitenreiter’s intentions will sway more towards the scoring rather than the prevention of goals.
Breitenreiter’s formations last season veered towards a 4-4-2, with Mahir Saglik and Elias Kachunga often doing the striking duty – the former ending the season as the league’s joint top scorer with 15 while Kachunga has made his loan move from Mönchengladbach permanent over the summer, and the numbers have been bolstered by Stefan Kutschke of Wolfsburg (scored 5 of the 26 during the half he played) and highly-rated Marvin Duksch from Dortmund (who missed the game). Even Moritz Stoppelkamp, ostensibly a wide player, (3/26) acknowledged that he’s quite happy playing up top on his arrival.
There is no shortage of action in the midfield, either. Mario Vrancic topped the charts with eight assists last season, but playing in a slightly more advanced role than the Croat was Albanian set-piece specialist Alban Meha. The Snaiper (Sniper) as he has become known bagged himself twelve goals last season and, should Paderborn be given any dead balls around the box, he is as deadly as his name suggest. The Juninho Pernambucano comparisons are an exaggeration, but not by too much.
Equally, while their players are some way short of the ability one would see at Dortmund or Bayern Munich the intensity of Paderborn’s play and their willingness to attack should mean they fit right into the Bundesliga, ensuring that even if they don’t take it by storm, they are still able to give a good account of themselves on the way.
There was a decisive game for Paderborn against Greuther Fürth broadcast on British television that not only served as a fine advert for Bundesliga 2 football, but also was fairly typical of Paderborn as a whole – it ended 2-2; the goal that put the home side 2-1 up, from Marc Vucinovic, was a rocket from 25 yards and although they swarmed all over Greuther (whom they had just overtaken in the league) a third goal would not come and, in the end, they were undone by a last-gasp equaliser. Fürth were one of the better teams – frequently Paderborn did manage to over-run their opponents; a 4-0 win against Bielefeld, 4-1 against Bochum, 3-0 against St Pauli, even a 1-6 win at Fortuna Düsseldorf (though Fortuna had the last laugh, inflicting Paderborn’s sole post-Christmas home defeat).
Equally, such a pro-active style of play brought about a few beatings, too – one extreme week going from that 4-1 win against Bochum to a 4-0 defeat at Karlsruhe – yet in Bundesliga 2, the attacking intent was often enough to undo teams. Of course, a league higher means there’ll be more of a challenge.
Can They Stay Up? Although Lukas Kruse might get used to picking the ball out of his net, Paderborn have given themselves every chance of out-gunning some of their lesser Bundesliga opponents. That said, some decent predictive models had them down as relegation candidates during the early part of last season, and look how than ended up. I’m going to edge just on the side of safe – I like what I’ve seen of Duksch, and the games I got to see of Paderborn last year fill me with encouragement.
Incidentally, if you want to catch Paderborn before their first Bundesliga season starts they have games planned against both Wigan Athletic and Everton.