Both teams had a great start at the resumption of Bundesliga 2 football. FCK beat fellow promotion hopefuls Eintracht Braunschweig 2-0 away from home pushing themselves up into third place, the promotion play-off spot. Their weekend was made even better by the fact that today’s opponents who are struggling at the wrong end of the table held Kaiserslautern’s promotion rivals Darmstadt 98 to a goalless draw.
One of the home side’s goalscorers against Braunschweig was Alexander Ring but the Finnish midfielder suffered a medial ligament tear ruling him out for eight games. This is a big blow for Die Roten Teufel as according to the Kicker player ratings he is currently their best player.
Today was Simon Zoller’s first start after returning to the club on loan from FC Köln. Zoller left Kaiserslautern at the end of last season after scoring 13 goals for them. Even with Ring’s injury head coach Kosta Runjaic decided only two changes were necessary with Tim Heubach dropping to the bench to make room for Dominique Heintz and Zoller stepping in for the injured Ring.
For Aalen inconsistency has clearly been the problem this season. Impressive victories against Fortuna Düsseldorf in the league and Hannover 96 in the DFB Pokal have been outweighed by losses to sides around. They have lost to St. Pauli, SV Sandhausen, FSV Frankfurt and others. However after last weekend’s positive draw against high-flying Darmstadt coach Stephan Ruthenbeck decided no changes were needed.
The first real chance of the tie fell to FCK midfielder Kerem Demirbay who from around 30 yards out directed the ball onto the crossbar from his free kick position. Aalen only had one opening in the opening stages and it fell to Jurgen Gjasula after he made a dangerous run inside. Unfortunately for him he couldn’t get any power on his effort and it was straight at the keeper.
Die Roten Teufel took the lead in the 22nd minute when they countered following an Aalen corner kick. Zoller was sent clear down the left just onside and he made his way forward before playing the ball across the box for Jean Zimmer who fired home. Afterwards they nearly doubled their lead when one of last week’s goal scorers, Philipp Hofmann, was given the ball inside the box. His shot, like Gjasula’s, was straight at the keeper and saved comfortably.
The beginning of the second half was extremely dull with neither side creating a noteworthy. Kaiserslautern repeatedly got into good positions but tried to overplay it causing them to lose possession. In the 59th minute Erik Thommy came on for Dermibay and he added some much needed attacking impetus to the FCK attack. In the 65th minute he had a decent effort from distance but it was once again straight at the keeper.
Then Mateusz Klich came on for Zoller and he almost immediately scored with a move not too dissimilar to the Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang goal against Augsburg last night but unlike the Gabon international he couldn’t direct his effort goalwards. The final action of the game came in the 87th minute when some quick exchanges between the FCK players set up Thommy on the edge of the box but his effort was parried by the keeper’s legs before Chris Löwe put the rebound wide.