The third-tier of German football marks the start of its fifth season this week, as the 2013/14 kicks-off with some of the most traditional clubs in the country competing in the division.
On Friday evening, all eyes are on Red Bull-backed RB Leipzig who make their debut at this level away to Hallescher. Leipzig’s main club has spent nearly £1m on Hansa Rostock’s U19 German international Nils Quaschner and have made a significant capture in VfB Stuttgart’s Joshua Kimmich. The 18-year-old was part of the club’s U19 squad last season and has recently been awarded a prestigious youth award from the DFB.
It looks inevitable, similarly to Hoffenheim’s rise, that Leipzig will eventually rise into the top two divisions. The club has made sizable investment, snatching some of the best young talents in the U19 age-range. A 9/5 away win at Hallescher is a decent price, with the hosts 8/5 but, generally, only targeting mid-table this season.
FC Hansa Rostock dropped down to the German third division in 2011-12 and really struggled to make the adjustment after major cost-cutting within the playing budget. For the North German club, things are a little more routine this summer with some strong experienced signings, like 35-year-old Furth midfielder Milorad Pekovic.
Finding a blend between young players and experience was a stumbling block last season and for 2013/14, they kick-off with a home match against Holstein Kiel, who were promoted from the Regional Leagues last season. It’s still early doors to guage the pedigree of Hansa Rostock, in terms of competing for the Championship, but at 12/11 on 188Bet and 21/10 StanJames, this seems like a 3.Liga Banker.
Another favourable bet comes at Preußen Münster – also being played on Saturday afternoon – who, in truth, were really unlucky not be promoted to the 2.Bundesliga last season.
American striker Matthew Taylor hit 16 goals last season for the club and they face a Wacker Burghausen squad who will likely finish in the bottom-half this season. Preußen Münster, of course, boosted by home advantage, are priced 7/10 with 188Bet, Unibet, Bwin and 888Sport.
Without evidence from competitive football to base predictions on, the other matches in the 3.Liga on Saturday afternoon are very balanced. An interesting clash could come at MSV Duisburg, a club demoted to the 3.Liga because of financial irregularities last season. Fans were infuriated and made human-chains, whilst setting fire to parts of their home stadium in protest.
What reaction will that spark amongst the players? Inexperienced coach Ivicia Grilic has added some pretty decent signings in the summer, including Deniz Aycicek from Hannover 96. They face tough opposition on Matchday One against Heidenheim who were among the top clubs in 2012/13 for most of last season, inspired by free-scoring captain Marc Schnatterer.
Aside from making Schnatterer a regular goalscoring pick, Duisburg will have something to prove at home in the 3.Liga. You can get the home side at 16/5 on Unibet and 888Sport, with 3/1 at Bet365. The bookies still place Heidenheim as the favourites, at 18/19 through 188Bet, yet with last season looking like a one-off, I’d suggest Duisburg would be an interesting side to punt for.
Two relegation candidates, potentially, fight it out at SV Darmstadt with Elversberg coming up from the regional divisions. The home side avoided relegation by the skin of their teeth but are odds-on favourites to beat the visitors with most bookmakers and 21/20 best-price at BetVictor.
Dortmund and Stuttgart’s reserve sides compete in the league and play in the opening weekend. They are set to be pretty even across the season, only really focusing on younger players in their squad. Dortmund, at home, are 6/5 at Bet365, SportingBet, 888Sport and William Hill, with Stuttgart 12/5 on Bet365 and possibly the most enticing bet of this match, as the draw stands at just 23/10.
A favoured winner could come at Saarbrucken with Wehen Wiesbaden coming off-the-back of a good 2012/13 season in seventh place. Wiesbaden are backed at 21/10 on BetVictor with the home side 11/8 on ToteSport.
Sunday’s only game also introduces one of the title favoruties into the reckoning. VfL Osnabruck finished third last season and lost in the relegation/promotion play-off against Dynamo Dresden over two legs. Perhaps, the strongest side of the 3.Liga overall, they have a good test against sixth-placed Chemnitz, who are priced at 6/5 across most bookmakers.
However, Osnabruck are a strong outfit. Backed at 12/5 on Bwin, they will almost certainly be rallied after last season’s near-miss to the 2.Bundesliga.
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