Max Kruse and Lars Stindl (l-r.) will bring big experience to Bundesliga 2 this term. - © Getty
Max Kruse and Lars Stindl (l-r.) will bring big experience to Bundesliga 2 this term. - © Getty
2. Bundesliga

Lars Stindl and Max Kruse set to spice things up in Bundesliga 2


Famed the world over as one of the most-exciting second-tier competitions around, Bundesliga 2 is set to be even more unmissable next season with the arrivals of Lars Stindl and Max Kruse.

After last term’s most dramatic of finales, fans far and wide were left awe struck at events on the most spectacular of final days. The drama spinning into added time around the grounds, it all ended with Heidenheim making the jump to the big time as Bundesliga 2 champions with Darmstadt - having already secured promotion - following them up in second place.   

With another rip-roaring Bundesliga 2 campaign kicking off at the end of this month, plenty of attention will understandably be trained on how giants Hamburg, Hertha Berlin and Schalke fare.

However, with the rest of the division’s challengers strengthening over the summer, focus will also turn to those teams who pushed hard last term. Among them will be Karlsruhe and Paderborn, whose ambitions have been lifted by a couple of seasoned Bundesliga pros.     

Watch: Excitement always abounds in Bundesliga 2 

Both former Germany internationals, Stindl and Kruse collected almost 700 Bundesliga appearances between them during their respective, impressive careers. The 2023/24 campaign will not represent their first rodeo in the second tier either, with Stindl having come through at boyhood side Karlsruhe and Kruse having played in the division before with St Pauli.

Having recently called time on an eight-season spell at Borussia Mönchengladbach, the 34-year-old Stindl is delighted to be back at the team where he first hit lift-off.

"I’m so happy to be coming back home with my family and to play for KSC, the club where it all started,” Stindl said on his return to a side for whom he spent seven years as a youth-team player before being promoted to the pros. Indeed, the Speyer native’s Bundesliga debut and first top-flight goal came in KSC’s colours back in 2008.

Stindl enjoyed an exceptional eight seasons with Gladbach. - getty images

Karlrsuhe fans – who witnessed their team finish seventh last term – will feel even more excited about seeing returning hero Stindl perform at the shiny new BBBank Wildpark, with refurbishment works completed at the ground ahead of a prestigious friendly against Liverpool soon.

“Together [with Lars] we’re already looking forward to the new season in the then completed BBBank Wildpark,” Karlsruhe managing director Michael Becker said in April. “With him, we are gaining an exceptional player and an iconic figure,” the club official added.

MOENCHENGLADBACH, GERMANY - MAY 27: A banner from the fans representing Lars Stindl of Borussia Moenchengladbachs last game as he will retire. Prior to the Bundesliga match between Borussia Moenchengladbach and FC Augsburg at Borussia-Park on May 27, 2023 in Moenchengladbach, Germany. (Photo by Neil Baynes/Getty Images) - Stindl was a fan favourite at Borussia-Park.

Stindl was certainly that, first at Hannover – where he spent five seasons – and then, Gladbach. At the latter, driving the Foals forward and scoring some memorable goals (he netted 83 in all for Die Borussen) became a huge part of the player’s pull and the reason for his popularity at Borussia-Park, where he even delighted supporters in the UEFA Champions League.  

Kruse, meanwhile, has drawn plaudits in equal measure during a career that has seen the northerner play for the aforementioned Pauli, as well as Werder Bremen, Freiburg, Gladbach, Wolfsburg (twice), Fenerbahce and Union Berlin.

“Max's footballing qualities and goal instinct are undisputed,” Paderborn ‘s managing director for sport, Benjamin Weber, enthused when Kruse arrived to put pen to paper on a deal at the Benteler-Arena. “His leadership strength and his experience at national and international level will also help us a lot,” Weber added.

Netting 143 goals in 513 senior appearances across 18 seasons marks Kruse out as one of Germany’s elder footballing statesman and although he turned 35 back in March, the attacker believes he has plenty yet to give as he prepares for one more challenge in North Rhine-Westphalia.

“I don't want to talk too much because in the end I prefer to show what I can do on the pitch,” Kruse – who joined Paderborn as a free agent – said at his unveiling. “There are essentially only three things to say: I'm really into my football; I'm hungry for success and I want to attack with SC Paderborn 07!" he concluded.

Kruse has amassed more than 500 senior club appearances. - Bongarts/Getty Images

Paderborn finished in sixth place last term but were knocking on the promotion door for long spells during a campaign that saw Lukas Kwasniok’s side finish as Bundesliga 2’s second-highest scorers behind Hamburg.

In Kruse, they have landed a player whose assist stats are almost on a par with his goals tally down through the years, the 15-time Germany international laying on 133 goals at senior level.

With Stindl and Kruse’s experience and expertise adding to the party this term, Bundesliga 2 is going to be riveting and it all kicks off on the weekend of 28 July. Popcorn at the ready.