bundesliga.com turns the spotlight on six clubs that have flattered to deceive in their mid-season warm-up games in 2015...
FC Schalke 04
Winter form: LDL
After earning just four points from their last three games in 2014, Roberto Di Matteo’s Schalke stumbled into the new year too. A sun-kissed training camp in Qatar may have improved their fitness, but the Royal Blues fell to a 2-0 defeat against Ajax, drew 2-2 with Sudanese side Al-Merrikh SC and threw away a 1-0 lead to lose 2-1 to SK Rapid Wien on Saturday. The absence of top scorer Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, away at the Africa Cup of Nations, and injured first-team regulars including Julian Draxler and Atsuto Uchida have not helped, but with Hannover 96, FC Bayern München and Borussia Mönchengladbach one the agenda, they need to improve to keep their Champions League qualification hopes alive.
Winter form: WLWL
The Eagles likewise tailed off towards the end of the Hinrunde, chalking up just two points from the last nine available. They ran off the Christmas excess in a 2-0 win over lower-league side SV Wehen Wiesbaden, but lost 3-2 to Hamburger SV during their training camp in Abu Dhabi. Thomas Schaaf’s men then had to come from behind to beat Al-Ain 3-1 but slipped to a 4-3 reverse against Swiss second division outfit Servette FC. Frankfurt looked shaky at the back and the number of goals conceded is a worry, but at least Alexander Meier and Haris Seferovic haven’t lost their strikers’ instincts, netting five between them so far in 2015.
1. FSV Mainz 05
Winter form: LDL
Mainz’s tailspin began on Matchday 9 and they have been unable to . Any hopes of turning over a new leaf in 2015 were quickly dashed in a disappointing 1-0 friendly defeat to SC Freiburg, and their subsequent 1-1 draw with Bundesliga 2 side Eintracht Braunschweig also left plenty to be desired. To make matters worse, coach Kasper Hjulmand’s men were resolutely beaten 4-1 by Bayer 04 Leverkusen just a few days ago. Mainz sit just three points off the foot of the standings, so the upcoming Bundesliga fixtures against Paderborn and Hertha Berlin - two of their neighbours in the table - could go a long way in determining which course the rest of their season will take.
Winter form: LDLW
After conceding nine goals in their final two games before the winter break, it was clear that Hertha coach Jos Luhukay needed to address his side’s defensive issues. However, the capital club still looked shaky in their first test of the new year, losing 3-1 to Hallescher FC and drawing 1-1 with another third division side, FC Energie Cottbus. They improved to draw with Swiss outfit BSC Young Boys, eventually losing on penalties but managed a 1-0 win over FC Thun to round off their winter training camp. Hertha’s Matchday 18 encounter away to Werder Bremen next weekend will give a good indication of whether or not a Rückrunde turnaround will be possible.
Winter form: WDLD
Considering they had scored just nine goals in their first 17 league matches this season, Hamburg’s 3-2 victory over Bundesliga rivals Eintracht Frankfurt was a promising enough start to their mid-season schedule. However, Josef Zinnbauer’s side have failed to win any of their three matches since, scoring only once in the process. An uneventful 0-0 draw with Kazakh top-flight outfit FC Astana was followed up by a 2-0 defeat to English Premier League champions Manchester City FC. A late Maximilian Beister goal rescued another draw for HSV against Odense BK on Saturday but, based on that evidence, 1. FC Köln will have little to fear when they travel to the Imtech Arena on Saturday.
Winter form: LWWLL
The Bundesliga’s bottom club have done little to ease their supporters’ fears going into the second half of the 2014/15 campaign, winning just two of their five friendlies this month. After losing 1-0 to Albanian side KF Skenderbeu Korce, die Breisgauer recorded consecutive victories over Mainz 05 and SC Preußen Münster, but a 5-0 defeat at the hands of Bundesliga 2 side Karlsruher SC will have set alarm bells ringing in Christian Streich’s ears going into this weekend’s clash with Frankfurt. A 2-0 defeat to UEFA Champions League last 16 participants FC Basel 1893 is by no means a disaster, but there is clearly plenty of work to be done if the Black Forest club are to avoid relegation this season.