Not many people thought that Paderborn would finish well enough in Bundesliga 2 to make it to the top tier competition. There was not much hope of promotion at the midway point last season, but the North Rhine-Westphalia club rallied to make their first season in the Bundesliga. Now it will be about survival and sustained membership in the top flight. The emotions of promotion are gone and Paderborn must concentrate on competing against the best that Germany has to offer.
Paderborn rallied to a second place finish in Bundesliga 2. They were in ninth place place at the winter break with plenty of work to do. They doubled their wins in the second half by outscoring their opponents and not necessarily through great defense. They led the league in goals scored during the second half. In the 19 matches Paderborn played after December 1 they failed to earn points in only two. They turned a -4 goal differential on December 1 into a +15 differential when the season finished.
The defense is led by team captain Uwe Hünemeier. The central defender spent most of his career with Energie Cottbus after failing to breakthrough the first team with Borussia Dortmund. This will be his second year with Paderborn. Hünemeier has been consistent in 111 appearances in Bundesliga 2 as he has only received one red card.
The first choice keeper is Lukas Kruse. The hometown boy is under contract until this end of the year. He came up through the Paderborn academy before a 2008 move to Dortmund. He was shipped to Augsburg the next year and returned to Paderborn in 2010. His clean sheet record is poor, though, with only 13 recorded over the last 138 appearances.
Marvin Bakalorz is looking for an expanded role in the defensive midfield, despite struggling to breakthrough with Dortmund or Eintracht Frankfurt. However, Mario Vrancic will be the top choice to prowl the center of the field. He has a bit of an offensive touch with 19 assists over 65 matches with Paderborn. Surely you are sensing a theme by now, but Vrancic came over from Dortmund II. He does have one appearance in the top tier with Mainz.
Paderborn’s attack is good, but it may not stack up with the top tier teams. It is led by Albanian national Alban Meha. He is a free kick specialist that scored 12 goals in 23 league games last year. Six goals were from set pieces, more than any other player in the top two tiers last year. Meha is likely to miss the first month of the season with an injury.
Striker Elias Kachunga finally found a home last year with Paderborn. He has been on loan to three teams since joining Borussia Mönchengladbach in 2005. After scoring six goals and recording nine assists last year to help Paderborn gain promotion, Kachunga signed on permanently.
Friday night matches are a no-no at the home of the smallest stadium in the Bundesliga, Benteler Arena, after complaints from local residents. They won’t have a chance to start off any matchday, but the pressure is already on Sport-Club Paderborn 07 e.V. Realistically their goal should be to finish 15th, one spot out of relegation, in 2014-15. They will have to play a lot of close games and pull off a few surprises.
2014-15 Record: 4-9-21, 23 points, Last Place