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Germany: Play-offs 2/3
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Lautern and Dresden draw 0-0 in disappointing "Betzenberg Bore"

By Peter Vice   @ViceytheSS

Second division aspirants FC Kaiserslautern were unfortunately unable to match the intensity of their packed stadium Friday evening on the Betzenberg Hill. The first leg of the promotion-relegation playoff between Germany's second and third footballing flights ended in a 0-0 draw. 

The Rote Teufel now must travel to the Rudolf-Habrig-Stadion for the second leg on Tuesday. Halfway through the winner-take-all playoffs, it appears as if the advantage goes to Dynamo Dresden.
Fritz-Walter-Stadion.Photo: Kandschwar, CC BY-SA 3.0
In a match that petered out rather anticlimactically on Friday evening, Dynamo Dresden were able to escape hostile territory with a 0-0 draw in the first leg of the promotion-relegation playoffs in Germany's lower footballing divisions. Hosts 1. FC Kaiserslautern racked up a 14-2 shot advantage over their guests, but were only able to manage one shot on goal. Dresden, meanwhile, maintained the edge in possession, skillfully taking the air out of the match.

Newly appointed FCK trainer Dirk Schuster had to do without buccaneering fullback Philipp Hercher (muscular problems), midfielder Hikmet Ciftci (stomach bug). The Red Devil gaffer responded by pulling Felix Götze out of the XI and building a 4-2-3-1 split stagger with Jean Zimmer taking over for Hercher at right fullback, Daniel Hanslik working the left wing, and Julian Niehues back ahead of the back-four in a semi-sweeper role. German American striker Terrance Boyd spearheaded the attack.

Dynamo trainer Guerino Capretti--still seeking his first win with the club since taking over in early March--left the XI that lost 0-1 to Erzgebirge Aue on the final 3. Bundesliga matchday intact. Christoph Daferner and Ransford-Yeboah Königsdörffer started together up front. Patrick Weihrauch operated in the ten spot behind them. Guram Giorbelidze and Agyemang Diawusie served as defensive minded wingbacks in a 5-2-1-2. Captain Tim Knipping moved as the central defensive pivot runner.

The crowd of 46,719 in the Fritz Walter Stadion stands cheered on every last duel win as the Pfälzer took the early initiative. The visiting Saxons attempted to calm matters down with slow possession builds. The crowd still ignited with every last attempt by the hosts to pluck the ball away. The Devils got the first look at goal, with former Paderborn man Marlon Ritter sending an effort wide in the 9th. Two minutes later, Ritter narrowly missed a link up with Boyd in the box.

Despite all of the noise, the opening quarter-of-an-hour produced very little. Schuster's men didn't press especially high when Dynamo had the ball. The Saxon guests struggled to find ideas going forward. There was a prolonged injury timeout shortly after Hanslik and Dynamo's Paul Will bumped heads shortly before the 15-minute-mark. Will initially re-entered the match after receiving treatment on the sidelines, but was eventually subbed off for Yannick Stark in the 21st when he continued to display signs of a possible concussion.

There could be no doubt that the home side were asserting themselves better in the midfield duels. The match still remained largely uneventful as mistakes and inaccuracies on both sides kept the ball out of the respective penalty areas. Lautern's Kenny Prince Redondo was able to get some penetration on the flank as the half-hour mark neared. That brief spark was quickly snuffed out and the game returned to a midfield stalemate. Neither side even managed a shot on goal until Boyd put a tame effort on the turn into keeper Kevin Broll's arms in the 44th.

Chances were once again at a premium after the restart. The affair continued to lack rhythm. What few incursions there were on both sides were passionately defended through the first ten minutes. The middle remained completely clogged. Sliding blocks prevented either team from completing crosses into the box. The hour-mark came and went without much anything of note happening offensively. The hosts undeniably began to look leggy; short on energy and ideas.

Schuster opted to take off Niehues--booked for a tactical foul in the 59th--in favor of Götze in the 66th. The FCK press stepped up slightly. There was a brief infiltration into the Dresden penalty are in the 71st. The Lautern attackers unfortunately couldn't sort out the distribution in front of Kroll's goal. Fans from both sides quieted down considerably as more subs interrupted the flow through the 77th. The match in general fizzled out thereafter, with neither team prepared to take any risks.

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