After 9 years stuck in the 3rd tier, FC Hansa Rostock are back in the 2. Bundesliga after finishing 2nd in the 3. Liga behind SG Dynamo Dresden. Another East German club back in Germany's 2nd tier, how will they fare in what could be the most competitive 2. Bundesliga season?
|The East German ship is finally back in the German 2nd tier following a 9-year absence.|
Manager: Jens Härtel
Founded: 28 December 1965
Nicknames: Hansa, Hanseaten, Kogge (The Cogs), Hansa-Kogge, Ostseestädter (People of the Baltic Sea)
Pre-season start: June 17th
Training camp: July 5th to 10th in Kremmen, Brandenburg
Friendlies: June 23rd: MSV Pampow 0-10 Hansa, June 26th: Amker Wismar 0-3 Hansa, June 30th: Hansa 9-1 Berliner AK, July 3rd: Hansa 3-1 FSV Luckenwalde, July 7th: Hansa 4-3 Viktoria Berlin, July 10th: VfL Wolfsburg 0-3 Hansa, July 17th: Hansa 1-2 Eintracht Braunschweig
Hansa have enjoyed a very successful pre-season, winning all of their games except 1 against the relegated 2. Bundesliga side Eintracht Braunschweig. Hansa have scored an unprecedented amount of goals and look in good form going into their return to the 2nd tier.
Summer signings and departures
Additions: Ridge Munsy (Würzburger Kickers), Kevin Schumacher (TSV Havelse), Hanno Behrens (1.FC Nürnberg), Calogero Rizzuto (Erzgebirge Aue), Thomas Meißner (Puskas AFC), Svante Ingelsson (Udinese), Streli Mamba (Kairat Almaty, loan), Paul Wiese (Bonner SC, loan ends), Theo Martens (promoted from Hansa U19)
Departures: Erik Engelhardt (Energie Cottbus), Paul Wiese (Virginia Cavaliers), Nils Butzen (FSV Zwickau), Max Reinthaler (FSV Zwickau), Philip Türpitz (Türkgücü München), Aaron Herzog (Hallescher FC), Luca Horn (FSV Zwickau, loan), Oliver Daedlow (TSV Havelse, loan), Lion Lauberbach (Holstein Kiel, loan ends), Korbinian Vollmann (end of contract)
Hansa have been good in the market, bringing in a serial goalscorer from Würzburg in the form of Ridge Munsy. The Swiss forward scored 10 goals for the Kickers as they, unfortunately, got relegated from the 2. Bundesliga last season. Munsy was the only transfer in which Hansa have spent money for, their biggest addition in my opinion is bringing in the experienced head of Hanno Behrens from 1.FC Nürnberg. Over 180 games in the 2. Bundesliga playing for Hamburg, Darmstadt and Nürnberg, Behrens brings in much-needed experience in a midfield that has not seen 2. Bundesliga action in their careers for a team that hasn't played 2nd tier football for 9 years. A very shrewd signing by the Hansa Rostock boss Jens Härtel.
First six matches
Matchday 1 - vs Karlsruher SC (H), Saturday 24th July, 13:30 local
Matchday 2 - vs Hannover 96 (A), Saturday 31st August, 13:30 local
Matchday 3 - vs 1.FC Heidenheim (A), Sunday 15th August, 13:30 local
Matchday 4 - vs SG Dynamo Dresden (H), Saturday 21st August, 20:30 local
Matchday 5 - vs SV Werder Bremen (A), Sunday 29th August, 13:30 local
Matchday 6 - vs SV Darmstadt 1898 (H), Sunday 12th September, 13:30 local
The man between the sticks has to be the key player for me. He is also the man with the captain's armband, Markus Kolke. I could've gone for another striker as I did with Dynamo Dresden, with Dutch striker John Verhoek bagging 12 goals and picking up 6 assists. But the man leading from the front as captain of Hansa has to be the key man in their effort to stay up. Kolke kept 12 clean sheets in Hansa's promotion season and as mentioned before, he is the captain and is expected to lead from the front. Kolke has played 286 games in the 3. Liga but has not played a single minute in the 2. Bundesliga so it will be breaking new ground for him and the majority of the Hansa squad, so his leadership becomes even more for the Ostseestädter.
Jens Härtel experimented a lot over the course of the 2019/20 season, using formations with 3-man, 4-man, and sometimes 5-man defensive systems. But one thing that remained consistent was Härtel's use of wingers and 1 striker. Only 4 out of the 38 matches in that season did Härtel use a 2-striker formation. Härtel often went with 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 if he decided on a 4-man defence, and for the first couple of games, John Verhoek was not playing due to injury. When he returned, both he and attacking midfielder Bentley Baxter Bahn formed a brilliant partnership with both feeding each other goals and assists. Härtel will be building his starting XI around these 2 players, so don't be surprised to see a switch-up in the Hansa formation on a regular basis.
The writer's opinion
Hansa's fans have been crying out for success ever since their relegation from the 2. Bundesliga and following 9 years of waiting, Hansa finally get their chance back in Germany's 2nd tier. How will they fare? I'm predicting a struggling season for the Hansa-Kogge. They have added players to the squad with 2. Bundesliga experience, namely Behrens and Munsy, but will it be enough to stave off relegation? I'm not sure. The goals from Verhoek and the attacking output from Baxter Bahn will be vital, but I believe the effort from Kolke and his defence, no matter the formation, will be even more vital to ensure Hansa's survival in the 2. Bundesliga.