The 2. Bundesliga season is back and here are five different things we learned from the first nine fixtures.
1. Football is nothing without fans
My first point and the most important thing I learned from the first matchday: fans. It was great to see spectators back in the stadium after months away. Even though there was capacity restrictions, I don't think anyone would've noticed. They added to the spectacle and will continue to do so until the final whistle of the last matchday.
2. Schalke too cautious
Schalke 04 had a dream start under the lights at the Veltins Arena. Simon Terodde, who missed a glaring chance just minutes earlier, didn't miss his second opportunity and a silky chip over the keeper sent 'Die Königsblauen' into dreamland. However, Schalke started to slow down after scoring and allowed Hamburger SV, a Tim Walter team, back into the match. They dropped off and the press was with less conviction, they had a close shave when Robert Glatzel missed a penalty in the first half and I thought that would be the turning point. No one was surprised when Glatzel scored just after half-time and HSV controlled the game from there, Schalke doing everything to keep a point. Dimitrios Grammozis was too cautious in his approach and Terodde almost had no opportunities after his goal, this has to be different next time.
3. St. Pauli are the real deal
After the excellent second half of the season in 2020/21, St. Pauli had a lot of admirers going into the new season. People thought that the confidence and feel-good factor would continue and St. Pauli could be a dark horse for promotion. I was one of those people, but I didn't actually believe it. I placed them second on my predictions as a bit of a wildcard pick, changing myself from the rest who had either Bremen, Schalke, Kiel, HSV in their top two. I never fully thought they would deliver though. They did against Holstein Kiel. Before I talk about St. Pauli, there's nothing to worry about for the Storks. They weren't bad at all stats-wise they were with St. Pauli all game. The difference was, 'Kiezkicker' were just better. The eleventh minute strike from Leart Paqarada almost emphasised the swagger that Pauli possess and the second half goals finished off an already dead Holstein Kiel. There's still 33 matches left, granted. But if St. Pauli were to be promotion contenders, they'll do it with style. This big win over Kiel is just the start.
4. Dynamo Dresden won't be relegated
Maybe too much of a hot take and kneejerk reaction after one game, but I really don't see any way that Dresden will be troubled this season. They comfortably destroyed fellow newly-promoted Ingolstadt, having 65% of the ball and also running 3km more than their opponents. Maybe that was just Ingolstadt playing badly and time will tell if that's so, but I don't think it was. They have some of the best support in the division at the Rudolf Harbig Stadion and can cause any team problems there. I think the worst they will do is in the relegation-playoff places, but I just don't see them doing worse.
5. Sandhausen still decent even after loss
I watched Sandhausen's defeat to Fortuna Düsseldorf and instantly thought about the threat the home team possesses rather than the loss itself. That's something I haven't actually done for Sandhausen in a while but I was genuinely impressed with them. They had more possession and although they didn't create better chances (Fortuna had 2.74 xG compared to Sandhausen's 0.79), the threat was definitely there. I was particularly impressed with Chima Okoroji and Pascal Testroet working together on the left side and they provided constant difficulties to Matthias Zimmermann who is not the best defender. Sandhausen need to win games and needs to find a way to win, but if they can be a threat to anyone in the division, they can go a long way.