Our next opponents: Yo-yo team with goals in mind

Bundesliga action finally returns to the BayArena. Bayer 04 start the 41st season in succession in the top flight at home on Saturday (17 August, 15.30 CET) – and the opponents are very special. SC Paderborn 07 have been through a helter-skelter ride in recent seasons that is almost unparalleled in German professional football. Not only was the path back to the Bundesliga unconventional but the playing philosophy is rather unusual for a newly promoted club.


Staying up and SC Paderborn – that hasn't been the case in the recent past. The team from East Westphalia has not been in the same division at the end of the campaign in any of the past six seasons – and even then SCP could have been relegated. The club finished 18th in the third division and it appeared the slide from the Bundesliga straight down to the Regional League was on. However, as 1860 Munich were not granted a licence for the third division, that benefited Paderborn and the decline turned into a rapid rise. Coach Steffen Baumgart (pictured above) and Markus Krösche as sporting director led the team to two promotions in succession and SCP are back where they started their fall in the 2014/15 season: in the Bundesliga. Back then, they were relegated straightaway but now they are looking for a longer term adventure. Above all, the team want to make a lasting impression in Germany's top flight with spectacular attacking football as that was the way the rags to riches story first started for the East Westphalians. 90 goals in the third division, 76 in Bundesliga 2: Hardly any team in German professional football has played such an with such uncompromising attacking verve as SCP. The fact that shouldn't change this term was evident in the opening fixture in the DFB Cup: Playing against the fourth division side Rödinghausen, the score was 3-3 after 90 hectic minutes with Paderborn coming out on top in the penalty shootout. It is fair to assume that Paderborn will not lack the courage to attack at the BayArena on Saturday.


Major activity in the transfer market is not possible for Paderborn after two promotions as the budget is still at second division levels. The new signings over the summer came from Cottbus, Rostock, Duisburg or the second team at Borussia Dortmund. Of the new players, only the goalkeeper Jannick Huth and winger Gerrit Holtmann have experience of the Bundesliga although the pair only played for the Mainz 05 reserves. Huth proved to be the matchwinner against Rödinghausen by saving two penalties. There are no real stars in the SCP team; playmaker Philipp Klement joined VfB Stuttgart after having an outstanding season in the second division. As the winger Bernard Tekpetey is now playing for Fortuna Düsseldorf rather than Paderborn, Baumgart is missing two of his most prolific strikers from last season. The maxim is therefore: Make up for departures in the collective and perhaps produce another new Klement – albeit without sporting director Krösche who moved on to RB Leipzig after the promotion.


Baumgart's playing philosophy of always trying to score allows opposition teams space for their own attacks. Even fourth division Rödinghausen put three goals past the Paderborn defence in the DFB Cup tie and a 3-1 lead did not give SCP the hoped-for stability. How the East Westphalians intend to stop the Bundesliga attacks and whether the defence has the necessary quality are not insignificant question marks ahead of the second season in the top flight in the club's history. Likewise, it remains to be seen how much the loss of Klement will affect the attacking game. The danger he poses at set plays could have been a big plus for Baumgart's team in the Bundesliga.


"With the promotion, we are securing second division status," said Steffen Baumgart in the summer with a sense of understatement. The target of SCP is to establish a position amongst the best 30 clubs in Germany over the long term. The Bundesliga is not only a blessing for the club in that project – but also for coach Baumgart as the off the pitch affairs should not be as turbulent as in the past. Young, unknown players are to be brought through, the attacking system of play further refined so that a repeat of 2015 should not happen in the event of another relegation. At the same time, the team has the potential to surprise a lot of people in the Bundesliga – and not just in individual matches.


In spite of an outstanding campaign in the second division, Paderborn are the rank outsiders in the new Bundesliga season. The names in the squad are too unfamiliar and the quality appears too limited, particularly in defence. However: Those problems have been predicted for the East Westphalians in the previous two seasons where SCP exceeded all expectations. Paderborn can now only be seen as winners – a circumstance that will definitely go towards helping them play with a more relaxed style. The Paderborn attack can hurt every opponent in the Bundesliga. If Baumgart succeeds in adapting his playing system to the new division and the defence finds the necessary stability then staying up is definitely achievable – it would be the first time since 2013.

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