Light at the end of the Tunnel ⋆ An Old International

Light at the end of the Tunnel

The second English week in league 3 brought an improved yield: from a possible nine points, Magdeburg gathered four. The last time it was three and consigned Magdeburg to the relegation zone. As with all series and runs: they come to an end at some point.

The Set-Up

Late November and the season is in full swing, with a third (13) of 38 matches played; Magdeburg have twelve points thus just under one point per game and a goal ratio of 12:20, also less than one goal per game but almost 1,5 goals per game conceded. This is alarming yet the signs are positive. Taking into account the last five matches, Magdeburg have just lost once – against – Ingolstadt, managed two draws and won as many games. The trajectory thus is upwards. The mid-week game at home against Hansa Rostock was emotionally charged as with Jens Härtel the Club’s second most successful coach made his return and with him he brought former players Björn Rother and Jan Löhmannsröben; former captain Nils Butzen missed the game due to injury. The consolation for Magdeburg’s supporters is that Rostock with Härtel at the helm have not progressed much since he took over early 2019. In fact, they seem to have a strong start and currently are searching their form as Dynamo Dresden has beaten them by three goals to one just before their arrival in Magdeburg. It was therefore a game neither team could afford to lose and the 1-1 draw was the only reasonable outcome, event though it to one’s benefit. Magdeburg took the lead after 31 minutes through their talisman, Christian Beck. Never before has it taken him so long to score his first goal of the season. It was a huge relief for the team and for the player, of course. It lifted Magdeburg temporarily until half-time. After the re-start it was Rostock who came out more alert and duly netted to level the score. That was that. Magdeburg seem to gather points one by one and hope to have the required 45+ by the end of the season. In other words: this was not enough for them.The anxiety was amplified by the fact that Saturday an away game at Zwickau loomed. And that meant zero points in the last encounters. Zwickau are no easy pushover of an opponent. Not for Magdeburg anyway. The weakness of all series and runs is: at one point they all come to an end. And so it happened last Saturday.

The game was a dour affair, neither team hit some high notes, the first half was over and the impression was that hardly any football has been played. Magdeburg, the visitors had a minor advantage but could not convert this into chances. The biggest chance fell to Zwickau but it was Beck (the centre forward!!!) who scrapped the ball off the line! This was nothing for a connoisseur with an appetite for fine football. The second half offered more of the same and by the 70 minute mark most observers agreed that a 0-0 draw will be the outcome of this game. Only to revise their match reports as two minutes later Andreas Müller – the discovery of the season, it has to be said – let loose a wonderful strike with his right foot that arched over the outstretched arms of Zwickau keeper Brinkies and into the angle. Goal! Magnificent as it was unexpected. This is football. One moment of genius turns around a match.

At the final whistle, Magdeburg have recorded their first away win this season and ended their run of negative results away at Zwickau. The last time the blue and whites recorded a win at Zwickau was in 2013! It was on 19 November 2013, so it was almost to the day seven years.

However, it remains to be seen if this is the end of the tunnel or the oncoming train on the same track.

Spot of bother

As much as the supporters and the players delighted in the goal and three points, there is one immense spot of bother. It is the injuries of Sirlord Conteh and Luka Sliskovic within the first half hour of the game. Both held their hamstring, indicating a tear or hopefully only a strained muscle. First was Conteh after twelve minutes. He was replaced by Bertram; twenty minutes later it was Sliskovic, also clutching his hamstring. Brüsker was on for him.

The worry here is that either will be out for some weeks with the programme not letting up. After three matches in six days, questions have to be asked about the regeneration for the players and the fitness coach has to respond. This is his responsibility. As always, other issues may have affected these injuries such as a long bus journey, though Magdeburg and Zwickau are not that far apart, 260km.

Bringing Brünker for Sliskovic was like having an Audi equipped with VW Polo engine. Brünker is a centre forward – at this point he was the second centre forward as Beck occupies the same role. However, the latter is way more mobile and tracks back enormously during matches, hence his save on the line. Brünker’s only highlight was his pass to Müller from which he scored. Though it is not clear if he really passed it or if the ball bounced loose. The only other option would have been Malachowski. This raises questions about the squad and its depth. Are there really two players, equally strong players for each position?

These are worthy points of discussion and should give the coaching team something to think about. It is now important to confirm this trend: Friday Meppen will be coming, currently last in the table with four games (!!!) less due to Corona. However, this will be no easy game either but it will be a must win for Magdeburg. There are no excuses.

From Titanic to Light

The goal changed the outcome of the game and the headline of this match report. A 0-0 draw would have meant a headline in the mould of the Titanic where the band played just until the end in order to calm the passengers. The strike by Müller has sparked a light at the end of the tunnel. However, it remains to be seen if this is the end of the tunnel or the oncoming train on the same track.

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