42 Years of Hurt ⋆ An Old International

42 Years of Hurt

Magdeburg have done the almost unthinkable: beating Hansa Rostock at their own ground for the first time in 42 years.

Magdeburg are the team of the hour – not only did they beat Hansa – this was their sixth game unbeaten, their fourth win on the trot and the fourth clean sheet. They have halved their goal deficit from -16 to just -8 have opened up a gap of four points between them and the first relegation spot. By beating Hansa they have also made history – Magdeburg had not won in Rostock since October 1978.

This metamorphosis from a team of no hopers to one that works disciplined on the pitch, passes the ball around with ease and confidence and scores goals is the story of the hour in Germany’s Liga 3. Within weeks of the arrival of Christian Titz, FC Magdeburg look a different team, one that does not grind out results but takes the game to the opposition. The first twenty-five minutes against Rostock are the best example for this. Hansa and Magdeburg have swapped roles it seemed: as soon as Hansa had the ball, Magdeburg pressed and immediately strung a number of quick passes around midfield once they regained possession.

Not so long ago, Magdeburg would have played a long ball after winning it – there was no easier way for the opposition to outplay them: simply wait for the long ball and collect it. Now however, there are hardly any long balls and if so, they reach their destination and do not go awol. This short passing game, even in tight situations and angles is the most obvious development. Besides winning and scoring goals and not conceding.

Hansa simply could not get out of their slumber and handed Magdeburg the game and thus three points. They had their chances and even a disallowed goal but the defeat was deserved as almost all observers admitted. The rotation policy of Jens Härtel saw four former Magdeburg players taking the pitch: Jan Löhmannsröben, Philipp Türpitz, Björn Rother and Tobias Schwede. Neither had a particular good game, Löhmansröben was in danger to be sent off, Rother had one shot as had Türpitz – both blocked, while the youngest of this quartet, Schwede was invisible except one corner-kick.

With one nil up and the opposition throwing men forwards, you would expect sooner or later that Magdeburg to crack and concede. Not so in April 2021.

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