Slide and Jump ⋆ An Old International

Slide and Jump

The good news don’t stop coming for 1. FC Magdeburg. Their recent results read played five, won three with two draws at 14 goals scored with five conceded. A year ago, the picture looked much bleaker, there was genuine fear the Club might go down. Among these five games there were two top games which were indeed the best promotion for this division.

The game against Saarbrücken has already been reported on – the focus is on Kaiserslautern. Both clubs have their history and looking at the fan bases of either it is somewhat staggering to see them both in the third division of the German football pyramid. After a rocky start, Kaiserslautern fell into their stride and rightly sit in second spot, even though theirs going into administration and still displaying a big mouth does not go down with fans of other clubs.

However, the game started off with a superbly taken free kick which outwitted the offside trap Magdeburg had set. There were six (SIX!!!) so-called Red Devils free in front of goal. In normal circumstances this would result in a goal. Yet K’Lautern made themselves look stupid as they squandered this sitter of a goal. Their approach was one of hassling and disrupting the flow of play Magdeburg have developed this season. Pushing, shoving were on their agenda. And as soon as Magdeburg played a notch rougher, they went down applying textbook histrionics. It took a while before Magdeburg found their mettle and their way into the game. After 32 minutes Ito played a superb pass from the goal line into the middle to Conteh.

Now Sirlord Conteh is one player who would have shot over or wide or stumbled over the ball in previous seasons. This year is different. He had no problems in converting this pass. A little surprising maybe but deserved as Kaiserlautern just could not convert their chances into goals.

The second half was the same: Lautern hassling and getting their equalizer. This was not undeserved. Yet, Magdeburg gave the best answer: scoring shortly afterwards. It was Atik who converted a penalty. The game went crazier as on the opposite end, Lautern had a penalty awarded themselves. Arrogance, stupidity played their role and Ritter saw his shot saved. Eventually they got their goal to make it 2-2. It stayed that way and that is OK for anyone involved. Magdeburg kept their nearest rival at bay – the cushion is still 12 points and Lautern have a three point gap to third placed Saarbrücken.

Two Slides

The main talking points will be two tackles. Each time it was a Magdeburg player who was at the center of the attention. During the first half, Lautern surmounted the high line Magdeburg had set up and released Terence Boyd. Through on goal it was only a matter how he would score. Yet, he did not include a certain Alexander Bittroff in his calculation. Or rather, he came to the forgone conclusion that he would score. Anyway, Bittroff, just recovered from a calf injury sprinted back, caught up with Boyd and timed his sliding tackle so well that not only did he prevent the striker from scoring, he made sure that the ball would go out for a goal kick. This was a monster of a tackle that could have gone horrendously wrong and result in a red card and a penalty. It did not. The 250 away fans celebrated wildly and rightly. As did any armchair fan.

The second was divisive and will ascertain that Lautern and Magdeburg will hardly be friends in the future. It was the 90th minute and there was some hustle in front of the Lautern dug out when Florian Kath came to the fore and lunged into the opponent two feet first. He hit the ball – clearly, there are no two opinions about it. The ball rocketed away and the opposite player, Kiprin stayed well on his feet but was utterly scared. Again, this could have gone wrong and we would be having a debate along the lines „oh, he’s not that kind of player“. Surely, he is not and only Kath himself knows what went on in that moment. In the ending melee Kaiserslautern rode the waves as only the Brits did when building their empire. Yes, understandably, this was a difficult situation but it does not justify that players and staff are pushed to the ground and strangled. Magdeburg’s assistant coach Silvio Bankert was sent off as he infringed the coaching zone of the home team but the Lautern coaching staff are allowed to run onto the pitch without being allowed to do so. Moreover, Lautern’s staff or players are allowed to pull down the visiting team’s assistant coach without consequences? And the player, Kath was viciously attacked by Lautern players who more often than not this season have played the role of wind-up merchants.

The positives outweigh the negatives: Magdeburg are still top, the cushion is still twelve points strong and the possibility to secure promotion by March have increased even more.

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