Defensive Frailties ⋆ An Old International

Defensive Frailties

Followers of the 2. Bundesliga know that Magdeburg are a team to watch – that is when they are allowed to play, their idea of play is breathtaking. It is positive football that puts the emphasis on playing, passing and movements of the players. It is a joy to watch. However, this joy turned into a frown as Magdeburg also have conceded eight goals in the last two games. EIGHT. Admittedly, they have also scored nine but this defensive frailty is worrying.

One moment of sloppiness

Schalke can play, that much is clear and if a team gives them a lifeline as Magdeburg have done, then it is only a question of time before the inevitable happens. Magdeburg gifted them a goal to make it 2-1 before half-time and it was just what Schalke needed. Within a few minutes after the restart, Schalke were level. Though Magdeburg added a third, Schalke scented blood and got what they were looking for and what they needed: a win. The final score of 4-3 mirrors the game, yet there is a sour note if you look at the game from Magdeburg’s perspective. Schalke simply did not happen during the first half hour, then the goal came and it was game on again. Magdeburg played superb football during this period and should hone three up. Yet, one error proved costly and swung the game the other way. Add in a substitution and suddenly Schalke appeared to be a different team altogether.

Shipping goals at the back while entertaining upfront

There is an overarching trend at Magdeburg that is worrying: it’s the fact that they ship goals like no other team in this division. Only Schalke and Magdeburg have conceded 12 goals after six matches this season, only Osnabrück is worse with 17 conceded. Yet, Magdeburg sit in fifth place while Osnabrück are bottom and Schalke are only beginning to find their feet in this division. While upfront they entertain, at the back, Magdeburg scare their supporters. To be fair, it has improved when compared to last season. There were three games, in which they conceded 11 goals, a 3-0 defeat away at St. Pauli, at home a desolate 4-0 thrashing against Hanover 96 and a spectacular 4-4 draw away at Kaiserslautern.

It is there and will possibly remain. As much as Jamie Lawrence reigned supreme against Sevilla, he is culpable for a few goals this season, yet it would be unfair to single him out. Football is a team sport and as such, all eleven are responsible to prevent Magdeburg from conceding as few goals as possible.

Moreover, not many teams will be as open at the back as Hertha or Schalke were but rather have the capacity to park the bus and thus deny Magdeburg the possibility to roam freely and score almost as they please. This will lead to painful and unnecessary defeats and may impact on this season’s outcome. Those teams also tend not to play a lot of positive football, i.e. they prefer to sit back out of necessity and focus on defending.

Magdeburg on the other side need space when going forward, and when that’s not there, it is going to be tricky for them. Therefore, any means to stop them conceding will be welcome.

As much as football is entertainment – Magdeburg shipping goals on the current scale is not much longer bearable.

image credit: © nighthawk101stock “Shattered Glass”, CC BY 3.0.

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