More than a third of the season have been played and Magdeburg look not convincing. The moment this began came during the match against Schalke 04 in September. The team of Christian Titz were cruising to victory and were already 2-0 up after 30 minutes when Schalke suddenly scored. It swung the momentum the other way and Magdeburg came home with a 4-3 defeat. Only a week before, they entertained the country by beating Hertha BSC 6-4. The scoring frenzy did not cover the defensive frailties. Ever since, Magdeburg have not won a single game, except the DFB cup match against Kiel, which they have also already beaten in the league. The record since then reads: played six, lost four, drawn two; two points from a possible 18. It is clear that this is relegation form and should this negative run continue, it will result in exactly that.
It is quite a remarkable development going from dark horse for promotion to relegation contender in just a few weeks. At one point, Magdeburg sat second in the table and many thought of the unimaginable: playing first division. This is a distant dream and may continue to be just that.
Form and Confidence
However, there are reasons for that. In the eyes of the supporters, some players need a rest, either because they look tired or are out of form, or both. While he has scored at will during the first games, Luca Schuler, the tall centre forward, appears to have lost his confidence and swagger in front of goal. Since September he has not scored. This is a low in terms of form, yet he plays on even though he is, frankly speaking, useless in this current condition. Others, notably Ahmed Arslan, Luc Castaignos and Xavier Amaechi have hardly gained any playing time this season. The coaching team will have their reasons but from the outside, it looks difficult to comprehend. At least since no explanations are being given.
One of the issues troubling the coaching team is the absence of Jean Hugonet. Yet, he alone cannot be the medicine required to get the team back to winning ways again. Since there are no other players injured with difficult or serious injuries, there cannnot be any talk of an injury crisis.
One possible explanation could be that Magdeburg had a good start to the season because their form from last season continued somehow during the first games of this season. What is clear is that their form is not just in the cellar, it is somewhere hidden deep down somewhere and it needs more than just a win to get them back out of this hole.
Last Season in Repeat
All this seems more like a repetition of last season: the match reports often speak of Magdeburg’s dominance with the ball, pressing high but not making any gains, i.e. scoring no or not enough goals, the most important thing in football. At the same time, commentators and fans increasingly become nervous because of the team’s performance of the lack of change as well as the lack of communication. Communication is limited to the press conferences before and after each match. Some players speak to the club’s media channels but this is soft and cannot be considered serious reporting.
How to lie to yourself with Statistics
Against Rostock Magdeburg not only lost the match but also one vital statistic – that of challenges won. Here Rostock came out on top with 114 duels won compared to Magdeburg’s 102. They were also second best in distance run: 108,8 versus 112,2 kilometres for Rostock. The week before, Hamburg laced up 122 kilometres, while Magdeburg came second best with 119. The difference is marginal, but in top sports, the margins make the difference.
Yet, we have been here before and we might see more of this downward spiral. The question is, will the club’s board be as patient as they were last season when Magdeburg sat bottom in November only to climb up thanks to a remarkable turnaround?
Only time will tell.
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