A LONG, LONG Saturday (over five hours total driving to, waiting for, or riding on ferries) sealed the deal for me, assuring I would NOT wake in time to catch the 6:30 a.m. kick-off live, which would also likely be the only way I’d get to give the match my full attention and watch it straight through.
Of course (OF COURSE!), the first thing I did when I finally did awaken, was to grab my mobile and see what urgent (never anything urgent) matters might be awaiting my eye. The absolute first word I see on my screen, clear as day, is “draw.”
You have to be kidding me.
Not that I didn’t think a draw possible. I, in fact, thought it might be the most-likely result, even if I’d never have admitted it prior to Sunday morning. The joke is that I really thought I’d avoid knowing the result simply by not looking at any social media before sitting down to watch. I had not even figured message notifications into the equation.
So, I’m two-for-two in knowing the result before watching. Maybe I need to just bite the bullet and get out of bed on time to watch live, dealing with the sleep deprivation at a much later date.
One unexpected benefit of this is that, after being shot down on “maybe we can watch some PBS,” my son looked at me and said, “I want to watch some soccer on your computer.” I let him crawl into my lap and opened my Chromebook, whereupon he told me he wanted to watch the soccer team with the goat on their shirt.
We’re making progress.
Needless to say, we didn’t get through too much of the match before Owen was ready to stop watching and go to the front yard to play soccer, but it was a lot of fun to hear him start to learn a bit about how a game works. I think it was the first time he seemed to grasp that there were two teams with opposing goals. At one point, he said, “I hope our team scores more goals than the red team,” which would be the first time I’ve noticed him translating the concept of scoring goals to contributing to making one team the winner. It was pretty awesome.
Though, it does mean that I wasn’t really watching as closely as I might otherwise have. Wouldn’t trade it, to be honest.
Eventually, I made it through the match, keeping one eye on at least one of my boys for the majority of the game. Hence, I have the broadest understanding of how it went, which is: first half Effzeh looked half-asleep; second half they looked like world-beaters (okay, that’s an exaggeration, but they looked MUCH better).
Considering the first half, I think I have to be happy with a point, even at home. The fact is, Fortuna was in the Bundesliga last year and still have some of that top-level talent. Were it not for an unlikely series of events and their incredible collapse, they’d likely still be in the top flight. They are certainly a worthy opponent, even with the departure of players like Robbie Kruse and Dani Schahin. I was impressed with the speed of some of their players.
It sounded like the formation was 4-1-4-1 rather than the 4-3-3 of which I’ve become a big supporter. I’m wondering whether the halftime substitutions aren’t an omen for some future changes in strategy, among a few other questions the weird dichotomy in the two halves raised in my head.
Did we learn that Yannick Gerhardt is not quite ready for a full-time, prime-time spot in the squad? Has Mato Jajalo maybe blown his final chance to impress? Is it time for Daniel Halfar to play from the start? Will the exciting play of Marcel Risse eventually provide a second goal-scoring threat to Anthony Ujah? Should Matthias Lehmann get another crack at the six so Adam Matuschyk can play a little more forward?
The worst part has to be, of course, going into a break in the schedule awaiting the season’s first three-pointer. I don’t have the proper patience for that!
Aside from me and my weekend…
- The KSTA.de player ratings were available already yesterday, but since I’m completely incapable of making time to write on Sunday…
1.5 – Timo Horn
2.0 – Anthony Ujah
2.5 – Marcel Risse, Daniel Halfar
3.0 – Miso Brecko, Adam Matuschyk, Matthias Lehmann
3.5 – Dominic Maroh, Jonas Hector, Thomas Bröker
4.0 – Roman Golobart
4.5 – Mato Jajalo, Yannick Gerhardt
No rating given to Maurice Exslager
Horn clearly was a difference-maker in several situations throughout the game. Definitely the man of the match.The Ujah and Hector ratings are a little odd for me. While Jonas looked great for much of the match, he made a bit of an error in judgement which essentially led to Düsseldorf’s goal. On the flip side, Ujah (like most everyone, really) seemed absent for much of the afternoon until he scored the goal and then really put the pressure on the Fortuna defense for a stretch in which it felt like a lead was inevitable. Despite the lack of a goal to his name, I thought Risse played a much-stronger overall match.
Then again, goals are the goal, so…fair enough, but then why is Hector’s rating not a bit worse?
I still believe in Hector, overall. I look forward to the week I don’t cringe a bit at his play.
Could Lehmann’s decent play come from the less-offensive game plan? I’m still not sure he’s the right guy at the six if they’re running and gunning in a 4-3-3, but seemed really engaged yesterday in ways I don’t recall him being last season EVER!
Many of the player performances in the derby will give coach Peter Stöger plenty to consider as he plots his strategy for SC Paderborn in two weeks’ time, if not also for the DFB Cup opener at Eintracht Trier. Halfar has looked good enough in both matches to warrant a try at playing from the start. Both Trier and Paderborn would seem to be significantly inferior opponents. My hope would be there will be some statements made by a few players who are off to a slow start to the season.
- Twitter friend Der 4. Offizielle posted his take on the match and where the team stands. I mention it because we are of a similar mind in that it’s too early to be overly concerned about what two points from two matches means for the Stöger era or much else, really.What made me laugh was that, for him, Bröker could just as easily been sent packing as was Stefan Maierhofer.Maierhofer was, for me, the biggest (see what I did there?) mistake the club made last season, personnel-wise. And, admittedly, I like how Bröker plays, even if he seems to ultimately lack the skill to make his aggressive style pay dividends.He and I are never going to agree on this.
- Members only:If you switch your Geißbock Echo subscription from paper to electronic, you could win the jersey Ujah presented upon his return to the club. He’ll even sign it!
To enter, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with “e-GeißbockEcho” in the subject line, along with your name and membership number. Then, install the “FC eMags” app on your mobile device.
Then, when you win, send the jersey to me because you like me so much.
- Despite some old-school tendencies, I completely dig when team personnel engage the fan base directly through their own social-media channels. Here, a round-up of such post-derby posts:Peter Stöger on his Facebook page clearly was quite taken with the atmosphere during his first home match in charge of the Effzeh, noting “perfect Stimmung” (one of those words that simply doesn’t quite translate) and “perfect atmosphere” (which I’d often use for Stimmung, but he used both, showing they’re not quite the same…anyhow…) The coach said “we cannot be satisfied” and that the team’s play did not meet his expectations, though he offered no explanation for why he thought the team lacked the movement he’d wanted from the players and why so many mistakes were made.
Timo Horn also took to Facebook to share a photo his girlfriend snapped of the fan choreography, saying he had goosebumps from it and thanking the fans for the “incomprehensible support.”
Like Timo, Daniel Halfar thanked the fans while regretting the team effort wasn’t enough to get three points.
Anthony Ujah wrote his words of gratitude to the fans in English, which reminded me that he answered post-match questions in German last night, which was the first I’d heard him attempt his German skills. I was glad to hear it. I completely identify with lacking the confidence in the language skills, but you’ll only get better by using it, Tony! Plus, now Golobart is the one catching up on learning Deutsch.
My favorite, though, has to be Sascha Bigalke, who, despite being out for the season with a knee injury, proclaimed “We will get the Derby victory in the return match.” Great stuff. Get well!
- From what I was able to gather, most of the fan interactions between the two clubs were peaceful. There were, of course, exceptions, but with the potential for so much volatility was in the air, I think I’d call the day, overall, a success.
Fortuna’s club president Peter Frymuth was highly critical of Köln police in how they handled some Düsseldorf fan group’s plans to march to the stadium along Aachener Street, saying the police forbidding of the march and closure of Aachener interfered with work the two clubs had put in to assure fans were able to enjoy the special nature of the long-lost derby in a safe manner.