After the mid-week attitude adjustment that was the decisive victory over Karlsruher SC, I have to admit to coming to this match with a bit of lightness in my attitude.
Granted, I still desperately want a victory and would like it to be the sort of performance that shows the team is growing in strength en route to a promotion and huge increase in the level of competition in the coming season, but St. Pauli, Fürth, and Karlsruhe already dropping points this weekend, even an unearned victory would pretty much eliminate even the remotest possibility of the Effzeh dropping to fourth. Hence, even if our club is outplayed by a wide margin but wins on, say, an own goal, I think I’d probably just shrug, smile, and enjoy the situation. The fact is, we don’t need a Bundesliga-ready side until late-summer. All we need from the current side is to be good enough to gain entry to the penthouse. If Paderborn closes to within one match, then maybe I will start sweating about chances of winning a two-leg battle against probably a desperate Bundesliga side (Stuttgart or Hamburg?).
That’s a whole lot of words to say, I’m looking forward to one of the least-stressful viewings of an Effzeh match in a little while.
Or, maybe it’s just because my mood is lifted after having gone out with the wife to see Jerry Douglas perform last night at the Experience Music Project. He played three vintage instruments from the museum’s collection (i.e. Paul Allen’s collection). It was a thrill. I’d guess Douglas to be a virtual unknown among the few dozen people likely to read this, but the man is a legend in his field. If you’ve any interest at all in American folk music as derived from its European roots and executed by a true master, I beg you to give a listen.
Okay, back to the task at hand.
Fresh coffee and Effzeh on Pacific Standard Time. I’m hoping that as I write this, a good many are enjoying some post-victory Weizens in München to tide them over before returning the the most-gorgeous with the most-gorgeous beer available to properly toast the increasingly strong chance we’re singing “Niemals” to the 2.Bundesliga relatively soon.
Early stadium shots are a bit counter to something I had read that there might be 30,000 on hand for this match. That does not look near that many, but there is one corner of Allianz Arena that looks quite full. Hmmm. . .wonder who that might be all in red and white and making noise.
Did the commentator say we have not lost to 1860 in seven matches there? I suppose that’s spread over a good gap in time, but still. Good to know.
A lot of the team looks the same as against KSC, looking simply at the handshake procession.
I will not be alone in being happy to see Kazuki Nagasawa getting another start. He was unbelievably solid mid-week. Much better than I’d have hoped from such a young player, which has been a theme with this club in second league for me. Hector was a revelation last season. Wimmer emerged early this season to show he’s a regular. Now Nagasawa’s early performances indicate maybe we have another gem in the fold.
I’m also psyched to see Adam Mattuschyk starting. He was among the first players I noticed in my budding Effzeh fandom. I had to admit to his being a disappointment earlier this season, but I don’t believe I am being biased toward a favorite when I say he was really good against the KSC.
And, Marcel Risse is back. I’ll leave it simply that I’m hoping a return to form joins his return from injury.
No Ujah at the start, as probably expected. Helmes alone up front. <sigh>
Let’s get to it:
3: And just like that. . .Yuya Okako takes advantage of Daniel Halfar’s mishandling of a Timo Horn pass to get a pretty good crack onto goal from just outside the near corner of the box; Horn has to bat it away. Yannick Stark (and his flowing mid-length tresses of hair) passes the deflection over to Moritz Stoppelkamp, whose header is also thwarted by Horn.
It’s a good thing Horn can be as sharp as he was there, because there were several red shirts standing and watching. Considering Stark is a defensive midfielder, you’d think his being so far forward so quickly might be of note, but I’d be more worried about Stoppelkamp appearing in the penalty area with nobody near him, especially as Stark and Horn seemed to be the only two people to notice.
6: Good ol’ Gabor ‘Sweatpants’ Kiraly in goal. Always noticeable.
9: Miso Brecko loses possession in our end and ultimately surrenders a corner. I’ll forgive him as he was in place to defend Osaka on a cross moments ago, but that was a hot mess. The defense, early on, is a bit shambolic.
14: After a few minutes of midfield back-and-forth, Helmes launches one from the second row. Just enough of a threat to make Sweatpants dive at it, but not really on target.
15: A bit closer is a chance from Nagasawa. Our rising star cut around a few defensive efforts along the edge of the area to get clear for a shot. His effort whizzed by the same post Helmes’ shot missed, but was quite a bit closer.
17: And, on the other end, Nagasawa helps create a change in possession. More impressive by the minute.
18: Let’s all agree to ignore Mattuschyk passing the ball into touch with no apparent pressure on him to do so.
On the throw in, Dominic Maroh pretty much grabs Osako by the back of the collar and whips him to the ground. Commentator says of the awarded foul, “Yes. One can give that.” Yes, one can, sir. One can, indeed.
Random related note: Osako is a pain in the ass. Is he already the best player on his team in, what, his eighth match with them? Not a great sign for a side that is annually a promotion aspirant, but constantly disappoints.
19: Finally, a show of life from Risse, running through the Lions’ defense to the edge of the box. He’s so much more effective when he runs with the ball. This is the sort of thing that makes me dig Risse.
Then the defensive challenge pops ball in the air toward Halfar and Daniel Bierofka. Halfar knows he can’t get to it in the air, but judges correctly where it might go from the ensuing header and ends up with the ball. This is the sort of thing that makes me dig Halfar.
20: Mattushyk hugs Osaka from behind at midfield. The striker is all too happy to not fight it and goes to ground, knowing he’ll get the free kick.
Like I said, pain in the ass. If I knew the Japanese word for that, I might use it as his nickname. Great winter transfer for 1860.
21: You know, if REWE sent me a red v-neck sweater, I’d probably wear it with jeans in the hopes I’d look as cool in it as Peter Stöger does, but knowing that I wouldn’t be close. Maybe if I got red glasses and dropped 100 pounds?
22: Again, Nagasawa is impressive. Moves very well without the ball to be in the right place to loft a rainbow of a pass over the Lions defense for a streaking Helmes. Not enough pace on the pass to let Helmes try to set himself up for a shot, but he does it anyway and fails to get a shot onto goal. Not Nagasawa’s fault. Any more touch on it, and Sweatpants probably can get to it before Helmes does.
I would have loved to see a first-touch shot there by Helmes.
On replay, maybe Nagasawa had a bit more room than I thought, but it’s definitely not his fault nothing came of it. It was a brilliant play by him. Helmes has to make more of that opportunity.
29: There was our biggest threat of the match so far.
Halfar passes forward into the area, just inside the far corner, for Risse. Risse spots Nagasawa with space toward middle of area, but maybe just a shade too late, as pass is defended back toward corner of area. Mattuschyk is first to get to the ball, and he rips a shot goal-ward. His effort is on the wrong side of the post and Sweatpants has it covered, but the chance was there at least enough to raise hope for a moment.
31: Apparently, Nagaswa is proving to be as big an irritant as any for 1860.
Nagasawa gets right into Stark’s business as he tried to chest a ball down for himself to continue play at mid-field. Surely, Stark thought he had everything under control, but Nagasawa doesn’t really respect that sort of lackadaisical possession. Stark reacts by wrestling our antagonist to the ground rather than attempt to do something along the lines of football to retain possession. Fun.
And, Nagasawa clearly takes no offense, as he immediately offers the sporting gesture of a handshake. Rising star, I tell you!
Moments later, Stark takes Nagasawa down from behind a bit outside the area. I think the series of offenses might warrant at least a warning if not a yellow. Would love a free kick on that latter one. Does a more-established player get a call there? Maybe not, but it seems clear to me that Stark is not having fun keeping the youngster in check.
I, on the other hand, am fully enjoying his mounting frustration.
34: Halfar does Halfar stuff and gets the ball to Helmes in the far side of the area. Shot sails way over the goal because Anthony Ujah is the only one not converting chances?
Halfar almost immediately creates another turnover and gets to the goal line for a cross. Nobody there to meet it.
37: Huge chance for Osaka after a turnover near midfield. Wimmer blocks first attempt with a slide tackle, but ball ends up behind Wimmer, just lying there for Osaka. The shot goes just wide of the post.
41: You have to love when Brecko just recklessly drives through traffic to utter success before showing why he plays on the back line, just driving his shot off the shin of a defender right in front of him.
43: More for the “we love Nagasawa” files. The kid is in the area to receive a backward pass from Risse. He uses a nifty move to get clear of any pressure from defenders, which was good enough, but then, rather than force a low-percentage shot into traffic, he plays the ball further back to Mattuschyk. He’s a joy to behold, already.
Mattuschyk’s shot turned out to be no more useful that probably what Nagasawa could have attempted, but that’s hardly the point!
Halftime: Not much to say that hasn’t been said. No score. Not too many chances on either end. Clearly could go either way, though the boys in red are controlling more of the play.
Finne in for Risse? That’s pretty much a more-offensive look for the second half, not only because Finne is more or less a striker and Risse is. . .not, but also because Risse was fairly passive in his 45 minutes so far. Could be he’s not quite up to game speed from his injury.
I’m happy to make excuses for a guy I really like. It’s a service I provide as a certain type of fan.
47: First chance of half goes to Stark from the second row. Horn sees it all the way and just watches it sail wide. Nothing dangerous.
49: Finne does not take long to register his first chance and miss, after being sprung by a Halfar pass. Eventually he’s going to score in buckets, right?
50: As if to taunt me further, Finne makes a nice turn with the ball in the area to get clear and fire a shot. . .which of course JUST goes wide of the far post.
Suddenly, the Billy Goats are setting up camp in the München end. Hector wins Effzeh’s second corner of the half.
Dominik Stahl makes an ill-advised effort to keep the ball in play, leaving it in space for Brecko, who runs to the edge of the area and rolls it across to Nagasawa. Nagasaway makes a nifty pass forward to Finne who does what with it?
If you don’t know how it ends, you’ve not been paying attention.
55: Mattuschyk launches one from the second row that maybe wasn’t quite going to score, but was definitely too close for Kiraly to chance letting it get through. Nice strike. Corner coming.
57: Osako cheaply wins a free kick by hooking his arm around Wimmer’s and then falling as if he were being restrained. That’s weak.
The ensuing free kick was headed past the post. I think Horn was there were it to have been better targeted. All is well that ends well.
61: Plenty of action in front of Kiraly, but nothing getting through. A Brecko cross bounds off Helmes and right to Nagasawa, who cannot get it through the two defenders in front of him. Moments later, Finne gets to the goal line for a sharp cross. Again it’s Helmes and then Nagasawa getting unproductive touches on the ball.
The Lions have to be pissing themselves a bit. Kiraly still hasn’t really had to work to keep the match scoreless, but he’s had to be on high alert this entire half.
63: Stark again takes Nagasawa down pretty hard. Foul is actually called this time, though for the immediately preceding play of Stahl taking out Helmes.
67: Brecko gets a yellow. It’s his fifth. Who gets the armband next weekend? Maroh?
77: Finne has been offside approximately 47 times the last ten minutes. Absolutely nothing else has happened in the match. Trust me.
79: Helmes off for Ujah. Well, I do like Ujah.
80: Ujah quickly gets a chance, but his shot is deflected by one of those guys who doesn’t play for us. Corner to come.
Whether the goal follows or not, would be good to finish the match with the same consistent pressure we saw at the beginning of the half.
Who am I kidding? Yes, do that pressure thing to get a goal.
Okay, he didn’t actually score, but his bicycle kick was sweet! Kiraly had the right combination of position and reflex to get in front of it. Getting warmer, Effzeh.
82: Finne again turns and fires from inside the area. Guess where it went.
85: Yet again, Finne gets free in the area for a shot. What do you expect?!
But you’d be wrong! It’s a goal! FINALLY!
88: Just to make it interesting, 1860 is finally getting some offensive pressure. Horn had to leap to save a headed chance toward the post.
It can’t ever be easy, can it?
89: Chance to put match away for good doesn’t quite come together. Finne springs Peszko, who just came on, down the left side with no defender near him. Peszko gets around Kiraly and attempts to slide ball into the empty net, but Sebastian Hertner slides into the ball’s path to avoid the second goal.
A chipped cross would have been nice from Peszko, as Ujah would have had a hard time not scoring it.
Except that he’d have maybe been offside?
I think the Effzeh held the ball more than 1860 did after the goal was scored. The Lions definitely tried to push a bit more, but they didn’t have much better in the way of ideas than along the lines of lofting the ball forward from distance and hoping Osaka could get to it.
Huge three points. Still a battle to stay top two, but it’s a virtual lock the 1. FC Köln will finish top three. Good day to be us!