Today, for the first time since December, FC Magdeburg’s first team was involved in a competitive match. Since that 1-2 defeat in Cottbus, a number of things have changed in the club.
First of all, a new manager was put in charge, Paul Linz of Trier fame. Three new players were brought in, two forwards and one very experienced allrounder who can play almost everything – Christian Reimann, Najeh Braham (2004 African Cup of Nations winner) and Steffen Baumgart, respectively.
Then, Paul Linz changed the system – instead of Dirk Heyne’s favored 3-5-2, Magdeburg now play 4-4-2. Despite the problems that such a change usually brings, Magdeburg conceded only twice in their preparation matches, one goal each against Sachsen Leipzig and Schalke 04. Also, Magdeburg started to score themselves, losing but one of the preparation matches.
Thus, there was an overall optimism that the team would perform sufficiently well to beat tier IV side Halberstadt in the FSA-Cup today. In addition to that optimism came the knowledge that in the past years, Halberstadt had never ever scored against Magdeburg in a competitive match.
Until today: After a terrible start to the game, Magdeburg’s goalie Unger was stumped in the 12th minute, when Halberstadt’s Gottwaldt put the ball away after a corner kick. However, Magdeburg quickly retaliated and it was new forward Najeh Braham who headed in a Gerster freekick ten minutes later. Magdeburg were still unable to control the game, and especially the right side of the back four were a constant source of trouble, with right defender Friebertshäuser being constantly outpaced by his opponents and…then there was Kallnik. Kallnik is playing the same way he has played since his 30th birthday – slow, no vision, no positioning. When Friebertshäuser had to resort to yet another foul near the box, there was a general feeling of danger in the air, and justifiedly so. Again Gottwald scored and Magdeburg went into the halftime one goal down.
Shortly after the break – and after another Kallnik-caused breakaway when Magdeburg’s Unger had barely won the 1-on-1 – Linz finally saw fit to replace him. He subbed in Zander and Florian Müller for Kallnik and a not very efficient Baumgart, respectively. With this substitution, there were a number of position changes. Left defender Wejsfelt moved to the center, left midfielder Neumann took over as left defender. Lindemann, whose turn as a classic 10 turned out to be an utter disaster, moved to the left, allowing Zander to take over as playmaker. This served to calm the game, as Zander at least tried to pass the ball quickly, Magdeburg were slowly gaining a foothold over Germania Halberstadt. The hosts had resorted to defending their lead, and this they didn’t do too badly. When the equaliser still wouldn’t come, Linz changed formation – he substituted Agyemang for Friebertshäuser (who had gotten better after Kallnik was gone…) and switched to a 3-4-3. That eventually tipped the scales in Magdeburg’s favor, and it was once more Braham who equalised once more with just 7 minutes to go. Agyemang missed the chance to decide the game in regular time, and so extra time was required, much to the chagrin of Magdeburg’s chairman who had to cut short his afternoon plans. In extra time, Halberstadt started to push a little more again, realizing they probably wouldn’t survive thirty minutes without conceding. But it did them little good, as it was Braham’s day today: Just one minute into the second half of extra time, Braham headed home once more, deciding the game in Magdeburg’s favor.
What can be learned? First of all, we have forwards. We do indeed, and they (well, one of ‚em) score, too. Second, if you have to play Prest as a central defender because he’s the tallest, you should put a quick central defender next to him, not an aging 32year-old whose only merit right now is the captaincy. Kallnik has no place in the back four, he’s too slow, he doesn’t position well and he lacks vision. Third, Paul Linz makes changes when he sees something wrong. That’s good. The best part of it being that his changes actually work.
In other news, our U23 won a postponed match yesterday, beating Hallescher FC U23 4-3 eventually. They had led by a 3-0 margin at half-time but through individual errors allowed Halle to equalise, despite their being a man down shortly after the break. Unfortunately, some individuals in the guest area thought the 3-3 equaliser was the signal to toss rockets and smoke-bombs onto the pitch. The police removed Halle’s supporters and afterwards Deumelandt scored the winner.
Our U19, struggling as the team is in the U19-Bundesliga, managed to grab a point at Hertha BSC U19, finishing the game 2-2 despite being 0-2 down at half-time. Here’s hoping that will not be the last points for them.