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Einmal Löwe, immer Löwe - a(nother) 1860 story


Dalbeider
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Back in 1860 after eleven years, yay! Starting in FM22, with all European leagues (all top divisions plus lower leagues in major countries), plus Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and the USA loaded. Starting straight in TSV with the recommended badges and experience (Continental Pro, Professional footballer (national)). Goals are to win the Bundesliga and maybe the Champions League if we're feeling fancy. Game ends if I ever get sacked, and I don't plan on ever moving clubs unless something exceptional happens. All in all, just a fun save to get myself back into the groove.

- - -

I had a dream eleven years ago. There were electric lions in it. Guess they ate all the sheep...

It was a time when what would eventually become my job was still restricted to, well, dreams. And Football Manager, which is basically the same, including the amount of weird stuff not even the best psychoanalyst could ever hope to explain. FM saves had the advantage of being easier to remember and to interact with in mostly logical ways, though, so most of my "dreaming" ended up happening there. And oh boy, was there a lot of dreaming.

One of those dreams was a rare one-club save in Football Manager 2011 as TSV 1860 München's manager. It was a great time, all things considered, and although it eventually petered out without managing to achieve any of my initial goals (win the Bundesliga! Go far in Europe! Humiliate Bayern! Steal the Allianz-Arena!), it still remains one of my all-time favorite saves, even after many new versions and virtual manager careers have come and gone in the meantime.

Fate works in funny ways sometimes, because after all this time I find myself returning to the same place, only this time I do so in person, with all my coaching qualifications in the bag, and ready to do it all again in the real world. Figures that my first job as a manager would be with the same club that gave me so much pleasure and pain all those years ago... At least this time I'm not some random nobody who accidentally applied with a fake CV and somehow got the job anyway, heh.

Things have changed a lot for TSV in these eleven years, though, so much so that it's hard to recognize it as the same club I "managed" back then. Back in 2010 die Löwen were a mid-table team in the 2.Bundesliga with an outside chance at challenging for promotion. I managed to do exactly that, but real life wasn't so kind to my new club. A 9th place finish in 2011 was followed by serious money troubles which almost brought the club to extinction. Eventually Jordanian investor Hassan Abdullah Ismaik provided the necessary funds for survival in exchange for 60% of the club's ownership.

After finishing top half but far from the promotion places in the following three years the club entered a nosedive which eventually led to relegation through playoffs at the end of the 2016-17 season. Worse yet, Ismaik refused to pay the fees required to play in the 3.Liga the following year, and thus TSV were sent packing to the Regionalliga for the first time since the current league pyramid was created. Around this time the club also refused to extend the shared usage of the Allianz-Arena with Bayern, and instead moved back to their old, 1911-built and city-owned Stadion an der Grünwalder Strasse in order to reduce expenses.

Their return to the professional leagues was swift, though, winning the Regionalliga Bayern on their first try. And since then nothing too dramatic, with steady rebuilding and improvement in the 3.Liga, going from 12th to 8th to 4th at the end of the 2020/21 season. With a heavy focus on youth development and limited investment in players from outside the club, Sechzig have patiently laid down the groundwork and now look set to finally make a return to the 2.Bundesliga. And I'll be the one chosen to lead them on their way from now on.

As the club's motto says: once a Lion, always a Lion.

Edited by Dalbeider
Typo in the title... which took me two weeks to spot. Yay.
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The president, Robert Reisinger, welcomes me and gives me a quick rundown of what will be expected of me. The target for the 3.Liga is none other than promotion, and considering the press are predicting us to finish second it looks like we're on the right track for that. The DFB Pokal is secondary, and we'll only be expected to reach the second round, which should be doable with some luck in the first round draw. Long-term, we're expected to stay in the 2.Bundesliga without much trouble after promotion, and by the time 2026 rolls around we should be at the very least established as a top half team there. Outside the pitch, we'll be expected to focus on developing our young talent, something 1860 has always being quite proud of. And of course, we'll have to stay within the wage budget at all times. All pretty reasonable.

Now, what do we have to work with to achieve these goals? Well, for starters the money situation is pretty good at first glance, with almost €6M in the bank. Looking a bit deeper though, we realize that the club is staying afloat thanks to two loans, a small €2M gift loan and a huge €60M loan we won't have to repay until we become established in the Bundesliga. Both have 0% interest rate, though, so at least that's a relief. In any case, overspending just to reach the top level is bound to eventually bite us in the ass, so we should strive to keep things well in the black at all times, and ideally stockpile a bit for the future just in case we end up having to repay those sixty million. Short-term projections look good, at least. 

All this translates into a €66k weekly wage budget, of which we're spending almost €62k. We have room for one extra signing, maybe two if we stretch it out. On the other hand there's absolutely no transfer money available, and only 25% of any sales will be retained for purchases. Guess we'll have to deal with loans and free transfers for a while...

The staff at the club is a bit barebones all things considered, although what we have is quite above the average level for our division. Our assistant manager is 41yo Oliver Beer, who funnily enough was a Bayern boy at the start of his playing career. He's been a part of the blue half of Munich for four years now, and his knowledge of the club should prove invaluable. Also important is the presence of 56yo Manfred Paula as our head of youth development, one of the best at his job within the nation. That aside, however, we only have two coaches and a performance analyst under contract, and we should be looking into filling a few gaps before the season gets underway. 

The recruitment team's state is even worse, with our director of football Günther Gorenzel-Simonitsch and our chief scout, former international Marco Haber, as the two only contracted staff in this area. More scouts and recruitment analysts will be added shortly. We're also lacking a head physio and any kind of sports science, and that won't do. Ads are posted for all the vacant jobs, and hopefully we'll have them all filled within a few weeks.

Finally, let's take a look at the most important part: the playing squad. A fully German squad at that, with one exception. And, as expected from 1860 and their youth development focus, a very young squad. Let's see what we have to play with...

- - -

GOALKEEPERS

  • Tom Kretzschmar (GK, 22yo, GER, €475k-€1M): one of many jewels in the squad, Kretzschmar is the agreed first-choice goalkeeper for this season and is among the best goalkeepers in the division. The coaches see in him potential to even reach the Bundesliga, which means he's someone we should try to hold onto both for the short and the long term.
  • Marco Hiller (GK, 24yo, GER, €95k-€150k): almost as good is our second-choice keeper, also a homegrown talent who still has some growing to do, and whose current quality puts him almost level with Kretzschmar. His potential is lesser, though, and he shouldn't make it past the 2.Bundesliga level, yet he still expects to be an important player for us this season. 

Two quality goalkeepers who both want to be first choice. This might breed trouble, but if I have to keep one of the two happy over the other, I'll be picking Kretzschmar in a heartbeat. His potential both as a player and as an asset we can sell for big cash in the future make him a fantastic investment, and that's something to take into account together with performance on the pitch.

DEFENDERS

  • Kevin Goden (D/WB(R), 22yo, GER, €35k-€220k): another quality youngster who's already among the elite in the 3.Liga and who should develop into a pretty decent 2.Bundesliga right back. Very quick, brave, and hard-working, he's also pretty solid both defending and attacking, and his ability to play further forward down the right flank gives us extra tactical options.
  • Marius Willsch (D/WB(R)/M/AM(RL), 30yo, GER, €6k-€24k): a rare veteran in this young squad, Willsch is a squad player who can provide decent cover in a huge variety of positions, although he's a natural right back. His technique is average, but his determination is top-notch and his ability to show up and perform in big matches should prove invaluable off the bench.
  • Stephan Saiger (D(LC)/WB(L), 31yo, GER, €10k-€40k): one of the backbones of this squad, Saiger has the quality to lead our defensive line either from the center or on the left. Another hard-working player with no clear weaknesses in his play, he's a sure starter for us in either position. 
  • Philipp Steinhart (D(LC)/WB(L)/DM/M(LC), 29yo, GER, €12k-€30k): no less good is our other natural left-back in the squad, a tireless and versatile player who can cover in many positions, but shines the most in his natural one. His main strength beyond his solid performance as a stopper and a crosser is his ability with set pieces, and he'll probably be our default free kick and corner kick taker whenever he's playing.
  • Maxim Gresler (D(LC), 18yo, GER, €8k-€85k): a case of raw potential still not quite ripe enough for a starting position in the squad. Gresler has a pretty good-looking base for a solid defensive-minded left-back, but he still has a lot of work to do in order to realize that potential. Still a decent backup, and being able to play in the center is a welcome bonus.
  • Niklas Lang (D(C), 19yo, GER, €325k-€950k): another fantastic prospect who's already at a good enough level to start for us, Lang is a solid two-footed center-back with great natural fitness and, most importantly, top tier determination. He only needs to work a bit on his positional play and increase his aggressiveness when challenging opposing forwards, but the raw material looks great. Could go far if he improves as expected.
  • Semi Belkahia (D(C)/DM, 22yo, GER, €28k-€240k): a bit rawer despite being older, Belkahia is another good-looking young defender, although cut from a completely different mold. He's the traditional tall center-back, great in the air but somewhat slow and not particularly skilled with the ball at his feet. He'll still do a decent job for us when needed, although he's likely to start from the bench most games.

Looks a bit short in numbers, but a couple of our natural defensive midfielders can also cover in the center of the defense if needed, so it's not bad. A starting back four of Steinhart-Saiger-Lang-Goden looks really good to me, although the backups behind those obvious starters leave a bit to be desired, and long-term injuries could leave us with a serious weakness here. Wouldn't mind another player in this line, ideally at center or right back. Also, we have enough wingbacks on both sides to play a 3-5-2 if we want to, but we'd be a bit short on center-backs if we go that route. All signs point to a standard four-man line, at least for now.

MIDFIELDERS

  • Daniel Wein (D(RC)/DM/M(C), 27yo, GER, €14k-€55k): as mentioned, we have midfielders who can cover in defense if needed, and Wein is an obvious case. A defensive-minded midfielder with solid physical stats, high work rate, and a good alternative to Steinhart when it comes to set pieces, particularly indirect ones. Not the best passer, but a very solid destroyer/anchor type of player, essential in most modern formations. Not a sure starter considering the competition, but at the very least a very good rotation option.
  • Quirin Moll (D(C)/DM/M(C), 30yo, GER, €14k-€55k): very similar to Wein, adding on top of the former's many qualities a high stamina, bravery, and determination, making him an ideal hound dog for our midfield. Average technically speaking, he's still a very likely starter for the most defensive role in that area of the pitch.
  • Yannick Deichmann (D/WB(R)/DM/M(RC)/AM(R), 26yo, GER, €12k-€50k): all that versatility, wow. Deichmann gives us so many options in midfield, and although he's most likely not the best option in any of his possible positions, he's at the very least the second best in all of them. One of those players that every manager loves to have available.
  • Richard Neudecker (DM/M(C), 24yo, GER, €50k-€200k): moving onto more creative players, Neudecker is a great playmaker who can create play either from deep as a regista or from further up the field in more advanced roles. Not particularly strong physically speaking, but good agility and dribbling plus a pretty decent long shot makes him a goalscoring threat from deep. A likely candidate to leading our creative efforts this season.
  • Dennis Dressel (DM/M/AM(C), 22yo, GER, €140k-€240k): on the topic of coming in from deep as a goalscoring threat, here's Dressel as our prime example. Not the best passer, not great at recovering the ball, and not particularly creative, but his determination and his ability to score either from distance or coming late into the box make him an option to consider when building our lineup. Potential for improvement, too, which gives us extra incentive to include him in the rotation.
  • Erik Tallig (M/AM(C), 21yo, GER, €65k-€400k): another up-and-coming youngster for our midfield, Tallig is closer to Neudecker in style, with good vision and passing making him a very decent playmaker already. He's also surprisingly fast for a central midfielder, and with a pretty decent dribbling and a work-in-progress finishing he can also give us some extra punch from deep. Still has some growing to do, but he'll be a pretty good backup option in the meantime.
  • Marko Mannhardt (DM, 19yo, GER, €7k-€180k): on the topic of growing, Mannhardt has a lot of that ahead of him this year. The youngest of our midfield and the least likely to enjoy minutes given the competition and his lack of versatility, he's a prime candidate for a loan. He's a good-looking project for a solid defensive midfielder in the future, but right now he's not quite there yet.

Good quality and depth overall, with six players to cover the very likely three positions of our midfield, plus Mannhardt as a distant seventh option in case he stays with us in the end. Best part is that other than Neudecker as the clear starting playmaker, all the other positions are very tightly contested, and whoever ends up playing we should have one of the best midfields in the division. Looking good.

ATTACKERS

  • Merveille Biankadi (DM/M(C)/AM(RL), 26yo, COD, €20k-€210k, on loan from Heidenheim): the one non-German in the squad is also our only loanee, and a very strange player overall. Natural as both a defensive midfielder and a right winger but much more suited for attacking duties on either side, almost perfectly two-footed, and preferring to play inverted roles regardless of which side he's played in. Not our best wing player by any means, but very versatile and a great option off the bench thanks to his pace and dribbling.
  • Stefan Lex (M(RL)/AM(RLC)/ST, 31yo, GER, €30k-€50k): another versatile attacking player without a clear best position. He looks best when played on the left as an inverted winger given his below par finishing, despite being a natural striker. His main assets are his speed and his work rate, and he's likely to spearhead any pressure efforts we start trying to recover the ball from the opposing defense.
  • Keanu Staude (M(L)/AM(LC), 24yo, GER, €50k-€120k): yet another inverted winger on the left. Staude is very right-footed, unlike Lex and Biankadi, and that makes him less versatile but more focused. He has great flair, pretty good pace and a nasty dribble, which coupled with a more than adequate finishing ability from both close and afar make him a very credible threat cutting inside from the left. Pretty likely starter.
  • Marcel Bär (M(R)/AM(RLC)/ST, 29yo, GER, €14k-€60k): our first natural right winger who's actually right-footed. Bär offers us many options, both wide, as a striker and in the hole, but he's unlikely to be the first option at either of those. He's good at many things, but not great at any. Solid rotation option, but unlikely to start too often.
  • Fabian Greilinger (M(L)/AM(LC), 20yo, GER, €30k-€170k): time for our young prospects, and what a prospect Greilinger is. Two-footed already, he combines this inherent versatility with an out-of-this-world pace and dribbling, plus a strong and determined mind. Needs to improve his finishing, crossing and/or passing in order to turn all that flair into something productive, but he's looking very tasty already.
  • Lorenz Knöferl (AM(RC)/ST, 18yo, GER, €95k-€190k): another pacy youngster, Knöferl's current skillset is much simpler though: run into space, gather pass, shoot, score. Lots of improvement to do in many areas, but the core is there already, coupled with a pretty decent passing ability which allows him to work pretty well behind the main striker, as either an enganche or a false nine. One for the future.
  • Johann Ngounou Djayo (M(R)/AM(RC)/ST, 20yo, GER, €12k-€90k): our final prospect, and the one with the least potential according to our coaching staff, he's still a pretty decent backup option as a simple run-and-gun winger on the right or as a quite competent finisher up front. Worth noting that he's probably our best striker in the air, despite being mostly average in that department. Distant backup, but potentially useful regardless.

Hm, if there's a line I'd like improved it'd be this one. We really lack an actual finisher who can score a couple dozen goals profiting from all the quality around him. In fact I don't even know who'd be our starting striker right now. Lex? Bär? Neither is too exciting, honestly. It's looking like our number nine will mainly perform a provider role, with our wing players and midfielders being the ones to finish more often than not.

Our youth and reserve squads also have some jewels that might make the jump to the senior squad in the near future. Most interesting of all those prospects is 17yo Swiss midfielder Nathan Wicht, an all-around player with good physical presence despite his young age and a pinpoint pass that only needs a bit of extra vision and creativity behind it to become great. 16yo center-back Leandro Morgalla is also worth keeping an eye on.

Overall, quite happy with what we have here. I'd love an actual striker, but the options we have upfront actually allow us a lot of tactical flexibility, even if in a bit of a non-traditional way for strikers. 4-3-3 looks like our most likely formation right now, we don't really have the strikers for any kind of 4-4-2 and our midfielders work better from deep rather than near the box, so the 4-2-3-1 is also out as a main formation. I'll keep it as a backup option if we see our main 4-3-3 failing to create enough danger, though. 

Tactically speaking we'll go with a possession-focused style with short passing, as we expect to dominate most matches in the league this year. Our wing attackers will often drift towards the center, leaving space for our wingbacks to slot into and overloading the defense in the process. Might run into some trouble against tactics that like to clog the middle of the pitch, but that's something we'll work on when/if it happens.

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Thanks Ben! And we will, don't you worry. Eventually. Very eventually.

- - -

Jul 13th 2021

First order of business after getting the paperwork and the mandatory press conference out of the way was introducing myself to the squad. Our first talk went quite well, I think, although Staude didn't seem too happy about me promising to give minutes to the younger players in the squad for whatever reason. Afraid of losing his place to Greilinger, perhaps? Hmm...

With that out of the way, it was time to take a look at the first reports from our scouts. Or scout, rather. Haber brought to my attention a young center-back from Sturm Graz called Martin Moormann who would be available on loan for very cheap wages and no extra fees, and I quickly filed in a bid. We do need some extra depth at the back, and the lad looks quality judging by Haber's reports. I also did a quick scan of the free transfer market for any available strikers who might be interested in joining, and made a couple trial offers for the best-looking ones. We might fish something interesting.

Jul 14th 2021

Second day of training, first injury, yay! At least it wasn't actually related to training, unless Moll got food poisoning from something he picked up from the ground. Wouldn't put it past a footballer. Regardless, he'll be out of comission for 2-4 days, nothing serious, although he might be unavailable for our last friendly of the preseason.

Jul 15th 2021

New head physio acquired: former Kaiserslautern employee Erik Schön, 49, will take control of our medical team starting today.

Jul 16th 2021

Austrian central defender Martin Moormann joins on loan from Sturm Graz until the end of season, signaling our first signing with TSV. A young center-back at only 20 years of age, he instantly becomes one of our better defenders thanks to great physical attributes, a very good positional sense, and the ability to mark opponents tightly. Also a very competent defensive-minded left back, he fills two gaps in our defense in one swift move. He probably won't be a permanent starter, but at the very least he'll give us a reliable rotation option for Salger and Lang in the center. Even better, he'll only cost us €775 per week in wages, which is an absolute steal and allows us to spend most of our available budget in a much needed striker.

Jul 17th 2021

AJ Auxerre vs. TSV 1860 München (Friendly)

Last friendly of our preseason with a difficult trip to another formerly big club in troubled times. We started pretty well, dominating possession as we're meant to do and with Lex sending a one-on-one into the crossbar only ten minutes in. The woodwork got in the way once again near the end of the half when Biankadi sent a header into the post, and Auxerre then took the lead through a clinical finish by Ponti following a nice through ball from the right side.

The second unit came in after the break to try and fix things, and soon Dressel got a goal disallowed for a clear offside position. The midfielder had our best chances of the half with his runs from deep, and finally managed to pull level in the 77th minute with a powerful effort from the edge of the box. Another offside goal for Knöferl was followed by the 1-2, one minute before full time, and scored by Bär with an easy tap-in after a cross by Greilinger. Good performance and good result to match.

* * *

AJ Auxerre 1 (Ryan Ponti 42)
TSV 1860 München 2 (Dennis Dressel 77, Marcel Bär 89)

- - -

Not a bad showing for our first and last friendly in charge. The subs actually outplayed the starters, but we were unlucky to only win by one goal. Once the players get used to the new formation things should start clicking with more ease. The 3.Liga starts in seven days!

Jul 18th 2021

An update on season tickets sold tells me we've already reached 10,000, and we're expected to sell around a thousand more before the sale period ends. That's... a pretty big percentage of our stadium's capacity of 15,000. We'll have many sellouts this season, I think.

Jul 23rd 2021

First serious injury of the season, just one day before our league debut. Thankfully it's for a backup player: we'll be without Willsch for 3-4 weeks due to a groin strain.

That same day we lost another player, although this one both intentionally and temporarily: Marco Mannhardt left for Regionalliga Bayern side Aschaffenburg on a season-long loan, hoping to get some playing time he'd most certainly not find here.

Jul 24th 2021

TSV 1860 München vs. FC Würzburger Kickers (3.Liga, 1/38)

Time for the real deal. Our debut in the 3.Liga comes at home and against a team expected in the top half after relegating from the 2.Bundesliga last year. A good test of what this team is capable of.

* * *

1860 MÜNCHEN (4-3-3): Tom Kretzschmar (GK); Kevin Goden (DR), Niklas Lang (DCr), Stephan Salger (DCl), Phillipp Steinhart (DL); Quirin Moll (DM), Richard Neudecker (MCr), Yannick Deichmann (MCl); Merveille Biankadi (AMR), Keanu Staude (AML), Stefan Lex (ST)
WÜRZBURG (4-1-4-1): Hendrik Bonmann (GK); Dennis Waidner (DR), Leon Schneider (DCr), Christian Strohdiek (DCl), Robert Herrmann (DL); Lars Dietz (DM); Marco Hausjell (MR), David Kopacz (MCr), Mirnes Pepic (MCl), Marvin Stefaniak (ML); Maximilian Breunig (ST)

* * *

I'd like to call this lineup my strongest eleven, but honestly, it's so close in so many positions I really hesitate. Regardless, it's a good eleven, and Biankadi and Lex show it with a quick combination just twenty seconds after kick off that leaves the striker alone against the keeper, only for him to blast it wide.

It doesn't take us long to make it one better, though: cross from deep by Steinhart towards Biankadi, and the winger's cushioned header flies straight into the net for the 1-0. Kickers try to get back the same way, but Breunig's header goes straight into Kretzschmar's hands with no real danger. We still have things firmly under control, and after slowing things down for a while Biankadi suddenly accelerates again, sending a perfect pass into space for Deichmann to run into and score the 2-0 on the 24th minute.

After that it's a calm fifteen minutes until the visitors remind us not to take anything for granted the old-fashioned way: cross from the byline by Herrmann and perfect header by Breunig to make it 2-1. It's a mirage, though, and only three minutes later Biankadi does it again with a perfect through ball for Lex, who doesn't miss this time and blasts it in to restore our two-goal lead right before halftime.

HALF TIME - 3-1

Biankadi continues his absolute stormer of a game with another combination down the right flank which ends with Lex blasting his finish into the crossbar just three minutes into the second half. Things look a bit calmer now, though, and we take the chance to start bringing in some subs into the game.

Minutes pass with little action on either goal, with the only exceptions being a direct free kick by Steinhart that Bonmann pushes away without much trouble and a run into space by Dressler which ends in another punch save by the keeper. The visitors offer absolutely zero resistance, and we stroll effortlessly until full time. Not a bad debut at all.

* * *

TSV 1860 München 3 (Merveille Biankadi 7, Yannick Deichmann 24, Stefan Lex 44)
FC Würzburger Kickers 1 (Maximilian Breunig 41)

- - -

Nice. Not just the result, but we played exactly like I wanted us to play: keep possession, look for gaps, accelerate play to exploit those gaps, score. Biankadi surprised me by being an absolute creative monster, setting up 90% of all our attacking plays from the wing cutting inside. Good show all around.

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Jul 25th 2021

Ticket sales end with exactly the expected amount of eleven thousand. Match day tickets will be very sought out, I guess... Somewhat surprisingly, our match against Würzburg wasn't a sellout, although we were close with almost 14,000 fans in the Grünwalder Stadion.

Side note: we do need a new, better stadium for the near future if we're to climb up the leagues. This ancient relic from the early nineteen hundreds might be die Löwen's ancestral home, but it's old, small, and not really worth expanding or improving much at this point, particularly considering it doesn't even meet the requirements for the 2.Bundesliga. Of course, considering our current loans we can't really afford any additional debt... The most likely scenario if we do end up promoting this season is moving to the Olympiastadion, but that's also a stopgap measure. Something for the board to look into, I guess, and one more reason to be really, really gentle with the club's economy.

The draw for the first round of the DFB Pokal was held today and, well... Bochum at home. The *one* team that our fans put in the same hate tier as Bayern. Our chances of getting through this tie are minimal, though, even if Bochum aren't among the stronger Bundesliga teams by any means. Hope the board and the fans will be understanding.

Jul 26th 2021

The new staff finally sign their contracts and get to work. First to arrive are three new coaches, including two former Bundesliga players in Patrick Weiser and Filip Trojan and, most notably, former Liverpool center-back and 105 times capped for Finland Sami Hyypiä, who seems to be accepting less prominent roles now after his past stints as manager in Leverkusen, Brighton, and Zürich. These are the biggest names to arrive, but other, less prominent but equally skilled people come to fill the remaining vacant positions throughout the week.

Jul 27th 2021

Biankadi makes the Team of the Week. Which is set up in a 4-4-1-1 formation for whatever reason. Something tells me we'll come across that formation quite a bit this season.

Jul 31st 2021

SV Wehen Wiesbaden vs. TSV 1860 München (3.Liga, 2/38)

More top-half-bound teams in our starting schedule, which is a good way to try and push the limits of this team and see if we're the real deal or not. Wiesbaden were in the 2.Bundesliga not too long ago, so they have that over us at the very least, and their debut was a convincing 0-3 thrashing of Freiburg's reserve squad. Should be a tough nut to crack.

* * *

WIESBADEN (4-4-1-1): Florian Stritzel (GK); Gino Fechner (DR), Sascha Mockenhaupt (DCr), Ahmet Gürleyen (DCl), Dennis Kempe (DL); Thijmen Goppel (MR), Emanuel Taffertschofer (MCr), Bjarke Jacobsen (MCl), Max Thiel (ML); Johannes Wurtz (AMC); Petar Sliskovic (ST)
1860 MÜNCHEN (4-3-3): Tom Kretzschmar (GK); Kevin Goden (DR), Martin Moormann (DCr), Stephan Salger (DCl), Phillipp Steinhart (DL); Daniel Wein (DM), Richard Neudecker (MCr), Dennis Dressel (MCl); Merveille Biankadi (AMR), Keanu Staude (AML), Stefan Lex (ST)

* * *

Just a few swaps in our lineup in the most rotation-worthy positions, with Moormann, Wein, and Dressel starting today.

The first chance is for Wiesbaden after a ball lost by Goden, but Sliskovic's header is soft and easy fo Kretzschmar. The ball is all ours, though, although we don't really do much worthwhile with it. Another bad pass in midfield, this time by Lex, leads to another soft chance for Sliskovic, once again easy for Kretzschmar, but the trend is starting to look worrysome. Wiesbaden keep pestering us throughout the first half with minor half-chances that don't really go anywhere, but which highlight our lack of concentration. Sliskovic's headers are at the end of most of them.

Meanwhile, we don't get a single shot until the 37th, when a through ball finds Staude inside the box and the inside forward's finish floats over the keeper, hits the crossbar, deflects off a defender, rolls into the far post, and is cleared away. Guess that counts as three or four chances in one? A high volley from distance also by Staude in the final minutes of the half is our only other attacking action.

HALF TIME - 0-0

Things look a bit better after the break, thankfully, and soon Biankadi remembers how to create danger and sets Lex for a good chance that Stritzel tips wide. Moormann follows that up with a very narrowly high header in the resulting corner kick, and it looks like we're back on the right track. However, Wurtz gives us a quick scare with a high ball from the edge of the box after finding a huge amount of space between our center-backs.

Another run by the attacking midfielder allows him to set another header by Sliskovic, his most dangerous of the game, but which still goes harmlessly over the bar. We answer with another passing play down the right flank finished by Bär, once again parried by the keeper. Then, seven minutes before the end, a cross from the right is nodded into the box by Wurtz, Kretzschmar tries to go and catch it, but Sliskovic gets there first and heads it in for the late opener.

We pour forward looking to fix our match-long mistakes and somehow manage to find the draw only three minutes later with a long ball by Deichmann and a surprising 25-yarder by Lex, low and riiiight next to the root of the post, absolutely unstoppable. Bär has the chance to turn it around completely a bit later, but he blasts it over the bar wasting another great pass by substitute Deichmann. Then, in the very last second of injury time, a series of defensive mishaps culminating in a backwards tackle by Wein place the ball at Sliskovic's feet inside the small box, and the striker says thank you very much and puts it in to seal our defeat.

* * *

SV Wehen Wiesbaden 2 (Petar Sliskovic 83 90+5)
TSV 1860 München 1 (Stefan Lex 86)

- - -

Not our finest hour, that's for sure. The game could have gone either way despite our higher possession rate, although our first half performance in particular was abysmal. Some players have already underperformed twice in a row, namely Steinhart and Staude, and that's a bit worrying.

Edited by Dalbeider
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Aug 1st 2021

Repayments for our 2M loan start, at a rate of €16k per month until 2031. Shouldn't mean much in the grand scheme of things.

Aug 2nd 2021

Oh, fantastic. Just as we finish rounding up our staff with the arrival of our fourth and final scout, president Reisinger rings to tell me that the board has decided to lower the maximum limits on some positions. Including a maximum of five coaches (we have six already and one more incoming) and two performance analysts (we have three). Amazing timing, sir. Guess I'll see if they don't mind me keeping them all for now, although I'll have to abort the second fitness coach I had arranged. Sigh.

Aug 6th 2021

TSV 1860 München vs. VfL Bochum 1848 (DFB Pokal 1st round)

If there's one advantage we have over Bochum here is that the Bundesliga hasn't started yet, so we should have better match fitness. Everything else is against us, though, but this is a rival match and we must treat it as such. Who knows, miracles happen sometimes...

* * *

1860 MÜNCHEN (4-3-3): Marco Hiller (GK); Kevin Goden (DR), Niklas Lang (DCr), Stephan Salger (DCl), Phillipp Steinhart (DL); Quirin Moll (DM), Richard Neudecker (MCr), Yannick Deichmann (MCl); Marcel Bär (AMR), Fabian Greilinger (AML), Stefan Lex (ST)
BOCHUM (4-2-3-1): Manuel Riemann (GK); Cristian Gamboa (DR), Armel Bella-Kotchap (DCr), Saulo Decarli (DCl), Danilo Soares (DL); Anthony Losilla (MCr), Elvis Rexhbecaj (MCl); Takuma Asano (AMR), Milos Pantovic (AMC), Gerrit Holtmann (AML); Sebastian Polter (ST)

* * *

Hiller starts in the cup, and there's some movement in some other positions, particularly with Greilinger and Bär starting as our wing attackers. The youngster has our first chance after a nice little touch by Lex, but Riemann gets in the way and it ends in a corner kick. We do look pretty good in the initial minutes, which Bochum spend chasing after the ball instead of threatening Hiller's goal.

A good header by Lex that Riemann saves with both hands is our next approach, and Bär follows it up by finishing a long passing play for the keeper to tip it over. This all boils over in the 26th minute, when a great combination down the left flank ends with Neudecker assisting Greilinger, and the young winger cooly chips the ball over Riemann to score the 1-0 in style.

Six minutes later we do one better: free kick from deep, Bär receives it on the right flank, then crosses low across the box for Lex to appear out of nowhere and tap it over the line for the 2-0. We slow the game down then, and Bochum's only appearance near our goal in the whole first half comes from a set piece and goes nowhere fast.

HALF TIME - 2-0

Deichmann almost makes it three right out of the gates after the break, but he's stopped by a last ditch tackle by Bella-Kotchap blocking his finish. Another chance falls to the midfielder only two minutes later, following another fantastic assist by Bär, but this time it's Riemann who prevents the goal. Then Bochum decide that it's finally time to try and score, and Hiller has his first problematic moment when he has to parry a close-range finish by Holtmann. More scary is a lob by Rexhbecaj after a quick break through the center which goes very narrowly over.

That's all she wrote, though, and other than a couple long shots that go nowhere near the target, we remain quite comfortable until injury time, when substitute Tallig sets up a delicious pass towards Bär for the winger to round up his great performance with a goal. A surprisingly and very welcome result.

* * *

TSV 1860 München 3 (Fabian Greilinger 26, Stefan Lex 33, Marcel Bär 90+3)
VfL Bochum 1848 0

- - -

Awesome. I could've seen us giving Bochum some trouble and maybe stealing a win in a tight match, but we absolutely walked all over them today. Fantastic team performance, with Bär particularly strong in both creation and finishing. Choosing a starting right winger will be difficult this year, and I'm all for that. Good show by youngster Greilinger, too, much better than Staude has been so far. Hint hint, Keanu.

€175k make their way into our bank account thanks to our win in the first round of the DFB Pokal, and now we await the draw for the second, happy in the knowledge that we've already fulfilled the board's expectations by beating our rivals from two league tiers above us. Not bad.

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Aug 11th 2021

Daniel Wein will most likely miss our next 3.Liga match with a twisted knee. Nothing serious, just 3-4 days off training, but enough to make him a very serious doubt.

Aug 14th 2021

DFB Pokal 2nd round draw today, and no one could've written a better script than this, honestly: Bayern, at home. We go from one fierce rival to THE fierce rival. Of course this one's gonna be a tiiiiiny little bit harder than Bochum, but hey, worth a try!

- - -

TSV 1860 München vs. Türkgücü München (3.Liga, 3/38)

In the meantime, let's deal with the *other* Münchner derby. Türkgücü have been around the lower leagues since 1975 under many different names, and now they've managed three promotions in the last five seasons and seem to want to progress even further up the pyramid. For now they're yet another top half team that might squeeze into a promotion challenge with the right results, and should be handled with care. Fun fact: they play their home games in the Olympiastadion, meaning we might have to either share or swap stadiums next season, should we promote. It would get even funnier if we both promote, too...

* * *

1860 MÜNCHEN (4-3-3): Marco Hiller (GK); Kevin Goden (DR), Niklas Lang (DCr), Martin Moormann (DCl), Phillipp Steinhart (DL); Quirin Moll (DM), Richard Neudecker (MCr), Dennis Dressel (MCl); Merveille Biankadi (AMR), Keanu Staude (AML), Stefan Lex (ST)
TÜRKGÜCÜ (4-4-2): René Vollath (GK); Tim Rieder (DR), Mërgim Mavraj (DCr), Alexander Sorge (DCl), Lukas Scepanik (DL); Philip Türpitz (MR), Anssi Suhonen (MCr), Andy Irving (MCl), Albion Vrenezi (ML); Törles Knöll (STr), Eren Dinkci (STl)

* * *

We keep Hiller on goal for now, and otherwise perform the usual rotation duties. This time we strike first and fast: we spend a long minute passing the ball between Neudecker, Goden, and Biankadi on the right flank, then finally the winger crosses and Dressel heads it into the back of the net for a very quick opener. Türkgücü respond quickly too, but Dinkci's shot is centered and easy for Hiller.

There's a great chance to score the second when Staude and Lex combine down the left, the striker gets his finish parried by Vollath, and then Biankadi sends the rebound into the sidenetting. Steinhart gets also really close with a direct free kick that the keeper barely manages to tip wide, then sends a cross to Biankadi for the winger to head it over.

We are looking good for a second goal already, but instead get hit on the break and Dinkci scores a well-placed shot from distance to tie the game on the 28th minute. Another header by Biankadi is our first answer, straight into Vollath's hands, but he does much better when it comes to assisting: ball through the center of the defense towards Lex, who bends it from the edge of the box to score the 2-1 two minutes before half time. Deservedly ahead after forty-five minutes.

HALF TIME - 2-1

We start the second half looking for a third, Staude being the first to try with a high free kick. We get it the traditional way, though: quick counter, Biankadi passes ahead of Lex's run, and the false nine calmly rounds the keeper and slots it in for the 3-1.

With that out of the way we proceed to hold the ball and kill the game as well as we can. It works, mostly: Türkgücü are held back for most of the half, but when they get close it's for Suhonen to score the 3-2 and make things dangerous again, thanks to a placed finish after a good passing play. That's all they can manage, however, and two minutes before full time Biankadi does his magic again and assists Staude, allowing the inside forward to beat Vollath in the one-on-one and put the game beyond any doubt.

***

TSV 1860 München 4 (Dennis Dressel 4, Stefan Lex 43 53, Keanu Staude 88)
Türkgücü München 2 (Eren Dinkci 28, Anssi Suhonen 76)

- - -

Good win, which should've been by a much bigger margin given how we outperformed Türkgücü, but our leaky defense (Hiller was pretty poor today) made things closer than they were in reality. Biankadi's assist ratio so far is insane, he got all four today for a total of six in three fixtures.

Steinhart picked up a minor injury in his first really good performance of the year, a gash in his lower leg which will keep him out of contention for 5 to 10 days.

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Aug 15th 2021

Another youngster leaves on loan: Johann Ngounou Djayo moves to Chemie Leipzig, who'll pay one third of his wage and an extra €370 per month. He's a fringe prospect with very small chances of ever being useful for the senior squad, so anything we can get out of him is welcome, even if it's a small amount like this. And of course, any playing time he gets will be good for his development, so everyone wins.

Aug 17th 2021

Moormann makes the Team of the Week. Biankadi, somehow, doesn't.

Aug 21st 2021

1.FC Kaiserslautern (11th) vs. TSV 1860 München (4th) (3.Liga, 4/38)

The rough starting schedule continues with a trip to the third favorites for the title this season, behind ourselves and Duisburg, and fellow fallen giants Kaiserslautern. So far they've been largely mediocre, with four points in three games, but they remain dangerous despite some... dubious tactical decisions.

* * *

KAISERSLAUTERN (3-3-2-1-1): Avdo Spahic (GK); Boris Tomiak (DCr), Kevin Kraus (DC), Marvin Senger (DCl); Jean Zimmer (WBR), Felix Götze (DM), Hendrick Zuck (WBL); Marlon Ritter (MCr), René Klingenburg (MCl); Mike Wunderlich (AMC); Muhammed Kiprit (ST)
1860 MÜNCHEN (4-3-3): Tom Kretzschmar (GK); Kevin Goden (DR), Niklas Lang (DCr), Martin Moormann (DCl), Stephan Salger (DL); Daniel Wein (DM), Richard Neudecker (MCr), Yannick Deichmann (MCl); Marcel Bär (AMR), Keanu Staude (AML), Stefan Lex (ST)

* * *

Three center-backs and one defensive midfielder mean we're gonna need to widen up our attacking shape if we want to find a way through. Bär plays on the right for that same reason: being right-footed means he can play the traditional winger role more effectively and be a constant threat on their weakened flanks. Otherwise, Salger takes the left back position in Steinhart's place and Kretzschmar returns to goal.

We get to our usual possession-heavy start while 'lautern try their luck from distance and on breaks. One of the latter brings their first real chance, a finish by Klingenburg that bounces off Moormann and away from danger. We don't really get going in attack until twenty minutes have passed, but our first chance strikes true: deep free kick taken by Wein into Lang's header, the ball hits the crossbar, and Lex just wandering by gives it a gentle push over the line to score the 0-1.

Kaiserslautern don't seem too affected by this and keep going their own way, sending long balls towards Kiprit and hoping for the best. "The best" he can manage so far is a high ball from the edge of the box, which is completely fine by me. We also keep doing our thing, which is possession and probing at the defence until it gives. Salger finds a gap on the left flank in one of those probes and crosses low for another easy finish by Lex to make it two. A weak header into Spahic's hands by Staude and a good parry by Kretzschmar to a dangerous finish by Kiprit are the last chances of the first half.

HALF TIME - 0-2

The second half starts with a scare for us thanks to a high ball over Lang's head that Kiprit collects inside the box, but thankfully his finish can't find a way past Kretzschmar. Our answer is a rare long shot by Neudecker that goes over the bar, and the game then goes to sleep. The only news for a long while is Willsch's first minutes of the season after his injury.

Both teams have a couple of dangerous runs in the final quarter that end up going nowhere thanks to some defender or other getting in the way at the very last moment, and Neudecker gets really close in the last minute of regulation with a placed finish that smashes into the top right corner of the goal's frame. A counterattack in injury time allows Dressel to send a ball into acres of space, and Lex takes the chance and places it into the back of the net, sealing his first hattrick of the season and making our win all the more secure. Just in case it was needed.

* * *

1.FC Kaiserslautern 0
TSV 1860 München 3 (Stefan Lex 20 34 90+2)

- - -

That worked out nicely. Only one of the three goals came from the wings, but it was clearly the right path to strike from, and the result shows. Kretzschmar had his first really good match for us, too, keeping a clean sheet despite 'lautern's several one-on-ones after long balls from deep. And of course, Lex. Remember when I said I didn't think our strikers would be scoring much? Yeah, about that...

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Aug 24th 2021

Lex makes it as the lone forward in the Team of the Week.

* * *

TSV 1860 München (4th) vs. FC Viktoria Köln (3rd) (3.Liga, 5/38)

We can't have an easy match this summer, can we... Viktoria Köln have enjoyed a fantastic start with four wins out of four, and despite being expected mid-table they're stubbornly holding onto the top three, level on points with two other relatively surprising leaders, Saarbrücken and Wiesbaden.

* * *

1860 MÜNCHEN (4-3-3): Tom Kretzschmar (GK); Kevin Goden (DR), Niklas Lang (DCr), Stephan Salger (DCl), Phillipp Steinhart (DL); Quirin Moll (DM), Erik Tallig (MCr), Yannick Deichmann (MCl); Merveille Biankadi (AMR), Fabian Greilinger (AML), Lorenz Knöferl (ST)
VIKTORIA KÖLN (4-4-2): Moritz Nicolas (GK); Maximilian Rossmann (DR), Jamil Siebert (DCr), Christoph Greger (DCl), Daniel Buballa (DL); Marcel Risse (MR), Kai Klefisch (MCr), David Philipp (MCl), Florian Heister (ML); Federico Palacios (STr), Seok-ju Hong (STl)

* * *

Quite a bit more rotation today, since this is our first midweek game of the season and the starters from last Saturday are still somewhat tired, particularly Neudecker and Lex. Starts for most of our young players, including the first for Belkahia, Tallig, and Knöferl.

We start dominating, but a misunderstanding between Greilinger and Steinhart allows Palacios a chance to score for Viktoria, thankfully stopped by Kretzschmar. The game is slow and not particularly pretty, and it gets worse for Viktoria when they lose Risse to a twisted ankle not even twenty minutes into the game.

We don't really get a chance until the half-hour mark, when a through ball from Knöferl finds Deichmann in the box, but the midfielder can only shoot into the side net. Four minutes later Tallig repeats the usual play, this time finding Knöferl on the run behind the defense, and the young striker finishes with a chip over Nicolas' rush to score the 1-0. Things slow down again after the goal, and only a wide finish by Palacios in the final seconds of the half gives the fans something to be excited about, or rather worried about.

HALF TIME - 1-0

There's a bit more emotion in the first minutes of the second half, mostly thanks to a very clearly offside goal by Goden and a high free kick by substitute Staude. Our left winger keeps the pressure up with a narrowly wide bender from the edge of the box, another play which highlights the fantastic game young playmaker Tallig was having.

Bär comes as a substitute on the 60th minute, and his first action of the game is a pinpoint through ball towards Knöferl, who this time fails to get past Nicolas in the one-on-one. The winger follows it up with a header tipped wide by the keeper, adding another chance to a thoroughly dominant team performance in this second half. The goal doesn't seem to want to come, though, and while Viktoria are mostly harmless, they still give us a small scare on the 75th with a very narrowly shot from distance by substitute Simon Handle.

Bär gets another great chance to seal the win after a quick passing play and a cross from Steinhart, but his finish misses the mark by a few inches. Dressel makes it one better on the 85th, hitting the post from the edge of the box after a great individual run. So many wasted chances tend to end up biting you in the ass, and so it happens on the first minute of injury time when a long ball finds Palacios unmarked, and the striker shoots past Kretzschmar to pull level with time almost gone. There's no time for more, and two points are stolen from right under our noses.

* * *

TSV 1860 München 1 (Lorenz Knöferl 34)
FC Viktoria Köln 1 (Federico Palacios 90+1)

- - -

Yep, that's what happens when you don't close up games. We were the better team on the pitch by a mile and a half, and yet here we are. Silver linings, the youngsters had a pretty good outing today, particularly Tallig and Knöferl. Not so much Greilinger, the kid was basically invisible.

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Aug 26th 2021

International callups for four of our kids. Gresler makes it into the German U20 squad, while the already mentioned Wicht, central midfielder Damjan Dordan, and goalkeeper Erion Avidja get U19 callups for their respective nations (Switzerland, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Kosovo respectively).

Aug 28th 2021

Braunschweig TSV Eintracht (13th) vs. TSV 1860 München (6th) (3.Liga, 6/38)

Duel of former Bundesliga champions and promotion hopefuls, although Braunschweig are pretty far away from their predicted 4th place, with only six points in five matches. Dangerous, but still winnable, assuming we return to our previous form.

* * *

BRAUNSCHWEIG (4-4-2 diamond narrow): Yannik Bangsow (GK); Maurice Multhaup (DR), Michael Schultz (DCr), Jannis Nikolau (DCl), Fabrice Hartmann (DL); Bryan Henning (DM), Danilo Wiebe (MCr), Robin Krausse (MCl), Martin Kobylanski (AMC); Luc Ihorst (STr), Benjamin Girth (STl)
1860 MÜNCHEN (4-3-3): Tom Kretzschmar (GK); Kevin Goden (DR), Niklas Lang (DCr), Martin Moormann (DCl), Maxim Gresler (DL); Daniel Wein (DM), Richard Neudecker (MCr), Dennis Dressel (MCl); Marcel Bär (AMR), Keanu Staude (AML), Stefan Lex (ST)

* * *

Heavy rotation once again after our midweek match, with young Gresler playing his first minutes of the season on the left to give Steinhart some rest. It's our first time playing against a diamond 4-4-2, and I expect Bär will have a lot of work to do today.

Said and done, and his first contribution of the day is a steal on the pressure before assisting Staude, who gets his finish parried wide by Bangsow. Possession seems to not be going our way today, though, and we have to rely on counterattacks to create danger, like the one that ends with a narrowly high header by Dressler on the 8th minute, once again following service from Bär. Midfielder and winger trade roles in our next attack, this time ending in a save by the keeper.

Slowly but surely we start contesting and actually winning by the slimmest of margins in the battle for possession. Funnily enough, that's when our attacks stop for a while, until a great pass by Lang after a set piece sets Staude up for another great chance which dies at the upright's base. Braunschweig have their first real chance on a break immediately afterwards, but Kobylanski blasts it well over. The rest of the first half passes uneventfully, and the scoreboard remains unchanged after forty-five minutes.

HALF TIME - 0-0

We try widening up our attack a bit in order to avoid the mess in the center of the pitch, but it's Braunschweig who hit first after the break, with another way too high finish after a great individual run. Hartmann follows it up with a wide shot from the left side of the box, and it's obvious we need to change things before we get overrun.

Our substitutions and tactical tweaks stop the flow of chances for the home team, but we don't get any better. Our attack is basically nonexistent for the whole half outside of a couple of wide long shots, and time goes by without any real goalscoring chances on either goal until time is no more.

* * *

Braunschweig TSV Eintracht 0
TSV 1860 München 0

- - -

A decent result in a vacuum, but it feels like a wasted chance given how the game went. We completely disappeared in the second half, and thankfully Braunschweig didn't do any more than us. Oh well, one of those days.

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Aug 31st 2021

The transfer window closes tonight, and there are no incoming transfers for us in the end. We couldn't really find a good fit for our striker position, even more considering how amazing Lex has been there so far, so Knöferl will remain as the backup option there for now.

We do have to fend off a few annoying vultures circling our squad, though, like Augsburg (Bundesliga team, mind you) coming with a cheeky loan offer for Tallig which just so happens to have a €91k optional purchase fee attached. Good try, guys.

Sep 4th 2021

TSV 1860 München (6th) vs. SV Meppen (7th) (3.Liga, 7/38)

September should bring a few easier-on-paper fixtures compared to August, which should allow us to climb a bit closer to the top of the table. Meppen are one of those theoretically easier opponents, even though their start has been quite solid and are actually tied with us on points right now. Still, a must win match.

* * *

1860 MÜNCHEN (4-3-3): Tom Kretzschmar (GK); Kevin Goden (DR), Niklas Lang (DCr), Martin Moormann (DCl), Phillipp Steinhart (DL); Quirin Moll (DM), Richard Neudecker (MCr), Yannick Deichmann (MCl); Merveille Biankadi (AMR), Keanu Staude (AML), Stefan Lex (ST)
MEPPEN (4-1-4-1): Eric Domaschke (GK); Markus Ballmert (DR), Jannis Lang (DCr), Lars Bünning (DCl), Max Drombowka (DL); Jonas Fedl (DM); Mike Feigenspan (MR), David Blacha (MCr), Mike-Steven Bähre (MCl), Luka Tankulic (ML); Richard Sukuta-Pasu (ST)

* * *

Steinhart, Moll, Deichmann, and Biankadi return to the lineup today, and witness from a priviledged position how Meppen set up their first chance in only thirty seconds, thankfully ending in a badly high finish by Tankulic. We spend the first minutes of the game establishing our dominance in midfield, and only get close to Domaschke's goal with a free kick Steinhart sends straight into his hands.

After that, a whole lot of nothing. There's no real danger on either goal until Tankulic sends a weak header into Kretzschmar's hands on the 41st! minute of the game, and that's being generous with the definition of 'danger' here. A dire first half ends without goals, mostly because no one even tried.

HALF TIME - 0-0

Things don't improve much after the break, although Sukuta-Pasu does have a narrowly high header on the 54th after a cross from the right, which is basically the most dangerous thing that has happened so far. That is, until Steinhart sends another direct free kick into the woodwork three minutes later. We're still not generating anything in attack, though, and our first chance coming from actual play arrives in the 75th, ending in a wide shot by Tallig.

There's a weird play not much later, an indirect free kick taken from deep by Salger into the box which no one touches and ends up bouncing off the post. It wouldn't have counted if it'd gone in anyway, but it was funny nonetheless. Regardless, we seem to have saved the best for last, as our best chance of the game comes in the 89th minute, a cross towards the penalty spot by Goden which Knöferl can't put past the keeper. One minute later the same play repeats, only this time it's Bär passing back and Tallig shooting, and this time the ball does hit the back of the net for a dramatic winner.

* * *

TSV 1860 München 1 (Erik Tallig 90)
SV Meppen 0

- - -

Man, that was almost a repeat of the previous game, but thankfully the subs saved us from embarrassment. Still, our inability to create any danger in the last couple of matches is worrying, even more considering how free-flowing our attack looked only a month ago. Lex in particular has been completely inconsequential in the last two matches. At least we're looking strong defensively, which is always a plus.

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Sep 7th 2021

Lang and Tallig make the Team of the Week.

Sep 12th 2021

Hallescher FC (9th) vs. TSV 1860 München (5th) (3.Liga, 8/38)

Another team expected in the bottom half but which have climbed up a bit lately after a couple of good results. We should do better than in our recent fixtures if we want to beat them, and we really do.

* * *

HALLE (4-3-3): Daniel Mesenhöler (GK); Niklas Kreuzer (DR), Louis Samson (DCr), Niklas Landgraf (DCl), Janek Sternberg (DL); Aaron Herzog (DM), Jonas Nietfield (MCr), Marcel Titsch Rivero (MCl); Toni Lindenhahn (AMR), Justin Eilers (AML), Michael Eberwein (ST)
1860 MÜNCHEN (4-3-3): Tom Kretzschmar (GK); Kevin Goden (DR), Niklas Lang (DCr), Stephan Salger (DCl), Phillipp Steinhart (DL); Daniel Wein (DM), Erik Tallig (MCr), Dennis Dressel (MCl); Marcel Bär (AMR), Merveille Biankadi (AML), Stefan Lex (ST)

* * *

A bit of an experiment today, playing Biankadi on the left instead of his usual right. Otherwise, the usual rotation, although Tallig has earned his start today with his goal last week.

It's the first 4-3-3 mirror of the season, funnily enough, and we find our first chance in a somewhat unorthodox way, with Salger running into the midfield and sending a vertical pass towards Dressel, who finds Mesenhöler well positioned to parry his finish. We're looking much better in possession today, and soon Lex has another great chance after a nice through ball from Tallig, but sends his shot wide.

We take a short break after that, time which Halle use to take their first shot at goal courtesy of Kreuzer, well held by Kretzschmar. We're still the better team on the pitch, though, and soon we come knocking again through Biankadi, who forces Mesenhöler to tip his shot wide. Tallig is running our midfield today, and he even enjoys another one-on-one with the keeper, who once again parries for a corner kick. Two consecutive offside goals by Dressel follow within a single minute, much to the midfielder's chagrin, but it looks like the actual opener should be coming at any moment now.

It doesn't, though, at least not immediately, while Halle get a bit more aggressive in the final minutes of the half and actually send a couple of chances wide. The first half ends with a steal right in front of Halle's box by Lex, who immediately turns around and shoots straight into the crossbar. Unlucky not to be winning by now.

HALF TIME - 0-0

We restart just where we left: with Lex almost scoring, this time with a good header to Dressel's cross but being denied by the goalkeeper. A narrowly wide power shot by Bär comes a bit later, and all Halle can create in fifteen minutes is a weak long shot by Lindenhahn which brings no danger for Kretzschmar. For a bit afterwards, though, things are calm on both goals, as we seem to hit one of our usual dry spells.

We shift things around in our attack, bringing Greilinger and Knöferl in and moving Lex to the right wing, and on the 80th minute it actually pays off, although in a very indirect way: Lex is tripped inside the box by Sternberg, and the forward slots it in from the spot to give us the lead we've been deserving for the whole match. Halle push forward then, although with little bit, and we make good use of the space that creates to kill the game come injury time with a great passing run down the right flank which Lex ends with a beautiful ball for Knöferl, who calmly puts it past Mesenhöler to make it 0-2. We got there in the end.

* * *

Hallescher FC 0
TSV 1860 München 2 (Stefan Lex 81p, Lorenz Knöferl 90+1)

- - -

An exercise in patience. We played Halle out of their own park, so to speak, but the goal just wouldn't come until they basically begged us to score, please, and end this suffering. Then we found space to run into and well, that's where we really shine. Lex is back with a goal and a good overall performance, and Tallig made very good use of his chance to start with a good playmaking show, while Wein and Salger shored up the defensive half of the equation. Looking better now.

Of course player agents always have to come and spoil the good times. Lang's agent came knocking demanding an improved deal for his client immediately after yet another solid performance at the back. And I mean, fair enough, he's earning only €950 a week and his deal is expiring next summer, so we'd have to go there eventually, but his demands of more than tripling his wages are a bit out there. In the end, though, we reach an agreement on a €2.5k/w deal with a €1.3M release clause for German clubs in higher divisions, which is a fair price to ask for him at this point. It does take a big bite off our remaining wage budget, but at least we can afford it.

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  • Dalbeider changed the title to Einmal Löwe, immer Löwe - a(nother) 1860 story

Sep 14th 2021

Salger makes it to the Team of the Week.

Sep 18th 2021

TSV 1860 München (5th) vs. FSV Zwickau (1st) (3.Liga, 9/38)

Zwickau are one of the most unexpected leaders we could've had at this point of the 3.Liga season. They've only been here for the last five years after spending most of their time in the lower divisions, and although they've managed some pretty good finishes, they were still expected 14th this season, yet here we are. We should be the better team, but we'll have to prove it.

* * *

1860 MÜNCHEN (4-3-3): Tom Kretzschmar (GK); Kevin Goden (DR), Niklas Lang (DCr), Martin Moormann (DCl), Phillipp Steinhart (DL); Quirin Moll (DM), Richard Neudecker (MCr), Yannick Deichmann (MCl); Merveille Biankadi (AMR), Keanu Staude (AML), Stefan Lex (ST)
ZWICKAU (4-4-2): Johannes Brinkies (GK); Patrick Göbel (DR), Steffen Nkansah (DCr), Max Reinthaler (DCl), Marco Schikora (DL); Nils Butzen (MR), Maximilian Jansen (MCr), Mike Könnecke (MCl), Luca Horn (ML); Dominic Baumann (STr), Ronny König (STl)

* * *

Zwickau show their colors by sendind a cross towards Baumann within seconds from kick off, thankfull an easy catch for Kretzschmar, but it's obvious what they're good at. Their star is 38yo target man Ronny König, who's already on eight goals in eight appearances, most of them with headers. The plan, of course, is to keep the ball away from them and deny them the chance to feed their strikers from the wings.

We do well after that initial scare, and soon Biankadi is testing Brinkies from afar. We make good use of our midfield superiority to win the possession battle, although I don't think Zwickau are too bothered about that. Moll has another long-range effort near the 20 minute mark, this one going a bit wide and high, but not too far from the target. Staude continues our attack shooting straight at the keeper after a good combination with Steinhart through the left flank, then Lex goes wide from the edge of the box.

We're doing very well on the pressure, stealing the ball in dangerous positions while denying Zwickau the chance to attack themselves. Of course that works well until it doesn't, and Horn has a great chance after a one-two pass with Baumann which Kretzschmar barely manages to tip over. Göbel gives our keeper more work to do with a very well placed free kick, and every corner kick is a chance for König to do his thing thanks to his aerial superiority. We hit back with a long pass by Goden that Deichmann wastes with a terrible finish, and after a few more traded blows the first half ends without any goals scored, somehow.

HALF TIME - 0-0

Things seem to follow the same script after halftime, and soon enough Brinkies has to work hard to keep a shot by Biankadi outside of the net following a good steal and pass by Deichmann. If anything we're looking more dominant than before, constantly testing the defense with quick breaks and passes into the space behind the center-backs. Deichmann keeps trying, too, both with passes and shots, but he always seems to lack an extra bit of precision. Bär also tests the keeper from close after a combination with Goden inside the box, but Brinkies once again responds in kind.

Deichmann has the best until now with a placed shot from the penalty spot after a counter, but there's Brinkies yet again, parrying it and sending it wide. Another chances falls to Bär after a nice pass from Knöferl, but he takes too long to finish and a defender steals the ball from him in the last second. I could tell you about all the times we break through the defense only to send the ball wide or for Brinkies to deny us but I won't, I'd be here all day.

There's a moment of panic in the 83rd minute with a break through the right wing ends in a dangerous cross towards, who else, König, but the target man heads it over and everyone breathes a sigh of relief. That's all Zwickau can manage in the whole second half, though, and after a few more missed chances for us the game ends as it started: goalless.

* * *

TSV 1860 München 0
FSV Zwickau 0

- - -

I have no idea how we didn't score today. Well, yes, I have one idea: Brinkies. He might be one of the best keepers in the division reflexes and handling-wise, and he showed today with a man-of-the-match-worthy performance. Which he didn't get, by the way, somehow Moormann stole it from him. Still, a wasted chance to get closer to the top, specially because almost everyone involved in the fight lost today, but at least we keep adding points to the score and we remain unbeaten, seven games now. Just wish we'd take our chances more often...

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Sep 25th 2021

SC Verl (17th) vs. TSV 1860 München (6th) (3.Liga, 10/38)

One fourth of the season gone, and we need to start picking up the pace. Verl look like a good target for another away win, considering they've managed only one victory so far and they're roughly where expected: in the drop zone.

* * *

VERL (3-2-2-1-2): Niclas Thiede (GK); Steffen Schäffer (DCr), Tom Baack (DC), Daniel Mikic (DCl); Aaron Berzel (WBr), Luca Stellwagen (WBl); Vinko Sapina (MCr), Mael Corboz (MCl); Patrick Schikowski (AMC); Leandro Putaro (STr), Cyrill Akono (STl)
1860 MÜNCHEN (4-3-3): Tom Kretzschmar (GK); Kevin Goden (DR), Niklas Lang (DCr), Stephan Salger (DCl), Phillipp Steinhart (DL); Daniel Wein (DM), Erik Tallig (MCr), Dennis Dressel (MCl); Marcel Bär (AMR), Stefan Lex (AML), Lorenz Knöferl (ST)

* * *

Another twist to the forward line today, moving Lex to the wing and starting Knöferl upfront, with Bär on the right to give us some extra width against Verl's 3-5-2. And it works, only the opposite way we intended: cross from the left by Steinhart and header by Bär on the far post to score the 0-1 only seven minutes into the game.

With the lead achieved, we hide the ball away and play the waiting game, while Verl are powerless to give us any headaches in defense. Bär has a great chance for a second following a nice ball by Goden, but this time Thiede can keep it out of his goal, if just barely. The winger creates another opportunity right before the half hour, passing back for Tallig inside the box, but once again the keeper manages to prevent the goal by deflecting the finish wide. Shortly after, Tallig sends one of his trademark through balls towards Lex, who is also unable to get past Thiede. Next one to try is Knöferl after another cross by Bär, finding the same fate. Why do all keepers play out of their minds against us?

A high header by Dressel following yet another service by a very active Bär is the last chance of a pretty good first half.

HALF TIME - 0-1

The siege continues into the second half, young Knöferl being the first to try his luck with a wide shot from the edge of the box. Dressel goes over the bar from distance a couple of minutes later, then Bär also sends over a half-volley finish to Steinhart's cross from the left. That's when Schikowski gives us our first scare of the game with a long shot that Kretzschmar has to stretch to tip wide. Thiede has to do the same on the other goal on the 60th minute, preventing Wein from scoring a fantastic direct free kick from 30 yards away.

Lex has to leave the field after an apparently minor knock, and that seems to slow down our attack a tad, although we keep probing and testing, looking for the elusive second goal. Finally, in the 78th, a steal by Steinhart sets Deichmann up for a quick counter, and the midfielder assists Knöferl so the youngster can place his shot around Thiede and finally make it 0-2. Tallig could've made it 0-3 in injury time, but the midfielder can't finish a one-on-one with the keeper and sends the ball wide. Still, more than enough to see us take the three points today.

* * *

SC Verl 0
TSV 1860 München 2 (Marcel Bär 7, Lorenz Knöferl 78)

- - -

Much better, and once again we did manage a good attacking record against a formation with three center-backs, which we hadn't come across since the Kaiserslautern game. Happy with everything except our finishing today, but that's something we'll have to learn to live with, I'm afraid. Bär back to his usual great self, and once again good shows by Tallig and Knöferl, slowly making gains into their future as first team players for us. Also, fifth game in a row without conceding, which is nice.

* * *

| Pos  | Inf   | Team                 | Pld   | Won   | Drn   | Lst   | For   | Ag    | GD    | Pts   |
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 1st  |       | Zwickau              | 10    | 8     | 1     | 1     | 21    | 6     | 15    | 25    |
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 2nd  |       | Duisburg             | 10    | 8     | 0     | 2     | 18    | 11    | 7     | 24    |
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 3rd  |       | Saarbrücken          | 10    | 7     | 0     | 3     | 23    | 11    | 12    | 21    |
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 4th  |       | 1860 München         | 10    | 6     | 3     | 1     | 17    | 6     | 11    | 21    |
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 5th  |       | Wiesbaden            | 10    | 6     | 2     | 2     | 13    | 8     | 5     | 20    |
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 6th  |       | Viktoria Köln        | 10    | 6     | 1     | 3     | 17    | 13    | 4     | 19    |
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 7th  |       | Meppen               | 10    | 4     | 3     | 3     | 16    | 13    | 3     | 15    |
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 8th  |       | Magdeburg            | 10    | 3     | 5     | 2     | 9     | 6     | 3     | 14    |
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 9th  |       | Mannheim             | 10    | 4     | 2     | 4     | 7     | 7     | 0     | 14    |
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 10th |       | Würzburger Kickers   | 10    | 4     | 2     | 4     | 14    | 15    | -1    | 14    |
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 11th |       | Braunschweig         | 10    | 4     | 2     | 4     | 8     | 9     | -1    | 14    |
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 12th |       | Türkgücü München     | 10    | 3     | 3     | 4     | 13    | 13    | 0     | 12    |
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 13th |       | VfL Osnabrück        | 10    | 3     | 3     | 4     | 13    | 17    | -4    | 12    |
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 14th |       | Halle                | 10    | 3     | 3     | 4     | 10    | 14    | -4    | 12    |
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 15th |       | Freiburg II          | 10    | 4     | 0     | 6     | 13    | 22    | -9    | 12    |
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 16th |       | Kaiserslautern       | 10    | 2     | 3     | 5     | 8     | 13    | -5    | 9     |
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 17th |       | Viktoria 1889        | 10    | 2     | 2     | 6     | 9     | 14    | -5    | 8     |
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 18th |       | Verl                 | 10    | 1     | 2     | 7     | 10    | 19    | -9    | 5     |
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 19th |       | Havelse              | 10    | 1     | 2     | 7     | 7     | 20    | -13   | 5     |
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 20th |       | Borussia Dortmund II | 10    | 1     | 1     | 8     | 6     | 15    | -9    | 4     |
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

I can tell you that almost nobody expected the look of this 3.Liga table at the start of the season. Zwickau leaders, with Saarbrücken and Wiesladen among the contenders? Kaiserslautern fifth... from the bottom? Braunschweig midtable? Honestly, I'm just happy we're roughly where we should be considering how crazy this season has been so far. Duisburg and us are basically the only real contenders who are doing decently well so far, while others like Kaiserslautern, Osnabrück and Braunschweig look practically out of the race already.

In fact, Kaiserslautern should probably start worrying about other, more dangerous things. Like relegation. Because really, having one of the two 'B' teams ahead of you at this point should trigger some loud alarms. Verl, Havelse, and Dortmund's kids already look like Regionalliga teams, but there's still enough time for one or more of them to figure things out and climb out of the hole.

* * *

PLAYER STATS
============

Average rating (min. 3 games played):

Stefan Lex         7.49 (10 apps)
Niklas Lang        7.39 (9(1) apps)
Tom Kretzschmar    7.23 (9 apps)
Marcel Bär         7.22 (5(4) apps)
Stephan Salger     7.19 (7(3) apps)

Goals

Stefan Lex         9 goals
Lorenz Knöferl     3
Marcel Bär         2
7 players          1

Assists

Merveille Biankadi 6 assists
Yannick Deichmann  2
Erik Tallig        2
Marcel Bär         2
Philipp Steinhart  2

 

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Sep 28th 2021

Steinhart makes his first appearance in the Team of the Week.

Oct 2nd 2021

TSV 1860 München (4th) vs. FC Viktoria 1889 Berlin (17th) (3.Liga, 11/38)

The other Viktoria in the division, 1889 have just now climbed over Verl on the table but still remain within the red zone, and looking like favorites to stay there until the end. No way in hell we can afford to drop points against them at home.

* * *

1860 MÜNCHEN (4-3-3): Tom Kretzschmar (GK); Marius Willsch (DR), Niklas Lang (DCr), Martin Moormann (DCl), Stephan Salger (DL); Quirin Moll (DM), Richard Neudecker (MCr), Yannick Deichmann (MCl); Merveille Biankadi (AMR), Keanu Staude (AML), Stefan Lex (ST)
VIKTORIA 1889 (4-3-3): Julian Krahl (GK); Lukas Pinckert (DR), Fabian Cavadias (DCr), Alexander Hahn (DCl), Deji Beyreuther (DL); Bernd Nehrig (DM), Christopher Theisen (MCr), Christoph Menz (MCl); Cebrail Makreckis (AMR), Moritz Seiffert (AML), Faith Kaya (ST)

* * *

Some rotation at the back, with both starting wingbacks resting today, but for the most part we use starters so they can either continue or recover their good form, with particular interest on our two wing attackers. It's a mirror match formation-wise, so our best quality is supposed to come on top, although the very wet pitch doesn't help our play much.

A slow start sees us struggling to establish ourselves, and it takes us until the 14th minute to create the first real chance, only for Biankadi to blast it a mile over. Six minutes later Willsch assists Lex with a cute little pass into the heart of the box, and Krahl's there to save the striker's point-blank finish. It's all starting to look way too familiar now, even more when the keeper once again tips wide a powerful effort by Staude, and when the same Staude smashes a direct free kick into the top right corner of the frame. Said and done, the first half ends without goals once again.

HALF TIME - 0-0

We keep pushing for the opener in the second half, once again with Biankadi as our first to try, and once again with the same result: high ball. Another save by Krahl to a direct free kick by Staude follows, and the fans are starting to get a wee bit worried by this point. Even more when we even stop creating chances for a long while, while Viktoria look comfortable.

We shift formation to a 4-2-3-1 in the final quarter, looking for more options upfront, and it works a treat: in the 82nd minute a cross from the left by Lex is nodded back towards the penalty spot by Dressel, and substitute Tallig shoots with power to score the very late 1-0. Three minutes later another cross from the left, this time by Steinhart, reaches Tallig in the same position, and the midfielder puts his head to it to score the second. And that, as people say, was that.

* * *

TSV 1860 München 2 (Erik Tallig 82 85)
FC Viktoria 1889 Berlin 0

- - -

Boy, do we love making things difficult for ourselves, huh. This time it took a formation change and the sudden appearance of three substitutes to make things right. Worth mentioning that Viktoria ended the game with one shot, and it wasn't even on target. Our domination was almost complete, except for the tiny little detail of actually scoring goals. Good thing Tallig was there to keep the points at home.

Up to second, only one point behind Zwickau, who lost to Osnabrück. Oh, and ten games unbeaten between all competitions. And six games in a row without conceding a single goal. Neat. Not a bad shape to be in before a two-week break. We'll use this time to practice the 4-2-3-1 formation a bit in training, it might prove useful again to unlock games like the last one.

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Oct 5th 2021

Tallig makes the Team of the Week, of course.

Oct 9th 2021

Moll sprains his ankle ligaments in training. He'll be out for 4-5 weeks, during which we'll have to improvise if we want to rest Wein from time to time.

Oct 17th 2021

TSV 1860 München (2nd) vs. SV Waldhof Mannheim 07 (12th) (3.Liga, 12/38)

Back into action with a home fixture against mid-table Mannheim, who for a change are doing exactly what was expected of them this season. It's the last relatively relaxed fixture we have before a trip to 5th-placed Saarbrücken and the DFB Pokal second round against Bayern, so we'd better make the best out of it.

* * *

1860 MÜNCHEN (4-3-3): Tom Kretzschmar (GK); Kevin Goden (DR), Niklas Lang (DCr), Martin Moormann (DCl), Phillip Steinhart (DL); Daniel Wein (DM), Erik Tallig (MCr), Dennis Dressel (MCl); Marcel Bär (AMR), Keanu Staude (AML), Stefan Lex (ST)
MANNHEIM (4-4-1-1): Timo Königsmann (GK); Marcel Gottschling (DR), Jesper Verlaat (DCr), Marco Höger (DCl), Anton Donkor (DL); Marcel Costly (MR), Hamza Saghiri (MCr), Fridolin Wagner (MCl), Marc Schnatterer (ML); Adrien Lebeau (AMC); Pascal Sohm (ST)

* * *

Last time we faced a 4-4-1-1 we lost our first and (so far) last game of the season, so we should be careful. Tallig gets another start thanks to his great form of late, and we go into the match knowing results elsewhere have given us the chance to take the top spot on the table with a win today. The prize seems to give us an extra oomph, and two minutes in Bär is already receiving from Dressel inside the box and testing a well positioned Königsmann. Another shot by the winger almost finds the top left corner, but the keeper tips it over with a great fingertip save.

Bär has always been a better crosser than scorer, though, and he proves that in the 9th minute by gathering a loose ball on the right flank and crossing towards the far post, where Staude floats high to head it in and score the 1-0, and his first goal in a long while. Only two minutes later Lex runs towards the left, draggin the defense with him, then passes back towards the edge of the box for Wein to unleash a bender into the back of the net: 2-0 and cruising.

We keep it up at a slightly more sedate pace, but still keeping Mannheim inside their own half at practically all times. A narrowly high header by Staude follows, and on the 24h a corner kick taken by Steinhart towards the near post surprises the defense, and Bär nods it skillfully into the back of the net to make it a very early three. After that we slow things down even further, letting time pass with the match under complete control until halftime.

HALF TIME - 3-0

Overconfidence is always a risk in these situations, but it looks like we're avoiding that trap and keep putting some pressure on Mannheim's defense from the get go, starting with a high header by Dressel on a set piece. Bär blasts over a fantastic chance to score the fourth after a bad tackle by Donkor, but we obviously have no need to force attacking plays now, and the pace slows down even further once we start bringing in substitutes.

Mannheim finally let Kretzschmar show his quality with a fantastic save in a one-on-one against Sohm and Costly sends an isolated header into the crossbar, but otherwise prove incapable of creating any serious, consistent danger. The result doesn't change in the end, and we score one of the most comfortable wins of the season so far.

* * *

TSV 1860 München 3 (Kevin Staude 9, Daniel Wein 11, Marcel Bär 24)
SV Waldhof Mannheim 07 0

- - -

Easy. Everything that made our previous matches so tense and difficult to deal with went the complete opposite way today: three early goals, game done, let's sleepwalk until the end. The relaxation in the second half was obvious, but also almost impossible to prevent given the circumstances and how little Mannheim threatened us overall. Good show, and good goal for Staude, who hopefully will start playing as he's supposed to do now. And we're top of the league now, woo!

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Oct 23rd 2021

1.FC Saarbrücken (6th) vs. TSV 1860 München (1st) (3.Liga, 13/38)

Saarbrücken have had a bit of a weird season so far. Expected dead in the middle of the pack, they started really well and even topped the table for a few weeks, but now they've lost four of their last five and seem to be in free fall. Probably the best moment to face them, but still very dangerous.

* * *

SAARBRÜCKEN (4-1-4-1): Daniel Batz (GK); Dominik Ernst (DR), Lukas Boeder (DCr), Bjarne Thoelke (DCl), Plus Krätschmer (DL); Manuel Zeitz (DM); Tobias Jänicke (MR), Dave Gnasse (MCr), Julian Günther-Schmidt (MCl), Sebastian Jacob (ML); Adriano Grimaldi (ST)
1860 MÜNCHEN (4-3-3): Tom Kretzschmar (GK); Marius Willsch (DR), Stephan Salger (DCr), Martin Moormann (DCl), Phillip Steinhart (DL); Yannick Deichmann (DM), Richard Neudecker (MCr), Dennis Dressel (MCl); Marcel Bär (AMR), Keanu Staude (AML), Lorenz Knöferl (ST)

* * *

With the Bayern match coming in only three days it's a good moment to give some of our starters a bit of a break, so the likes of Goden, Lang, and Lex are on the bench today. Wein also rests, since he'll be more needed in the cup, so Deichmann takes the anchor man role today. It takes us only eight minutes to show our midfield dominance and translate it into the 0-1: throw in near the corner flag, cross from the right by Deichmann, and perfect jump by Dressel to head it in. Couldn't ask for a better start.

Saarbrücken try to push their lines further up, but that makes them vulnerable, and soon feel it with a deep cross by Steinhart that Bär heads into the crossbar. The game is slow and with little danger created, though, which suits us just fine. The home team don't offer anything other than a weak header by Grimaldi in the final minute of the half, and we keep our lead without issue until the break.

HALF TIME - 0-1

The second half is more of the same, and after eighteen minutes of nothing but midfield struggle Neudecker finds substitute Biankadi running down the left flank with a long pass, and the winger places his finish past Batz to score the second. Saarbrücken answer with another header by Grimaldi, easy for Kretzschmar, while we take the chance to rest players for the upcoming tie against Bayern.

The rest of the match brings an injury to Salger, hopefully nothing serious, and another great pass by Neudecker towards Biankadi, now on the right, that this time finds Batz in the right place for a save. Wein hits wood for us for the second time today with a direct free kick, but otherwise we just let minutes pass without taking risks and saving energy. Another easy win.

* * *

1.FC Saarbrücken 0
TSV 1860 München 2 (Dennis Dressel 9, Merveille Biankadi 63)

- - -

We're getting used to these matches where we dominate, take our chances, and score easy points. Kretzschmar takes the man of the match award in his eighth straight clean sheet despite having basically no work to do, in an otherwise very solid team performance without any standouts. Long may the good times continue. Ideally past this coming Tuesday...

As expected, nothing serious for Salger, just a tight calf. He'll be a last-minute doubt for the Bayern game, regardless, but he should at worst be available on the bench.

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Oct 26th 2021

Biankadi makes the Team of the Week.

- - -

TSV 1860 München vs. FC Bayern München (DFB Pokal 2nd round)

A bit late for Oktoberfest, but here's the match every Munich football fan has been hungering for the last two decades or so. Well, at least the blue half of Munich, not sure the Bayern fans care much about us right now, they have bigger fish to fry... No surprises, Bayern are leading the Bundesliga, although not quite running away with it just yet. Their only injuries are Coman and Kimmich, so they should be able to field an absolutely star-studded eleven if they want to. IF they want to. Our only hope is that they don't take the game seriously enough and bring the reserves in. Not holding my breath for that... There's some extra mild trash talking coming from Nagelsmann in the build-up, too, just in case we needed extra motivation.

* * *

1860 MÜNCHEN (4-3-3): Marco Hiller (GK); Kevin Goden (DR), Niklas Lang (DCr), Martin Moormann (DCl), Phillip Steinhart (DL); Daniel Wein (DM), Erik Tallig (MCr), Yannick Deichmann (MCl); Marcel Bär (AMR), Merveille Biankadi (AML), Stefan Lex (ST)
BAYERN (4-2-3-1): Manuel Neuer (GK); Joshua Kimmich (DR), Dayot Upamecano (DCr), Niklas Süle (DCl), Alphonso Davies (DL); Marcel Sabitzer (MCr), Leon Goretzka (MCl); Leroy Sané (AMR), Thomas Müller (AMC), Serge Gnabry (AML); Robert Lewandowski (ST)

* * *

Yep, they're not pulling their punches at all... They're even playing Kimmich even though he's not fully recovered just yet. We send in our most in-form team (plus Hiller) and hope for the best, obviously with a much more cautious outlook to begin with. Bayern start things dominating, of course, and soon Goretzka has the first chance with a narrowly high header on a corner kick, followed by another header by Lewandowski that Hiller saves well. It's gonna be a long struggle...

After a high ball by Gnabry from the edge of the box we seem to manage to calm things down a bit and start actually having some of the ball. Not much, though, just enough to remember what it's like. It's just a short reprieve, though, and soon Sané is testing Hiller again with a header from a tight angle. On the 23rd it finally happens: deep free kick whipped into the box by Kimmich and Süle towers above everyone to head it in. It was coming, and it's here.

Bayern take a small step back before coming back for more, with Goretzka's centered header on a corner kick being denied by Hiller's parry. We finally get a chance to strike back, though, when Bär steals the ball and quickly finds Lex ahead, but the best the striker can do is to shoot from distance and hope for the best, and the ball sails wide. Another high header by Goretzka marks the end of a very one-sided first half.

HALF TIME - 0-1

We try to be a bit more attacking in the second half, but Sabitzer soon reminds us why that's a bad idea when he steals the ball in the midfield and runs into space, a great goal only denied by Hiller's fingertips tipping the ball over the bar. On the 51st Sané finds Lewandowski unmarked, and the striker finds his way into the box to place his shot past Hiller and make it 0-2, crushing what little hope of a comeback we might have had.

Or maybe not: after a few changes upfront we attack them right back, with Lex passing back to Tallig and the midfielder finally giving Neuer something to do with his shot. Wein follows it up with a high direct free kick, and it looks like we might be starting to push them back a little. No such luck: Sané buries a direct free kick in the top right corner to make it 0-3 and the match is settled for real.

We're not dead yet, though, and the Lions' pride won't allow us to give up just like that. A quick run down the left by Steinhart on the 72nd allows him to cross towards the heart of the box, where Lex pops up to tap it in past Neuer and score the 1-3. Goden follows it up with a strong try from the edge of the box, but Neuer punches it over the bar this time. The moment of truth comes in the 85th, when we run on the break through the center and, after some scrambling for the ball inside the box, Knöferl has the chance to shoot with Neuer out of position... and he hits the left post. That goal would've given us something to fight for in the final minutes of the match, but instead it becomes our last chance, and the game ends shortly afterwards with the expected result.

* * *

TSV 1860 München 1 (Stefan Lex 72)
FC Bayern München 3 (Niklas Süle 23, Robert Lewandowski 51, Leroy Sané 68)

- - -

Proud of the boys, they did their best and actually made it look like we had a chance of a miracle in the end. Shame of that post by Knöferl, scoring the 2-3 then would've put the fear of death on Bayern's fans' hearts. Oh well, nothing unexpected, and I'm sure things will be different when we meet again. Best thing about derbies is that there's always another one!

€351k in the bag as prize for reaching the 2nd round. Very welcome.

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Oct 30th 2021

TSV 1860 München (1st) vs. Sport-Club Freiburg II (14th) (3.Liga, 14/38)

Back to things that actually matter, we return to the league hosting the 'B' team that's been doing the best so far in the division. That's not saying much, though, it's just that Freiburg II are actually two points above the relegation zone instead of inside it, unlike Dortmund II. Still a game we should win, and hopefully break the 3.Liga record for consecutive clean sheets in the process.

* * *

1860 MÜNCHEN (4-3-3): Tom Kretzschmar (GK); Marius Willsch (DR), Niklas Lang (DCr), Martin Moormann (DCl), Stephan Salger (DL); Yannick Deichmann (DM), Richard Neudecker (MCr), Dennis Dressel (MCl); Marcel Bär (AMR), Keanu Staude (AML), Lorenz Knöferl (ST)
FREIBURG II (4-2-3-1): Noah Atubolu (GK); Philipp Treu (DR), Claudio Kammerknecht (DCr), Jordy Makenego (DCl), Noah Weisshaupt (DL); Yannik Engelhardt (MCr), Pablo Ruiz (MCl); Guillaume Furrer (AMR), Lars Kehl (AMC), Daniels Ontuzans (AML); Julius Tauriainen (ST)

* * *

Rotation once again, since there are quite a few tired legs in the squad after the midweek fixture. Fifty seconds in and Staude is already trying luck with a turnaround shot inside the box, well wide but still a good show of intentions. Forty seconds later and those intentions already bear fruit: play down the left flank, Deichmann sends a cross towards the far post, and Bär heads it in.

We keep the pressure up, and soon Staude has another chance to score following a nod by Knöferl, but this time he finds Atubolu in the way. Knöferl heads the resulting corner kick narrowly over, and it looks like the second will be a matter of minutes. Meanwhile, Freiburg look happy to survive. Things slow down after that, though, and it takes until the 28th for Staude to miss a sitter after a great pass into space by Neudecker. Atubolu is the culprit, and he does it again with a fantastic reflex save against Lang's header in the following corner kick. After another pause, Neudecker sets Deichmann up for another one-on-one already in injury time, and again the keeper is there to deflect the ball wide. Half time comes, and we're only one goal ahead somehow.

HALF TIME - 1-0

The second half starts with a couple of dangerous approaches by Freiburg, and it looks like the wind might be turning on us. We soon turn things back around, though, giving Atubolu some more work to do with a finish by Deichmann from a difficult position. A narrowly wide header by Bär on a corner kick comes next, and Lang gets even closer with a volley in a set piece that smashes against the post and clear.

It has been coming for a while, and it finally arrives in the 65th when Staude runs into the box on the left flank, turns around and passes back towards Knöferl, who places it in the top right corner from close to make it impossible for Atubolu. 2-0 and counting. Freiburg just give up right then, if they hadn't before, and we coast through the rest of the match unimpeded. Easy win, once again.

* * *

TSV 1860 München 2 (Marcel Bär 2, Lorenz Knöferl 65)
Sport-Club Freiburg II 0

- - -

Not much to say about this match, really. Just following the blueprint we've stablished for ourselves, dominating possession from the get-go and taking at least some of our chances to seal the deal. Should've been a much bigger margin today, sure, but we're still playing well and winning. And putting our name in the 3.Liga all time records, too, with nine consecutive clean sheets. Even better news: we're now five points clear of Duisburg in 4th place. Nice cushion to have at this point of the season.

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Nov 2nd 2021

Lang is awarded a place in the Team of the Week.

Hiller is starting to feel a bit worried about his lack of playing time. Understandable, but I don't think I can bench Kretzschmar right now, considering he's playing really well, improving by the minute, and in the middle of the best defensive run this league has ever seen. We're also entering a difficult section of the schedule, so not exactly the best moment for this. We have a talk, and surprisingly he's pretty happy with taking a backup role from now on, he apparently just wanted it told to him straight. Huh. Players are weird sometimes...

Nov 6th 2021

VfL Osnabrück (7th) vs. TSV 1860 München (1st) (3.Liga, 15/38)

Probably the most difficult game we have left in the first half of the season, other than next week's against Duisburg. Osnabrück were preseason favorites for promotion, but had an absolutely wretched start and even flirted with the relegation zone. Since then, though, they've gone on a ten match unbeaten streak that lasts until today, and have climbed up the table to the point that I wouldn't be surprised to see them actually challenging for promotion come May. A real toughie.

* * *

OSNABRÜCK (4-3-3): Philipp Kühn (GK); Davide Itter (DR), Lukas Gugganig (DCr), Timo Beermann (DCl), Arbnor Aliu (DL); Ulrich Taffertschofer (DM), Lukas Kunze (MCr), Sebastian Klaas (MCl); Marc Heider (AMR), Aaron Opoku (AML), Andrew Wooten (ST)
1860 MÜNCHEN (4-3-3): Tom Kretzschmar (GK); Kevin Goden (DR), Niklas Lang (DCr), Martin Moormann (DCl), Phillipp Steinhart (DL); Daniel Wein (DM), Richard Neudecker (MCr), Yannick Deichmann (MCl); Marcel Bär (AMR), Keanu Staude (AML), Stefan Lex (ST)

* * *

Moll is back in full training already, but still not ready to start. We don't fool around with our eleven today, bringing our most in-form eleven into play. We also make a few tactical tweaks to simplify our team instructions, removing the focus on attacking through the center which sometimes ends up bottling our attack up.

Our first long possession of the game leads to a great chance for Lex after an assist from Staude, but the ball ends in his weaker side and his finish isn't good enough to beat Kühn. Another pass into the heart of the box by Staude finds Deichmann, and once again the keeper is there to block the shot. Possession is split in the first quarter, though, and Osnabrück slowly start pushing us back and getting closer to our goal.

The game quickly loses most of its early efervescence, however, and the rest of the half is a very even battle for possession with only a couple of long shots here and there to break the tedium, with neither keeper finding themselves in trouble. No goals at halftime.

HALF TIME - 0-0

The game remains mired in the mud after the break, and we bring in some early substitutions to shake things up a bit. The result is instantaneous: long play down the left flank which ends in Staude's feet, and the inside forward crosses towards the far post where substitute Biankadi appears to tap it in past the keeper and grab the opener. The winger tries his luck again a few minutes later, but this time Kühn is able to tip the ball wide.

Osnabrück first real chance to score comes in the 66th with a powerful effort from the edge of the box by another substitute, Itter, which Kretzschmar deflects over with an acrobatic save. They continue attacking from then on looking for the draw, but their finishes aren't dangerous enough to ever give us real pause. We wait for the chance to seal things up for good, and it comes in the 88th when Salger receives completely unmarked in front of the box and bends a beautiful shot into the top right corner to score the 0-2. We even manage to keep our clean sheets run going thanks to a last-second tackle by Moormann when Opoku was running alone and getting ready to fire. That's Osnabrück's last gasp, and we score a very important win.

* * *

VfL Osnabrück 0
TSV 1860 München 2 (Merveille Biankadi 56, Stephan Salger 88)

- - -

Been a while since the subs had to come in to save the day. Still, really happy with this win, it was a very even game all in all, particularly in the second half, but our top tier defending and, for once, our finishing made the difference. Another man of the match performance for Lang, who is by now our most consistent performer and an absolute rock in defense. I hope he'll stay with us for a long time, but I wouldn't be shocked if a bigger team comes knocking about him sooner rather than later.

We head into an international break with a healthy six point lead over the fourth place, now held by Wiesbaden, and still five over Duisburg, now in the playoff position. If we can beat them in two weeks we'll be in a perfect situation for the second half of the season.

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Nov 15th 2021

Belkahia will miss 4-5 weeks of training with a calf strain. He's had some decent showings off the bench in easy matches so far, but he's firmly our fourth center-back right now, so it's not a huge loss all in all. I say, tempting fate...

Nov 16th 2021

Well, fate struck back but its aim wasn't the best: Deichmann will be out for 11 to 14 days with a pulled hamstring. He'll miss the Duisburg match, which sucks, but he should be back in action for the following fixtures.

Nov 18th 2021

...Okay, I should probably shut up now. Dressel damages a knee cap in training and will miss 5-6 weeks. Suddenly our midfield is looking very barebones for the Duisburg game...

Nov 19th 2021

Just to rub salt on the injuries, both proverbial and physical, our most promising young midfielder Nathan Wicht tears an abdominal muscle and will be out for two to three months, just as I was considering calling him up as a substitute for the upcoming match... Past me should really stop tempting fate, the idiot.

Nov 20th 2021

TSV 1860 München (1st) vs. MSV Duisburg (3rd) (3.Liga, 16/38)

The most difficult game remaining before the winter break, and possibly the most difficult opposition in the whole league, period. The only promotion favorites who've actually lived up to expectations other than us, Duisburg's recent form is somewhat sketchy, but they still remain dangerous. A win puts them eight points behind, which would be a fantastic lead to have at this point.

* * *

1860 MÜNCHEN (4-3-3): Tom Kretzschmar (GK); Kevin Goden (DR), Niklas Lang (DCr), Martin Moormann (DCl), Stephan Salger (DL); Daniel Wein (DM), Erik Tallig (MCr), Richard Neudecker (MCl); Merveille Biankadi (AMR), Keanu Staude (AML), Stefan Lex (ST)
DUISBURG (4-4-2): Leo Weinkauf (GK); Marvin Ajani (DR), Stefan Velkov (DCr), Marvin Knoll (DCl), Rolf Feltscher (DL); Alaa Bakir (MR), Marvin Bakalorz (MCr), Kolja Pusch (MCl), Moritz Stoppelkamp (ML); Orhan Ademi (STr), Aziz Bouhaddouz (STl)

* * *

Emergency midfield with our two playmakers sharing the field, giving Tallig the most attacking role of the two, since he's shown so far that he's a goalscoring threat coming from deep. It seems to work fine, as we dominate possession from the start and Tallig has our first chance with a wide shot after a few traded passes between him and Staude. We're not exactly getting through with ease today, though, and Duisburg actually give us a couple scares with their direct play and long goal kicks towards their striker pair.

The match drags on with very worthy things happening on either goal, the closest to a real chance being a high and wide header by Bouhaddouz well past the half hour mark. A bit later Biankadi finds Tallig running into space once again, but Weinkauf won't let that pass through and deflects it wide. That's all, and the first half ends without goals.

HALF TIME - 0-0

We try widening up our play a bit in the second half, but the first chance is for Duisburg when Stoppelkamp and Bouhaddouz combine through the center to leave the striker one-on-one with Kretzschmar, who does fantastically well to block the finish. A high header by Moormann in a set piece is our answer, but we're still struggling to create any worthwhile chances.

Bär and Moll come in to try and give us a new look, and the winger has another high header in another set piece as his first intervention, not exactly what he's been brought in to do. He does it again soon after, this time in a normal play after a cross from Steinhart, but once again he can't find the target. Duisburg don't do much either, only a narrowly high free kick from distance by Pusch with only ten minutes remaining on the clock.

The game looks set up for a goalless draw, but in the 90th minute Stoppelkamp once again finds Bouhaddouz behind the defense, and this time the striker takes his time to place his shot around Kretzschmar and score the first league goal we've conceded in a very, very long time. We pour forward looking to salvage at least a point, but it isn't to be. We can lose, too.

* * *

TSV 1860 München 0
MSV Duisburg 1 (Aziz Bouhaddouz 90)

- - -

Well, it happened. A very difficult match from the get go in which we never really got going, and a team with enough quality up front to really make their few chances count. Bouhaddouz might have been the first striker in the 3.Liga to make Lang look like what he is: a nineteen-year-old kid. Fair win for Duisburg, and now the top tightens up tremendously, with all top four places within only three points.

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Nov 27th 2021

TSV Havelse (18th) vs. TSV 1860 München (1st) (3.Liga, 17/38)

We end a difficult November with one of the easiest away games we could find in this division, in theory. Havelse just promoted from the Regionalliga Nord and are among the top favorites to go straight back down this season, and so far they've fulfilled the expectations to a T, with only three wins and three draws in sixteen games, and all three wins coming against teams currently in the bottom six. We need a win after the Duisburg fiasco, and we should get it here.

* * *

HAVELSE (4-4-1-1): Max Weiss (GK); Fynn Arkenberg (DR), Tobias Fölster (DCr), Niklas Tasky (DCl), Nils Piwernetz (DL); Florian Riedel (MR), Noah Plume (MCr), Oliver Daedlow (MCl), Kianz Froese (ML); Linus Meyer (AMC); Julius Düker (ST)
1860 MÜNCHEN (4-2-3-1): Tom Kretzschmar (GK); Kevin Goden (DR), Niklas Lang (DCr), Martin Moormann (DCl), Phillipp Steinhart (DL); Quirin Moll (MCr), Daniel Wein (MCl); Marcel Bär (AMR), Erik Tallig (AMC), Fabin Greilinger (AML), Lorenz Knöferl (ST)

* * *

A good chance to give the 4-2-3-1 formation a whirl and see how it does. Deichmann is available for selection after his injury, although he's short on fitness so he'll wait on the bench for now, and Greilinger and Knöferl get to start. The changes seem to work well, as we start dominating with ease and creating danger both through the center and from the flanks, starting with a cross by Steinhart volleyed by Knöferl from close, but deflected by Weiss by some miracle. The following corner kick brings the opener for us, although in a somewhat silly way: Steinhart takes it pretty poorly, the ball strikes Tasky's legs, and the ball rolls into the net while the whole defense watch. Sad, but it counts.

We haven't really scored yet, so we keep looking for goals, Bär being the next to try luck and sending the ball high above the target. His second try after a great pass by Wein goes much closer, but still wide to the left. We keep getting closer, and now Greilinger smashes a finish into the post after once again receiving inside the box and behind the defense. Havelse finally wake up with a long shot by Meyer that flies over the crossbar, then Daedlow gives it a go from even further away and goes wide instead. Still, we seem to be losing a bit of the absolute control we've had until now.

There's a big scare on the 33rd minute when Lang clears the ball straight to Düker, and the striker then assists Meyer for what looks like an easy finish but ends up going wide without Kretzschmar's intervention. It's now obvious we need to take things a bit more seriously, and Bär soon puts us back into the action with a point-blank header that the keeper manages to push over the bar. The rest of the half brings no more danger to either goal, and we go to the dressing room happy with our gifted lead.

HALF TIME - 0-1

We go out after a few tactical tweaks, but the first thing that happens is that Düker gets the ball in front of the box, finds some space, then shoots with power through the defense and past Kretzschmar to score the 1-1. Not quite according to plan. We answer quickly with another header by Bär, once again sent to a corner kick by the keeper's fingertips. On the 59th sanity is restored after another attacking play down the left ending in a cross from Steinhart towards Knöferl, whose finish bounces off a defender, but Greilinger is there to catch the rebound and push it in.

A few substitutions later we keep the pressure on to prevent any further scares, and soon Biankadi has a fantastic opportunity to make it 1-3 after a great ball from Lex, but Weiss wins the duel and the finish is deflected away. The same thing happens again on the 76th after a pass back towards the penalty spot by Knöferl, and once again Biankadi finds Weiss on the way. 

Neudecker gets even closer with a flat 20-yarder that hits the post and then proceeds to roll all over the goal line without ever crossing over before being cleared away. More woodwork follows, this time after a direct free kick by Steinhart straight into the crossbar, then another free kick by Wein finds Weiss's hand slapping it away from the top right corner. Two more chances for Staude in the final minutes end either over the bar or straight into the keeper's hands thanks to his bad finishing. Despite this stormtrooper-like accuracy, there's no real regret as Havelse don't threaten us ever again, and the 1-2 remains until full time.

* * *

TSV Havelse 1 (Julius Düker 50)
TSV 1860 München 2 (Niklas Tasky 3og, Fabian Greilinger 59)

- - -

So we've gone from not conceding a goal in ten league games to conceding in Havelse's one and only shot on target of the evening, huh. Funny how things work sometimes. Meanwhile here we are, with thirteen shots on target and just two goals (of which only one actually came from our own shots!) to show for all our effort. We really need a goalscoring striker after all... Still, a decent team performance, good show by the youngsters once again, and the 4-2-3-1 got a passing grade, but only just. We'll need to iron out a few more details before we can use it regularly.
 

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Dec 3rd 2021

Hiller brewing trouble once again. Somehow I saw this coming from the beginning... Now he wants to move on loan in order to get more playing time and secure a future permanent move, which is all fair and good, but we need him as our backup keeper right now. He won't back down from his demands this time, though, so in the end I just sigh and tell him I'll let him go. Let's hope we don't actually need a backup this season...

Meanwhile, Kretzschmar and Lang are developing fantastically well. Both are among the most consistent players in the squad, always performing well even when the team isn't looking particularly bright. According to my coaching team, they're both already playing at or above the average level expected of a 2.Bundesliga player. Which is great for us, but also a potential problem if they start getting itchy feet or some bigger dog comes sniffing. And yeah, I know it's bound to happen sooner or later, but I'd like to at least keep them until the end of the season, and ideally at least one more. And there's a transfer window incoming in a month or so...

Dec 4th 2021

TSV 1860 München (1st) vs. 1.FC Magdeburg (9th) (3.Liga, 18/38)

Magdeburg are the very definition of a mid-table team: slightly above average, but not consistent enough to be able to keep pace with the top. They've also wasted a lot of points in draws, eight of them so far, which has hurt their position quite a bit. Still, a dangerous team that can give everyone in this league a scare on a good day, having stolen points from all the top teams except for Duisburg.

* * *

1860 MÜNCHEN (4-3-3): Tom Kretzschmar (GK); Kevin Goden (DR), Niklas Lang (DCr), Stephan Salger (DCl), Phillipp Steinhart (DL); Quirin Moll (DM), Richard Neudecker (MCr), Yannick Deichmann (MCl); Merveille Biankadi (AMR), Keanu Staude (AML), Stefan Lex (ST)
MAGDEBURG (4-3-3): Dominik Reimann (GK); Alexander Bittroff (DR), Tobias Müller (DCr), Korbinian Burger (DCl), Leon Bell Bell (DL); Andreas Müller (DM), Connor Krempicki (MCr), Amara Condé (MCl); Raphael Obermair (AMR), Tatsuya Ito (AML), Luca Schuler (ST)

* * *

Back to the usual formation with most of the usual starters today, facing another mirror match against a team that plays quite similar to us. Once again we start well and Staude draws first blood with a header that Reimann catches with both hands. Magdeburg contest our midfield presence with their own, though, and soon possession is split and chances die out thoroughly. So thoroughly, in fact, that the next shot comes in the 34th minute when Obermair is stopped by Kretzschmar in the one-on-one, and is eventually ruled out for offside.

Much closer is the third shot of the half, a header by Biankadi that goes very narrowly over the bar after a good cross by Staude. There's a couple more half-hearted attempts on both goals, but regardless, the first half ends without goals, and almost without even trying.

HALF TIME - 0-0

Not much improvement in the first minutes of the second half, so we try something slightly different: Lex to the right, Bär as our striker. Works fine: 62nd minute, Lex sends a ball down the right channel for Goden's run and when everyone's waiting for a cross, the right back surprises with a powerful shot at the near post that Reimann can only watch rip the back of the net. Not a bad way to grab his first goal for 1860, really.

Things die down quite a bit after the goal, but we don't really mind this time around. Bär blasts over the bar another chance that ends up disallowed due to offside, in what happens to be the most thrilling piece of action until the end of the match  together with a high header from Lex on a corner kick and a missed chance by Tallig in injury time. Magdeburg didn't even try.

* * *

TSV 1860 München 1 (Kevin Goden 62)
1.FC Magdeburg 0

- - -

Snorefest of a game, but I'll take the three points regardless. The fans aren't exactly thrilled with our play as of late, but at least we're getting the results, and that's what will count in the end when the promotion places are decided. I'd really like us to be a bit sharper in the final third, but hey, that's the price you pay for being an absolute brick wall at the back. To make this win a bit sweeter, both Zwickau and Wiesbaden lost today, which makes our lead at the top return to a much more comfortable four points.

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Dec 7th, 2021

We get our first sneak peek at the upcoming youth intake, and there's a couple of interesting looking things in there. For one, there's a new high potential goalkeeper coming, which could make Hiller's departure less painful. There's also one center-back and two defensive midfielders who look really good. We'll see how this pans out in the end.

Goden makes the Team of the Week.

Dec 8th, 2021

Uh-oh, looks like injuries are catching up with us lately after a pretty peaceful start of the season. This one's big: Lex will miss 6-7 weeks with strained knee ligaments. Best part of this is with the winter break coming soon he's likely to only miss two matches, but it's still annoying. More minutes for Knöferl, I guess.

Dec 10th, 2021

Another one, although this time less serious: Deichmann will miss a few days with food poisoning. Still enough for him to miss the last game of the first half of the season, though, and with Dressel still out that's gonna be a small problem.

Dec 11th, 2021

Borussia Dortmund II (15th) vs. TSV 1860 München (1st) (3.Liga, 19/38)

Halfway there, and if the second half of the season keeps the same schedule as the first, I'll be more than happy to end the league campaign with a home match against a 'B' team, even more considering they've just escaped the drop zone after a marked improvement in their form following a hideous start. Regardless, winning is mandatory here.

* * *

DORTMUND II (4-2-3-1): Luca Unbehaun (GK); Christian Viet (DR), Antonios Papadopoulos (DCr), Lennard Maloney (DCl), Kolbeinn Birgir Finnsson (DL); Immanuel Pherai (MCr), Dennis Lütke-Frie (MCl); Marco Pasalic (AMR), Berkan Taz (AMC), Richmond Tachie (AML), Steffan Tigges (ST)
1860 MÜNCHEN (4-3-3): Tom Kretzschmar (GK); Kevin Goden (DR), Niklas Lang (DCr), Martin Moormann (DCl), Phillipp Steinhart (DL); Daniel Wein (DM), Richard Neudecker (MCr), Erik Tallig (MCl); Marcel Bär (AMR), Fabian Greilinger (AML), Lorenz Knöferl (ST)

* * *

Another start for Greilinger after Staude not only trained half-heartedly this week, but dared to deny it when I confronted him about it. Split possession in the initial minutes and a first chance for Dortmund which Tachie sends wide, thankfully. They keep it up with a high header by Tigges not much later, and we've known for a while that the target man's aerial prowess would be a problem to deal with today.

We really struggle to keep the ball, and when we have it we don't really do much worth mentioning with it. A couple of long distance shots and that's it, while Dortmund look much more dangerous the few times they get close to our goal, although their finishing is woeful. Tachie once again gets close after controlling a long ball, but once again he fails to find the target and sends it well over the bar.

It takes us until the 36th to hit a real goalscoring chance, and it's a good one when it comes: long pass by Neudecker towards the left and Greilinger runs into the box ahead of the defense, but fails to put the ball past Unbehaun. A weak shot by Bär follows, and it looks like we've finally woken up for the final ten minutes of the half. It's a mirage, though, and after nothing else happening the first half ends without goals.

HALF TIME - 0-0

We build up on our last minute improvement in the second half, starting with a high header by Lang on a corner kick. Not much later a quick first-touch passing play through the center allows Bär to run into the box, look back, then pass it towards Knöferl so the young striker can kick it in on the run and score the 0-1. Knöferl could've made it one better five minutes later, but this time he wastes Steinhart's perfect cross with a weak finish, easy for Unbehaun to grab.

There's a short period of calm afterwards, which we use to make a few substitutions to keep legs fresh. Dortmund don't really seem to have much more to offer, and after a while Biankadi restarts our attack with a narrowly high header. They finally wake up then, and Tigges heads a cross from the left into Kretzschmar's hands to remind us that we're still only one goal ahead. We answer with a piledriver from distance by Moll that Unbehaun parries straight into Staude, who somehow sends it into the sidenetting instead of doing the easy thing and just scoring. Thankfully he was offside.

Tigges has another on the 79th, although this time he has to use his feet and his finish fails to find the target. After that we finally find a way to close shop and deny any further chances from then on, and Wein even could've made it certain in injury time if he hadn't sent his point-blank finish straight into the keeper. Still, the win is ours in the end.

* * *

Borussia Dortmund II 0
TSV 1860 München 1 (Lorenz Knöferl 51)

- - -

Three points, yay. Knöferl scores again and shows he might actually have a future with us. Good creative match by Tallig and Steinhart, too, although that first half was horrible beyond belief. Glad we managed to turn it around, the second half performance was much better, although with a few lapses in concentration here and there. Still, another win, and not the worst way to close the first half-season, really.

* * *

| Pos  | Inf   | Team                 | Pld   | Won   | Drn   | Lst   | For   | Ag    | GD    | Pts   |
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 1st  |       | 1860 München         | 19    | 14    | 3     | 2     | 32    | 8     | 24    | 45    |
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 2nd  |       | Zwickau              | 19    | 13    | 2     | 4     | 43    | 20    | 23    | 41    |
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 3rd  |       | Wiesbaden            | 19    | 12    | 3     | 4     | 23    | 11    | 12    | 39    |
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 4th  |       | Duisburg             | 19    | 12    | 3     | 4     | 30    | 20    | 10    | 39    |
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 5th  |       | Saarbrücken          | 19    | 12    | 1     | 6     | 40    | 22    | 18    | 37    |
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 6th  |       | Meppen               | 19    | 9     | 6     | 4     | 32    | 22    | 10    | 33    |
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 7th  |       | Viktoria Köln        | 19    | 9     | 3     | 7     | 30    | 28    | 2     | 30    |
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 8th  |       | VfL Osnabrück        | 19    | 9     | 3     | 7     | 28    | 27    | 1     | 30    |
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 9th  |       | Magdeburg            | 19    | 7     | 8     | 4     | 23    | 16    | 7     | 29    |
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 10th |       | Braunschweig         | 19    | 7     | 6     | 6     | 17    | 16    | 1     | 27    |
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 11th |       | Mannheim             | 19    | 7     | 4     | 8     | 18    | 23    | -5    | 25    |
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 12th |       | Kaiserslautern       | 19    | 6     | 6     | 7     | 23    | 21    | 2     | 24    |
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 13th |       | Halle                | 19    | 6     | 6     | 7     | 21    | 26    | -5    | 24    |
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 14th |       | Würzburger Kickers   | 19    | 5     | 5     | 9     | 21    | 31    | -10   | 20    |
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 15th |       | Borussia Dortmund II | 19    | 4     | 6     | 9     | 22    | 25    | -3    | 18    |
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 16th |       | Freiburg II          | 19    | 5     | 3     | 11    | 22    | 37    | -15   | 18    |
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 17th |       | Türkgücü München     | 19    | 3     | 6     | 10    | 24    | 34    | -10   | 15    |
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 18th |       | Havelse              | 19    | 3     | 3     | 13    | 12    | 38    | -26   | 12    |
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 19th |       | Viktoria 1889        | 19    | 2     | 5     | 12    | 15    | 32    | -17   | 11    |
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 20th |       | Verl                 | 19    | 2     | 4     | 13    | 14    | 33    | -19   | 10    |
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

With half of the season gone we find ourselves in the best possible position: top of the league and with a quite decent lead on our chasers, who aren't exactly showing the most consistent of forms as of late. Duisburg in particular have dropped four points in their last two matches with two draws against bottom-half teams, and they're supposed to be the strongest opposition we're to face in our quest for promotion. Zwickau and Wiesbaden are holding it together remarkably well for two teams that weren't expected so high, and Saarbrücken might still have a chance to catch up with the leading pack.

The rest look out of the race, including the disappointing trifecta of Osnabrück, Braunschweig, and Kaiserslautern, now mired in midtable and with little hope of improving in the short term. Well, I guess Braunschweig are relatively close to the 6th-7th places, but still, not good enough for them. In the bottom half, it's somewhat surprising to see both 'B' teams out of the drop zone, if only just. Verl, Viktoria 1889 and Havelse look like leading candidates for the drop right now, even though Verl just stole one point from Duisburg, doing us a favor in the process. The fourth place could go to anyone of Türkgücü, Würzburg, or the two youth teams, while Halle and the rest look safe for now. Things might change a lot in the future, though...

PLAYER STATS
============

Average rating (min. 6 games played):

Niklas Lang             7.41 (18(2) apps)
Tom Kretzschmar         7.28 (18 apps)
Stefan Lex              7.25 (16(1) apps)
Daniel Wein             7.24 (12(6) apps)
Martin Moormann         7.21 (15(6) apps)

Goals:

Stefan Lex              10 goals
Lorenz Knöferl           5
Marcel Bär               4
Erik Tallig              3
Merveille Biankadi       3

Assists:

Merveille Biankadi       6 assists
Phillipp Steinhart       5
Yannick Deichmann        4
Marcel Bär               4
Stefan Lex               3

* * *

ELSEWHERE IN THE WORLD

  • Bundesliga: still only 15 games played, but Bayern are already starting to build up their lead over eternally second Dortmund, now five points, while remaining undefeated. RB Leipzig and Hoffenheim fill the other two Champions League places right now, while Augsburg are the surprise package so far, placing sixth and aiming for the Europa League. At the bottom, Arminia Bielefeld look as good as relegated with only six points scored so far.
  • Premier League: about the only thing that's not surprising in the Premier League this season are the leaders, Manchester City. Seeing Leeds and Manchester United as second and third, though, that's a shock. Liverpool are fifth and out of the Champions League places, although only one point behind Chelsea. Aston Villa are just behind Liverpool, Arsenal are tenth, and Norwich have a grand total of three points after sixteen fixtures. Well, the last two might not be too surprising, I guess...
  • LaLiga: yep, it's Real Madrid at the top alright. Their lead is small, though, with Valencia (!) only three points behind and Athletic (!!) four. Villarreal are fourth ahead of usual Champions League suspects Atlético, Barcelona, and Sevilla, in a bit of a shocking turnaround. Distances are short, though, and things might return to the usual status quo before long. No shocks otherwise, with Granada, Rayo Vallecano, and Alavés in the drop zone but still within reach of the likes of Espanyol and Levante. Everything is still up in the air.
  • Serie A: unbeaten Juventus lead with 45 points in 17 matches, yet they still aren't running away with the title, since Inter trail them by only five points, and Milan and Atalanta aren't too far behind either. The gap between those four and the rest is enourmous, though, with Roma fifth with 28 points and then a group of teams within five points of each other going all the way down to the 15th place. Napoli are among them in a very disappointing tenth place, for example. Venezia and Salernitana are looking very much like Serie B teams right now.
  • Ligue 1: the most one-sided of the major European leagues, with obvious culprits PSG ahead of the likes of Rennes, Nice, and Strasbourg by a whole lot of points. If anything, it's somewhat strange not to see Marseille, OL, or Monaco in that chasing pack, and in fact the Lyon squad are all the way down in ninth place. The relegation battle is much more open, though, with up to eight teams within just seven points of each other, and a few others still within reach.
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Dec 18th 2021

FS Würzburger Kickers (14th) vs. TSV 1860 München (1st) (3.Liga, 20/38)

One more game before the (short) winter break, in which we return the visit to our first opposition of the season, Würzburg. A disappointing season so far for them, far from the top half where they were supposed to be, and certainly far from the standard you'd expect from a just relegated team.

* * *

WÜRZBURG (4-2-3-1): Marc Richter (GK); Dennis Waidner (DR), Christian Strohdiek (DCr), Leon Schneider (DCl), Peter Kurzweg (DL); Nzuzi Toko (MCr), Mirnes Pepic (MCl); Robert Herrmann (AMR), David Kopacz (AMC), Moritz Heinrich (AML); Maximilian Breunig (ST)
1860 MÜNCHEN (4-3-3): Tom Kretzschmar (GK); Kevin Goden (DR), Niklas Lang (DCr), Stephan Salger (DCl), Phillipp Steinhart (DL); Quirin Moll (DM), Richard Neudecker (MCr), Yannick Deichmann (MCl); Marcel Bär (AMR), Keanu Staude (AML), Lorenz Knöferl (ST)

* * *

Deichmann returns to the lineup once again, as does Staude with another chance to turn around his very mediocre form so far. Würzburg go with a 4-2-3-1 instead of the 4-1-4-1 they used five months ago, and apparently they've been using a flat 4-4-2 in recent matches, too, so it looks like they're also looking for solutions to their bad form. Hope they don't find them today, heh.

We get an early chance thanks to one of Bär's usual headers following crosses from the left, this one being tipped over by Richter. The ball is all ours, but Würzburg still find a way to get close to the opener when they find Heinrich unmarked behind the defensive line, although thankfully he's on the wrong side of the box for his one-footedness and his finish bends away from the target. We keep digging until we hit gold: cross from the right by Bär and Deichmann sneaks between the two center-backs to head it in and grab the 0-1.

We almost double our lead just one minute later after Bär nods a high ball into Neudecker's path, but the playmaker shows he's not really a finisher with a weak shot straight at Richter. The match then enters one of the usual lulls while we slowly but steadily lose control of possession, although Würzburg don't seem to know what to do with the ball when they have it. Time passes without any threats to either goal, and we keep our lead intact until half time.

HALF TIME - 0-1

For all the time we spent doing nothing in attack in the first half, we sure start the second wanting to compensate: early cross by Staude in the first minute and another header by Bär that Richter has to deflect wide, then yet another header by Staude in the following corner kick that the keeper catches with both hands. Two minutes later it's Knöferl assisting Bär for the winger to shoot first time and hit the root of the post.

That's three clear chances we didn't put where they belonged, so karma had to come and bite us in the ass: a cross from the right of Würzburg's attack appears to be miskicked by Heinrich, but the referee sees Goden holding him back and blows for a penalty kick. Kopacz scores from the spot, and we're back at square one. Even worse, it seems like Würzburg take the morale lift from the goal and use it to turn the tide around completely, not really creating much danger but still looking like the better team for a while.

The final fifteen minutes come and we're still looking for a reaction, while Würzburg test Kretzschmar here and there with shots from the edge of the box, none of them too dangerous. Then fate twirls around once again: ball recovered by Willsch in midfield, Biankadi runs into the box, and substitute Perdedaj trips him for another penalty. Moll is the one to transform it, and our lead is restored with only three minutes plus some change on the clock. Würzburg can't turn the tide once again, and the win is ours in the end.

* * *

FC Würzburger Kickers 1 (David Kopacz 53p)
TSV 1860 München 2 (Yannick Deichmann 19, Quirin Moll 87p)

- - -

What Lady Luck giveth, Lady Luck taketh. We were by far the better team until the penalty against, somehow lost control after the draw, then found it and the win in another penalty. Not a beautiful game by any means, but again, I'll take it.

After the match the squad goes on a short two-week break, with everyone set to return on January 4th. After that we'll play a home friendly match against 2.Bundesliga side Fortuna Düsseldorf before returning to the league with a promotion clash against Wiesbaden. Fun!

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Dec 22nd 2021

Bär and Moll make the last Team of the Weak of 2021.

Dec 29th 2021

The end of the year means all expiring contracts enter their final six months. With promotion in the horizon we can't rush too much with extensions, since paying higher wages to players that might not make the cut in the 2.Bundesliga isn't exactly wise. That said, there's a few players who are very likely to feature next year regardless of what happens regarding promotion. The easiest one is Dressel, who has a clause allowing for a one-year extension which we trigger immediately.

Then there's Neudecker. He's 25 now, so unlikely to improve much, and his play so far this season has been... okay? Ish? Not bad for certain, but I expected a bit more from him, to the point that Tallig has outplayed him as our main playmaker at times. Still, he's our best (on paper) creative midfielder, and he should have the level required for the 2.Bundesliga. Problem is, he wants a pretty big pay rise we can't afford at the moment, and wouldn't be willing to pay even if we *could*. So he waits.

The rest of the first team expiring contracts are either veterans who might not have a future in the higher tier (Lex, Salger), young players with upside but who aren't exactly irreplaceable (Goden, Greilinger), players who haven't been performing up to the required standard so far (Staude), or simply just aren't interested in staying (Hiller). All of those will have to wait a bit until we decide what to do with them. Lex's case is particularly important, as he'll be 33 next year and, while's he's been good for us so far, is unlikely to make the cut in the 2.Bundesliga. His wages are also among the highest in the squad, so releasing him would free some important space to buy a better striker, something we've been hungering for all season.

Jan 1st 2022

Happy new year!

The new year brings, of course, a new transfer window. We don't really need anyone right now other than the elusive striker, but we do have to sell (or well, loan) Hiller out in order to fulfill my promise to him, so either we'll have to promote one of our reserve keepers to the first team (and none are particularly good) or we'll have to find a replacement. Hiller's very likely to leave on a free at the end of the season anyway, so sorting out our future backup keeper early wouldn't hurt in the slightest.

Another decision to make today is whether we want to change our season expectations or not. You'd think expecting promotion would be high enough pressure, but the board offer a €10k per week increase in the wage budget if we aim for the 3.Liga title. That's extremely tempting, as it'd not just allow us to sign a couple new players in this window, but also give us enough space to offer contract extensions to key players like Neudecker. In the end I decide to take the chance and to hell with it.

With the extra wage funds I might actually go and make some signings this transfer window. Ideally I'd want to snatch any expiring contracts who might be good enough for us in the 2.Bundesliga but whose wage demands aren't too out there, since we're still limited in how much we can offer. For more present needs, I'm actually interested in signing a new left winger, ideally right-footed, since Staude has been very disappointing so far and Greilinger, even though he's had a few good games here and there, still looks too green to start regularly for us. We can even divert some of the new wage funds into transfer budget and (gasp!) actually pay for a transfer now. Wow.

Jan 4th 2022

The players return from their short break, but Goden seems to have come back with a serious case of the sneezes. Turns out he has the flu, and will be out of contention for about a week.

Jan 8th 2022

Our first signing of the window is a loan signing, but it could become a permanent move if 26yo striker Felix Lohkemper impresses, since his contract with Nürnberg expires this summer. We pay his wages in full for these six months, which will set us back a hefty €5.75k per week, but he seems to be worth it: good finisher and passer, quick on his feet and with a pretty good work rate, he should be a perfect fit as our starting false nine from now on. And although this isn't a left winger, it does improve our choices in that position indirectly, since now Lex can play there whenever he's not starting up front.

- - -

TSV 1860 München vs. Fortuna Düsseldorf 1895 (Friendly)

Lohkemper arrives just in time for our winter friendly against Fortuna, while Lex is still out recovering from his knee ligaments injury. Possession is split in the initial minutes, with our 4-3-3 and Fortuna's 4-2-3-1 clashing for midfield dominance. We get the upper hand in the end, but that doesn't translate into any good chances, and most of our few shots end up being deflected by the defense before even reaching Wolf on goal.

The second half starts with a bang, with reserve right back Bell running into the box and shooting into Wolf's block, in what's the best chance of the match thus far, by far. Things get a bit more fun on both goals, and Hiller also has to save a couple of dangerous shots in the following minutes. In the end, though, neither team manages to break through, and a very even match ends without goals.

TSV 1860 München 0
Fortuna Düsseldorf 1895 0

- - -

Not a bad show. Of course it's a friendly and you can't take too many conclusions from it, but at least it showed that we can go toe-to-toe against teams from the 2.Bundesliga's bottom half like Fortuna. And that's with our current squad, which is expected to be stronger next year if we promote. Hope for the future, at least.

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Jan 11th 2022

Another one bites the dust: Belkahia gets the flu, too, and will be out of training (and out of the club's premises, ideally) for the next week-ish.

Jan 15th 2022

TSV 1860 München (1st) vs. SV Wehen Wiesbaden (3rd) (3.Liga, 21/38)

And back into action with one of the key games of the season. Wiesbaden are one of two teams who've beaten us so far in the league, and those two happen to be among the most serious opponents when it comes to the promotion and title races. A win would push them back a fair bit, but most certainly not eliminate them from contention, not this early. A defeat would be... troublesome.

* * *

1860 MÜNCHEN (4-3-3): Tom Kretzschmar (GK); Kevin Goden (DR), Niklas Lang (DCr), Martin Moormann (DCl), Phillipp Steinhart (DL); Daniel Wein (DM), Richard Neudecker (MCr), Yannick Deichmann (MCl); Marcel Bär (AMR), Keanu Staude (AML), Felix Lohkemper (ST)
WIESBADEN (4-1-4-1): Tim Boss (GK); Gino Fechner (DR), Sascha Mockenhaupt (DCr), Ahmet Gürleyen (DCl), Logan Ndembe (DL); Emanuel Taffertschofer (DM); Benedict Hollerbach (MR), Bjarke Jacobsen (MCr), Sebastian Mrowca (MCl), Max Thiel (ML); Petar Sliskovic (ST)

* * *

Lohkemper gets his league debut right off the bat, since Lex is still short on fitness to be part of the twenty today. Meanwhile Wiesbaden switch to a more defensive 4-1-4-1, and the match starts under the pouring rain over Munich. Wiesbaden hit first with a shot by Hollerbach that Kretzschmar saves without trouble, but soon we start holding the ball and probing at their reinforced defensive line. Boss's first save comes from a direct free kick by Steinhart, well directed but somewhat lacking in power, and from then we start taking over the game for real.

After a few minor chances, we finally find a real gap when Deichmann drops towards the flank and drags his defender with him, leaving acres of space for Staude to run into. Too bad his finish is poor and easy for Boss. We keep the pressure going afterwards, but Wiesbaden's defense plugs the holes as best as they can and the first half ends without any further chances, nor goals.

HALF TIME - 0-0

We start the second half looking sharper, and it's only two minutes and some change until Deichmann and Staude combine to leave Lohkemper alone against Boss, only for the striker to shoot wide when half the stadium was already celebrating. A weak header by Bär follows, once again easy for the keeper, but our players are smelling blood, and on the 51st they finally catch the prey: vertical pass through the center by Neudecker towards Bär, and the winger shoots first time past a dumbfounded Boss to score the 1-0.

We keep pushing, aware of what happens when we leave games unfinished against quality opposition, and soon Bär is testing Boss once again with a downward header into the keeper's hands. Moorman gets even closer in a set piece that he heads into the crossbar and over, and then another header, this time by Dressel, finds its way into the keeper's arms following a cross by a much improved Staude. Meanwhile, Wiesbaden look shellshocked and completely unable to withstand our play.

The play slows down after all those chances, though, and the keepers can have a breather until the 86th, when the visitors finally show they're willing to go for the draw on a corner kick that Mockenhaupt heads into the woodwork. They change to a 4-4-2 in the final minutes to try and push for the goal, but that just makes it easier for us to hold onto the ball and keep it away from danger. Solid, important win in the end.

* * *

TSV 1860 München 1 (Marcel Bär 51)
SV Wehen Wiesbaden 0

- - -

Great result, maybe even short given how thoroughly we outplayed Wiesbaden for most of the match. Once again our finishing betrayed us, although Lohkemper's performance was quite good except for that one bad miss. Good results elsewhere, too, with Zwickau drawing against Viktoria Köln and Saarbrücken losing to Osnabrück. We're now nine points clear of the 4th place (held by Wiesbaden now) and six points ahead of both Zwickau and Duisburg. Looking good.

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Jan 18th 2022

Steinhart is selected in the Team of the Week.

Jan 21st 2022

Türkgücü München (17th) vs. TSV 1860 München (1st) (3.Liga, 22/38)

A short trip in Munich's underground to the Olympiastadion is all we need to visit local rivals Türkgücü. A very disappointing season for them so far, nowhere near their expected top half position and instead deep in a relegation fight of which they can't seem to find a way out: they haven't won a game since September and their streak of league games without a win is at twelve right now. They'll be desperate, and therefore dangerous.

* * *

TÜRKGÜCÜ (4-4-2): René Vollath (GK); Tim Rieder (DR), Nico Gorzel (DCr), Mërgim Mavraj (DCl), Moritz Römling (DL); Sebastian Maier (MR), Anssi Suhonen (MCr), Andy Irving (MCl), Sercan Sararer (ML); Eren Dinkci (STr), Törles Knöll (STl)
1860 MÜNCHEN (4-3-3): Tom Kretzschmar (GK); Kevin Goden (DR), Niklas Lang (DCr), Stephan Salger (DCl), Phillipp Steinhart (DL); Quirin Moll (DM), Erik Tallig (MCr), Dennis Dressel (MCl); Marcel Bär (AMR), Keanu Staude (AML), Felix Lohkemper (ST)

* * *

Lex finally makes the bench today, ready for his first minutes since his knee injury. We start the game pushing forward, as expected from the heavy favorites, but somehow the first chance falls to Türkgücü with a high header by Irving. Their plan seems to be to stop us with foul after foul, and twenty minutes into the game they've already committed eight and picked up three yellows. That's obviously not a sustainable pace, and the referee kindly demonstrates by showing the second yellow to Römling in the 25th minute, forcing them to replace Knöll with a defender to move to a 4-4-1.

If things were one-sided before, now they're even more, and four minutes after the sending off a quick run orchestrated by our whole midfield and attack ends with Tallig running into the right side of the box, then passing back towards the center so Bär can hit it on the run and score the 0-1. We keep pushing after the goal, and soon Lohkemper has another good chance that Vollath manages to deflect wide. He gets another in the 43rd minute following a great assist by Bär, but a fantastic block by Gorzel prevents the 0-2. In the following corner kick, though, Tallig gets ahead of the whole defense and nods the ball into the back of the net, doubling our lead a couple of minutes before half time.

HALF TIME - 0-2

No reason to stop now, so we keep looking for goals, and it takes us only five minutes to find a third: great counter after a steal by Staude, Moll sends a perfect ball through the heart of the disorganized defense, and the same Staude gathers it inside the box and calmly places his finish into the back of the net. Beautiful. Türkgücü go for broke and switch to a 4-3-2, but the chances keep falling to us, this time with Lohkemper trying a cute chip over Vollath but getting it a bit low, allowing the keeper to swat it away.

Lex enters play then, replacing a very solid Staude on the left, and not much later we score a fourth, although not through him: Tallig places a 25-yarder near the right post to grab his second of the day, rounding up a fantastic performance for the young playmaker. He even has a chance to grab himself a hattrick on the 75th with a good header, but this time Vollath flies across the goal to stop him. We do relax and slow the game down in the final third, however, and even allow Türkgücu the chance to score the 1-4 thanks to substitute Vrenezi, in their one and only shot on target in the whole game. Still, a great, easy win in the 3.Liga Münchner derby, and three more points for us.

* * *

Türkgücü München 1 (Albion Vrenezi 90, Moritz Römling sent off 29)
TSV 1860 München 4 (Marcel Bär 29, Erik Tallig 44 63, Keanu Staude 50)

- - -

Easy peasy. The sending off obviously helped, but I get the feeling the result would've been similar even without it, we were just so much better today. Tallig was particularly impressive, but Bär, Staude, Moll, and Steinhart also had great games. Türkgücu ended the game with 26 fouls and eight yellows, disgraceful.

Interesting matches in the fight for promotion this week, with generally good results for us: Duisburg lose at home against Saarbrücken, Wiesbaden can only draw against Osnabrück, and Zwickau get the best result with a win away to Meppen. So now we have six points over Zwickau, nine over Duisburg, and eleven over new fourth-placed team Saarbrücken, who have managed to climb all the way into the battle.

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Jan 25th 2022

Moll, Tallig, Steinhart, and Staude make the Team of the Week, in our best showing so far this season.

* * *

TSV 1860 München (1st) vs. 1.FC Kaiserslautern (13th) (3.Liga, 23/38)

In another timeline in which Kaiserslautern didn't have the horrible start they had in this one, this might have been a promotion clash. As it is, we're heavy favorites while they're in no man's land, ten points over the drop zone but twenty points away from the promotion playoff. They're unlikely to get dragged into the relegation scuffle given the form of the bottom four teams, but still, they should be careful not to call the season done too early. As for us? We should be winning this.

* * *

1860 MÜNCHEN (4-3-3): Tom Kretzschmar (GK); Kevin Goden (DR), Niklas Lang (DCr), Martin Moormann (DCl), Phillipp Steinhart (DL); Daniel Wein (DM), Richard Neudecker (MCr), Yannick Deichmann (MCl); Merveille Biankadi (AMR), Keanu Staude (AML), Stefan Lex (ST)
KAISERSLAUTERN (3-2-2-2-1): Avdo Spahic (GK); Boris Tomiak (DCr), Maximilian Hippe (DC), Kevin Kraus (DCl); Jean Zimmer (WBR), Hendrick Zuck (WBL); Marlon Ritter (MCr), Felix Götze (MCl); Mike Wunderlich (AMCr), Nicolas Sessa (AMCl); Terrence Boyd (ST)

* * *

Kaiserslautern have tweaked their formation a bit, removing their defensive midfielder and adding a second attacking midfielder, but a 3-6-1 variant is still a strange formation to see nowadays. We rotate quite a bit given this is our first midweek match in a while and some starters are tired. We struggle a bit at first to keep the ball against their sheer numbers in midfield, but things improve as soon as we start focusing on the wings, and Staude has our first good chance following a nice diagonal pass by Neudecker which he wastes by shooting wide.

We still have trouble finding a way to break through, however, and we have to resort to set pieces to create danger. Lang gets really close in one of these, but his header narrowly misses the target. That's the best we get in the whole first half, though, while Kaiserslautern don't even get a single shot and instead find themselves in some card trouble, with both of ther wing backs picking one quite early. No goals at half time.

HALF TIME - 0-0

The second half is even worse in that we don't even have set pieces to rely on. We bring in fresh wing players into the game to try and open up the defense from its weaker area, and one of them, Bär, actually scores on a free kick whipped in from the right side. Too bad he was offside. A wide shot from distance by Neudecker is our next try, but by now there's less than twenty minutes on the clock and nerves are starting to show up on the stands.

The players seem to notice and pick up the pace, and soon enough Bär has another great chance after a delicious pass from Tallig, but Spahic is there to deflect his finish wide. Next up is a wide volley by Greilinger after a cross by Willsch, showing that our subs are once again making an impact. But then, when the 1-0 seems almost certain, disaster strikes: contested ball near the corner flag on the right of Kaiserslautern's attack, cross towards the heart of the box, and Hanslik gets above everyone else to head it in. Literally their first shot of the game.

With just a handful of minutes left, we pour forward even more looking for at least the draw. Knöferl has another good opportunity to score after a cross from the left, but his shot is blocked by a defender. Sadly, that turns out to be our last chance to score, and the game ends in the most surprising defeat of the season so far.

* * *

TSV 1860 München 0
1.FC Kaiserslautern 1 (Daniel Hanslik 87)

- - -

What a robbery of a match this was, seriously. Twelve shots to one, and the one that counted was the latter. Regardless, we just weren't good enough today, we basically wasted the whole first half banging our heads against their wall with zero results. At least the results elsewhere aren't bad for us: Zwickau and Duisburg draw, Saarbrücken lose, and only Wiesbaden manage a win which brings them back to the third place.

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Jan 26th 2022

Belkahia wants to go on loan, which is absolutely fair considering he's been consigned to the bench most of the time so far, and that's unlikely to change with our three main center-backs in good form. Offers quickly come, although they all come with an optional purchase fee attached. Regardless, I accept them: Belkahia is a marginal prospect at best, already on the fringes of the first team right now, and even more if we promote. If we can get something out of him now, it's a good chance to take.

Jan 29th 2022

FC Viktoria Köln (7th) vs. TSV 1860 München (1st) (3.Liga, 24/38)

A dangerous game, even more considering we're almost forced to win after messing up badly against Kaiserslautern. Viktoria come in good form, unbeaten in their last five league games and trying to get into the promotion race, which they've been creeping closer and closer to. We still should win, but this is a very difficult matchup at this point.

* * *

VIKTORIA KÖLN (4-4-2): Moritz Nicolas (GK); Maximilian Rossmann (DR), Jamil Siebert (DCr), Christoph Greger (DCl), Daniel Buballa (DL); Marcel Risse (MR), Patrick Sontheimer (MCr), Jeremias Lorch (MCl), Luca Marseiller (ML); Seok-ju Hong (STr), Timmy Thiele (STl)
1860 MÜNCHEN (4-3-3): Tom Kretzschmar (GK); Kevin Goden (DR), Niklas Lang (DCr), Stephan Salger (DCl), Phillipp Steinhart (DL); Quirin Moll (DM), Erik Tallig (MCr), Dennis Dressel (MCl); Marcel Bär (AMR), Keanu Staude (AML), Felix Lohkemper (ST)

* * *

Rotation once again after the midweek fixture, while Viktoria stick to their usual 4-4-2. They already gave us a lot of trouble in our first meeting, in which they managed to steal a point in injury time, so we should try and not let things undecided so long this time. Once again we start good in possession, but pretty bad in turning it into something tangible. It takes us eighteen minutes to create something, but it's a good one when it comes: shot by Tallig that the keeper parries, and Bär is there to push it into the net... from a dubiously offside position. Shame.

Viktoria hit back with a couple of dangerous approaches that our defense manages to keep from becoming true danger, although just barely. On the 28th a pass into space finds Lohkemper inside the box, and the striker runs towards the left side of the box and passes back towards the center, so Dressel can run in and shoot with power to score the 0-1. Just a couple of minutes later Tallig sees Staude's run into space and splits the defense with one of his trademark passes, allowing the inside forward to run at the keeper and double our lead.

After such a quick one-two combo Viktoria need to react quickly, and soon they try a cross towards Thiele, who can only cushion the ball straight into Kretzschmar's hands. A corner kick headed by Greger a bit later is much more dangerous, though, and the loose ball after Kretzschmar's reflex save bounces around the small box for a while before being cleared away.

Their pushed up pressing lines leave lots of space behind, though, and we quickly find it and exploit it with a quick run that ends in a cross towards Bär on the right side. Instead of finishing, the winger just taps the ball towards the center, leaving Lohkemper in a perfect position to blast it in and grab his first goal for TSV... which is, again, called out because Bär was offside. Double shame. The home team react to that not-goal with a quick break started by Hong and finished by Thiele with a narrowly wide finish, in what ends up being the last chance of a very busy and interesting first half.

HALF TIME - 0-2

In contrast, the second half starts somewhat slow, at least until Lohkemper gets another chance to grab his first goal in a corner kick, his header swatted away by Nicolas with a miracle save. Viktoria also restart the hostilities around then with a weak shot from the edge of the box by Sontheimer, easy for Kretzschmar. Then the game goes back to its lethargic state for a few minutes, allowing us to bring in some fresh legs from the bench.

This lethargy lasts for a long while, only broken by occasional long shots from Viktoria without any real danger and a dangerous header by Marseiller that Kretzschmar saves spectacularly, despite it being disallowed afterwards due to offside. A blocked shot by Thiele in injury time is their last chance to get something out of this game, and we enjoy a very welcome return to good form.

* * *

FC Viktoria Köln 0
TSV 1860 München 2 (Dennis Dressel 28, Keanu Staude 31)

- - -

Good team performance today, everyone did their job to the best of their ability and the result showed, even if we took a bit of a nap in the second half which could've proven troublesome if Viktoria had been sharper in attack. Lohkemper played really well and grabbed an assist today, and keeps showing he's good enough to play with us, but I wish he'd score a goal already... Everyone involved in the fight draw their matches except for Zwickau, keeping the pressure for the top spot high, but leaving the other chasers ten points behind.

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Jan 31st 2022

The transfer window closes today, and so far there are no major changes. Hiller has been repeatedly offered out on loan but no team seems to be interested, and Belkahia is still mulling his destination. In other loan news, youngster Leandro Morgalla moves to Pipinsried until the end of the season in order to get some playing minutes under his belt. He's one of our top prospects, so I hope this will help his development. We've also been offloading some of our less gifted youngsters on free transfers, allowing us to free some extra wage space.

Belkahia finally moves to TeBe Berlin, who'll pay one third of his wages and will have a €19.5k optional fee if they want to make the move permanent, with some extra clauses on top. Hopefully it'll work our for him.

Meanwhile, we secure his replacement for the following season by signing Karlsruhe's 24yo center-back Christoph Kobald on a free transfer. He'll earn a quite reasonable €3.8k per week when he joins, and he'll become Lang's most frequent partner in crime thanks to his strong defensive abilities, plus his technique and passing skill. With him, Lang, and Salger (if we extend his deal) we'll have a very strong back line even in the 2.Bundesliga, which will only need one more rotation option to be complete. Maybe Morgalla himself can take that slot if he does well in his loan.

The humorous moment of the day is when Hoffenheim try to get Lang on loan by offering to pay his wages in full... and an optional future fee of €175k. Looks like they took some lessons from Augsburg, but just like then, this is not going to work out, sorry guys.

With that, the transfer window slams shut.

Feb 1st 2022

Moll and Steinhart (that's three in a row!) selected in the Team of the Week.

Of course the window closing means Hiller stays, and he's not one bit happy about it. The fact is that absolutely no one wanted to get him on loan, even without having to pay any wages, but still, he's unhappy and he wants to leave, and... that changes nothing? I mean, his contract is expiring in June anyway and he had no intention of extending it, so he was going to leave regardless. Eh, whatever, he shouldn't be a problem in the remaining months of this season, and might even be useful should we need to play him in an emergency situation.

On the topic of emergencies, today is a busy day in the training ground's physio room. First Neudecker twists his knee, meaning he'll be out for a bit under a week and possibly for our next match against Braunschweig. Then Dressel does one better (or worse) and pulls his knee ligaments, 2-3 weeks out of contention and his second semi-serious knee injury in a brief period of time. Finally, backup left back Gresler was sneezing all over the place. Thankfully it's just a cold and he'll be fine after resting a couple of days at home. And as far away as possible from the other players.

Feb 5th 2022

TSV 1860 München (1st) vs. Braunschweig TSV Eintracht (10th) (3.Liga, 25/38)

Careful. We've already been shocked by a former promotion candidate at home, let's not repeat the experience with Braunschweig. One advantage we have this time is that they'll be a bit tired after playing in the DFB Pokal midweek, in a tie against Freiburg which they only lost in extra time. Their league form is not particularly consistent, unbeaten in four but with three draws in their last three games, but at the same time one of those draws was away to Zwickau, so...

* * *

1860 MÜNCHEN (4-3-3): Tom Kretzschmar (GK); Kevin Goden (DR), Niklas Lang (DCr), Martin Moormann (DCl), Phillipp Steinhart (DL); Daniel Wein (DM), Erik Tallig (MCr), Yannick Deichmann (MCl); Marcel Bär (AMR), Keanu Staude (AML), Felix Lohkemper (ST)
BRAUNSCHWEIG (4-4-2 diamond narrow): Jasmin Fejzic (GK); Maurice Multhaup (DR), Brian Behrendt (DCr), Jannis Nikolaou (DCl), Fabrice Hartmann (DL); Bryan Henning (DM), Danilo Wiebe (MCr), Robin Krausse (MCl), Martin Kobylanski (AMC); Lion Lauberbach (STr), Luc Ihorst (STl)

* * *

As narrow as always, Braunschweig seem to invite us to use the flanks a lot, and that's what we do from the get go, starting with a cross by Staude that Bär heads into Fejzic's hands. We then try the opposite play, with Bär crossing and Staude finishing, but the end result is the same: easy save. Braunschweig have more possession, but they don't seem to do much with it. Funny how things work sometimes, huh?

It's not like we do much more than them, though, and soon the game devolves into little more than isolated scrambles that lead nowhere mixed in with lots and lots of midfield play. Braunschweig finally get a shot in with thirty minutes played, a terribly high ball by Lauberbach after sneaking behind the defense. One minute later it's our turn, and Steinhart hits the perfect cross from the left so Bär, who else, can head it floating over Fejzic's stretched hands and into the net. One minute later Steinhart does it again, curling it in into the heart of the small box for Lohkemper, finally, to head it in and grab his first goal for us. No offsides this time, thankfully.

We're not free from the linesman's flag today, though: our usualy culprit Bär volleys in a cross from Staude but, yes, he's ahead of the defense and the goal is called out. With that we call it a half and decided to stand back, hold the ball, and let time pass some we can catch our breaths in the dressing room with a healthy lead.

HALF TIME - 2-0

The restart catches us still in resting mode, though, particularly Moormann, who lets an easy long ball slip by and allows a dangerous chance for Lauberbach, who thankfully blasts is well over the goal once again. The warning shot is enough to bring us back into the game, and soon Lohkemper is testing Fejzic again with yet another header, this time easy for the keeper to catch and hold onto.

It's not a particularly action-packed second half, though, which honestly works just fine for us. We take the chance to rest most of our attacking line and give Lex some fitness minutes up front, but then bad luck strikes: a long ball into our penalty area is cleared by Kretzschmar... straight into Moormann's back. The rebound falls to Peña Zauner, who just happened to pass by, and the midfielder scores the 2-1 on an empty goal.

Moormann tries to compensate a bit later with a surprising power shot from the edge of the box, but it smashes against the crossbar and out. With time winding out Braunschweig go full gung-ho, and a steal in the midfield leaves them open for a deadly counterattack with Moll running alone against the keeper. The defensive midfielder does his best impression of a veteran striker and rounds the keeper to score the 3-1 in style, apparently certifying our win. Yet Braunschweig still have time to score the 3-2 in injury time, courtesy of Otto after a long pass into space by Multhaup, but the miracle comeback doesn't happen and the three points stay in Munich.

* * *

TSV 1860 München 3 (Marcel Bär 31, Felix Lohkemper 32, Quirin Moll 88)
Braunschweig TSV Eintracht 2 (Enrique Peña Zauner 80, Yari Otto 90+3)

- - -

A game of contrasts. Happiness for Lohkemper's first goal and (again) fine performance and for Steinhart all but guaranteeing his fourth straight appearance in the Team of the Week with two assists and a master class on the left wing, but sadness because Kretzschmar is human and makes mistakes, conceding in both of Braunschweig's only two shots on target today. Oh well, he's shown his quality so far, and will continue to do so from now on. The drop in the second half was quite noticeable, though, and that's something we really need to work on. We've already lost way too many points in the last ten minutes.

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Feb 8th 2022

As predicted, fourth consecutive appearance in the Team of the Week for Steinhart. He's really caught a good streak of form in the last month or so.

Feb 10th 2022

Hm, Austria Wien are trying to poach one of our scouts, Senegalese Khalilou Fadiga. We'd get €30k in compensation if he does move, though, so I don't mind too much, we can always find a replacement that's as good or better.

Our midfielders keep coordinating to get injured at the same time. Now it's Deichmann who twists his knee and will be out for 5-7 days, missing the game against Meppen while Dressel is still out of contention. Nice.

Feb 11th 2022

The flu strikes back, and this time hits us right in our weakest spot: Lang will be out for about a week while he recovers, and we're left with only two pure center-backs in Salger and Moormann for the next match and maybe the one after that.

Feb 12th 2022

SV Meppen (6th) vs. TSV 1860 München (1st) (3.Liga, 26/38)

A very similar game to the Viktoria Köln one from two weeks ago. Meppen also gave us lots of trouble in our previous meeting, and they've been consistently in the top half and always threatening to get involved in the promotion battle, but also always falling a bit short due to inconsistent form. Now they're only five points away from Duisburg and Wiesbaden, though, so they have a real chance of putting some pressure on them with a win today. Let's take this seriously.

* * *

MEPPEN (4-4-1-1): Eric Domaschke (GK); Markus Ballmert (DR), Steffen Puttkammer (DCr), Jannis Lang (DCl), Lars Bünning (DL); René Guder (MR), David Blacha (MCr), Ole Käuper (MCl), Luka Tankulic (ML); Mike-Steven Bähre (AMC); Richard Sukuta-Pasu (ST)
1860 MÜNCHEN (4-3-3): Tom Kretzschmar (GK); Kevin Goden (DR), Stephan Salger (DCr), Martin Moormann (DCl), Phillipp Steinhart (DL); Quirin Moll (DM), Richard Neudecker (MCr), Erik Tallig (MCl); Marcel Bär (AMR), Stefan Lex (AML), Felix Lohkemper (ST)

* * *

With our forced substitutions and the willing choice of playing Lex on the left wing, we get a few early shots in while Meppen seem to have most of the ball in the first minutes. It doesn't take long for us to rectify that, though, and the game drags on with very little to report when it comes to attacking movements. Our midfield woes get worse when Tallig picks up a knock halfway through the first half, although he looks like he'll be able to finish the game. Steinhart also has some physical trouble later on.

The first real chance of the game doesn't come until the 45th minute, and it's after a long kick by Kretzschmar is controlled by Lohkemper, allowing the striker to turn around and shoot into Domaschke's confident save. In injury time a steal by Lex kickstarts a fast break through the center, and Bär provides the final pass into space for Tallig to run into it and finish in style, scoring the 0-1 just before the end of the first half.

HALF TIME - 0-1

Steinhart's injury isn't serious and shouldn't keep him out for any time, but he's in pain and can't continue playing today, so we bring Wein in, move Moll to the center of the defense, and Salger takes the left back. The second half starts with another great through ball by Bär towards Tallig, who this time is under more pressure and can only shoot wide. It's a bit of a mirage, though, and soon the game devolves into the usual slugfest.

The clock keeps ticking with nothing being resolved and no one really threatening to score, with the ball firmly under our control during the whole second half. Meppen don't even get a shot on target until the 88th, and it's a long-distance one with no real danger for Kretzschmar. A couple shots by Lohkemper that Domaschke blocks with some effort in the final minutes of the game are all the excitement the local fans are gifted today.

* * *

SV Meppen 0
TSV 1860 München 1 (Erik Tallig 45+2)

- - -

Ah yeah, one of those games. At least we managed to score in a critical moment, otherwise this could've easily gone down as a goalless draw. We were the better team by the numbers, though, we just didn't show it as much as we probably should have. Tallig keeps racking up his personal count of game-deciding goals, while Kretzschmar reaches 16 clean sheets in 25 games and beats the all-time record for TSV, held by Rainer Berg since the 1993/94 season. And with thirteen more league games still remaining.

Injury report: nothing to worry about. Steinhart has a minor bruise in his ankle, and Tallig the same thing in his shin. Both should be fine and dandy within a couple of days at worst.

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Feb 13th 2022

Fadiga leaves in the end, bringing €30k into the club's accounts. Now we start the search for his replacement.

Feb 19th 2022

TSV 1860 München (1st) vs. Hallescher FC (13th) (3.Liga, 27/38)

Halle have been doing roughly as expected, with a boring mid-table position and safely away from any ongoing battles. Kinda like Kaiserslautern, only in Halle's case it wasn't a complete disappointment. Their form as of late is... very mixed, but they just stole a draw from Zwickau, so they have to be respected.

* * *

1860 MÜNCHEN (4-3-3): Tom Kretzschmar (GK); Kevin Goden (DR), Martin Moormann (DCr), Stephan Salger (DCl), Phillipp Steinhart (DL); Quirin Moll (DM), Richard Neudecker (MCr), Yannick Deichmann (MCl); Marcel Bär (AMR), Keanu Staude (AML), Felix Lohkemper (ST)
HALLE (4-3-3): Daniel Mesenhöler (GK); Niklas Kreuzer (DR), Louis Samson (DCr), Sören Reddemann (DCl), Janek Sternberg (DL); Aaron Herzog (DM), Jonas Nietfield (MCr), Marcel Titsch Rivero (MCl); Elias Huth (AMR), Julian Derstroff (AML), Philipp Zulechner (ST)

* * *

Deichmann is back in action, Dressel and Lang still recovering. Things start slow, and we need until the 12th minute to create danger in a corner kick nodded back by Lohkemper and half-volleyed by Moll into Reddemann's block. We follow it up with a quick combination through the center, with Staude assisting Bär for a shot from the edge that goes high and wide, but not by much. Staude has another immediately after, well assisted by Lohkemper, but the ball ends in his left foot and his finish isn't good enough to beat Mesenhöler.

We seem to be in the right track, but soon after we run into a wall and our attacks just plain stop functioning, while Halle try some luck from distance from time to time without worrying us too much. Time marches on until the 41st, when Lohkemper tests Mesenhöler again with a 20-yarder that the keeper palms away with some trouble. Nothing else happens until the referee points at the dressing rooms.

HALF TIME - 0-0

Things don't improve at all in the first minutes of the second half, so we take drastic measures, changing to our backup 4-2-3-1 formation with Tallig in the hole behind Lohkemper. The results are... not particularly encouraging. Absolutely nothing happens in the game until the 68th minute, when Lohkemper finds Lex inside the box but the veteran forward can only smash his shot into the legs of a defender.

That one chance is the signal we were waiting for, though, and only four minutes later Tallig runs into space and receives the pass from Biankadi, but his finish is blocked by Mesenhöler. The rebound, though, falls to Lex on the left side of the box, and he only has to turn around and pass it back to Tallig for an easy tap-in and the 1-0. We follow it up with a beautiful first-touch combination down the right, although Lex's header afterwards is easy for Mesenhöler.

Our domination intensifies by the minute, with Lex and Tallig monopolizing all our attacking movements. Another pass back from the forward to the attacking midfielder almost ends in a second goal, but the keeper is in the right place at the right time and manages to push the ball away from danger. On the 82nd a quick cross from the left by Gresler, playing his first minutes in a while, finds its way to the far post so Lohkemper can outjump Sternberg and head it in for the 2-0. Mission accomplished, and Lohkemper almost gets the extra credit four minutes later after another cross from Gresler, but this time his first-time finish misses the target by inches. Biankadi then sends a header into the post in a set piece as the game winds down, and eventually ends in a hard-fought win for us.

* * *

TSV 1860 München 2 (Erik Tallig 71, Felix Lohkemper 82)
Hallescher FC 0

- - -

That took way too long, but in the end it came. The formation change worked out eventually, although for a while I was certain it'd been a mistake. But once Tallig and Lex got going it all started to click, and we absolutely trounced Halle in the last twenty-five minutes or so. The xG graph for the match shows this with a very clear uptick starting around that point. Good job by the substitutes once again, particularly Tallig, who's become a bit of a specialist in these kind of matches. Elsewhere, Zwickau's third draw in a row sees them lose the second place just before our match against them. We're now ten points clear at the top.

Now, the bad news: Tallig suffered a pulled thigh in the final minutes of the game, and will be out for 7-10 days, meaning he'll miss the potential title decider next week. A big loss.

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