As local derbys go, they don’t get much more local than Tennis Borussia Berlin and TuS Makkabi. A mere 700 metres separate their respective home grounds, but the rivalry between the teams is purely sporting; ideologically, both organisations would have been very much behind the TeBe ultras and their decision to revel an antifa banner during the encounter. While No Dice is not here to analyse the situation, we certainly intend to draw attention to it and to make it clear that the football world that we love so much has no place whatsoever for violence, discrimination or hateful speech. You can read more about the issue here.
And so, to matters of much lesser importance: football. This year’s Berlin-Liga is the division that no-one wants to win… or at least, no-one will admit that they are planning on winning it. Even hot favourites Hertha Zehlendorf are playing down their chances despite a 100% start, and Tennis Borussia are no different: according to board member Roland Weißbarth, the main aim is “to play no part in the relegation battle.” TeBe are still anxious to temper expectations after years of inflated ones, and the club is still very much in rebuilding mode. To that end, a couple of promising new signings have joined the likes of Benjamin Hendschke and Alexander Greinert, the backbone of last year’s team: Hassan Salhab was the outstanding performer in the NSC Cimbria Trabzonspor squad relegated from last year’s Berlin-Liga, and nineteen year old Fabien Thokomeni Siewe looks to be an exciting prospect.
The opener came after Salhab was fouled outside the box – his reaction to the robust challenge was hilariously disproportionate and reminiscent of Jürgen Klinsmann’s brief trip into orbit after Pedro Monzon fell at his feet like a drunk on an escalator in the 1990 World Cup final. Benny Hendschke’s resulting free-kick was inch-perfect – Alexander Kynaß had no chance as the ball spun in off the inside of the post. Hendschke almost repeated the trick minutes later from virtually the same position, but this time the ball rebounded off the outside of the same post, and away to safety.
Makkabi, last year’s runaway winners of the Landesliga, were well able to give as good as they got in the first half. The tricky attacking instincts of Noel Joao and the imposing physical presence of Felix Richter were excellent counter-attacking tools, and it was a superb header from Richter, expertly directed into the top corner form a Matthias Kindt cross, that drew the scores level just before half-time.
Moments earlier, Sascha Rentmeister had flicked a header from a deliciously inch-perfect Hendschke cross onto the crossbar. So far this season, TeBe’s number eleven has been in unstoppable form, acting both as the fulcrum for all attacking moves as well as providing plenty of defensive cover with terrierlike pressing in the centre of the pitch. At the moment TeBe lie in second place in the Berlin-Liga, and if they are to stay there, Hendschke will need to maintain this excellent run of form.
The game ended 1-1, but that’s not to say that there wasn’t plenty of excitement in the second half. Makkabi twice cleared the ball from the line, and Alexander Greinert hit a rocket from a ludicrous distance that needed an excellent touch from Kynaß to send it thonking clear via the post. Makkabi, while mostly defending frantically, had a couple of chances to thieve a victory: Joao made perfect contact with a rebound at the edge of the box, but TeBe goalkeeper Marcus Jurzik was right behind it, probably winding himself in the process.
These days, there’s an air of positivity around the Mommesenstadion that had been noticeably absent for several years. After last season’s solid Rückrunde, a small amount of momentum as been built up, and TeBe look to be one of the teams to beat in a Berlin-Liga that only a fool would venture to predict. With a home clash with Hertha Zehlendorf coming up on August 24th, it will soon be clear whether the Lila-Weisse have what it takes to grab that one single promotion spot.