This member of the No Dice trio isn’t a fan of tradition. The mere mention of a self-congratulatory Traditionsverein has me baulking uncomfortably and looking for Türkiyemspor’s next fixture to help me remove the stink of rigid orthodoxy from my nostrils. Tradition has no future, simply because it is so concerned with the past, and the same applies to superstitions – they are simply habits that become entrenched as one attempts to convince oneself that one can control the future by means of repeating the past.
And despite this, I am starting to feel a little superstitious. You see, Babelsberg only seem to win when No Dice is present. This is problematic on a number of fronts. Firstly, we don’t get to make the trip out to Potsdam very often. Secondly, and consequently, my last report being a case in point, Babelsberg looked pretty good when beating Darmstadt 2-0 in July, and I confidently predicted survival. Since then, in our absence, the Filmstadt boys played five games and only picked up a single point. Not quite egg on my face, not at this early stage of the season, but it feels as though there is a chicken squatting with oosporous intent in my vicinty.
So, refusing to believe that the game was already pre-determined by the simple fact of our presence, it was hard to be optimistic. Osnabrück boasted the second-best defence in the league, and sat happily in second spot, but it was Babelsberg that made all the early running. Christian Groß caught the eye on the right side of midfield, full of energy, using the ball simply and sensibly. Chances, however, were in short supply and the best one early on fell to Lennart Hartmann, who cracked a shot just over from the edge of the box after an outrageous series of stepovers that absolutely bamboozled the Osnabrück defender.
Philip Kreuels, who had been so impressive against Darmstadt, was mostly a spectator until shortly before half time. But then, he let a high ball drop onto his foot, controlling it with perfect elegance under pressure from an Osnabrück midfielder, before nutmegging him insouciantly and releasing Kauffmann on the left. His shot was spilled by Manuel Riemann in the Osnabrück goal, and Kreuels was well within his rights to slide in for the loose ball. Riemann, however, did not agree, and picked up a yellow card for his enraged reaction.
“If he hadn’t reacted like that, perhaps he’d have been more concentrated [a few minutes later],“ lamented Osnabrück trainer Klaus-Dieter Wollitz after the game, though the penalty that Riemann conceded after fouling Benjamin Kauffmann was much more the fault of the defender who tried to chest a cross back to his keeper despite the attentions of two Babelsbergers. Riemann had to be hauled off the pitch by two Osnabrück officials after his fully-deserved red card, and Kauffmann did well to not react to his infuriated accusations of diving. On came Nils Zumbeel for striker Marcus Poissek, but he could do nothing to stop Kreuels confidently lashing the penalty home – his third so far this season.
The second half was far from a classic. Babelsberg coped with ten-man Osnabrück’s attacks with ease, and were aided a great deal by the visitors’ lack of invention. Long ball into the box, Frederic Löhe claims. Long ball into the box, wide. Long ball into the box, headed clear. The efforts of captain Daniel Reiche in the Babelsberg Sechser position was key to forcing Osnabrück to resort to such primitive tactics: his tackling was precise and clean; his distribution simple and effective. His performance was nowhere near as eye-catching as that of his midfield partner Lennart Hartmann, and all the better for it: Hartmann is clearly highly talented but often fails to do the simple things well, diving unnecessarily into challenges and mislaying simple passes. Reiche’s influence on the former Hertha youngster can only be a good thing.
So Babelsberg move out of the relegation zone, and have plenty to think about before their next game, away to promotion-hunting Bielefeld in two week’s time. I am reluctant to voice any optimistic sentiment, but just looking at 03’s defeats over the recent weeks, 0-1s and 1-2s (and a lone 1-4 humping by Rostock), one cannot suggest that this team is far out of its depth. If Christian Benbenneck can find a way to have the sublime talents of Philipp Kreuels appear more regularly, and for Markus Müller to find his scoring touch again, silly superstitions will not be necessary (but I’ll still be there against Aachen on September 22nd, just in case).