Rocco Teichmann is a beautiful throwback. Not just his playing style, as a kind of old-fashioned libero bombing forward all Kaiser-like (something no No Dice pundit can resist, especially if the player bombing forward is also a teensy weensy bit out of shape), but also that unashamedly awful blonde ponytail, a resounding middle finger to the carefully trimmed mohawks and and quiffs that dominate the heads of his teammates and opponents. It is almost shame to have him playing with these modern, lightweight footballs, as he seems the sort of player that would have relished a towering header of one of those old, leather balls with laces, the ones that soak up water on rainy days until they are the weight of a small calf. Not that Rocco would care about that, of course. He’d smash through a brick wall of elephants to get to it.
In BAK’s meeting with Magdeburg on Saturday, Teichmann was the key figure in a pulsating first half, responsible for creating chaos at both ends of the field – precisely the opposite of a central defender’s job – and thereby providing plenty of entertainment to the 931 supporters present, if not a couple of grey hairs for his boss, Jens Härtel. The chances flowed freely as the two teams pounded forward, both buoyed by undefeated starts to the season.
The guests, in particular, must be pleased with their start – last year, Magdeburg finished bottom of the table by a distance, saved from relegation only by the expansion of the Regionalligen from three to five divisions. With just 23 goals scored in 34 games in 2011/12 (gamely endured by their long-suffering fans), one can’t blame vice-president Mario Kallnik for telling FuWo that “the short-term goal is survival” – a line heard coming from every club from the Regionalliga to the Landesliga, but one that, in Magdeburg’s case, doesn’t reek of false modesty even if the newly-assembled squad sat on top of the Regionalliga before Saturday’s encounter.
Metin Cakmak, or Pokal Hero Metin Cakmak as he is known these days, had the first chance, a curled effort from the edge of the box that Magdeburg keeper Matthias Tischer just about got his fingertips to. Moments later, Tischer’s attacking teammates somehow conspired to fail to take the lead as Florian Beil and Dawid Krieger could not capitalise on Justin Gerlach being shrugged out of the way by Fabio Viteritti. BAK were looking defensively shaky, and the injury that Teichmann picked up early on was certainly not helping: the big man was limping visibly and it appeared as though his game would be coming to an end sooner rather than later. The opening goal was a direct consequence: Tobias Friebertshäuser had time and space to tap the ball home after a free-kick from the flank evaded everyone. The two No Dice ‘experts’ in the stand looked at one another and agreed that Teichmann had to be substituted – he had tried and failed to run off the injury, and was now just Andy Carroll: a big ponytailed liability.
That’s when Teichmann rampaged forward, played a one-two at the edge of the box, dinked a sombrero over a Magdeburg defender and set up Philip Malinowski to smash an accurate volley into the far corner for the equaliser. It was the perfect mix of sublime skills and sheer pig-headed determination. Rocco, we will never doubt you again. Well, unless you miss an incredible chance from a metre out, scuffing a loose ball off your knee straight at the goalkeeper on the stroke of half-time, but even then we’ll acknowledge that it was actually a pretty difficult chance.
For the fifteen minutes before the break, BAK had been sublime, full of intricate link-up between the forward line of Cakmak, Malinowski and Kevin Kruschke. This pace was maintained immediately after half-time, but suddenly, as if both teams decided that a draw was a satisfactory result, a game that had been brimming with promise rapidly petered out. Henning Lichte thumped a header wide from a delicious Kruschke cross with five minutes to play and… well, that was pretty much all that happened in the final half hour.
No matter. Both teams maintain their unbeaten start, and although RB Leipzig and Auerbach’s victories mean that Magdeburg surrendered their top spot, the slide to third spot will not be felt too sorely. After all, Leipzig are the only team that genuinely hopes to win this division.