Jupiter is, by all accounts, a pretty interesting place. It’d be hard for such a mind-curlingly massive swirling gas giant, surrounded by vast numbers of spinning orbits not to be. Some of those orbits are even bigger than planets, and Jupiter itself has a mass more than twice that of all other planets in the solar system combined. But recently, we humans have been more interested in Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons. A hypothesis exists that oceans of water lie below its oxygen atmosphere and rocky surface, which could possibly make it a nice little home for some extraterrestrial life. And so, our focus has shifted to a body tangential to Jupiter, from the main event to a dependent one – in that sense much like BAK 07 v Lok Leipzig in the rainy drear of last Saturday afternoon.
The match itself can be summed up pretty quickly: BAK won 1-0 after Ali Avcioglu volleyed home a Henning Lichte knock-down from close range, ten minutes into the second half. By then, BAK had missed enough chances to win the game ten times over. Lok Leipzig had nothing going forward, and even as BAK invited a siege in the later stages by never supporting counter-attacks with any degree of pace or intent (bar one comical break by Kevin Kruschke, running the length of the pitch before releasing a misjudged final pass to Burak Altiparmak, who miscontrolled with only the keeper to beat, and shot wide), the visitors never looked likely to score. And that was pretty much that, from a footballing point of view at least. With the main attacking threats of Metin Cakmak, Philip Malinowski and Christian Siemund still missing through injuries and suspensions, getting on the scoresheet after drawing blanks in the last two games, however, will come as a big relief for BAK, as the big game against 1860 Munich edges ever closer.
And so, attention was grabbed by a couple of tangential occurrences. Firstly, the presence of FIFA referee Manual Gräfe, Bundesliga referee of the year for 2011. One year ago, almost to the day, he refereed a 5-0 win for Barcelona over BATE Borisov. This season, BAK v Lok Leipzig is the highest-profile of the three games he has refereed so far, as he returns to fitness after an injury-enforced break. Perhaps Gräfe will have been grateful for the time off, if one takes statements from last December, soon after the suicide attempt of fellow Bundesliga ref, Babak Rafati, into account. “This has been the most extreme Hinrunde of my time with the DFB,” he told 11Freunde. “Many of us are at our limit – both physically as well as psychologically.” He went on to lament the lack of support for referees, both in defending them from attacks from trainers and players, but especially for physical matters – top refs still train alone and without the support of physios or doctors.
Despite his long absence, Gräfe’s performance on Saturday was close to flawless, in particular for not giving a penalty as BAK’s Christian Miessner tricked past Sebastian Seifert into the box, only for the defender to dispossess him with a superb sliding tackle. The attacker’s fall was necessarily spectacular, but Gräfe was well positioned to see the pinpoint accuracy of Seifert’s slide.
The secondary tangential occurrence of interest was disgusting chanting from the visiting fans. Monkey grunts greeted certain players; repulsive and ignorant anti-Turkey chants were sung with abandon. This reporter, for one, felt sick, and is tired and depressed at how often mention must be made of such occurrences. But we must make them, and we must condemn them as strongly as possible, even though it may feel as to do so is an entirely insufficient gesture. If there are life forms on Jupiter’s moons, one can’t help but feel that they might be somewhat more advanced than those cretins.
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