Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Poland & Germany March 2016

A game in Poland plus three in Germany including the England match in Berlin.

25th March 2016  Miedz Legnica 1 GKS Katowice 1   1.Liga   1,944 (c. 150 away)

Flight to Wroclaw then about an hour on the train to Legnica.

Where it was rainy and fairly cool but not as cold as it might be in Poland.

This was a match that took a long time to get going.

We had a steady pace throughout with the only real first half action occurring near the end when first GKS threatened then the home side, somewhat out of the blue, delivered a cross that reached Labukas for an easy finish for 1-0.

The second half had more significant threats on goal with both teams missing decent chances.
It seemed the higher place GKS would get an equaliser and they did, on 80 minutes, when Wolkowicz shot in from the edge of the area.

Legnica did have a great chance for a late winner but the header went wide.

But a draw was about right.

The visiting fans, monitored by the presence of a dozen police vans, provided impressive support with chants and songs.
They also appeared in yellow colours and, later, bare chests.

Such things you do when you’re a Polish ultra.

26th March  Germany 2 England 3  Berlin   71,413 (c. 5,000 away)

From Wroclaw by train then bus-replacement to Berlin.   
Where I settled into an hotel in the Charlottenburg area before taking the S-bahn out to the Olympiastadion for this prestigious friendly.

So after this -  England will win the Euros ?

It was certainly a spirited performance by the three Lions highlighted by the new ‘golden generation’ of Alli, Kane, Dier, Vardy and co.

But of course retrieving a two goal deficit in a friendly is one thing but doing it in a competitive match is something else.

And there are provisos - not least in defence.

Germany certainly had the upper hand in the first half.

They had more possession and perhaps should have had the lead when a Mario Gomez effort was ruled out for offside.
But later Toni Kroos shot in left footed past a possibly unsighted, and injured, Jack Butland to make it 1-0 at the break.

Into the second and Besiktas striker Mario Gomez neatly headed a second and it looked like a big setback for our boys.

But Harry Kane turned and superbly drove in across Neuer and we were back in it.

On came Jamie Vardy, a revelation in the Premier League for Leicester, and he scored a typically fine near post goal to level it up.

With Dele Alli prominent yet another Tottenham star, Eric Dier, popped up in added time to head in the winner.

That sent our fans delirious and the songs were boomed out.

Certainly it was a fine outcome and you can see the talent coming through.
We just need to do the same in a competitive game - this was a test but not as taxing as it will be in June in France.

The doubts are in defence and it is usually the best rearguard that wins tournaments.

But the new golden boys might get us closer than in the recent past.

Afterwards we were marched back towards the Pichelsberg S-bahn for the journey back towards the centre.
I had a nightcap before a short sleep.

27th March  Freiburg II 5 Spielberg 0  Regionalliga  300 (50 away)

After about 4 hours rest (less because of the clocks changing) I was in Hauptbahnhof in good time for the 6.31am ICE train for Freiburg.

This fourth level match was low on quality and probably well below the English, League 2, equivalent.
The even first half was lit up by a fine left foot effort from Florian Kath with about five minutes remaining of the first period.

The same man added another from close range at the beginning of the second half.

And that gave the ‘reserves’ more confidence and three more goals soon followed.
Often aided by the visitor’s incompetence.

Striker Amir Fahlen got two of them redeeming himself for declining an excellent first half opportunity.
Spielberg disintegrated and never looked like getting anything.

The Moslestadion comprising a raised stand and some old terracing used to be the home of Freiburger FC, one of the founding clubs of the DFB.
They were German champions in 1907 but declined and were eventually overtaken by SC Freiburg, who are now the leading team in the city.

28th March  SV Wiesbaden 1 Sp Seligenstadt 1  Oberliga Hessen   c. 50

After a night out in the pleasant city of Freiburg I stopped off in Wiesbaden to see this fifth level encounter at the old Helmut Schon Sportpark.

The ground is another relic from the distant past with track, single stand and old, curved, terrace.

A small crowd watched what was a game of moderate quality.

The main action was from set plays with the visitors scoring from a penalty in the first period and SV equalising from a free kick later in the second half.
The leveller made its way through the wall and past a nonplussed away goalie.

Apparently SV are in financial trouble and may well drop down a few levels.

Soaked by a severe rain shower on the walk back to the station I had a fairly uncomfortable ride on to Frankfurt airport followed by a long delay (high winds at Heathrow) for the return to London.

But at least I could reflect on future glory for our England team (?)

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