1860 set to return to action after Sven saga

SGE had the media eating out of his hand once again before opting for warmer climes. Photo inthestands.co.ukFor TSV 1860 Munich fans, the winter break will be remembered for a steady supply of less than flattering headlines about the 1966 Bundesliga champions. Once again, bizarre off-the-pitch exploits hit the headlines rather than any sustained attempt at promotion from the second division, a league they have languished in since 2004.

The long-running saga regarding the appointment of former England manager Sven Goran Eriksson along with some blatant boardroom squabbling involving Jordanian investor Hasan Ismaik ensured there was never a dull moment to be had with the club since the turn of the year. Ultimately, the Swede jilted the Jordanian, opting for a post in the Emirates instead. This left 'caretaker' coach Alexander Schmidt to pick up the pieces.

The whole Sven saga was reminiscent of their 'noisy neighbours', Bayern Munich, back in the days of Lothar and Klinsi (Lothar Matthäus and Jürgen Klinsmann), when they were christened 'FC Hollywood' on account of similarly bemusing behind-the-scenes stories and temper tantrums.

On Monday, 'Sechzig' will finally have the opportunity to refocus on a promotion push with a home game against third-placed 1. FC Kaiserslautern at the Allianz Arena. Optimists would still have you believe that sixth-placed Munich could propel themselves into a play-off position with an improved run of form in the second half of the season. The Lions are just five points from that prized spot, one that is currently occupied by their visitors from the Rhineland-Palatinate.

Goals have been the main issue for 1860. They have only managed a meagre 21 goals in 19 games before the winter break. Only five teams in the league have displayed more impotence in front of goal.

The Lions took action to resolve this deficiency in attack by adding two loanees to cater for the continued absence of suspensed, former German international Benny Lauth. Robust Canadian striker Rob Friend was snapped up from Eintracht Frankfurt until the summer of 2014. The 6ft 4in target man has a wealth of experience at this level (24 goals in 71 appearances) and has promotion medals with Borussia Moenchengladbach, Hertha Berlin and Eintracht to boot. Friend is looking forward to revitalising his career after languishing in the reserves in Frankfurt. "I'm hungry and just want to play football again," he explained. "It's not been an easy time for me recently, but I never gave up and always gave it my all in training so that I would be fit for any new club. I want to show that desire at 1860."

About Schmidt now not Sven. Photo Tony MaygerSchmidt also bolstered his squad by adding Norwegian U23 international, Ola Kamara. The young Norwegian bagged 12 goals in 30 outings last season for Strömsgodset in Norway's top flight. "I know all about the top two divisions in Germany and I'm really looking forward to the new challenge," Kamara said. After the failed experiment with Argentinian Ismael Blanco, 1860 will be looking for more quality from their two new forwards, especially considering top scorer (8 goals) Lauth is suspended for the crunch game against FCK.

The Lions can also call on talented Hawaiian forward Bobby Wood, who was just starting to flourish last December. Summer signing from Hannover 96, Moritz Stoppelkamp completes the attacking options and was arguably the Lions' stand-out performer in the final third before the winter break.

In contrast to the misfiring attack, the 1860 defence was rock solid, conceding less than a goal a game. Goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly will be looking to continue his outstanding form. The Hungarian international excelled with numerous man-of-the-match performances, conceding only 17 goals in 19 games.

Monday's live TV game (20.15 CET kick off) against Kaiserslautern gives the home side the opportunity to narrow the gap to just two points from the four-time Bundesliga champions. Defeat is unthinkable for the Lions and would almost certainly kill off their promotion ambitions before they really got started after the turbulent winter break.


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