Return of the Lions

1860 hope for more of these after matches this season.First test 1860 Munich on the road in Braunschweig

Munich – It was only a few months ago that TSV München 1860 was still fighting for its own survival. The club needed money desperately in order to maintain its status as a professional football team.  Month after month all the worried fans were told that there were only temporary solutions, that those measures kept the Lions alive.  

The situation has now radically changed and no more concerned sighs from the fans.  The long awaited financial stability is here.

Thanks to the Jordanian businessman Hasan Ismaik the club had the possibility to prepare comfortably for next season.  There are high hopes among the fans, who now believe that the time has come to earn promotion and once again play in the top flight, the Bundesliga.

Friendly matches played during the preseason would suggest that the fans' expectations are more than justified, as the team beat Sparta Prague and earned draws against Rapid Wien (Vienna) and Bayer Leverkusen. "We played very well during the preseason. Our aim is to play in an attractive way, as we are expected to …," acknowledged 1860's coach Reiner Maurer, who maybe referring his last sentence to the statements from Ismaik.

The new owner confessed some weeks ago his dream: in ten years the club will reach the same level as FC Barcelona and their city rivals FC Bayern Munich. Well, there is only one way to start this return to glory: to win the German second league.

Maurer's men first hurdle will be Eintracht Braunschweig, a club which shared success with 1860 Munich back in the Sixties. Both clubs won the league championships in that decade, the Bavarians in 1966 and the club from the Lower Saxony in 1967.  Braunschweig are one of the promoted teams from the third league.  

However Maurer does not underestimate his next opponents.  "I am looking forward to playing this match, I want to start the season as soon as possible because I think it will be an exciting one.  It will be a tough match because they are a well-coached team. They will be motivated since they have not played a match in this league for many years."  

Despite the dangers this road test present for the Munich club, Maurer has only one goal in mind.  "As always it will be a very important game for us and we absolutely want to get three points. We are aware that a team like Braunschweig can beat everyone at home.  That is why we will have to create in their half of the pitch."

Maurer only confirmed that Kevin Volland will be on the pitch from the beginning of the match.  The 19-year-old made a solid debut last season, playing in 24 matches and scoring six goals.  

German defender Dennis Malura is on the same wavelength with his coach: "Braunschweig are a very solid team. We will have to fight from the start and that is the way to get three points there. If we keep fighting for 90 minutes we can get a win".

A cautious optimism reigns in the 1860 camp about this first official game of the season, but as for the season, Maurer displays a little more self-confidence.  "I am more optimistic than last year. Before the season starts some uncertainty is normal, but this year we have a base which allows me to be so trustful. We have the right mix: there are a lot of experienced players like (Benjamin) Lauth, (goalkeeper Gabor) Kiraly, (Daniel) Bierofka and (ex-Hamburger Collin) Benjamin, but we also have some interesting youngsters and I want to involve them all."

Well, let's see then if this mix will accomplish its mission on Sunday in Braunschweig, kick-off time at 15:30. A good start would be also important to attract more fans in the Allianz Arena, which was too often sadly empty in the last years when 1860 played at home.

Simone Sperduto and Marco Menolfi are sports reporters for TMT Sports.  Email at sports@themunichtimes.com.


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