After the dazzling, midweek sunshine it felt as if the unusually long winter was finally over and that summer had arrived. Unfortunately, it didn't last and Munich was yet again plunged into cold, blustery conditions as 1860 München entertained FSV Frankfurt at the Allianz Arena. Team this with the fact that Frankfurt have the lowest attendance levels in the league and it was hardly surprising that the stadium was very quiet.
Frankfurt have been somewhat of a surprise package this season. Having finished dangerously close to relegation in the last few seasons, they have been in much better form this year, scoring more goals than all except the top two. This match saw 5th pitted against 6th, with a win for 1860 giving them the chance to leapfrog Frankfurt, whereas a Frankfurt victory would keep their promotion push alive.
Schmidt changed his starting XI for the first time in four games, with Dominik Stahl unable to shake off the ankle injury he sustained last week. He was replaced by young Stefan Wannenwetsch who joined Christopher Schindler and Daniel Halfar in starting line-up.
Despite the fact that there was a lot riding on this match, the game started incredibly slowly and in a subdued fashion. It took 17 minutes before a chance of any kind and it fell to 1860. Patient build-up play from Wannenwetsch found Marin Tomasov with the ball at his feet but he could only direct his left-footed effort directly at Klandt.
A few minutes later, and the ball was in the back of the 1860 net. A sloppy pass by Wannenwetsch allowed Yannick Stark space in the centre of the field and he was able to thread an inch perfect pass with the outside of his foot to Verhoek. Kiraly was out quickly but his block found its way to Stark who had evaded the marking of Wannenwetsch, leaving him all the time in the world to pick his spot and fire past Kiraly.
Rather than rouse them into action, the goal seemed to deflate 1860 and the deflation was completed after an incredible strike from Michael Görlitz with little more than half an hour on the clock. Cutting inside onto his left foot Görlitz unleashed a bullet of a shot which flew into the top corner past a helpless Kiraly.
It had been a quarter of an hour to forget for 1860 who sensibly kept the ball for the remainder of the half in an effort to combat the shock of the situation they found themselves in. As the half-time whistle blew boos rang out around the stadium. Something needed to change if the Lions were to make anything of this match.
Change came in the form of a triple half-time substitution with Grzegorz Wojtkowiak, Kai Bülow and Ola Kamara all entering the fray. It was a bold move by Schmidt, and even bolder still was his decision to move Bierofka to left-back and push Fathi into the midfield. It was a tactic that Schmidt employed unsuccessfully in the second half of last week's match against St. Pauli but this time it seemed to be working.
1860 were the team in the ascendency and after 70 minutes, their vastly improved performance was rewarded. Having chested the ball down to Wannenwetsch on the edge of the Frankfurt area, Friend continued into the box and leapt impressively to nod past a stationary Klandt. If there's one thing you can say about Rob Friend it's that he's passionate. Thumping his chest and roaring to his teammates typifies the sort of never-say-die attitude that will really find him favour with the 1860 faithful.
This left 1860 with 20 minutes to find another goal and they were looking dangerous, especially off Wojtkowiak's Rory Delap-esc throw-ins into the box.
On numerous occasions the Frankfurt defence were unable to deal with these attacks but somehow managed to keep the ball out of their goal. As is often said, there is always a chance in the dying minutes of a game, and today was no different. After an interchange between Friend and Kamara the ball found its way to Benny Lauth who could only fire the ball weakly straight at the goalkeeper.
It was a gutsy second half from 1860 but as ever, it was not enough. Their overall performance was incredibly sluggish today and the annoyance of the fans is understandable - their team haven't won at the Allianz Arena since before Christmas and even before the first goal went in, it looked like a foregone conclusion. On away form alone 1860 would be in third spot this year, which puts their poor home form into perspective. With only pride left to play for let's hope the players can motivate themselves to put in better performances in the final four games and give the fans something to cheer about.
1860 München: Kiraly - Volz (Wojtkowiak 46'), Schindler (Bülow 46'), Vallori, Fathi - Bierofka, Wannenwetsch, Halfar (Kamara 46'), Tomasov - Friend, Lauth
FSV Frankfurt: Klandt - Huber, Heitmeier, Schlicke, Teixeira - Konrad, Stark, Görlitz (Jung 92'), Leckie (Bambara 81') - Kapllani (Roshi 66'), Verhoek
Goals: 0-1 Stark (20'), 0-2 Görlitz (33'), 1-2 Friend (70')
Referee: Thorsten Schriever