While a win would have been preferable, 1860 Munich must be rather relieved to escape Sunday's fixture with Eintracht Braunschweig with a draw. It was not that the home side played poorly. If anything it was the opposite - they battled valiantly with the other Lions of the 2nd Bundesliga.
Both clubs have conceded very few goals in the first six games of the relatively young season, which foretold a low-scoring defensive display. The Lions of Lower Saxony arrived in the Bavarian capital on a five game winning streak, and it was immediately evident that this was a team playing with confidence.
Roughly 7,000 Braunschweig fans made the trip to the Bavarian capital on the same weekend that the Oktoberfest started, and altogether there were more than 31,000 fans from both sides enjoying a beautiful afternoon of football.
The visitors came out attacking early, and particularly in the midfield their passing was impressive. The hosts handled the early phase of the game well, but in the 19th minute Dominick Kumbela headed one in on a corner from Kevin Kratz. In the train on the way to the Arena, some of the Braunschweig fans assured me that their captain Dennis Kruppke would likely be the player who made the difference for their club. Though there is no question that his play was above average, it was Dominick Kumbela who shined for the northerners.
Originally from the Congo, Mr. Kumbela insisted that the Bavarian Lions were not a team to be taken lightly. He proudly showed off the top that he'd traded after the match with his former teammate Moritz Stoppelkamp, who he knows from their one season together at Erfurt.
After the goal, the home side desperately tried to get back into the game. Unfortunately, their enthusiasm resulted in multiple yellow cards rather than a much needed equaliser. It was not until nearly the hour mark that 1860 finally broke through the table leader's nearly impenetrable defence and got a goal from an unlikely source.
Defender Necat Aygün was standing in the right place at the right time when a shot on goal from teammate Daniel Halfar was blocked. Thanks to Aygün's quick reflexes, he was able to get the ball in the back of the net rather easily. Under the circumstances, the local team could have been forgiven for holding on for the draw, but not these Lions.
They continued to press, and clearly wanted to get the full three points that comes with a win. Talking to The Munich Eye's Tony Mayger, Dominik Stahl said, "We played very well, we created many chances and unfortunately we didn't score (more), so I don't know if we can be very happy about this point. I'd rather have three."
While it might be easy to understand the team's disappointment at the draw, and as 1860's manager Reiner Maurer said, it was "a little bitter," the reality is that the team is only now starting to gel. The back line is solid, and they play well together. Daniel Bierofka and the other midfielders continue to expertly march the ball up the field. Benjamin Lauth and Daniel Halfar, among others, showed moments of brilliance on Sunday that will hopefully result in many more goals in the coming weeks.
Next up: a Bavarian Derby in Ingolstadt on Wednesday night.