With Bayern Munich finally securing their status as football champions of Germany it is safe to say that Munich was painted red yesterday. However, in the blue half of the city things are a lot more precariously balanced. After a great set of results last week, 1860 sat in 6th position with the opportunity of reaching the play-off place still faintly in their grasp. The visitors today, Energie Cottbus, began the weekend in 7th and could leapfrog 1860 with a victory. A poor result here could be disastrous for either team, effectively ending all promotion hopes and condemning them to a mid-table finish this season.
With so much riding on this match it was highly expected that both teams would come out roaring, with all the passion and ferocity of a cup final. Unfortunately though, this was not the case. The first half was briefly illuminated early on when Tomasov galloped free of the last defender before being clattered by goalkeeper Kirschbaum, who had luckily got the faintest of touches to the ball and avoided a disastrous start for Cottbus.
Although the first half passed with little incident it was a delight to watch the movement and partnership of Dominik Stahl and Daniel Bierofka at the heart of the 1860 midfield. Their understanding of one another's style of play was close to telepathic as the pair seemed to be connected by an invisible tether, moving them around the pitch in perfect harmony.
This partnership was to be broken up after only 34 minutes with Bierofka withdrawn due to a blow on his right ankle, Wannenwetsch his replacement. The rather sedate pace of the first half was only quickened occasionally, the most notable chance falling 1860's way after 43 minutes. Eluding his marker Stoppelkamp found himself behind the Cottbus defence, running into space down the right wing. The winger needed only to play the ball into the path of the on-rushing Friend or Lauth and it would surely be a goal. The cross was good enough though, somehow managing to evade both strikers before rolling harmlessly out for a goal kick.
Daniel Halfar, returning to the team after a spell on the treatment table, was introduced early in the second half and immediately 1860 looked energised and much more potent. 58 minutes in, Lauth controlled a bouncing ball on the edge of the box and quickly slid the ball to Halfar who, with no space at all in which to work with, was able to conjure up a delightful one-two with Friend before sliding the ball past the onrushing keeper, sending the crowd into raptures. It was a fantastic goal. Five minutes later, and Halfar found himself in the box once more but after an imperfect first touch he was only able to slice the ball over the crossbar from 10 metres out.
Having only managed to score more than one goal on seven occasions all season, the match was by no means over and a mere 12 minutes later, 1860 were punished for a lapse in defensive concentration. Marauding left back Bittroff found himself on the end of a through ball from Stiepermann and calmly slid the ball past Kiraly with a finish any seasoned striker would have been happy with.
From this point onwards Cottbus seemed content with a draw, sitting back and inviting 1860 to attack. Try as they may, there was no way through and as the referee brought the match to a close boos echoed around the stadium and understandably so. 1860 have not won at home since November.
It's hard work being an 1860 fan. One week your team may perform brilliantly and come away with a well deserved three points, and the next could be a completely different story, one ending with a disappointing performance to add to a disappointing result, as was the case today. From the reaction at the end of the match it seems the 1860 faithful are beginning to tire of the inconsistencies their team consistently show. This could be the final nail in the coffin for promotion hopes, but then again it's very difficult to try and predict anything with 1860 München.
1860 München: Kiraly, Volz, Bülow, Vallori, Fathi - Bierofka (Wannenwetsch 34'), Stahl, Stoppelkamp, Tomasov (Halfar 54')- Lauth, Friend (Kamara 67')
Energie Cottbus: Kirschbaum, Schulze, Hünemeier, Möhrle, Bittroff - Banovic, Kruska - Stiepermann (Rivic 84'), Bickel, Fomitschow (Farina 79'), - Sanogo (Mosquera 46')
Goals: 1-0 Halfar (58'), 1-1 Bittroff (70')
Referee: Daniel Siebert