Match day Takeaways Week 4 – A VAR kind of weekend

Hannover 96 were topping the table from Friday until Sunday evening. For almost two full days the 96’ers were Breitenspitzereiters. However, our eyes are elsewhere for this addition of the match day takeaways. Terry Duffelen takes a closer look at VAR and what was going on in the match between Dortmund and Köln and Niklas Wildhagen discusses Werder’s rather poor start to the season. However, if Hannover keep gathering points like they have done over the first few matches in the season there won’t be any room for both Terry and Nik to ignore their rise after gaining promotion from the Bundesliga 2.

Terry’s take on the weekend

At he same time as Sokratis was poking the ball over the goal line for Borussia Dortmund’s second goal in their 5-0 win against Köln, the referee Patrick Ittrich was blowing his whistle for a foul. Köln goalkeeper, Timo Horn, was trying to claim a cross from a corner kick. The VAR overturned the foul and gave the goal. Sure enough it was a bad call by the ref and Horn was not fouled. However, should the goal still have been allowed to stand? Indeed, was it even a goal to begin with?

The FC Köln players and management think not because of the referee had already blown the whistle and the ball was out of play. That means that the ball should have been out of play because the referee had stopped the game. FC Köln sporting director Jörg Schmadtke said after the game : “We’ll protest the infringement of rules by referee team”.

The incident has been replayed a number of times and it does seem that the ball was crossing the line at the same time as the whistle was blown. So does that mean that the ball was out of play or does the simultaneous occurrence of a ball crossing the line and the whistle blowing mean that the ball was still in play? Is a ball out of play at the start of the whistle or the end? And if the ball is out of play, is the VAR still allowed to re-allow a disallowed goal under those circumstances? Does anyone wish they’d never gone ahead with the VAR to begin with?

The controversial goal game on the stroke of half time after what had been a determined performance by Köln after conceding early. They went on to lose the game quite badly in the second half. If the second goal had not stood then perhaps they may have found a way back. At least that’s what I would say if I were them.

What we can say with some certainty is that had referee Ittrich made the correct call in the first place by not giving the foul, the whistle would not have gone and Sokratis would have scored. BVB fans will argue that justice was done. But Effzeh fans, I think, are entitled to feel differently and I believe that there needs to be clarification of the incident. Although it’s worth pointing out that the alternative outcome would have been no foul, no goal and a (probably contested) drop ball in the six yard box.

Nik’s take on the weekend

Ahead of the match day the German football magazine kicker published an article stating that Alexander Nouri had fared well during his first 34 matches(his first full season) in charge of the Green and Whites. The so called Nouri table showed Werder in 7th place. Not bad for a team that hasn’t managed to get back on its feet properly ever since Thomas Schaaf’s era at the club ended after almost 15 years of mostly success. Sporting director Frank Baumann has stated that the Riverislanders want to finish in a single digit spot in the table. Given how their young coach has managed to breathe life into a side that was seemingly despondent under Viktor Skripnik one can see why there might be some optimism on the rise at the Weserstadion.

However, after 4 match days Werder are now second from bottom and have very little to show for the fact that they managed to keep a clean sheet and fought well against Hoffenheim for over 80 minutes, managed to create a few good chances against Bayern Munich in a game that was open at times and now managed to play an even encounter with Schalke. The start to the season has been brutal for Nouri’s team and the fact that only one measly point has been gained out of a possible 12 means that the club has very little to show for their decent performances against the big boys of the league.

It’s not time to ring the alarm bells just yet, this isn’t Hamburg after all. But, if the team doesn’t manage to get some wins to their name very soon the situation might become rather uncomfortable for Baumann and the other officials in the boardroom. Over the last few seasons Werder has been come close to relegation several times and now this time has come to an end the club told the public. A lot can be said about the patience and the astonishing support from the Ostkurve, but now that the hard times seemingly are over one can expect a bit more from Nouri’s side.

The next three matches against Wolfsburg, Freiburg and the Nordderby against HSV are all going to be crucial in determining how the rest of the Hinrunde is going to turn out. If the players around their young and enigmatic head-coach can start to gather points and move up the table this might very well turn out to be a very normal season for Werder Bremen. If the team only manages to put one or two points on the board during those three encounters things might become a tense at the Weserstadion. Add to that the fact that Max Kruse injured himself in the match against Schalke and we might have a few more question marks on our hands than Frank Baumann and the rest of the boardroom would like.

Talking Points

  1. There must have been times when Kevin Volland must have asked himself why he left Hoffenheim. Since the German striker left for Bayer Leverkusen in the summer of 2016. Without him Hoffe have gone from strength to strength while both he and B04 have gone backwards. On Sunday however, we saw the flourishing of what should be one of the best forward lines in the Bundesliga with Volland at the tip. His brace in Leverkusen’s 4-0 win over Freiburg is a welcome return to form for the much maligned forward and could have been a hat trick were it not for the pesky VAR.
  2. And speaking of the VAR, should there have been an intervention from video HQ in Köln when Wolfsburg’s ‘keeper Koen Kasteels’ knee connected with Christian Gentner, causing Stuttgart’s captain to swallow his tongue and go into convulsions. It has been reported that only the swift actions of the attending medical staff saved Gentner’s life. Dangerous contact with the head has been a hot topic in recent weeks both in Germany and in England. While no one is suggesting that there was any intent on the part of Kasteels surely a case can be made for dangerous play and a red card. In any event Gentner will make a full recovery so that’s the main thing.
  3. A week is a long time in football and there’s nothing like a 4-0 win to calm the nerves, especially in the high pressure environs of Säbener Straße. Robert Lewandowski’s interview with Der Spiegel where he criticised the clubs commercial ventures and transfer activity coincided with a 2-0 defeat to Hoffenheim. The subsequent reaction for Uli Hoeneß and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge plus earlier dissent from Thomas Müller has led to some commentators digging that most hackneyed of clichés “FC Hollywood”. But a convincing Champions League win and another against Mainz has dampened the feeling of crisis… For this week at least.
  4. Last week Hoffenheim coach Julian Nagelsmann spoke of his love of Munich and the fact that his wife and kids are moving there. “Bayern has always played a prominent role in my dreams.” he said. Later he made a point out of saying that his remarks have “no current relevance.” Well that’s as maybe but with Bayern coach Carlo Ancelotti not expected to fulfil his contract we can expect to see the 30 year old wundertrainer joining his wife and kids ‘ere long.
  5. After their poor start against HSV most critics and pundits thought that FC Augsburg were on their way to fight the battle against relegation once again. This time around most of the talking heads on TV had picked Die Fuggerstädter as one of the favourite sides to go down and losing to an rather average Hamburg outfit seemingly proved their point right from the start. However, ever since match day 1 the team of Manuel Baum – a man who didn’t make it far in his career as a goalkeeper mostly due to his lack of height(he is 169 cm tall) and who hasn’t really been a known quantity as a coach – have turned things around with 2 wins and 1 draw. 7 points and three very good performances against Gladbach, Köln and now Eintracht Frankfurt have seen FCA rise to 7th in the table. It’s still early days, but maybe, just maybe, one can wonder if Stefan Reuter has managed to secure the services of another great coach. Is Manuel Baum the new Markus Weinzierl? Time will tell.