1. FC Schöneberg (2:1) VfB Fortuna Biesdorf
Cup matches can be hard to predict. The weight of expectations is often too heavy for bigger teams to bear, and they slump into the role of the defeated giant, just another chapter in a plucky little team’s unfolding fairytale. But magic cup runs from the smallest of the small are enchanted because they are so unlikely. Sometimes small teams from lower divisions play just like small teams from lower divisions. Cup matches don’t get any easier to call when they’re played by two amateur teams, as things in the German lower divisions can be unpredictable enough as it is.
And so it was with an air of anything being possible that 1. FC Schöneberg welcomed VfB Fortuna Biesdorf in the Berliner Pokal on a beautifully sunny non-league day. A big game for both sides, it’s likely the hosts were looking most forward to the matchup. Promoted this summer to the Berlin-Liga (the German 6th division and highest in Berlin), 1. FC Schöneberg is scrambling for a grip on the higher rung of the soccer ladder, sitting dead last in their new league. The second-round cup match would be seen as a reprieve from the Berlin-Liga, where they’ve managed just one point and given up 32 goals in eight games.
Of course, anything can happen in a cup tie, and visiting Fortuna Biesdorf, playing solidly in the Landesliga St 2, a league below Schöneberg, had a different vision for their Sunday afternoon. They looked intent on piling on FC Schöneberg’s league misery from the onset, probing early and unafraid to thread together passes in the attacking third. Biesdorf was rewarded for their confidence in the face of their higher-league opponents just five minutes into the match. Schöneberg right back Görkem Yilmaz was forced to clear a dangerous Fortuna run down his side out for a corner, and the resulting set piece saw the visitors take the lead through captain and midfielder Sascha Scholz’s corner, which sailed directly into the net. The view from the sidelines makes depth perception a bit tough and the amateur pitch just outside of Südkreuz happened to lack screens depicting instant replays, but it appeared this rare direct-corner goal actually might have been intentional. Either way, it went in: 1.FC Schöneberg – 0, VfB Fortuna Biesdorf – 1.
Whether shaped by their early lead or the game plan from the beginning, Fortuna did a great job of containing the home side throughout the first half. They conceded most of 1.FC Schöneberg’s side of the pitch but were compact and disciplined in their own half, clogging up passing lanes and forcing Schöneberg to attempt lobbed balls over the top that did little more than burn their dogged number nine’s calories. Half an hour into the match, and Schöneberg’s back four had more touches together than the rest of the team combined. Biesdorf also did a great job of exploiting space when they did manage to get a hold of the ball, with number 10, Tobias Höltge, looking exceptionally dangerous on a couple of occasions but failing to convert the great chances he and his teammates created in the first half. The lack of sustained possession seemed to frustrate many of the players on the field, and the match got increasingly chippy as time wore on.
Unfortunately for the handful of fans that made the trip from Biesdorf, the visiting team’s better play throughout the half wasn’t reflected in the score at the break. 1.FC captain Onur Atesavci began the sequence deep in midfield, linking a connecting pass with a fellow midfielder and storming forward. After a couple exchanged passes between Schöneberg midfielders and some flubbed Fortuna clearances, the ball found Atesavci again in the box, and he curled the ball high and hard around the stranded Biesdorf keeper to level the game for the boys in purple in the 43rd minute.
Even if Schöneberg never exactly looked like a team from two divisions higher than Fortuna, they seemed to be in the driver’s seat after tying it up. This carried into the 67th minute, when 1.FC’s number nine, Marc Götzenbrucker, put his team on top by neatly finishing off a nice team play with his left foot. He seemed to have a good bit more fun scoring than he did lumbering after errant punted balls in the first half, where he was visibly frustrated with his lack of service. Who would have thought that strikers actually like to receive the ball at their feet?
After going down, Fortuna tried pushing for an equalizer, but Schöneberg did a good job of flooding the midfield and forcing Biesdorf wide, generally limiting chances in the last half an hour. The away team saw a good bit of the ball, but even if they managed to get forward they couldn’t really threaten. The match ended 2-1 in 1.FC Schöneberg’s favor, with Götzenbrucker’s tally standing as the game winner. The 40-50 home fans signaled their appreciation for his finish by clapping him off when he was subbed in extra time. Not quite a standing ovation at the Bernabeu, but still a nice ending to the match for the home team and its fans and a fitting wrap up to this year’s non-league day.
In the end the bigger club couldn’t quite crush the smaller one, nor was there a Herculean upset shattering prematch expectations. Biesdorf can only be proud of their showing, as they led for a bit and never looked outclassed despite the outmatched status of their opponent, although some of their players will likely feel a bit let down they didn’t manage to get a result out of a match in which they played so well. 1.FC Schöneberg, on the other hand, can only hope their win will translate to confidence and more success (or at least fewer drubbings) in the league.