The last time I saw Preussen was as they lifted the Berliner Pilnser Pokal against a Lichtenberg 47 team who simply couldn’t find the back of the net.
The few short months that past have not been all that kind to Preussen; they seem to have left their form behind at Jahnsportpark. It is now Preussen who are struggling for goals and points, as they find themselves in a disappointing eleventh place in the Berlin Liga. Whilst the season is long, and other such worn out football expressions, Preussen have ambitions to rise up beyond the Berlin Liga and compete with the like of BFC and BAK for the holy grail of the Bundesliga. Perhaps they choose the ambitions more wisely, for their form this season suggests they still have a long way to go.
Their opponents in the second round of the Berliner Pilnser Pokal are themselves having issues in the league. FK Srbija, having spent a season in the Landesliga after two straight seasons of promotion, find themselves teetering on the edge of the Bezirksliga’s relegation zone.
Preussen then, clear favourites to walk away easy winners, could use this game to build up some of their lost confidence in front of goal.
Far from the few thousand who graced Jahnsportpark for the final, standing in the shadows of Berlin’s most beautiful floodlights on extremely hot July afternoon, today’s second round encounter would be seen by no more than twenty spectators under seasonally appropriate drizzle. Even the promise of free entry had failed to draw any semblance of a crowd to Spandau. Perhaps it was the inevitability of the result.
I arrived a good half an hour early, not due to any particular enthusiasm, rather owing to google maps having lied to me about the drive time. I wandered around as the players warmed up and engaged in conversations with people whom I’m sure only understood about forty percent of what I was saying due to my sub standard German. No matter, I was more interested in the pitch, which was quite wonderfully maintained grass. Soon it shall be cut up from a combination of ambitious tackles and adverse weather. Groundsmen at lower league football are kept busy.
Once it going the match plunged quickly into the one sided affair all but the wildly optimistic FK Srbija fans had expected. Preussen’s opening goal came in the fourteenth minute courtesy of Moris Fikic. This began a fifteen minute spell of complete domination by the Berlin Liga side, who would find themselves five goals up after thirty two minutes. In spite of this spell of goals, Preussen seemed at times to be incapable of not arguing amongst themselves. To say it bordered on the ridiculous would be putting it lightly, especially when it descended to the point of arguing over whether Egzon Ismaili was right to have chosen to shoot, rather than opt for the cross. The fact that he scored seemed to escape one or two players. Regardless, Preussen marched on and the two penalties they were awarded were unarguably well called. A third could certainly have been awarded on the stroke of half time, but I suspect referee Fabian Qualmann made the less cruel of the two possible decisions and instead blew his whistle to indicate the end of the first 45 minutes and with it the end of the Preussen onslaught.
Usual half time activities such as consumption of bratwurst that is best described as edible and beer which tastes like badly refrigerated slops nearing the end of its shelf life were not possible. It seems a bit of a let down that there is no beer at a tournament sponsored by Berliner Pilsner, but that being said no beer might actually be better than Berliner Pils. In lieu of the regular half time pastimes, I instead learnt fantastic German expressions, the best of which was ‘Igel In in der Tasche’, a highly enjoyable way of describing someone as being tight.
It’s not uncommon for a team to sit back after taking such a comfortable lead in the first half, but Preussen instead seemed intent on using this game to show that despite their stats this season, they can still score goals. What they showed however, was why they can’t.
FK Srbija did defend well in the second half, or more accurately they didn’t fall apart as they did for 20 minutes during the opening forty five minutes, and perhaps it was this alone that prevented Preussen for scoring during the second half despite their multitude of chances. But it seemed more that despite the first half goal rush, Preussen had re-discovered their ability to fail to finish, impressively missing some chances midway through the half. At the end of the day though, it didn’t matter. Their lead never came close to being in jeopardy as Srbija had little time to push forward whilst absorbing waves of Preussen attacks.
The result may have been no surprise, but it will offer Preussen no relief to their woes this season, though maybe the second half will offer Srbija a glimmer deal of hope of rectifying their current league position. The first half won’t.