This post is a little late, but it’s not a case of better late than never. It’s more a case of I can’t stand to do anything out of order, so this one has to be done before the new Jogi stuff. Not that uploading pictures of Stefan isn’t fun, then again DFB Pokal draws are always fun. It’s just Stefan makes it even more so. And he worked his usual magic on the draw right away by drawing his own team first out, 1.FC Kaiserslautern. Even more amusingly their opponents in the next round are 1.FC Nürnberg. First two teams out and already there’s a DFB related duel going on. Not just a current DFB connection there but a past one too, with Stefan and Andreas both being part of the 1996 EM tournament winning team. This is exactly the kind of stuff I love about DFB Pokal draws, not just the stories between the clubs but making the Jogi/Hansi/Stefan connections between any of the teams.
That was the first such connection but happily enough it was not the last, the next special connection came in relation to Stefan’s home-town team 1.FC Saarbrücken (who knocked out 2.Bundesliga team Jahn Regensburg) who found themselves drawn with 1.FC Köln. Double trivia fun here, Hansi used to play for Köln and their current coach Achim Beierlorzer was last season Jahn Regensburg’s coach. Fun fact, his brother Betram Beierlorzer played for three teams, 1.FC Nürnberg, Bayern Munich and VfB Stuttgart. Nice little trifecta there.
Then comes one of the big guns, title holders Bayern getting drawn with VfL Bochum, which you’ve guessed it, is another DFB connection, a Stefan team going head to head with another Hansi team. Something which is more amusing because Hansi actually works for Bayern now. Speaking of big guns Gladbach have a nightmare of a pairing, the only thing worse than getting Dortmund in the second round of the cup is getting Bayern. Last season Gladbach went out in the second round, getting smashed 5-0 by Leverkusen, hopefully they can avoid a repeat of that this season. Then again if Union Berlin can pull off a shock win against Dortmund, why not Gladbach?
As for Freiburg. well speak of the devil, because they got none other than Union Berlin. I thought that was tough draw before the Dortmund game, Freiburg do however have one major advantage, they have the home right, so they won’t have to run the gauntlet at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei. Playing against Union will mean a reunion with a former Freiburg player as well, Rafal Gikiewicz. He only made two league appearances for Freiburg, but they were two very important ones. Let me put it this way, last weekend wasn’t the first time he’s helped to pull off an upset against Dortmund.
Today was one of those times I tried to come up with a snappy title and failed miserably, giving up in the end and going for one that does at least sum up what this weekend has been about. Well it doesn’t include Söyüncü in there but that’s probably for the best. Normally by the time the first round of the DFB Pokal comes around I’m just happy to be watching football again, but this weekend hasn’t been a lot of fun, and Söyüncü is the reason why. It’s not like I’m over the whole world cup disappointment, more that it’s been temporarily taken over by a new pain. And it’s one which hurt a lot more than I expected it to, maybe because I wasn’t prepared for it right now. There is a lot of real stuff I should be worrying about right now, yet all I care about is Söyüncü. It’s not just the fact he’s left, it’s how and where he’s gone. Right on the last day of the transfer window in England, that’s when they snapped him up. By that point I thought we were safe, that he would get to stay for at least another year. I’m relieved now that I haven’t bought my home and away shirt yet for this season, if I had already gotten his name printed on the back then this would be immeasurably worse. I did think about getting Heintz on there instead, but I can’t get another centre-back’s name on there, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do that. Unless the impossible happened and it was Matze Ginter, now that I could happily do.
Last night was Freiburg’s first competitive game without him, and boy did they miss him.It would have been a special game even without him being gone, the reason being Freiburg were playing Energie Cottbus, former team of Nils Petersen. So it’s kind of fitting then that it was Nils who helped to save the day, he scored the second goal – which was not unusually for him a penalty. Though he didn’t score this one in his usual fashion, his actual penalty was saved by the keeper, but he somehow managed to be in just the right place to head it into the net. And of course he was the first to step up in the penalty shoot-out, putting that one away just fine. Thirty-two games and only one went to penalties, and it just had to be Freiburg. Cottbus missed their fourth penalty, leaving it to Dominique Heintz to slot home Freiburg’s fifth and confirm their place in the second round. It was all round a night of very narrow margins. Nils’ goal came in the 99th minute, and the first goal to equalize even more so, it coming about three seconds into extra time and being scored by Freiburg’s new captain Mike Frantz. As the commentator funnily quipped “O Captain, my Captain.” Very fitting words indeed.
Though they weren’t the only ones to cut it close in terms of going through to the next round, and there were a few surprises too, not least last season’s surprise winner Frankfurt getting knocked out by SSV Ulm. Going through the games and guessing the results I picked Ulm to win just as a joke, I never thought it would actually happen. Though I was pleased to be correct about Wehen Wiesbaden knocking out St Pauli. Bayern and Dortmund both scraped through, with the former surprisingly only winning 1-0 over an amateur team and the latter beating Greuther Fürth right at the death. As for the other Borussia and Matze they had no trouble whatsoever on Saturday, scoring a whopping eleven goals. Matze unfortunately was not on the score sheet but the pictures I got from the end of the game kind of make up for that:
It’s not quite the case that Christmas is cancelled because Freiburg got knocked out of the DFB Pokal on Wednesday, but it’s certainly not the way you want the first half of the season to end. Then again it’s not the fact they got knocked out, more by whom and how. Losing to Bremen was bad enough but doing so because of a goal which wasn’t a legal goal, well that’s going to hurt for quite some time. It’s funny, ever since the season started I’ve been bemoaning the existence and use of VAR and on Wednesday night I was angry because it wasn’t in use. Had it been in use it might have affected the outcome of Gladbach’s game against Leverkusen too, and the player who elbowed Matze in the head would have been sent off like he should have been. Though I’m not sure the VAR would have helped in the peculiar situation of the diving coach. That was truly bizarre, Leverkusen’s coach seemingly taking a dive after a Gladbach player almost clattered into him but just avoided him the end. Definitely the funniest moment from this week’s games.
But there’s point obsessing over it, they’re out and that’s that. I guess I should see the good point of the situation, it’s one less distraction from the all important task of staying in the league. First up after the winter break is Eintracht Frankfurt, a fixture that holds some very good memories indeed. Back in 2015 that was Nils Petersen’s first game as a Freiburg player, first game, first hat-trick. He didn’t take the penalty though, Vladimir Darida did that.
As much as I’m looking forward to that game I don’t really want to be thinking about January right now. Thinking so far ahead counts as thinking big and that’s the last thing I want to do. I don’t want to think big or make plans, all I want is for just a few months to have a nice quiet, peaceful existence, nothing more. I’m not making any new year’s resolutions and it’s not only because I see no point in doing so, more that for a while I don’t want anything to happen. Last year I got sucked into thinking everything was fine in December and then everything fell apart in January. So I don’t want the same thing to happen again, I don’t want to make any assumptions.
On the subject of things happening I made a decision earlier this week which surprised myself, not only me but the other relevant parties as well. I don’t know if it came out of nowhere or I’d already subconsciously decided this but either way I made the decision for the next appointment to be the last. It’s not entirely for the reasons I stated on Wednesday though. It’s not because I think I don’t need to talk anymore right now. Actually it’s the opposite, I’m tired of talking. I’m tired of having to go there knowing I won’t really tell the whole truth anyway. And I know that’s partly my fault, it’s just not easy to be honest and trust someone when for years you’ve gotten used to the fact that’s not an option. To borrow a quote from one of my favourite shows The Bridge, “my plan is not to have a plan.”I just want to read books and sleep. Mostly I just want to be left alone. I don’t know if it’s people I’m tired of or rather the pretense I feel like I need to put on in order to be around them. Either way I really wish I didn’t have somewhere to go tomorrow. I wish I’d been brave enough to say no when I was invited. I should be grateful I have friends yet right now I just want everyone to go away.
I want nothing more than to stay inside and lose myself in books, to just escape from reality completely. That’s one of things I talked about on Wednesday, how books are a better distraction for me than anything else. Playing Playstation is a good way to pass time but not to occupy my mind in quite the same way. No, playing games is more like anesthetizing yourself in a way but books are something else. At least that’s one good thing about the past few months, I set myself the target of reading 75 books this year and I’m one off reaching that goal. I just finished reading Going Underground, a book which features an autistic detective. I know, I shouldn’t even be reading books with autistic characters in them when they’re written by NTs because I invariably end up ranting about them. And this one did frustrate me a little, though not as much as Rubbernecker did. I suppose the fact the author actually has an autistic son has something to do with that. One good thing about the book is the writer takes the time to make it clear that Jonathan is an investigator, not a policeman. That’s important because the idea of someone like Jonathan being a policeman is absurd.
I am though unhappy with certain aspects of his character, like the fact he doesn’t seem to understand humour at all and that he’s completely oblivious to popular cultural references. I know some people with autism either don’t get or just don’t do humour. But I hate it when an autistic character is portrayed that way because it’s so stereotypical and it reinforces the view the general public holds that autistic people don’t get jokes. And even more importantly sometimes you come across parents who actually believe their child can’t be autistic because “my son is nice, friendly, intelligent and has a fantastic sense of humour.” Yeah, none of that precludes a person being autistic. I find that so offensive, the implication that we’re all unfriendly, stupid, unfeeling people who have no sense of humour whatsoever. Similarly I find it equally offensive that somehow autistic has become shorthand for “socially awkward/pedantic/weird/obsessive/mean/critical. Basically some NTs are using autistic as a synonym for any trait they don’t like or consider to be a negative trait. And that’s the other trait I wish writers would use less of when writing autistic characters, emotional detachment. Lots of autistic people have the opposite problem, feeling too much. They might not be able to actually express that however.
At least I knew the other book I was reading wouldn’t let me down, Bernie Gunther never has, well not so far anyway. I just finished book seven, Field Grey. From what I read of the reviews it seems to be a book which divides opinions. I have to admit it is the most challenging of them so far but it was interesting, I didn’t find the couple hundred pages of interrogations boring. I liked seeing the puzzle being pieced together and learning what happened to him after the war ended. Though it got a little confusing in the end with all the double crossing, I will admit that. It hasn’t dampened my enthusiasm any, I can’t wait to start reading the next one. I can take some comfort from that, the fact I’m looking forward to something.
It’s only Tuesday and already I feel like I’m out of words, and just about everything else for that matter. There’s no reason I’d be looking forward to or enjoying Christmas anyway, but still, it’s not a good way to feel. It’s the same story as always, spend time with other people, have a good time and end up paying the price and deeply regretting it afterwards. To think that last week I was daydreaming about what it would be look to be more “normal” and to do regular people things. Of course that was just a daydream, not at all close to reality. It hurts even more when another autistic person tells you they “admire they way you can retreat within your own little world and choose not to interact with other people when you know it’ll stress you out.” It gets even worse when they go on to say how they wish they could do the same and stop pushing themselves to interact with people even though they know it makes them anxious. I don’t know if there’s a criticism implied in there but it sure feels like there was. Regardless the first part hurts no less and it doesn’t make any sense either. Not least because they think retreating within yourself is a choice rather than a defense mechanism. It’s definitely not something to envy. I had an NT make a similar comment once and that hurt too, but it hurts more coming from someone who should understand.
I suppose it’s a good thing I got this far before the whole thing started feeling like a chore. Now I’m only doing these posts because leaving something unfinished bugs me. I’ve opened 19 doors now and still no Matze, I don’t think he’s in there. I think only the most popular players are in there, not necessarily the current squad. That would explain why Andre Schürrle is in there. Which just makes all of this even more disappointing. First no Freiburg advent calendar and now no Matze either. I know, that’s a pathetic problem to have but I’m grateful to have such things to deal with right now. I would like nothing more than a month without a real life major problem to deal with. December wasn’t such a month, I’m hoping January will be. It would be nice to have some peace and quiet for a change. Though with the way I feel at the moment peace and quiet feels like it might not be enough.
All this negativity I feel like I have to mention at least one good thing. Well tonight was DFB Pokal night, part one of two. I got three out of my four predictions right, so that’s not so bad. The three I got right were Paderborn, Mainz and Schalke. Unfortunately I was wrong in regard to 1.FC Nürnberg. Obviously tomorrow right I’ve predicted Freiburg to beat Bremen, at least I hope they do anyway. It’s the same with Gladbach, more hope than anything else, I don’t want Matze to get knocked out after all. Whether they can actually beat Leverkusen is another story. I know the league is one thing and the cup is another but Leverkusen did beat Gladbach 5-1 earlier this year, so that doesn’t leave much room for hope. Similarly I don’t hold much hope for Heidenheim pulling off a surprise and beating Eintracht Frankfurt. As for Bayern and Dortmund, who the hell knows.
The other positive I can glean from the past few days is the fact I’ve been reading more. Being separated from my tablet helped on that count. With less time to read internet forums on various subjects I had to find another way to occupy myself late at night when I couldn’t sleep. It’s good in another way too, read less nonsense and you have less to get angry and rant about. Well, that was the theory anyway. Then I went and read Rubbernecker and found something to rant about after all. Yet another book where an author equates Aspergers with “lacking in empathy and sensitivity.” There’s plenty I could rant about, I won’t because I’m too tired for that. But there is one point I have to mention, namely that the book concludes with the point that essentially the key to happiness for an autistic person is learning how to act normal and doing that, making the NTs around you happy, giving up your special interest and worst of all learning how to tolerate people touching you because that’s one of the normal human things you need to be able to do. Like I said, way too many things to rant about. So many that I feel more sad than angry about it; sad that people still think this rubbish about autism.
With Jogi being in Stuttgart for Freiburg’s game and the DFB Pokal draw today things started out good, and then that ended about ten minutes into the game. All of a sudden the draw didn’t matter so much then. When the English league cup was drawn not long ago lots of people online said it was fixed, now I’m not saying the same thing about the Pokal draw but it’s interesting that’s for sure. Same as it’s funny that Stuttgart are the second team out, being drawn not long after their game kicked off. Bayern being drawn with Dortmund is obviously the one of most interest, it meaning that there won’t be the usual big two final this year, so that should in theory make things a little more interesting. A few weeks ago I would have thought Dortmund would be the favorites to win such a clash, but now with the Heynckes effect in full swing I’m not so sure.
Freiburg being drawn with Bremen is something I have mixed feelings about, it’s not the worst draw they could have gotten and they have a good record against Bremen in their own stadium. There’s two bigger questions than who’s going to win that game, one being where are they going to be in the league when that game happens, will Bremen have moved up from 17th place. And the second and even bigger question is will Alexander Nouri still be Bremen’s coach come the 19/20th December. Personally I wouldn’t place any money on that being the case. I wonder how many times have gone without a win in ten games and avoided relegation come the summer. The other interesting game is Gladbach v Leverkusen, in the league two weeks ago it ended 5-1 in Leverkusen’s favour. Here’s hoping for Matze’s sake that it goes a lot better this time.
But if it came down to it Freiburg getting through to the next round is all I really want. Not least because the Pokal is one of the few things that has gone right so far this season. With one win in ten games they are dangerously close to the perilous situation Cologne and Bremen are currently in. And today just compounded the misery. Having to play 80 minutes with ten minutes against Stuttgart was never going to be easy, but it being Caglar Söyüncü just made it so much worse. And the circumstances of his dismissal made it even worse. It’s not the fact he got sent off that is so infuriating, it’s the fact it took several minutes between the offence taking place and action being taken. What’s the point in video review analysis when it interrupts the game that way? How can that even be fair? And what the hell were the review team doing in that time? They have no excuse for not seeing it, what’s the point in having a video review system if they can’t act swiftly? Being punished so late after the offence has occurred, it’s almost like retroactive punishment. From the start I had mixed feelings about the video review system. Now I’m firmly against it and not only because it seems to have gone against Freiburg an awful lot since the start of this season. An English commentator sums it up from me, during a match a while ago one of them said more or less “football is a game played by humans, watched by humans and refereed by humans.” You can’t put it much simple than that, goal line technology is one thing and that’s great. But video review is obtrusive and unnecessary. You still have the same failings as before, it’s still dependant on humans being observant and paying proper attention. And it doesn’t remove arguments from the game, whether that be players and coaches or spectators, actually it just creates more arguments. Some people say give it time, that it’ll take time before the system works perfectly. Yeah and in the meantime your team could get relegated because of a decision made by a guy in a box hundreds of miles away.
I love watching draws no matter what competition they’re for but there were three very important reasons why today’s draw for the second round of the DFB Pokal would be extra fun. Firstly Freiburg are still in the competition, secondly the team I want them to avoid in the second round (Sandhausen) are out and thirdly Stefan Kuntz did the draw today. The latter gave me the excuse to take some nice screenshots and to add them into this post.
As far as who I wanted Freiburg to get there wasn’t any team in particular, it was more a question of who I wanted them to avoid. The aforementioned Sandhausen are no longer a concern after having being knocked out in the first round by Schweinfurt. Sandhausen knocked Freiburg out in the second round last season, hence my happiness at them losing in the previous round. In a twist of fate Freiburg have been drawn with Dynamo Dresden who funnily enough lost 4-0 to Sandhausen on Saturday. I wouldn’t count on Dresden being an easy team to beat but given the other options I’m relieved.
There were four teams left in the pot, Freiburg, Bayern, Dynamo Dresden and RBL. I prayed for it be Dresden and was duly rewarded, maybe Stefan proved to be good luck. Either way I don’t care, Dresden it is. And thank god because today has been cruel enough without getting drawn with Bayern or RBL in the cup. Today saw Tim Kleindienst score his first ever Bundesliga goal, what might have been the winner against Eintracht Frankfurt. At least it was his goal until the new video review system took it away. The first and only 0-0 draw of match-day one and it had to be Freiburg. Next week won’t be a 0-0 draw, you can guarantee that, playing Leipzig is a guarantee that won’t be the case. It’s not a game I’m looking forward to if I’m completely honest but then I’m trying not to think about it. I should think about Stefan instead and how funny and adorable he was today. He’s especially adorable when his old team Kaiserslautern get drawn and he can’t bear to look at who their opposition are, the presenter teases him by saying they might get Bayern. Luckily they avoided that fate, getting drawn with VfB Stuttgart instead which if nothing else will be interesting. By rights Stuttgart shouldn’t be in the second round, Zieler has never saved a penalty, why did now have to the time he finally does it. I so badly wanted Energie Cottbus to beat them and they came close, but it just didn’t work out. It would have been so perfect too, twenty years after they played each other in the final, almost too perfect it seems.
There’s quite a few games in the list I want to see, chief among them Paderborn v Bochum, Wiesbaden v Schalke, Leverkusen v Union Berlin and of course Bremen v Hoffenheim. As for Matze he and Gladbach will be meeting Fortuna Düsseldorf. On paper Gladbach are the obvious favourites but they only just got through the previous round with a narrow 2-1 victory over fourth tier Rot-Weiss Essen. Fortuna have gotten off to a good start this season so I wouldn’t be so quick to make any predictions. It’s ironic given who they knocked out, what fun that would have been, a little bit of history repeating itself. Fortuna knocked out Arminia Bielefeld who in the 2014/15 season actually knocked Gladbach out themselves and went all the way to the semi-finals where they were beaten 4-0 by VfL Wolfsburg. Their goalkeeper at the time was none other than Alexander Schwolow, who was on loan from Freiburg.