“No matter what happens, we’ll stand by you”: The Bielefelder Alm celebrated for what felt like an eternity, as if Arminia’s eighth Bundesliga relegation hadn’t even happened. The 1: 1 (0: 0) against RB Leipzig was not enough for a Bielefeld football miracle, but it was enough for an emotional party in East Westphalia. “The spectators have honored our passion. That’s great,” said interim coach Marco Kostmann proudly.
Since taking office in mid-April after separating from Frank Kramer, not a single victory has been achieved. Not even on Saturday, despite Janni Serra’s deserved lead (70th minute). Willi Orban headed the cup finalists from Leipzig in injury time (90 + 3) to win the point, which finally secured the Champions League qualification for the Saxons. “It didn’t look like it for a very, very long time. Nevertheless, we are here,” said Leipzig coach Domenico Tedesco.
Unlike the Bielefeld side, a change of coach paid off for the Saxons. When Tedesco took over the financially strong club construct from the Red Bull empire from predecessor Jesse March, Leipzig was eleventh. This was followed by the best second half of the Bundesliga season and the storm in fourth place after 34 match days. “That was a great performance after the winter break,” said attacking player Emil Forsberg. Next Saturday in the cup final against Freiburg, his team also has the chance to win their first title ever.
“Representative of our season”
However, the performance on Saturday was not ready for the title. In general, the Leipzig performance curve has been pointing downwards for weeks. RB lost three of the last six competitive games and missed the final in the Europa League. “None of that matters now,” said Forsberg defiantly in view of fourth place.
For a long time only Arminia showed passion on Saturday, although the starting position seemed hopeless even before the season finale. Bielefeld should have caught up three points and seven goals on rivals VfB Stuttgart, who instead saved themselves with a 2-1 win over 1. FC Köln.
“Today’s game was a bit emblematic of our season. We’ve drawn too many games that we could all have drawn. The same today,” said Kostmann after the eleventh winless game in a row. In fact, the Arminia deserved the win. Led by the outstanding keeper Stefan Ortega, who will now leave Ostwestfalen, Bielefeld fought passionately.
It wasn’t enough, because an old problem took revenge on Saturday: the weakness in the finish. Whenever things had to be done quickly and there were gaps in the Leipzig defense, there was a lack of precision. With only 27 goals from 34 games, Bielefeld has the most harmless attack in the Bundesliga. The Leipzigers have significantly more power on the offensive, but only showed their potential late. The late equalizer was lucky and, given the impressions of the past few weeks, does not give rise to much confidence in a cup win next Saturday.