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FEATURE | The Story of SSV Jahn Regensburg and how they’re different from the rest

Friedrich Ludwg Jahn is one of the pioneers of German gymnastics and sports. His ways of practising has made German sports into what it is today, and this is why Jahn Regensburg honours him by using his name in their title.

Regensburg is one of the odd ones of German football. Most clubs in the history of the sport in some way gained from the fall of the Third Reich. However, Jahn Regensburg did not. In the old Nazi-system, German football was divided into Gauligas and Jahn Regensburg managed to finish third in the Gauliga Bayern for three consecutive years. However, they haven’t been as successful since the fall of the Reich.

They’re the absolute definition of a yo-yo team, constantly bouncing up and down the divisions, never really being able to rest properly. Up and down the German divisions until the beginning of the 1970s when they began to falter quite a bit, they quickly found themselves playing Landesliga football, which back in the time was the fourth division. At the end of the 1990s however, they began to rise again and managed to gain promotion to the 2. Bundesliga in 2003, albeit they failed horrendously and finished last that year.

Like many German minnows, they faced bankruptcy after trying to stay up in 2. Bundesliga. They managed to escape their difficult situation though and were therefore able to rebuild again. They dropped down to the third division and soon found themselves one tier further down again but would soon pick up some form. As the proper yo-yo team, they’ve proven to be a team you can simply never count out. Jahn managed to reach 2. Bundesliga in 2012/13, but once again failed horrendously and finished last.

It seems to be the eternal faith of Jahn Regensburg, to constantly bounce up and down. Is the devil crossed? Or have Jahn just made a deal with him? After getting relegated from 2. Bundesliga in 2013, they found themselves on the brink of collapse once again. Third division football and then Regionalliga in two consecutive relegations was on the cards for the small club from one of the more picturesque cities in Bavaria. But once again they bounced back. In 2015/16, they played Regionalliga Bayern. Now, they fight for a play-off spot in 2. Bundesliga. It’s a quite remarkable rise, but it’s not unusual for this club. As mentioned earlier, they are the definition of a yo-yo team in football.

The rise back to the near top can be attributed to Heiko Herrlich, the man who took them from the depths of Regionalliga to 2. Bundesliga. His work and legacy at the club has made it much easier for Achim Beierlorzer to perform as excellently as he has.

Beierlorzer did inherit a very decent outfit, but we must remember that there were many teams gunning for the play-off spot in 3. Liga last season and it all was decided on the last Matchday. Herrlich’s team managed to win, reaching the play-off in which they beat a free-falling 1860 Munich with a rather grand margin. Their win at Allianz Arena was a sign of things to come as the Bavarian minnows have continued to overperform in 2. Bundesliga, albeit under a new coach and with a few new players. Jahn did in no way outplay their opposition in 3. Liga and their success this season shows us that 3. Liga might be of some decent class. And that Beierlorzer is a very good tactician. The step from 3. Liga to 2. Bundesliga is notoriously difficult, but even more so when it’s gained through play-off.

2. Bundesliga is never easy to stay in for a newly promoted side, but a few sides have managed to get promoted in their first season. The last one to do it was SV Darmstadt 98, but they’re on their way down again. This season, all newly promoted teams are fighting for promotion, which is quite remarkable considering none of them had that as their announced goal beforehand.

Holstein Kiel, Jahn and Duisburg have all overperformed and look poised to stay up at the least. Jahn’s success has however not gone unnoticed and their tactical promise is more than obvious. Beierlorzer has created something truly magnificent from the excellent foundation he inherited from Leverkusen coach, Herrlich. Jahn Regensburg have played beautiful football at times. Their attacking football and array of technical players have together created a highly successful and energetic side that can beat any team they like in the second tier. Their attacking movement is down to Herrlich’s foundation as much as Beierlorzer’s actual match tactics, but it’s been fun to look at and entertaining to follow. Add their ability to score late goals to that and you have a perfect mix.

Coach Beierlorzer was interviewed by ‘Heute im Stadion’ and he said that the team has continuously showed great unity. He further explains that he’s no supporter of sitting back to defend and that he liked his team to attack both with and without the ball. This has become obvious. As stated, Jahn have been nice to look at and their aggressive and attacking movement has created problems for the best of defences in the brilliant second tier of German football. However, their rise is also down to continuity. As with Darmstadt, it seems like they’ve kept hold of many squad players from their years in the Regionalliga. This is a clever move from the Regensburg board as squad continuity can be a great way to keep a team together. And for a side like the Bavarian minnows from Regensburg, togetherness can make a real and proper difference.

Players like Marco Grüttner and Marvin Knoll are key performers of this minimal side. They seem to be playing with lots of width and try to exploit the flanks through good wingers and wing-backs. They combine this with having a rather primitive Sturmer up top in Grüttner whose sole purpose is to draw attention and score goals. The defensive midfielders tend to take turns in attack and one of them provide support when they decide to overload the opposition. Knoll’s great vision on his flank becomes key for Jahn as he acts as the wide playmaker, the Marc Schnatterer of Jahn Regensburg and creates opportunities as a cheap-line article. It’s a wise way to play attacking football and it’s very successful.

The main goal for this yo-yo side should be to stay up, preferably for a few years. If they do stay for a few years, then they can make the step to Bundesliga in a few year’s time. Zweite Bundesliga is a crazy league where absolutely anything can happen. However, the main goal for die Rothosen should be avoiding relegation. Some continuity for this notorious yo-yo club would certainly do good and might prove very important financially as well.

It is always great to witness smaller clubs emerge from the depths. Jahn Regensburg do have a rich history but haven’t had many successful stints. Perhaps this season marks the beginning of one, maybe this beautiful Jahn is the beginning of a new Regensburg identity. One thing is certain, however, Jahn Regensburg will stay up and we will be seeing much more of them in the future.

By Axel Falk.

 

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