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Rise of Die Wikinger: Part II – The Shield Wall Bends But It Rarely Breaks

Fresh off the victory over Schalke 04, Björn and his merry men returned to Sliasthorp and headed into what would be a very interesting month of August.

It all started with the decision to allow Portuguese goalkeeper Daniel Heuer Fernandes to leave for Benfica in exchange for £1m before beating Dynamo Dresden 1-0 at home.

The need for another attacking midfielder had been apparent for a while, and Björn, hearing of a young promising player named after Thor’s father emerging in Norway, didn’t think twice about pulling the metaphorical trigger and splashing £2m on the 18-year-old.

Odin Thiago Holm was thus signed, bringing much needed competition for Anssi Suhonen, who was already present at Sliasthorp when Björn took over and immediately received his stamp of approval due to his Finnish origins.

Two player sales (Jan Gyamerah to Portimonense SC and David Kinsombi to Union Berlin) and three wins followed before what should have been a rather straightforward game away against 1. FC Heidenheim.

Whether it was too much mead the night before or simply a bout of overconfidence, it ultimately didn’t matter, as Sliasthorp suffered their first defeat of the season, and it was fully deserved.

Tim Kleindienst and all of his 194cm battered the, until now very solid, Sliasthorp shield wall with so much power that he broke through and scored himself a brace as his team put three past Swedish goalkeeper Marko Johansson.

If that wasn’t enough, the following week saw Sonny Kittel, one of the best players in the squad, damage his knee cartilage, keeping him out for the next 2-3 months.

This meant it was time for newly-signed 18-year-old Andreas Bredahl to step up, and that he did.

Sliasthorp bounced back from their loss with five straight wins, scoring six and conceding none, almost as if they had a point to prove, standing stronger with every assault, digging their heels into the ground and keeping their shields close together.

They began to tire, however, and SC Paderborn 07 found a way through, beating Die Wikinger 2-1, which forced Björn to take some drastic measures.

Joakim Nilsson, on the transfer list at Arminia Bielefeld, was signed ahead of the January transfer window, as Ironside sought to find a left-footed centre-back to add more balance to his defence.

He also made a tactical change, deciding on a more attacking 4-2-3-1 formation in an attempt to fight back against his opponents and showcase the strength of his increasingly Viking squad.

Decent results followed, starting with a 1-1 draw away to third placed Karlsruher SC, two wins against Jahn Regensburg and FC Ingolstadt 04, before Hannover 96 somehow held firm against Die Wikinger to pick up an undeserved point with their 0.30xG against Sliasthorp’s 1.69.

With two games left before the winter break, which would allow many of Björn’s men to return home and see their family, and little money left in the bank, the last thing needed was an injury.

However, the Norns had different plans, spinning the threads of fate at will, as Andreas Bredahl, who had supplanted Kittel at this point, fractured his foot, leaving him out for the next 3-4 months.

Things went from bad to worse, as Hansa Rostock fouled their way to a 1-0 win on Sliasthorp’s home turf, fighting dirty with 30 fouls, six yellow cards and their goalkeeper picking up the Player of the Match award and an 8.1 rating.

This was now the midway point in the 2.Bundesliga campaign, and while Björn Ironside and his men were top with 38 points, the gap with Fortuna Düsseldorf was only three points.

Next up? Schalke at home, with the Gelsenkirchen side thirsty for revenge after losing 2-0 to Die Wikinger in the opening game of the season…

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