A match high on intensity, but low on creativity saw bottom sides Köln and Kaiserslautern share the points.
A game neither side could afford to lose pitted the worst defense in the league, Köln, against one of last year’s surprise packages, Kaiserslautern. Köln have so far conceded 8 goals, while Kaiserslautern only managed an embarrassing draw against FC Augsburg last week. Köln fans could stick their hopes on the stat that their club has never lost both of their first two home matches of a season while Kaiserslautern’s fans could take comfort in the fact that ”The Red Devils” have had a firm grip on Köln throughout the years, winning 35 of their matches and scoring 140 goals in the process. While Marco Kurz did not have any huge injury worries on his hand, his counter part had to deal with Kevin Pezzoni, Lukas Podolski and Michael Rensing all being injured or ill.
Both teams set out with a 4-4-2 formation.
1. FC Köln: Varvodic – Brecko, McKenna(Matuschyk 85’), Geromel, Eichner(Andrezinho 6’) – Lanig, Riether -Chihi, Peszko(Clemens 72’) – Jajalo, Novakovic
First half: Köln the slightly better team
The first half did not get off to a flying start and the first few minutes of the game were anemic in term of chances produced. Both teams emphasized the physical side of the game, resulting in a couple of rough challenges early on. Köln’s left back Christian Eigner had to be taken off the pitch with a heavily bleeding forehead after just six minutes.
Kaiserslautern managed to produce the first proper chance of the match after 17 minutes: Right back Florian Dick got the ball out on the right hand side and crossed the ball into the box to an unmarked Ivo Iličević: The Croat took the ball on the volley, and slotted the ball into the net from 14 meters.
Köln managed to produce their first chance of the game only two minutes later: Left winger Sławomir Peszko crossed the ball into the area, Kaiserslautern’s clearance landed on the edge of the 18 yard box, where Mato Jajalo went for broke with a shot that went past Kaiserslautern goalkeeper Kevin Trapp and into the right bottom corner of the goal, leveling the score.
The Billy Goats looked to take over the game but instead managed to produce only a couple of chances: Novakovic was denied from within the 5 yard box by a brilliant reflex save by Trapp after an excellent cross by Peszko. The Slovenian international managed to get the ball into the net one minute before half time, but the goal was not given by referee Knut Kircher because of Novakovic’s offside position. Adil Chihi had another big chance to give the team from the cathedral city the lead, but Kaiserslautern’s 21-year-old goalkeeper Trapp kept Chihi out when the two of them came one on one in the dying seconds of the first half.
Second half: Both teams trying hard, but still lacked creativity
Those who had hoped for a blistering second half with plenty of goal mouth action did not get what they had hoped for. Both teams were trying hard to create more goal opportunities but both struggled in the final third.
The first decent chance of the second half was wasted by Köln’s Chihi, who put the ball to the right of the goal from 14 meters in the 52 minute. Danish left back Leon Jessen got closest for Kaiserslautern with a volley in the 88th minute, but the ball did not hit its intended target.
All in all it has to be said that both teams lack one main ingredient to play well and effective, successful football at this moment: Confidence. Players of both teams were often making the wrong decisions when they carried the ball to the opponent’s final third, and made life difficult for themselves by looking to play the right pass instead of going for goal themselves. Both coaches have a lot of work ahead of them, with Marco Kurz certainly having his work cut out for him considering that his team is going play against a certain FC Bayern Munich next week.
However, both coaches can take comfort in the fact that both sides looked better than they did the last week. Solbakken seems to have drilled his defense much better than it was in the last couple of matches. Geromel and McKenna finally seemed to have an understanding for what the other one was doing. Martin Lanig and Sascha Riether seemed both less out-of-place than they did against Schalke. The Köln players managed the transition from attack to defense much better than in the last couple of matches. Köln’s passing game worked out much better than in the last two matches. More than 85% of the team’s passes found their intended target. Köln managed also for the first time this season to create more shots on goal than their opponents (12 vs 9). The only thing that was missing for ”The Billy Goats” today was the creative spark. And with Lukas Podolski coming back from injury Solbakken might be able to do something about that next week.
Kaiserslautern have managed to integrate their new signing Itay Shechter into the team. The Israeli striker was a menace against Köln’s right and left back, but suffered a lot from his team mates not being able to provide enough support. The best player for the Red Devils was Florian Dick, who was solid in defense, and who was involved in almost every dangerous attack Kaiserslautern created. The team outran their opponents by almost 2 kilometers today (115.3 km vs 113.4 km) and won 53.4% of their duels.
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