Köln Breaks Goal Drought in Draw with Hannover

A quick reaction to 1. FC Köln’s 1:1 draw with Hannover 96.

Starting line-up and formation

What it Means

Official company line: “We are in the relegation fight we anticipated we would be in. Hence, every point is important.”

So, yes, a point is good news in that respect.

Also good news, a goal!

The match looked eerily similar to the Hinspiel in many aspects, but most obviously the one where Hannover took an early lead through a Joselu goal. Unlike the 1:0 loss at HDI-Arena in September, the FC responded with more than just pressure. Anthony Ujah equalized in the 17th minute for Köln’s first goal in February and their first goal at home in 2015.

And aside from several huge chances, that was it, though chances are also something that have been lacking in recent weeks, so maybe there is a chance of more coming.

The bad news is that the draw delivered just the fourth point from last seven home matches for the EffZeh. With the bottom of the table steadily rising toward the Billy Goats, the pressure is certainly going to increase. Worse, it’s hard to see where the next points will be won,

Home matches are already difficult, so Eintracht Frankfurt’s uneven start to the season does not necessarily make them an attractive guest. Much less so the recent form of Werder Bremen, who only today dropped their first points of the season.

But the road, where Köln has made themselves more at home than they had been at Müngersdorf this season, is looking pretty rough for the next little bit. Friday night is Köln’s turn at the Allianz Arena, where it’s unlikely Pep Guardiola will let 1860 play in Bayern’s stead. On the other side of the Frankfurt home match, it’s a trip to rejuvenated Borussia Dortmund, who’ve scored ten goals during their current three-match winning streak.

Still, we’ll need to remember that the relegation fight was expected, even if an abject lack of success at home was not.

Stock Watch

“Bro! You sure you don’t want to come out here and get in on this? It’s a blast!

Rising –  Many, many thought there was a chance that Anthony Ujah was about to get some time to watch his teammates play in a Denkpause (break for reflection). The out-of-form striker had been particularly ineffective the last three matches, resulting in his being substituted much earlier than he’d normally be.

Ujah’s energy and goal today reminded everyone why Peter Stöger might rightfully be hesitant to bench him. Köln’s adopted son from Nigeria was all over the pitch and frequently in the middle of offensive chances.

Could he have done more? Certainly. But what we also have to remember is that it’s the problems of connective play by the midfield that poses problems for Ujah’s game. The fact is, when he’s getting help from there, especially when the opposition plays somewhat conservatively, he can be incredibly dangerous.

“Let me show you how it’s done, young one!”

Rising – Happy birthday Slawomir Peszko!

For a guy who turned 30 this week, you’re looking spry.

Peszko definitely brought some energy to the match, particularly when the ball was headed toward the opposition goal. He’s not going to win awards for his defensive contributions, but the EffZeh look more dangerous in attack with Peszko running free. He’s not a striker, nor does he finish like one, which made a big difference approaching the 70th minute when his shot was held by Ron-Robert Zieler, but he does help things flow forward more dangerously than Marcel Risse or Daniel Halfar have managed to facilitate of late.

Falling – Am I being harsh when I say I’ve seen enough of Yuya Osako for a while? His presence in offense is notable, but his game today can be summarized thus: ran around a lot, got onto the ball a few times in opportune spots but to no result, fell down a lot.

It felt like he either was hoping for the referee to bail him out or he’s not strong enough to handle Bundesliga defenders. Either way, he’s too ineffective to be 50% of a two-pronged attack. We’ve yet to see anything resembling a complete game from him.

Falling – Did anyone really miss the Ultras?

On the television broadcast, you could tell that the stadium was not as vocal as usual. At the very least, the choreographed chants and songs were not as present as they usually are in even the away matches, but I’d expect that some younger groups who reject banned pyro and idiotic violence would be happy to emerge to fill that void. It might take time, but if the young boys who believe people are paying membership dues and buying tickets for the honor of experiencing their work decide to leave permanently, there was little sign in the stadium today that the majority of fans wouldn’t be happy to help them pack their stuff and hold the door open for them to leave.

The pair wearing t-shirts combining to say “Ball in. Idiots out.” had it on the nose.

There were some signs protesting the punishment of the ultras, but many more uniting against violence.


Match Ball

Timo Horn . . . as if it were even possible for his value to get much higher for Köln right now.

Horn stopped a big chance early when the match was still scoreless. When things got a little unhinged and became a back-and-forth battle in the second half, he kept the score level. Horn’s counterpart Zieler saw a lot more shots launched his way and saw more of the action in his end, but the most-dangerous shots came off Hannover boots, with Horn equal to the multiple challenges.

There’s a good chance that, when the season is finished and relegation is (hopefully) avoided, that we’ll speak of Timo Horn as being the primary difference in 1. FC Köln’s fate. The defense-first philosophy helps a lot, but Horn continues to come up big when his team needs him. He gives Köln repeated chances to win. You can’t ask for much more than that.


Friday Night Lights in Munich!

Bayern won 0:2 in Köln earlier in the Hinspiel in which Köln had exactly one big chance and otherwise played extremely defensively, which caused Arjen Robben to take a bit of a jab at the defeated Billy Goats after the match, saying teams can’t really compete if they don’t actually play football.

As if diving in the box against Mexico is all about “playing football.”

Expect a single-striker formation and every possible precaution to avoid repeating the mistakes of Joe Zinnbauer’s Hamburger SV en route to an 8:0 beat-down.

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Randall Hauk is a freelance writer living in the United States while covering German football. He is currently the publisher of Planet Effzeh, an English-language site covering 1. FC Köln. He wrote about the German national team for the Telegraph as part of their World Cup Nation coverage.

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