Cathedral City Catharsis as Köln Breaks Home Doldrums

A quick reaction to FC Köln’s 4-2 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt.

What it Means

Catharsis.

Getting all three was important to all

When it’s said that “winning is the world’s best deodorant,” it’s exemplified by what happened Sunday in Köln after an awful February trickled into March to put a gun-shy fan base on edge.

Five-match run without a win? Ended.

Seven-match home stretch without a win? Likewise.

Offense that had produced just four goals in six weeks? Fine. Double that.

Bounced from Cup by relegation competition? Shelved for the time-being. Spin to, “Fine, we can now focus on staying up.”

After a win, impossible doesn’t exist.

Stock Watch

Rising –  Deyverson had been a man of mystery since arriving to the Geißbockheim late in the winter transfer period from Portugal, collecting a total of about half-an-hour of playing time over a handful of matches, never getting a chance to show much.

The new guy got his chance Sunday and announced himself with clarity. He asserted himself in a way you couldn’t help but notice, and when Timo Horn’s long kick sailed toward he and strike partner Anthony Ujah, Deyverson was instrumental in keeping the ball moving toward Eintracht’s goal in an ititial arial challenge before moving past Ujah’s own play and arriving at a bouncing ball he chipped over Kevin Trapp to give the home fans their first sight of a lead for their beloved team since January.

The beginning of a beautiful partnership?

Unfortunately, “Dive-erson quickly earned himself a new nickname even with fans of his team through an afternoon full of threatrics to go with the passionate play that got him an early yellow and eventually caused him to be substituted just after the hour mark. Fans will forgive a lot as long as the results are good, so if Deyversion is going to try to draw fouls through simulation and test the will of the officials, he’d better keep producing the way he did today.

Rising – Pawel Olkowski reminded everyone how valuable he is simply by returning to his normal right back position after a pair of matches playing elsewhere. When he’s playing solid two-way football from the defensive row, you can become mesmerized by his skill. A pass threaded through to Ujah late in the first half showed both why it’s tempting to play him in the midfield but also why he’s such a valuable commodity at right back.

Unfortunately, Olkowski was forced to leave the game late due to injury and did not appear as if he would have come back were there more game to be played. His would be a big loss to the EffZeh.

Falling – Recent weeks have seen Kevin Wimmer’s name increasingly mentioned as a target of Tottenham Hotspur. Perhaps all the questions about it have distracted the normally unflappable central defender, because he looked somewhat out of sorts Sunday. He stood and watched helplessly as Alexander Meier used a second chance to equalize, and then made a bafflingly poor decision in added time to put Frankfurt at the spot for a needless penalty, but also got him sent off with a straight red. If Olkowski’s not healthy, that’s 50% of the usual back four gone for next week’s match in Dortmund . . . at least.

Rising – Special mention for Dominic Maroh, because he had an outstanding game, especially considering his partner in the central defense did not.

Maroh was a head above everyone Sunday . . . get it? Head above?

 

Meier and Haris Seferovic are a handful in Thomas Schaaf’s offense, and Maroh and Wimmer had them largely in check, at least for the first half. Things got more shaky in the second, but Maroh made a few crucial last-second challenges to keep the match level as Eintracht pressed for goals.

Panic Over and/or Overrated?

The dissatisfaction with Peter Stöger vis-a-vis the team’s home and offensive struggles had recently grown to produce a vocal number of fans who were ready for the coach to be replaced.

But even as Köln dropped to 13th in the table with the entire bottom half of the league standings pretty tight, how valid were the concerns?

It may not have felt like it, but Köln entered the seventh match of the Rückrunde with the same point total from the preceding six matches as they had done when they visited Frankfurt in the Hinrunde. Even after losing at Eintracht in the fall and dropping to what has been the season-low table position of 14th with just six points, things felt somewhat optimistic for maybe even a mid-table finish, rather than the relegation avoidance that is the goal.

Now, Sunday’s victory has Köln three points ahead of their first-half pace with ten matches to go and fresh wind in the sails. You can believe there is more than one fan in the Cathedral City who was yelling “Stöger Raus!” last week and is now singing about a trip to the Europapokal.

Because that’s Köln.

Match Ball

I’m giving it to Hennes for his survival of the all-out assault launched on him by Anthony Ujah after our Kölsche Jung scored the 4:1.

Geissbockgate?

But Tony knows he was the man of this match, right Tönn?

Ujah exploited the fact that fouls are only fouls if the official calls them, taking out a Frankfurt challenger for Timo Horn’s launch so it could continue a path toward it’s fate of giving Deyverson his debut EffZeh goal and the 1:0.

We’ll not be too sad about the blown shot at doubling the lead, since he helped provide a similar opportunity later for Yuya Osako who was not stopped by Trapp to blow the match open at 3:1 shortly before Ujah would get his own and trigger what is maybe going to go down in 1. FC Köln lore as “Geissbockgate.”

With Deyverson giving Köln a second scoring threat up front, Ujah looks all the more dangerous . . . but it’s just one game, at least so far.

Next?

It’s a trip to Signal Iduna park to face Borussia Dortmund for the Saturday night match of match day 25. Dortmund, who just had their four-match winning streak ended in a draw at Hamburger SV, had been the only team to lose to Köln at Müngersdorf before Sunday.

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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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