November 18, 2017

2015/16 Season Preview: 1.FC Kaiserslautern

Kaiserslautern ultras

1. FC Kaiserslautern

  • Nickname: die roten Teufel (The Red Devils)
  • Founding Year: 1900
  • Stadium Name: Fritz-Walter-Stadion (49,780 capacity)
  • Colors: Red and White
  • Rivals: Karlsruher SC, SV Waldhof Mannheim, 1. FC Saarbrücken, Eintracht Frankfurt, Bayern München and 1. FSV Mainz

2014-15 Finishes

  • 2. Bundesliga: 4th place (56 points, +14 GD)
  • DFB Pokal: 3rd Round (0-2 AET loss to Bayer Leverkusen)
  • Top Goal Scorer: Phillipp Hoffmann (8 in all competition)

“60-second dossier”

  • Number of Matches won by 2 or more goals: 6
  • Number of Matches won by 1 goal: 8
  • Number of Matches drawn: 14
  • Number of Matches lost by 1 goal: 3
  • Number of Matches lost by 2 or more goals: 3
  • Number of matches in which a lead was blown, resulting in loss: 2
  • Number of matches in which a lead was blown, resulting in draw: 5
  • Number of matches in which a deficit was overcome to earn a draw: 5
  • Number of matches in which a deficit was overcome to earn victory: 2

2014-15 Season Summary

In recent season, the promotion/relegation playoff between the 3rd place Bundesliga side the top flight’s 3rd worst team have left plenty of memories. Without a shadow of a doubt, Kaiserslautern’s CEO Stefan Kuntz bursting into tears while facing the vociferous FCK supporters after the club came short of an immediate return to Bundesliga was the picture of the 2012-13 playoff. Since that night, Hoffenheim has sniffed at a European place, while the Reds Devils finished just outside the top three in the Zweite Liga for a couple of seasons running. Last season, saw a repeat 4th place finish; additionally, Leverkusen got their revenge for the previous campaign’s quarter finals reverse in the DFB-Pokal.

However, even after losing to fellow promotion-hopefuls Darmstadt on Matchday 31, Kaiserslautern were 2nd in the table, which would have guaranteed them a direct promotion to the promised land. Yet a crushing defeat at home against relegation-threatened St. Pauli and two consecutive draws in the remaining three fixtures left Kosta Runjaić’s troops outside the top three.

One of FCK’s obvious weaknesses was their abysmal away form. They had the joint best home record along with Darmstadt, but only picked up three wins on the road throughout the entire campaign. Moreover, the club spent all season trying to replace the scoring output of former club top scorer, Mohamadou Idrioussou, who departed during the 2014 summer.

Whether goals galore or lack of them, FCK fans are some of the best in Germany though. On the season’s last day, Kaiserslautern were dependent in results elsewhere to secure promotion, but a sellout crowd went to the match against Champions Ingolstadt at Fritz-Walter-Stadion. In a time where selling the stadium name right is common and understandable by fans, Kaiserslautern are one of the few clubs to pay tribute to its legend. Actually, make that Germany’s legend. Fritz Walter captained West Germany in the 1954 World Cup to their first triumph on the prestigious tournament. Winning the league only after earning promotion a season earlier in 1997-98 is an undisputed highlight of the club’s Bundesliga history. But they couldn’t follow-up on this unthinkable success, though, as they are now heading to their 4th consecutive seasons in the 2. Bundesliga.

For FCK, The summer transfer market narrative was dominated by cog players moving on. After almost a decade at ‘Lautern, ever-present Tobias Sippel joined high-flying Borussia Mönchengladbach, and just before the start of the UEFA U21 championship, Dominik Heintz signed with the Devils’ arch rivals, 1. FC Köln. On the other end of the pitch, fellow U21 international Phillipp Hoffmann joined English Championship side Bournemouth. Another member of Germany’s squad in Czech Republic this summer, Amin Younes returned back to ‘Gladbach after a one-year loan deal before a surprising move see him heading to Ajax Amsterdam. Youngsters Willi Orban and Karim Demirbay also saw the exit door, with the former signed for league rivals RB Leipzig and the latter hoping to break into Hamburg lineup on his return from a decent loan spell at Red Devils. Another regular starter Karim Matmour calls a day on his long-serving Germany career with a move to Kuwaiti Premier League.

2014-15 Trivia

Despite playing only half of the season at ‘Lautern, a mere six goals were enough to see Srđan Lakić finishing top of the club’s scoring chart, in the company of youngsters Phillipp Hoffmann and Alex Ring.

Money Matters

Apart from Freiburg – a club that saw their six-years stay in the Bundesliga come to a sad end – Kaiserslautern are drawing a huge profit from this summer’s transfer business. However, the money earned from selling players hasn’t been dished out for replacements, as instead sporting director Markus Schupp likes to dig deep in the market.

With a brace just thirty minutes into his debut, Kacper Przybylko showed plenty of promise for an early candidate for the bargain of the season. Putting aside the disappointing campaign in the Bundesliga last term, snatching the highly-talented Daniel Halfar on free-transfer could also be a great coup.

Summary: € 4.5 mil (€ 5.9 mil earned and € 1.45 mil spent)

Arrivals:

  • Patrick Ziegler (from SC Paderborn 07) – 800,000 €
  • Kacper Przybylko (from SpVgg Greuther Fürth) – 400,000 €
  • Zlatan Alomerovic (from Borussia Dortmund) – 200,000 €
  • Lukas Görtler (from FC Bayern Munich II) – 50,000 €
  • Jón Dadi Bödvarsson (from Viking Stavanger) – free transfer
  • Daniel Halfar (from 1. FC Köln) – free transfer
  • Stipe Vucur (from FC Erzgebirge Aue) – free transfer
  • Sascha Mockenhaupt (from VfR Aalen) – free transfer
  • Erik Wekesser (promoted from 1.FC Kaiserslautern U19)
  • Loan returns: Leon Jessen (FC Ingolstadt 04), Stefan Mugosa (FC Erzgebirge Aue), Jan-Lucas Dorow (1.FSV Mainz 05 II) and Christopher Drazan (LASK Linz, Austria)

Departures:

  • Willi Orban (to RB Leipzig) – 2,000,000 €
  • Philipp Hofmann (to Brentford FC) – 1,900,000 € – € 1.9 mil
  • Dominique Heintz (to 1. FC Köln) – 1,500,000 € – € 1.5 mil
  • Ariel Borysiuk (to Lechia Gdansk, previously on loan) – 800,000 €
  • Christopher Drazan (to LASK Linz, Austria) – Free transfer
  • Tobias Sippel (to Borussia Mönchengladbach)
  • Karim Matmour (Al-Arabi Sporting Club, Kuwait)
  • Leon Jessen (Esbjerg fB, Denmark) – Undisclosed fee
  • End of Loan: Kevin Stöger (VfB Stuttgart), Simon Zoller (1. FC Köln), Amin Younes (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Kerem Demirbay (Hamburger SV)

(All figures courtesy of transfermarkt.co.uk)

The Boss

It was Kaiserslautern Kosta Runjaić played against on his debut as Duisburg manager. The fact that the Austrian couldn’t made into a top division club in his playing career coupled with his notable post was as a manager of a little club in 3. Liga goes by the name of SV Darmstadt, Runjaić was anonymous figure when he took the reign at one of the original clubs of the Bundesliga.

Though he endured defeat on his baptism, Runjaić helped cellar-dweller Duisburg to finish in a respectable 11th place at the end of the season. But that wasn’t enough to keep the Zebras at the second-tier, as they denied a license for financial reasons, leading Runjaić to resign from his post. Having started his managerial career with Kaiserslautern II, he returned to FCK the next season after a shaky start from Franco Foda’s side, and his first couple of seasons at the club saw them finish just outside the promotion places.

With a resounding win at his former club Duisburg in the curtain-raiser, Runjaić sent the clear message that he wants to take the next level with the traditional-laden club: the Bundesliga.

Odds to win league

  • Bwin = 9/1
  • Sportingbet = 6/1
  • Bet365 = 11/2

Five-Year Record

  • 2010/11 (Bundesliga): 7th place (46 points, -3 GD), (DFB-Pokal): QF.
  • 2011/12 (Bundesliga): 18th place (23 points, -30 GD), (DFB-Pokal): 3rd Round.
  • 2012/13 (2. Bundesliga): 3rd place (58 points, 22 GD), Relegation/promotion playoff defeat vs. Hoffenheim (agg: 2-5), (DFB-Pokal): 2nd Round.
  • 2013/14 (2. Bundesliga): 4th place (54 points, 16 GD), (DFB-Pokal): Semis.
  • 2014/15 (2. Bundesliga): 4th place (56 points, 14 GD), (DFB-Pokal): 3rd Round.

Questions with a Club Fan

Many thanks to team members at Betzenglisha site providing the latest FCK news, reports, articles and more since April 2011, especially Johannes (@d_cantona7) for answering the questions.

  • Keep an eye out for . . . “Lukas Görtler. He’s only 21 years old and just joined from Bayern Munich’s under-23 team. He seems to be a huge talent and I’m excited for what he could achieve this season.”
  • Terrace favorite . . . “Has to be Manfred Osei Kwadwo. We haven’t seen that much of him last season but he looks very promising and is already a fan favorite. He’s only 20 years old and I’d hope that he gets enough play time so he can prove that he’s a skilled player.”
  • Player you’d happily drive to another club . . . “For now, no one. I can’t think of anyone I’d desperately like to get rid of but I’m glad that Philipp Hofmann and Christopher Drazan both left the club.”
  • Advice you’d give your manager . . . “Please, don’t play with only one striker because that didn’t work out for us that well most of the games last season. Also I’d like to see him give players like Osei Kwadwo and Mugosa a chance to play more often.”
  • Opposition player you secretly admire . . . “SC Freiburg’s Nils Petersen, who could play a great season, if he keeps scoring like in the first games.”
  • Opposition player you despise . . . “Has got to be Yussuf Poulsen (RB Leipzig). Although a very talented player, he’s just extremely annoying to watch on the pitch because to me he seems to be diving and complaining all the time.”
  • Tip you’d give away fans . . . “We have a huge stadium in Kaiserslautern so lots of away fans can and should come to the games so a great atmosphere can be created together with (or rather by shouting and singing against) the home fans.”
  • Where will you finish . . . “I’d say either 4th of 5th place although I really hope that we’ll be promoted but it’s going to be difficult this season considering teams like Leipzig, Freiburg and Nürnberg.”

Crucial Fixtures Stretch

Die roten Teufel were rampant in the season opener at Duisburg, as three frantic first-half goals secured them the first three-points of the campaign. They were held by Eintracht Braunschweig for a goalless draw at home the next weekend, resulting in them placed in a familiar third-place already behind Freiburg and Bochum.

It’d be difficult to predict how the season will unfold, but going by recent campaigns, the final weeks might prove to be vital in the promotion race. Kaiserslautern will entertain everyone’s favorite (unfavorite at the same time) for promotion, RB Leipzig, on matchday 30, before wrapping up things at St. Pauli (unless they finished third and consequently went to playoffs).

Verdict

Well, one could say Kaiserslautern are one of the traditional clubs in Germany, thus deserve to play in the Bundesliga. The problem is, 2. Bundesliga is currently not short of clubs that saw glorious years in top-flight football one time or another.

Additionally, it was the surprising sides’ Ingolstadt and Darmstadt dreams of making the huge leap to Bundesliga that comes true in stead of a return of Nürnberg, Kaiserslautern or 1860 Munchen(?).

Add to that, Leipzig are still around with their infamous Red Bull support, so its all up for grabs. Still if you insist on throwing some prediction, I’d say; I am not known for being optimistic, but something tells me it’d be joyful tears at the end of the season for Stefan Kuntz this term (promotion).

 

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Eskender born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Despite the geographical difference, he is interested in every detail of German football. He breathes football to the point that he gets pleasure from nutmegging his innocent kid. You can also follow him on Twitter @eskeBMG