With three games played in the new 2019/20 Bundesliga season and the first international break upon us, it seems a good time to take stock of the early season fate of the three promoted sides. Next up 1.FC Köln.
After winning promotion at the first time of asking, Köln’s main task this season is to avoid the yo-yo effect that has plagued them over the past few years. The Geißböcke have been promoted six times in the last 19 years, but conversely have also suffered relegation back to the second tier five times.
The 2017/18 Bundesliga season will serve as a stark reminder as to the importance of a good start, and at least this time around they have some points on the board early on.
Achim Beierlorzer began his tenure with a 2-1 away defeat at VfL Wolfsburg, which saw Köln easily beaten with only a late goal from Simon Terodde putting a slight sheen on the result.
Their first home game saw title aspirants Borussia Dortmund as the visitors to the Rhein-Energie Stadion and a fantastic first-half effort saw them go in 1-0 up after energetically pressing the Schwarzgelben and showing a real desire to please their passionate home fans. Ultimately, BVB’s quality shone through and they emerged 3-1 victors, but there was plenty of plus points for the Billy Goats to take forward.
Those plus points turned into actual points in their next fixture as they left the Schwarzwaldstadion with all three points against a Freiburg side that had won its previous two games. An own goal from Rafael Czichos looked like the writing was on the wall for Köln again, but an Anthony Modeste goal seven minutes into the second half levelled things, before a marvellous injury time solo effort from Ellyes Skhiri sealed a much-needed win.
Three points from three games is a satisfactory tally, but more pleasing is the quality shown in their last two matches which has indicated the club should (stress should!) have what it takes to retain their Bundesliga status this season.
It really has been the new summer signings, who have grabbed the attention in the opening few games. Tunisian midfielder Ellyes Skhiri has one goal and two assists already and is showing signs of being a very astute capture at just €6 million from Montpellier.
Fellow midfielder Birger Verstraete has been an ever-present so far and has demonstrated that his defensive presence gives Köln more solidity in the middle. He’s got an 83% pass accuracy and has won 50% of his challenges.
Fullback Kingsley Ehizibue, while showing signs of inexperience, has impressed winning 73.3% of his challenges. He has shown great pace and will not be easily beaten down the flank (as Thorgan Hazard and Jadon Sancho discovered). He has had the most ball contacts per 90 minutes of any Köln player averaging 70.
The first game back after the international break couldn’t be anymore mouth-watering for Köln as they face rivals Borussia Mönchengladbach in the Rheinderby a home.
Next up is a trip to the Allianz Arena to face champions Bayern, so the first two games back after the international interval couldn’t be tougher for last season’s Bundesliga.2 champions.
They then return to home soil with Hertha Berlin the visitors on matchday 6.
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