Unlike me, you probably know a little bit about the Bundesliga. If you’re like me, though, you don’t know much about 1. FC Köln. In advance of tomorrow’s opening Europa League match, I went lookin’ for some help on that particular topic. Since SBN doesn’t have a Köln blog, I landed, metaphorically, on Jason York, managing editor of SBN’s Bayern Munich blog, Bavarian Football Works.
While BFW obviously isn’t an expert on all things Köln, they know a lot more about them than we do, so Jason graciously offered to answer some of our questions. There’s no other side to this post, because again, they’re not a Köln blog, but here’s what Jason had to say about tomorrow’s opponent.
TSF: Like Arsenal, Köln finished 5th last season. Was this a good finish or a disappointment?
Finishing fifth last season was surprising for Köln but it was the culmination of a trend that saw 12th- and ninth-place finishes in the prior two seasons after winning promotion for the 2013-14 season. The Geissböcke, or Billy Goats, snatching a place in Europe is the peak of the possible trajectory.
TSF: Is Köln prioritizing the Europa League this season, or will they focus on improving their Bundesliga standing?
Losing the first three games of the Bundesliga campaign, and sitting at the bottom of the table, squarely puts the focus on maintaining top-flight status, which will eventually require someone scoring goals. That being said, Köln will enjoy the Europe adventure, the club’s first in quite some time, but the focus will be on getting off the bottom of the table and securing its survival.
3. What formation does Köln typically employ, and do they have the right players to execute it well?
The eye test will give you a 4-4-2 at times, but it’s mostly a 4-2-3-1 and personnel-wise it clearly lacks a forward with the ability to trouble the defense. Anthony Modeste scored 40 goals in the previous two seasons and is now on a two-year loan in the Chinese Super League after a permanent move fell to China through. There is some potential in young Colombian forward Jhon Cordoba, who came over from Mainz after last season, but that’s going to need to translate to goals quickly and he had only six goals in 31 appearances last season.
TSF: What are Köln's expectations for the Europa League this season?
Even with the nightmare start to the Bundesliga season, the expectation would be for the club to advance past the group stage, but Köln has one goal in three Bundesliga matches this season. The goals have to come from somewhere to secure passage to the knockout stage. The club’s best player, Jonas Hector, is firmly established with Germany at left back but he is creeping into the midfield now for Köln though that’s not where he talents run rampant.
TSF: Fill in the blank: In order to beat Köln, Arsenal must (blank)
Score first, as it will be an easier road to navigate if Köln is forced to chase the game.
Thanks again to Jason and BFW for taking the time to chat with us.