2014 Bundesliga Team Preview: FC Köln Should Survive After a 2-Year Absence
After a convincing championship run in Bundesliga 2, FC Köln are looking to ride the momentum to a successful season in the Bundesliga. It has been two years since the Billy Goats were in the top flight, but they will always be the first-ever winners of the league. Former Austrian international Peter Stöger is at the helm in Cologne and is preaching togetherness. They will now face the best of Germany and will struggle. In the end they will have just enough to stay in the Bundesliga.
Köln took the Bundesliga two title with three games to go and finished six points ahead of the competition. They took the title with the second-youngest team in the division and succeeded with great defense. The set a second-division record by conceding only 20 goals. That led to a +33-goal differential. They only lost four games on the season with one being the last match of the campaign after their promotion was secured.
Captain Miso Brecko leads the rock-solid defense. Mergim Mavraj could be alongside in the center of defense. Tomás Kalas came from Chelsea and should be one of the only changes in the back line rotation. Dominic Maroh, Jonas Hector and Kevin Wimmer are holdovers from last year’s team.
New arrival Kevin Vogt will have a role supporting the back line. He will team with either Adam Matuschyk or Matthias Lehman. They will be part of a team that parks the bus many times over the season.
Timo Horn is the No. 1 goalkeeper. He is starting his fourth year with the club.
When Köln needs creativity, it will be come from an improving midfield. When healthy, Daniel Halfar is one of the most creative players in the Bundesliga. He is even a starter when not at full fitness. Halfar is one of the important players for Köln that was picked from 1860 Munich. Although Halfar scored twice last year, it is his passing that makes others marvel.
Hometown boy Marcel Risse is often on the opposite side from Halfar. He contributed nine goals last season including tallying twice in three matches. Yannick Gerhardt skyrocketed through the Köln system and appeared in 29 matches last season.
Stöger knows he cannot just sit back and absorb attacks, so he is building with good attacking players. Anthony Ujah and Yuya Osako are the main pieces up front. Osako is already a star in Japan and can play a multitude of roles in the attack. He also came from 1860. Osako believes he can score more and will have that chance on the biggest stage in Germany.
Köln has some new faces to integrate and is dealing with a few injuries ahead of the season. They have to change some tactically to compete in the top tier. The management is less optimistic than the fans and hope to simply stay in the Bundesliga this season. The coach has said that staying up requires winning every third game. They have a better defensive core than most of the teams they will be fighting in the relegation battle.
2014-15 Record: 8-6-20, 30 points, 15th place.