Some thoughts from 1. FC Köln’s 2:1 come-from-behind victory over Hamburger SV as we head into the international break with seven points:
How We Got There and What it Means
There is no getting around it: the effzeh are incredibly fortunate to have won the three points.
Though neither side was too impressive in the first half, it was the guests who had the better balance of play, so when Hamburg took the lead early in the second half, it was difficult to see how Köln was going to be able to salvage even a single point.
But even as Hamburg continued to be the better side, they weren’t exactly an impressive side, which left things open to a game-changing play, whether it stem from a moment of brilliance, a lapse in attention, or a combination of the two.
It turned out to be more a matter of slack defending, when it’s all said and done, that opened the door for the hosts to get even. Jonas Hector (football god) was given ample room to move on the left flank from which to send a cross into the area, where substitute Philipp Hosiner occupied territory almost equidistant between central defenders Cleber and Emer Spahic from which he tidily finished for his Budesliga debut goal in the 76th minute. Credit to JHFG and Hosi for their work, but also thanks to HSV defending being what it often has been the last few years.
The go-ahead goal probably has to be credited to Denis Aytekin, who put Modeste at the spot after he stumbled over the ball on a breakaway chance, just five minutes after Hosiner’s equalizer. Because Spahic was chasing from behind with a hand in the small of the striker’s back, Aytekin must have seen Modeste heading to the turf as the result of a push. Spahic’s leg also met Modeste’s foot to provide a little extra contact, but everything appears on replay to have come after or incidental to Modeste’s own stumbling while trying to not overrun the ball.
Modeste’s conversion from the spot was a more-decisive matter, drilling home the game-winner confidently with Bundesliga debutant Andreas Hirzel, who came on in the first half for starter Rene Adler when Adler struggled to overcome a problem with his shoulder after a collision with Cleber, going the wrong way.
If the effzeh is to be credited for the result, it is for staying in a match in which they had not been the better side, much like what was shown in Stuttgart. Ultimately, the points are never awarded based on shots-attempted or possession. It comes down to the goals, and somehow the effzeh again managed to have more of them than the opponent who seemed to be enjoying the better game for most of the day.
The effzeh sit third at the end of Saturday action an will end the match day no worse than fourth in the table, pending the result of Sundays Dortmund-Hertha tilt.
Three matches into the regular season and we still don’t really know what we have. Stöger has not yet indicated that he’ll revert to last year’s plan of basing strategy more around keeping a clean sheet than anything else, but the pressing and attacking elements of the game have yet to look anything like what the summertime test matches had seemed to promise.
There were some signs of the new system settling in a bit last week, even with a return to a double-pivot in midfield, but there was none such today.
Still, the personnel available and Stöger’s tendency to base his philosphy on his roster tend to imply that there will be no backwards stepping. The attacking-style is coming, even if it’s slower to develop at the Bundesliga level than some had hoped from what was on display during the summer.
And, don’t underestimate the luxury of having seven points from the first three matches, when things don’t always look as good as you’d like.
There is no need to panic.
Rising – Milos Jojic
Though Jojic was on the field for only about 35 minutes total, he left behind his best impression yet.
The publicly vented criticism toward Jojic from his first Bundesliga match for Köln was that he needed to be more engaged and active.
And his play Saturday showed that the message was received loudly and clearly by the Serbian. Jojic was flying around the middle of the field for the games final half-hour and change.
But the moment that turned the game from “fortunate draw” to an “incredibly fortunate win” was triggered by a well-targeted long-distance first-touch pass that Jojic booted ahead of Hosiner would collect the ball and play it to Modeste who had a step on Spahic.
You know the rest.
It was a promising appearance by Jojic, for whom the club have high hopes. We’ll see whether it helps him work his way back into a starting role in two weeks.
Falling – Simon Zoller
Granted, it would have been difficult for Zoller to maintain his hot streak, much less the goal-scoring run, but it can be said that the strike was a bit too anonymous on Saturday.
Zoller’s versatility allowed Stöger to move him into the right flank for Marcel Risse who went to right back in place of the substituted Olkowski, all making way for Hosiner who turned out to be a pivotal figure in the end scenario. Other than that, though, Zoller simply offered far too little on the day and maybe is at risk of a return to the bench in favor of a returning Yuya Osako or for a redemption chance for Jojic.
Falling – Pawel Olkowski
For three consecutive matches, Olkowski has been unimpressive. The most-consistent offensive threat, as far as there was one, for HSV was Ivo Ilicevic emerging from Olkowski’s territories.
He also continued to show a willingness and desire to move forward to support attacking play, but he was no more effective there than he was in defense.
Essentially, the club had wagered on Olkowski being the long-term solution at right back. It had appeared a good bet based on last year’s pre-injury form, but that has yet to be seen this season.
Man of the Match
Giving it to Philipp Hosiner.
Does he score the equalizer without a flat-footed HSV defense leaving him to run free
in the penalty area? Hard to say.
Could he have delivered a better pass to Modeste so he didn’t stumble while trying to stay behind the ball, even though the stumble actually led to the wrongfully awarded penalty that won the game? Maybe!
Hosiner’s Bundesliga debut had an undeniably tangible impact on the end result because he was instrumental in both Köln goals. He scored one and sent the pass to Modeste to get the other. He also had more shots on goal than anyone in white not named Anthony Modeste, even though he played less than half an hour.
You can nitpick at moments, for sure, but you can’t really ask for better results in what is ultimately a results-based business.
It’s a week off for international play before the Billy Goats take the prime time stage in the Saturday late game at Eintract Frankfurt.