A collection of thoughts from 1. FC Köln’s 0:4 win at SV Meppen in the first round of the DFB Cup.
What it Means
The overwhelmingly positive vibes from a successful summer can continue relatively unchecked as the effzeh head toward Sunday’s Bundesliga opener with unbroken confidence, having survived the always-tricky premise of facing a highly motivated opponent from a lower tier which, unlike Bundesliga clubs, has also already begun its competitive season.
It also means that fans can maintain hope that 2015 will see the end of a lengthy stretch without hosting a cup match. The last time Müngersdorf hosted in the DFB Pokal, the home side fell to MSV Duisburg 1:2 in a third-round match, three days before Christmas 2010.
Though, the club might be just as happy to postpone a home match in the competition in exchange for another lower-league opponent, especially were it FC Viktoria Köln of the 3. Liga, which beat 1. FC Union Berlin to allow hope for a local derby for a second-round Pokalspiel.
45 Seconds and Ujah who?
Three-quarters of a minute was all it took Anthony Modeste to get effzeh fans to shake free any lingering anger toward the Anthony who was in order to begin fully celebrating the Anthony who is.
The new acquisition from Hoffenheim put himself into the 1. FC Köln annals by tallying the fastest goal in a DFB Pokal match in club history, showing a scorer’s work ethic and touch by running onto Dominique Heintz’s pass from the other side of the center line and meeting it with a first-touch shot that was too much for Meppen keeper Benjamin Gommert.
As if that weren’t enough, Modeste grabbed a second from the penalty spot and a third late in the match, while exhibiting a high work rate and pummeling the Meppen goal with shots in between.
The last guy to deliver a hat trick in the DFB Pokal in service to the effzeh? Lukas Podolski.
Rising – Marcel Risse
We have known, because we have seen, that Marcel Risse can be a true threat in an attacking offense. With the focus on well-organized defense the last two seasons, Risse’s creative game has often taken a back seat to positioning priorities.
On Saturday, though, Risse showed a bit of a hybrid game, using his speed to patrol the entire right flank, especially after moving from midfield to right back after halftime. While too many of his teammates seemed contented to send balls toward Modeste directly over the top, Risse pushed play up the right side and continually sought his new teammate with dangerous crosses.
This could end up being a breakout season for the right midfielder from Kalk. Keep an eye on him.
Rising – Leonardo Bittencourt
It’s hard to say that a guy’s stock is rising when he’s so new to the team and arrived with plenty of esteem already, but Bittencourt’s presence on the left side of the midfield is showing potential for great improvement in an area of need.
The speed possessed by the former Hannover 96 talent is a well-known commodity, but the way Bittencourt uses it to not only create space on his side and put the attack into high gear, but also to get into position for defensive battles when the opposition is trying to move the ball through his territory, is really shining through. On several occasions, Bittencourt sprinted in pursuit of a Meppen player in possession and made deft tackles to turn a harmless defensive situation into a sincere counterattacking opportunity.
Additionally, Bittencourt is quick to attack the ball when the opponent first takes possession deep in their own end. In the case of a ball-insecure side like Meppen, it created multiple turnovers. Against Bundesliga sides, though it may not be quite that productive, it should help the defenders recover from their frequent forays forward.
Dropping – Milos Jojic
As with Bittencourt, you want it to be too early to call for changes in value for such a new player, but Jojic did himself few favors in Meppen Saturday as he looks to win playing time in a crowded midfield.
Though neither Jojic, nor fellow central mid Yuya Osako, did much to impress, Osako was at least in the area when the ball was being delivered into scoring situations. Jojic was often out of the picture when the action was taking place in front of the Meppen keeper, lingering outside the penalty box, rather than joining the flood of red uniforms toward the ball.
Once Risse moved to right back, Jojic shifted his play a bit to the right side, but still seemed more interested in floating outside the action than getting into it, which was made all the more noticeable when Risse continually moved up and down that flank with the ball to be the game’s most-productive creator.
Let’s hope coach Peter Stöger’s not-so-subtle hints about not being too impressed help spur the Serbian national into displaying his talent more-fully next chance he gets.
When it’s a case of a Bundesliga side playing a fourth-division side, a 0:4 result would seem to be about what you’d expect from the first-division club.
Yet, consider that the effzeh had a lead before a full minute had elapsed and that the 0:2 came from the penalty spot before the half-hour mark and came with the expulsion of Meppen’s starting keeper for a late challenge, and you can start to feel justified in saying that maybe the final margin should have been greater.
Despite a significant advantage in possession, the match got all the way to the 79th minute before the third goal arrived. The midfield seemed to be too comfortable holding the lead, opting for many long balls over the top, rather than using the live-game atmosphere to work on build-up play.
Even with all the long balls, the chances were there. The conversion rate was, hence, pretty miserable. The finishing will simply need to be cleaner when the Bundesliga opponents arrive this weekend.
But, again, it’s difficult to gauge these things in such a match. It’s difficult to measure a team when they are holding a two-goal lead against a fourth-division side down to ten men. They could have scored twice as many goals without really showing much more than they did.
The second round draw of the DFB Pokal takes place Friday, but Köln will do little more than briefly note their late-October opponent before quickly getting back to the business of Sunday’s Bundesliga opener at VfB Stuttgart.