1. FC Köln Player Ratings: Effzeh vs Borussia Dortumund

(Editorial Note: When I wrote this originally, I thought I saw Daniel Halfar assist the Kevin Vogt goal. Thanks to Sharorin/BlubBlubber, I reviewed the play and saw a different mop of hair doing the deed. My bad, y’all!)

First of all, I could give everyone on the team a ten just because there was so much potential for disappointment from Saturday’s match that never came to fruition. No matter how we got there, the three points at the end of the match belonged entirely to the Billy Goats, and my weekend was made all the more pleasant.

So, even when the referee at my son’s game disallowed Owen’s first-ever goal, I just let it roll. Did it help that I also had a Pumpkin Spice Latte in hand, allegedly spiked with brandy? Well, allegedly, it may have, but I can’t say. I do know for sure, though, that returning from international break to the first home goals and first home victory over one of the biggest clubs in the world (struggling, I know, but still . . .) had a nice warming effect that lingers even this late into the week.

I will hope that Stöger and the boys aren’t similarly continuing to relish the last victory, rather are preparing with continued intensity for the match in Bremen, which is maybe twice as much a “must win” situation for the opponent as last weekend’s was for the BVB.

Despite my euphoria, I’m sticking to my typical system. Plus-one for a play I like. Minus-one for a play I don’t. Plus-two or more for plays that make me smile. Minus-two or more for plays that make me want you substituted off for Thomas Bröker.

I should be nicer to Bröker. There was a time I liked watching him (at which Axel would scoff, I am sure).

Anyhow, the ratings . . .

Timo Horn – 3

Thanks to the turnover machines that were Henrik Mkhitaryan, Ilkay Güngodan, and Mats Hummels, young Timo did not face nearly as much action as some of the play of Marco Reus and Shinji Kagawa would have led one to think would come. A few of the shots that rolled his way were so weak that even I could have stopped them. This is not an exaggeration. I could have stopped, without question, two of those shots. The difference is, of course, that with me in goal, those guys would have been launching from distance all day to great success.

Timo also had to mix it up a few times on corners and crosses, but Dortmund wasn’t nearly as threatening as Frankfurt was two weeks ago. Reus sent a few just wide. Mkhitaryan had another later that was dangerous but off-target. With Lewandowski in the mix, Kagawa’s play-making might have led to a different result, but it’s Ciro Immobile who simply is not Lewandowski. Horn was left with little chance on Immobile’s goal and took care of everything else. Another strong day for Horn, which apparently caught the BVB’s attention, triggering rumors they have interest in signing him.

To which I say, “piss off!”

Pawel Olkowski – 1

Sorry, Miso, but I really, really like Olkowski playing in your spot.

Pawel seems to have the same knack for occasionally getting burned, as he did by Kagawa in one intense moment, but his recovery on the play is not something we’ve seen Brecko do in the following moments. Olkowski looked bad when the Japanese superstar cut past him into the area, but then our Polish stud left Kagawa lying on the turf, dispossessed and harmless.

Advantage: Olkowski

Mergim Mavraj – 0

Mavraj compounding a mistake with another mistake

Mavraj compounding a mistake with another mistake

I wasn’t too impressed with Mavraj’s Effzeh-Bundesliga debut. Poor decision-making and effort led directly to the Immobile goal. Because Immobile pursued him from behind along the flank, he unloaded possession to Kevin Vogt, who had Kagawa on his ass and was unable to take the ball. With Kagawa playing the ball forward for Reus, Mavraj abandons Immobile to attempt a doomed-to-fail tackle on Reus, achieving only the removal of himself from the play. Immobile then is pretty much free to do as he pleases on the left side.

Mavraj was fortunate to not be on the hook earlier when wishy-washy defending led to another Reus shot that went just wide. The play was judged (incorrectly, is appears) to have been offside anyway, so maybe it’s double-fortunate.

We’ll hope it was just a case of breaking in, because Dominic Maroh may not be ready for Friday’s match against Werder Bremen.

We’ll also hope Maroh gets well quickly.

Kevin Wimmer – 3

NO SHOT FOR YOU!

NO SHOT FOR YOU!

Does Austria have much of a timber industry?

Maybe it’s not really time to compare this Kevin to a prior Kevin in central defense, but Wimmer continues to be . . . let’s not say Eiche (oak)  . . . a rock in the defensive end. You don’t see him get out of position. You don’t see him beaten one-on-one. He’s so solid, you almost forget he is there until he’s stone-walling the opposition attack.

Jonas Hector – 2

Hector is, for me, the same as Wimmer, except in a different position.

And excepting that he’s not Austrian, I suppose.

If you knew those two would be the foundation of the left side of the defense when the club embarked on the task of getting out of the 2. Bundesliga, you deserve some applause. The emergence of Hector as one of the best performers at left back in the Bundesliga after being moved from defensive midfield has been a treat. I maintain that Hector needs to be called into action for Germany, and not just because it’s a thin position for Jogi Löw’s squad. New Germany assistant Thomas Schneider was at Müngersdorf Saturday. I presume he’ll be telling his boss something similar. It wasn’t Hector’s most impressive match, but he was damned good.

Damned good!

Kevin Vogt – 3

Vogt’s gritty defensive play in the midfield continues to be of great use to the team, but we have to praise the man today for his play on the other end of the pitch.

After a casual kick from Roman Weidenfeller to the middle of the field was played back toward Dortmund’s end by Wimmer, Vogt beat Gündogan to the bounding ball with his head and then flicked it over a closing Hummels before breaking free to make himself available for a Marcel Risse headed pass behind the Dortmund defense. Vogt finished a great series with a goal-scorer’s finish, leaving Weidenfeller sprawling in the wrong direction. It was the first goal at Müngersdorf this season, and it was a moment of ecstasy.

Vogt played well otherwise, too, but all credit for providing the much-needed ice-breaker.

Matthias Lehmann – minus-2

Plenty of options here better than launching awkwardly into the stands, yet . . .

Plenty of options here better than launching awkwardly into the stands, yet . . .

Am I being too harsh? Is it fair to mark a defensive player down for blowing a huge scoring chance?

I know I punished Lehmann, once I stopped laughing, for the atrocious shot he launched with nobody near him from the edge of the box. It’s not nice to laugh, but the effort was so poor, it could not be helped.

Matze was repeatedly outclassed by the efforts of Reus and Kagawa. I suppose the fact that there was just one goal by the BVB means that the effort was enough, but it looked bad while the result was still in question.

Marcel Risse – 5

Four?

Well, that’s what I have written down!

Risse was again his energetic self along the flank, solid going in both directions. I contend that having Olkowski and Risse together on the right side is going to be a formidable combination as they learn to play together. Both men are solid two-way players. You have to like what we’re seeing.

And it turns out that it was Risse (I had earlier given it to Daniel Halfar) who decisively headed forward the ball for Vogt on the goal. Even better!

Daniel Halfar – minus-2

From what I read, Halfar was the worst player of the starting eleven.

From what I saw, that might be a bit harsh.

It was not, however, among his better performances.

I thought putting him between Svento and Risse might help grease the wheels a little bit, but there wasn’t much happening for Halfar. Considering the rather poor play of Gündogan in his first match after a long injury, there should have been much more coming from Halfar’s area, but there was not.

Dusan Svento – 2

Svento got there in a hurry, but a moment too late.

Svento got there in a hurry, but a moment too late.

It’s not always easy to gauge such things on a computer screen, but Svento looks fast.

Is he fast? I hope he’s fast. I understand fast. I like fast.

If there is better finishing available from the guys in the middle, fast is going to be awesome for us on the left side. There were a few exciting moments from Svento, but they didn’t really go anywhere in the end. I like the promise, though.

Simon Zoller – 2

Two seems high to me, despite the fact Zoller got a goal.

Did Zoller give Weidenfeller a moment of doubt to create the chance? I think maybe he did. Smart play.

Did Zoller give Weidenfeller a moment of doubt to create the chance? I think maybe he did. Smart play.

Of course, it would have taken a Junior Malanda-like effort to not score that goal once Weidenfeller went flying off his line, impeding neither ball nor player, but give Zoller credit for finishing anyhow.

Besides, I’m not sure that Zoller didn’t dupe Weidenfeller a bit by faking he was going to attempt to head the ball, maybe making the BVB keeper hesitate momentarily out of fear of maybe clobbering Zoller in the head on the challenge and giving a penalty. It was subtle, but may have played a role in unlocking the play.

There was also a huge win of the ball at the edge of the area that led to a shot drilled just wide of target.

Zoller had his moments.

But I still think he’s invisible far too often in the offensive end. Maybe it’ll come as he adapts to the higher level of play.

Slawomir Peszko – 1 (from 57th minute)

Peszko forces the issue with Sokratis. Sokratis has a non-philosophical retort.

Peszko forces the issue with Sokratis. Sokratis has a non-philosophical retort.

Peszko forced Sokratis into levelling him to stop what would have otherwise turned into a huge scoring chance as he played the ball toward the area with a head of steam and nobody else to beat.

Otherwise. he simply was a good sub for Halfar.

Yuya Osako – 0 (from 64th minute)

I don’t remember what he’d done to get marked down before he provided the cross to Zoller for the match-decider, but based on recent history, I’d guess he wasted possession in the final third. I gave him a plus for the cross, though I think the resulting goal had more to do with poor defending than skilled play-making, which means my frustration with Osako continues.

Adam Matuschyk – 0 (from 77th minute)

Everyone knows I’m a Matu fan, right?

Okay, good.

Otherwise, Matu went into the match for Zoller to make things more defensive once the lead was secured. The storm was weathered and victory secured. What role Matu actually played in that wasn’t too apparent on a “great play!” spectrum, but he got a quarter-hour of run. Better than nothing.

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