On the other side of Saturday morning’s home match against Hamburger SV lies the dreaded international break, which puts a full extra week between effzeh matches and, hence, doubles the wait for match-day glory.
Due to the increasing success of the club’s football operations, however, 1. FC Köln fans have multiple options for celebrating the club even while it’s the “country” overtaking the football spotlight.
Jonas Hector again returns to duty for die Mannschaft (I do NOT like calling it that, btw.), having been called by Joachim Löw for the coming European Championship qualifiers against Poland (September 4) and Scottland (September 9).
Halfway through the qualification round, Germany and its two opponents currently hold the top three spots in the Group D standings. Germany is second, one point behind Poland and two ahead of Scotland, making this coming round of international matches perhaps the most-vital Germany has played since bringing home the World Cup from Brazil last summer.
Germany appeared somewhat sluggish in the qualification-opener in Dortmund, needing a 70th minute Thomas Müller goal to deliver the three points in a 2:1 victory. Four days later, the concerns over post-World Cup Germany reached an early peak in Warsaw when the national team fell 2:0 to Poland, the first time in 19 attempts Poland had managed to beat the Germans.
Yannick Gerhardt has earned his first call-up from Horst Hrubesch into the German U21 side, having graduated from the U20 program.
Gerhardt joins his new national team for the opening of qualification to the U21 European Championships, which comes in the form of a trip to Azerbaijan (September 8) to face the current leaders of Group 7 as the victors in the only group match yet to have been played.
In addition to Azerbaijan, Germany will eventually face Faroe Islands, Austria, Finland, and Russia in their quest to reach the tournament in Poland in 2017.
Back with Gerhardt’s former national side are goalkeeeper Daniel Mesenhöler and defender Lukas Klünter.
Mesenhöler has been called into the U20 side several times, but has just 180 minutes on the pitch spread over the course of three games in service to the DFB, having allowed two goals in that time.
Klünter arrives as a U20 debutant after having been a regular at right back for the U19 side that reached the final round of the European Championship last season, but failed to emerge from group play.
Coach Frank Wormuth will lead his young charges into matches with Italy (September 3) and Poland (September 7).