Thoughts on the 1. FC Köln 0:1 home(invasion robbery) loss to Hannover 96:
How We Got There and What it Means
As expected, the guests from Hannover immediately settled into a defensive posture and invited the effzeh to keep the ball while awaiting any chances for a counterattack. With all the extra possession, it seemed as if it would be only a matter of time before the home fans would celebrate the first goal of the game, but instead it was a rare Hannover corner that provided the opportunity for Leon Andreasen to bat the ball into
an open half of Timo Horn’s goal with his right forearm that went unseen by any of the officials presumably looking at the play.
The goal seemed to suck some of the life from the boys in white while perhaps giving Hannover a bit of a lift, as the visitors started getting forward a bit more and even forcing Horn into a big save to prevent twice as large a halftime deficit.
The second half started incredibly slow, with Hannover again getting the only interesting chance of an mostly unwatchable half-hour before Köln started to realize the urgency of the situation and got several huge chances all of which were either near-misses or turned away by superb goalkeeping by Köln native Ron-Robert Zieler.
But it was simply not to be . . .
Thus, the first home loss of 2015 has been posted. Much will be focused on Bastian Dankert and crew missing what appeared obvious to nearly everyone else when Andreassen swatted at the ball with his arm to get the ball over the goal line, but the effzeh will also want to solve the problem of how to create scoring chances when they are the superior side. The goal should not have been given, but it also really shouldn’t have been a scoreless match by that point, as desperate and out-paced as Hannover was the first half-hour of the match.
Rising – Jonas Hector
Yes, the Football God is getting a mention as having his stock on the rise, though not due to the usual reasons and certainly not because he needs Planet Effzeh to defend him.
After Germany played a fairly sub-par pair of matches during the international break, trainer Joachim Löw singled-out our beloved left back, as well as his club and coach, for criticism, saying that his “training is lacking” when it comes to playing with more possession the way Germany was looking to play against Ireland and Georgia.
Stöger responded with some fairly dry wit and by pointing out that the development Hector has gotten while in Köln is “why he had been called (into the national team).”
Hector’s response was even more direct.
Köln’s beloved right back was all over the field Sunday afternoon. When the hosts were pressing in attack, it was Hector and Leonardo Bittencourt giving Hannover’s defense the run-around on the left flank. It can also be said that opportunities from Hector’s area were not to be found, but the fact is that Hannover created few opportunities anywhere.
Whether Löw seeks a replacement for Hector at left back as the European championship draws nearer remains to be seen, but we will be left hoping that it’s the effzeh who are not finding themselves in need of a replacement at the position as our long-term starter is plucked away by a club with large aspirations and a larger bank accoung.
Rising – Frederik Sørensen
Okay, maybe a few of his passes could have been more accurate and/or played to closer teammates so as to not waste possession.
But considering Sørensen had looked like maybe the one of the two new central defenders who would eventually need to make way for Dominic Maroh to return, Sørensen played a strong and versatile role for the effzeh. He was on the ball a lot when Hannover hung back and awaited Köln’s attack, won his battles when Hannover did come into his area, and even provided a few shots on goal by getting into the air over the Hannover defenders.
Keep in mind, Sørensen was forced to defend with care after a Felix Klaus dive drew a yellow card just 21 minutes into the match, despite no real contact before Klaus flung himself to the turf.
Additionally, when the defense had a few lapses, the Dane was the one barking at his teammates, encouraging to tighten things up in front of goal.
Nothing to show for it but an 0:1 loss, but Sørensen took a big step forward in establishing himself, at least for me.
Falling – Yuya Osako
I recognize this is like flogging a dead horse, but when will we see in a match what Stöger seems to see in training that keeps Osako in the starting eleven?
He doesn’t take shots. He doesn’t create chances for others. He simply doesn’t provide that second offensive threat in the middle of the field that you’d like to see complement Anthony Modeste’s ever-threatening presence.
Is it enough to not make big mistakes? Perhaps that’s his mission in the midfield, but his presence leaves a void in attack that becomes all-the-more glaring when the team is trailing.
Man of the Match
It’d be easier to justify giving this to Hector or even Timo, but due to the situation of his playing against his former team and despite missing a big chance to snatch the firstgoal, I’m going to nod toward Leonardo Bittencourt.
Even though he’s always an energetic presence going in both directions, Bittencourt seemed to be given an extra boost by the opportunity to deliver a goal against his former teammates. He and Hector were running through and around their opponents early in the match.
Hector put a cross through to Bittencourt in the area when the match was still scoreless, but the redirection was not precise enough and eluded both Zieler and the right side of the far post.
This is the sort of match where its difficult to pick a best man. Hannover executed their game plan almost to the letter, getting a goal in the rare venture forward and otherwise weathering the storm from their defensive third.
When things seemed to be going all the effzeh way, Bittencourt was bringing the spirit. It was fun to watch, and you couldn’t help but believe he was destined to get at least a going from it. Maybe next time.
And next time is our turn in the barrel.
One of the consequences of having a team like Bayern in the league is that everyone has to spend 180 minutes on the pitch, mostly hoping things don’t get worse once the goals-against start coming.
The upside is that the Bayern experience is always the same: you enter hoping for a the upset for either a point or three, which would trigger celebrations unworthy of a simple midseason result, and you often limp away with no points and a hit to your goal-differential, which does have the benefit of being somewhat expected and therefore lacking in genuine disappointment (unlike this result), as well as the same result everyone else takes from Allianz Arena, making it a wash in the table.
Even so, it doesn’t provide a ton of hope for a bounce-back from the let-down of this match.