We are required, as Effzeh faithful, to increase the frequency with which discuss the coming entry into Champions League. We are not to have any regard for the idea that everything will change over the remaining 32 match days, nor for the club’s history of never living up to the rabid hopes of the fan base.
That’s simply not how it’s done around here. As is sung in Viva Colonia regularly during Effzeh home matches:
“Mer lääve hück – nit murje, zo schnell verjeiht die Zigg”
or . . . loosely translated from the Kölsch . . . “We live today, not tomorrow. Time flies by so fast.”
We will leave the concerns about where the club lies on match days 3 through 34 for another time. For now, we sit in the Champions League qualification spot for a few weeks, thanks to the international break. There is work to do from here, of course. We may be ahead of the dirty ponies of Mönchengladbach, the much dinero of FC Buy’em, and even the hipster football side that is the BVB, but we’re still behind the Pill Pimps from down the road. May as well go after them, too.
But, as I said, there is a time for that. Today, we’re dealing with the decisive two-goal victory which spoiled Armin Veh’s home debut in his return to the touch line for the VfB.
Brecko, Maroh, Wimmer, and Hector: also known as “the same four that teamed with Timo Horn last week to post a clean sheet against the Hamburgers.
Kevin Vogt: The lone change from last week’s starting eleven to this week’s was the replacement of Adam Matuschyk with Vogt. Certainly, Vogt was not bought from FC Augsburg to sit and watch, but considering the fairly strong performance by Matu last week, he would not have been the one I’d have chosen if I were guessing the one change Stöger would make.
Lehmann, Risse, and Halfar: Consider these guys the regulars until further notice. Lehmann has presence, while Risse and Halfar represent “watch your ass, or else.”
Osako and Ujah: Despite mixed results in the opener, not to mention the lack of a goal, Yuya returned to center the midfield line between Risse and Halfar, while Ujah again went it alone as the tip of the spear. I learned before the match that Ujah already had two Bundesliga goals to his credit from his FSV Mainz days, both of which came in a single match against Stuttgart. (or, as my Missus would say, “DING! Foreshadowing!)
Stuttgart: Only four clubs surrendered more goals last year than Stuttgart’s 62 goals against. The 49 goals for them put them approximately in the middle of the scoring rankings. This combination landed them just 32 points, which would normally be relegation-worthy, were it not for the historically poor finish of teams below them.
I could never figure out how Stuttgart failed to win matches with a roster full of dudes I felt were solid players. Vedad Ibisevic and Martin Harnik each bagged ten goals last season and were both among eight players who logged significant time in last year’s Stuttgart season. Add Daniel Didavi, who returned from injury late last season, and the only two real newcomers to the squad were Chelsea loan Oriel Romeu in defensive midfield and defender Florian Klein. Otherwise, I suppose it’s up to Veh to take the roster I think seems better than the results it posts and turn it into a much better product on the pitch.
I already mentioned having learned of Ujah’s two-pack against Stuttgart in his Mainzer days.
Stuttgart is one of the few Bundesliga clubs I’d seen the Effzeh play after I’d become a fan. In the third round of the 2012 DFB cup, the new-look second-division side went to Mercedes-Benz Arena and got badly outplayed early to find themselves down 2:0 ten minutes before halftime. Ibisevic scored at the 31st minute and then Hector got called for a hand ball about four minutes later. From here in Seattle, it felt much worse than even the scoreboard showed.
Yet, the second half was all Köln. Only an 80th minute goal by Christian Clemens counted, but the Billy Goats definitely put the effort in and had Stuttgart on their heels a bit. An equalizer would not have been unjust.
It did not, of course, come.
Also, currently unemployed Timo Hildebrand was interviewed before the match. I didn’t really pay attention to a word he said, to be honest, but it took me a few minutes to remember he was the primary keeper on Stuttgart’s title team from 2007. Maybe he’s hoping Veh will want to reconnect and see whether they can rekindle the magic?
Miso Brecko Football God?
I know I do not give the guy enough credit for what he does. I am not privy to his stature among his teammates that has made him the captain of the team the last few years, so I can’t speak to that. Also, despite whatever concerns I have about him from time to time, he has missed almost no time at right back the last two seasons, including last year when the club became the stingiest defense to be found.
Clearly, there is something to the notion of “Miso Brecko Fußballgott!”
And though MB2 had a few questionable moments Saturday, they were easy to overlook not only due to the end result, but also do to his abusing Alexandru Maxim for his lazy/inept defending on the right flank, which allowed Brecko to launch a ball into the box that was played along by Halfar so that Daniel Schwaab could deflect it goal-ward, forcing Sven Ulreich to make a great save to prevent the own goal, but the rebound of which went directly to Yuya Osako who had to do little to get the match’s first goal.
There were at least two fortunate bounces between Brecko’s delivery and the Effzeh’s first goal since returning to the Bundesliga, but credit where credit is due for forcing some action in the VfB defensive end, especially considering Maxim seemed to almost be daring him to try something.
Peter Stöger’s Other Ugly Sponsor Shirt
It occurred to me after I railed against the red shirt with the relatively high, asymmetrical placement of block logos, that the reason those logos are so high on the shirt is so they’re more likely to show on camera when the camera is largely trying to get the face.
Funny enough, in the bit of touch-line interview I saw, the camera seemed to be deliberately high and tight on Stöger, which likely was to not show the logos.
I want to say “something must be done,” but nothing will be done, I am sure, and it will all be fine. But, damn, I though Markus Weinzierl’s duds were polluted with ugly logos. As far as I’ve seen, Stöger now has the league worst.
Congrats Manner! You almost got someone to buy more wafer cookies!
Tip of the Cap to Dominic Maroh
Do we take Dominic Maroh for granted?
Jonas Hector and Kevin Wimmer seem to get all the excitement, probably due to the way they’ve performed above expectations as young players, while Maroh came into the team already having established he can play in the Bundesliga.
All Maroh does is anchor the defense from the middle in a hyper-consistent manner. The man is a rock.
On Saturday, I noticed Maroh making a lot of solid plays and some really smart decisions, the sort of which you can only hope Wimmer and Hector learn to make more consistently from playing alongside Maroh.
So Dom, I know you’re not reading this, but I’m going to tell you anyway, “Helluva job you’re doing out there!” I’d buy you a beer if I ever ran into you, but now it would seem like I was stalking you, which would seem pretty creepy, to be honest, which might make the offer of a beer a bit awkward.
Let’s just leave it at, “you rock!” for now then?
and of course UJAH!!!!!!
My four-year-old son’s favorite athlete, bar none, is Anthony Ujah.
He goes to school among a bunch of Seattle Seahawk/Russel Wilson/Richard Sherman-lovin’ kids, but Ujah remains the guy that gets him excited.
The match had gone past the 80th minute mark by the time Owen got out of bed and wandered into my lap to see what I was watching, but it turned out he was just in time to see the two goals replayed, which means he saw Ujah deliver a solid shot past a diving Ulreich, which was, of course, the 0:2 goal.
The best part for us here is that this was my birthday weekend, so we celebrated both a birthday weekend victory and a Ujah goal.
Because, let’s face it, if your kid has a favorite player, that player becomes one of your favorites. That’s just how it works.
Let’s hope he never develops a fondness for Thomas Bröker? (just kidding!)
Anyhow, not too unlike how Brecko’s contribution to a goal somewhat cancels the less-impressive parts of his game, Ujah’s goal mitigates an otherwise-ordinary match for the striker. Ujah hadn’t had a ton of success in his battles in the offensive end until Antonio Rüdiger essentially headed the ball perfectly into Ujah’s path, giving him a clear shot at goal from just outside the area. Without Rüdiger’s Fehlpassist, there wasn’t much else flowing forward, despite the Stuttgart defense making plenty of questionable plays.
But, score a goal in a win on my birthday weekend, and I have nothing but love.
Plus, that aforementioned paternal thing.
Sidebar: Ujah seemed to hurt a thigh late in the match, having to hobble off once finally substituted. A few hours later, I worked as an official at a high school (American) football scrimmage and also felt some tightness in my thigh at the end of the day. Coincidence?
Whine, Whine, Whine
Was it just me, or did Stuttgart finally get tired of being unable to penetrate our defense and resort to frustrated whining for free kicks and penalties?
Look, that was Dr. Felix Brych out there. You may remember him from the Phantom Goal of last season, but you might also remember him from the World Cup, where he was representing the best of German football officiating. If the good doctor didn’t have a foul, zip your lip and remember it’s not his fault your side seemed to have no real idea how to create scoring chances.
That said . . . Jonas! I love you and all, but you got to be careful with some of those plays in the penalty area! Go talk to Dominic Maroh a minute.
Oh, and the Oriol Romeu dude . . . look, this isn’t the English Premiere League and you’re no longer at Chelsea. Drop the entitlement act and get back to work. (Though, yes, you may have had a bit of a gripe on one foul call, okay?)
Solving the Stuttgart Riddle
I said earlier that I had Stuttgart as a roster that seemed like it ought to deliver better results.
Well, I realize now, after watching this match twice, why Stuttgart does not deliver on all that (supposed) promise.
These guys aren’t really that good.
Ibisevic is legit, without question. But take Maxim, for example, he’s make a nice play here or there, but between the good, there was plenty of poor. And you can straight-up forget about his defending, since that’s what he seems to largely do: forget to defend.
Timo Werner was brought on for Martin Harnik at halftime. Werner is widely considered to be among Germany’s top young talents. And Werner clearly has plenty of talent, but his game is far from polished. He really did impress with his effort from the minute he entered the match, as well as with a few slick plays, but when those plays don’t lead to something bigger, it’s easier to notice the shabby passes, of which there were several.
Again . . . do I just expect too much from Marcel Risse?
Flashes of brilliance were not enough for me this week to override the offense-killing errors. I have seen him be as effective as Halfar was on the opposite flank again Saturday, but it’s getting frustrating to see it come in only those brief flashes that make it seem like he’s about to turn it on, but nothing else really follows.
Halfar has been mighty, but he’s already again showing signs that finishing the deal is not his strength. I still can’t believe he missed on his chipped attempt when he got into a one-on-one situation with Ulreich. Nor could Stöger from the looks of things.
Perhaps the right centerpiece between the two would make everything flow better, which would mean that Osako doesn’t appear to be that piece. And he doesn’t. Not yet, at least.
Finally . . .
At the end, the good largely outweighs the bad. It has to when you come away with three points from a road match.
We can and should be pleased with the victory and another clean sheet, but it has to be said that VfB Stuttgart was very complicit in what transpired. They simply still look like a very poor side. Our defense may have helped them to look bad, but Stuttgart often needed no assistance to lose possession.
While offensively, it’s all about getting goals, I’m not sure the two posted in Stuttgart are indicative of a fully functioning offense. Rather, I’m sure that it is not. Both scores received plenty of help from the opposition. Ulreich had to make a heroic save to prevent Daniel Schwaab from scoring an own goal; Osako was the opportunistic benefactor. Ujah was set up by Rüdiger’s headed clearance that functioned much better as a pass to the wrong player. Otherwise, there weren’t many solid chances. Taking advantage of errors will only get you so far at this level. You have to be able to generate offense, too.
But, as said, let’s not worry about that which is not. Rather, let us enjoy that which is.
Which is us . . . in fourth place . . . and loving the life, the love, and the lust.
And we’re still thirsty. ALWAYS thirsty!