With the first half of the season at a close and the Rückrunde upon us, it’s time to take stock of where the Billy Goats are and preview what lies ahead for 2019.
Big expectations fueled our run into the 2. Bundesliga this year. With a strong group of returning players, highlighted by the duo of Hector & Horn deciding not to look for greener pastures and the 2nd-division goal-scoring machine Terrode, it was widely concluded that Köln would compete for a top spot and get right back into the first division.
The start of the season certainly proved that.
Six wins out of the first eight matches put us at 19 points and in a great spot. Among that run was what I liked to call “A Tale of Two Matches”. We hit a glorious 5-3 away victory against St. Pauli, with two from Terrode and goals from Clemens, Guirassy, and Özcan . . . only to be followed up with the exact opposite at home, a 3-5 loss against Paderborn. It perfectly encapsulated the defensive lapses this team can see from time to time and provided a little preview of the struggle we were bound to hit at some point.
That lull finally came in October and ran into the first week of November. Köln saw no wins in four matches with losses against Duisburg and leaders Hamburg and two draws in between. But the goal differential was only -2, so it wasn’t a complete disaster. The defense held it together relatively well, and goal scoring just fell flat. That can happen on occasion when a hot hand like Terrode cools off a bit.
With a team of this quality though, it didn’t take long for them to bounce back and get back onto the right path.
And boy did we.
Five straight wins started with an 8-1 stomping of Dynamo Dresden that included a hat-trick from Terrode, braces from Hector and Cordoba, and one goal from Schaub. The key name there is Cordoba. Until then, the Colombian had not quite found his footing and given consistent performances, but that brace on matchday 13 seemed to show that he had turned a corner. He has now scored three more goals in the five games since, and with the playing time overall has been enough to let Guirassy look to move away.
A 3-2 loss on matchday 18 just before the break spoiled things a bit, but Köln sits second with 36 points. Things don’t start easy though, with the Rückrunde opener at 1. Union Berlin. There are two straight on the road to start 2019, with nine away in total versus just 7 at home. Fortunately, we play more bottom-half of the table teams in this second half of the season than top-half. With all that, here are a few things I’m watching out for:
- With 22 goals so far, Terrode is just shy of the 25-goal marks he set each season between 2015 and 2017. He should continue on this tear and easily eclipse that record.
- Behind him, I hope Cordoba has finally turned that corner. With Guirassy gone and Modeste still in limbo, the depth at forward is now slightly concerning.
- Finally, I’d like to see promotion secured early and confidently. St. Pauli is only two points back, making the promotion playoff spot closer than I would like.
I’ll end with a quote from Markus Anfang’s weekly manager press conference that perfectly sums up the second half of the season:
“There’s a lot of teams in the promotion race. But if we concentrate on ourselves and win our games, then we take care of things.”
Take care of business effzeh!