Remember that H-Hotels.com Winter Cup thing I mentioned earlier in the week? Well, guess who won the damned thing!
As if you didn’t know how it would play-out.
The 1. FC Köln is undefeated in 2018, setting the tone for the 17-match salvage job starting next weekend. Much will need to fall the right way for the FC to have even the remotest of chances at moving two rungs higher in the table by the end of match day 34, but it starts with winning . . . a lot.
If only we could claim six points for the two hours of work here . . .
As far as I know, there was no reasonable way for us in the USA to watch it live, but the club has replays posted on the site, so you know what has to happen.
Sidebar: If you don’t know, it’s that I have to do an excruciatingly long faux-live blog post of the match. Winter break makes me do strange things.
FC versus Hertha Berlin
With Stefan Ruthenbeck having had the “interim” tag removed from his title and the boatload of players returning from injury, it’s difficult to know how much his first starting-eleven of the year reveals about what to expect in the derby next weekend. However, my first reaction to this was “Damn, that’s a lot of youngsters and (nominal) strikers!”
The most-interesting thing to see from the first five minutes was the first typo of the season.
I mean, there were some errant passes, and you could see Hertha trying to press early to keep FC hemmed into their end to take control, but Pál “Derdei”? I could see getting Ruthenbeck’s name wrong (as I am sure I have); he’s the new guy, after all. Dárdai has been around a minute. Do catch up, Sky.
A few moments later, though, something else caught my attentions. Something football-ish!
A quick push forward by Hertha on the far touchline gave a nice view of the defensive arrangement. You can see that Ruthenbeck’s first use of Jonas Hector Fußball God is not at the pivot. Probably best for his World Cup chances, but also the best place for him to get back into game-shape, I would think (but what would I actually know?).
More interesting though is the man circled in red. Despite the return and use of all those (even if some are just nominal) strikers, Lukas Klünter does not appear to be defaulting back to the position he claimed for himself as a full-timer. Weaponizing Klünters speed from a more-central position could be something we see in the second half of the season, which would be at least interesting. Of course, this assumes the 21-year-old Serbian can hold things down on the right side well enough to allow that flexibility?
In the ten seconds between this image and the one above, it took Hertha three of them to send a cross into the area for Sörensen to clear with a header to Özcan, who made a tidy pass into the path of Klünter, who had bolted away from his area the moment it was clear the FC were in control of the ball.
There is naturally going to be some adjustment to changing roles at such a high level. His speed was of benefit, but he dribbled right into a turnover here. Sebastian Langkamp took the ball away from him fairly simply. Somewhere between recognizing he has Terodde on a run and that you can’t just run around/through Bundesliga-level defenders, he needed to make a play by the time he’s here.
(Forgive the screen-grab quality. It is what it is.)
Now, if Kusic wants to see time with the big boys over the next few months, he can’t surrender his position, even with a fair amount of support behind him, to take a two-footed jab at a player like Saloman Kalou, unless he wants to suddenly be watching from behind as his target creates danger in the area he’s meant to be defending from such things, which is precisely what happened here. I see this with my U9 team all the time. The quick-footed kid sees the challenge before it’s initiated and just sidesteps it without breaking his stride. It’s a pointless challenge. Shouldn’t see it here.
Klünter, who was just to the left of this grab, did charge in and block Kalou’s crossing attempt, surrendering a corner.
In case you didn’t notice the lack of one Konstantin Rausch in the squad, let me inform you this is NOT Kocka about to send one into the area with a gang settling near the near post. So, knowing that it is instead Birk Risa, where do you imagine this ball will go?
If you said, “the ball will arc over everyone into an utterly unoccupied space and bounce to someone who wasn’t even trying to defend the corner in the first place,” you were absolutely correct. Go do a shot of bourbon!
Some communication problems between Niklas Stark and Rune Jarstein allowed Terodde to turn a relatively harmless-looking bounding ball into a chance at an all-timer. The ball was lazily heading toward the area with just Stark and Jarstein to handle it, but Terodde raced in, believing he could create something by beating the ball to the line. Terodde’s insertion was fun, at least and ultimately caused Stark and Jarstein to bicker at one another after the shot sailed high.
Davie Selke easily beats Sörensen here, putting the defender in a situation where he can do little bit make a stab and hope he somehow disrupts the run and doesn’t result in a penalty. He ultimately just removes himself from the equation. Selke manages to settle the situation by the time he’s at the goal line, but he turns to find that none of his teammates have been able to keep pace well enough to be of support.
And then . . . a hero emerges.
It looked like it was going to be a serious threat of a chance. Instead Timo disrups Selke just enough for Sörensen to recover. The ball deflects back to Timo, who scoops it away for good.
And I don’t think it helped Selke’s mood much when he got dumped by Sörensen in an aerial challenge a few moments later, and Terodde maybe used his language skills to send a greeting to the writhing-in-agony-and-then-suddenly-on-his-feet-and-angry Selke.
And just like that, Terodde has endeared himself to me in a way that Ruthenbeck has yet to manage. In fairness, I don’t know that he can get there. I’m a Stöger guy. Dodge relegation and we can talk.
Back to the game . . . and then through halftime, still scoreless.
In the 33rd minute, the FC has another cross fly over whatever FC presence exists in the area. Peter Pekarik, Alexander Esswein, and Fabian Lustenberger are all near the ball as it lands, but Tim Henry Handwerker bolts into the scene to create a little chaos in the offensive end. He can’t really control it well when he splits the first two, so his touch glances off Lustenberger. Handwerker keeps going because that apparently is what he does, but it’s Terodde who charges in and gets the next touch and . . .
I don’t really want to call it a dive, especially since I’ve JUST said I’ve decided I like him, but . . . let’s leave it at “even on replay it was difficult to tell whether there were actual contact,” and ignore the reality of “he was fishing.”
34. Selke has to be getting sick of Sörensen. I like that.
35. When Hertha wants to, they can make it a pain in the ass for the FC to emerge from their own end. Even at a deliberate pace, the attempts to get through the press seem to often end in an error from our side. Don’t love that.
37. Tim Henry Handwerker is a verified beast.
38. I said “BEAST!”
39. Also with beast-like qualities is Timo Horn, but y’all already know that.
49. (My children may have arrived home. Can you tell?) With the crowd jeering Hertha for their lack of effort in moving forward, Lustenberger suddenly bombs the ball forward. The effort is turned away by Matthias Lehmann to spark a quick counter. Lehmann’s deflection gets to Simon Zoller who makes a great effort to get the ball away for Terodde.
In the span of three touches and four seconds, the ball went from the center circle to the edge of the area with Terodde relatively clear for a shot at goal. His first touch, though, gave Jarstein enough time to close the gap, and Terodde was not able to lift the ball over the sliding keeper by the time he was able to take the shot. Modeste didn’t convert them all, regardless of how you remember it, but that’s also beside the point here. What’s catching my eye is an insistence on routing the counter down the middle of the pitch rather than moving along the flanks and flying it in toward the target man. Terodde obviously has the size to play that role, but that does not appear to be the primary route for Ruthenbeck’s style.
Then again, test matches don’t always tell the true tales. We shall see.
50. Kalou thinks he can go right at Kusic. Kusic stands his ground and goes the other way with the ball, leaving Kalou on his hands and knees, head down knowing he was wrong. Good lad, Filip! (Next time, though, find a better/shorter pass. No need to give it right back. That’s how we got to bottom.)
There was much to enjoy about what happened here. A throw-in was followed by a quick succession of passes, ending with Lehmann having plenty of space to serve the ball to the wide open space on the right side of the area. Unfortunately, he split the difference between blurry Kusic and Jarstein and put FAR too much mustard on it, giving absolutely nobody a chance to make a play. It looked good for a hot second, though.
HOLY HOT HELL!
You know how sometimes Matze will just wind up and take a shot from the cheap seats? And then that ball rockets into the actual seats? Well this one was nearly on-target, at least closely enough to make Jarstein move to make the save until he saw the ball slice toward the wrong side of the post.
And that’s sort of the problem with shots from that far out. I mean, even if it doesn’t curl away, Jarstein should have no problem keeping from danger. Even if he doesn’t handle it cleanly, it would take an unlikely combination of events to turn it into something of value.
Flip-side? “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” And the possession was a bit of a gift via an Esswein turnover, so . . . sure! Why not?!
FT: So we get to the final whistle (of regulation) of the semifinal without a goal, but since the final is in a few hours, we gotta have winners and losers.
In other words . . . PENALTIES!
I am certain it’s common, but it’s good to see the IVs going over things. Or maybe Meré spotted something in the stands he wanted Sörensen to see. Or just distracting themselves to keep from getting too nervous about penalties.
This is not a particularly interesting fist-bump between Esswein and Lehmann. Instead, they are using Rock, Paper, Scissors to determine the order of penalties.
Death to modern football!
It appeared that Lehmann uttered a choice after the showdown, but I couldn’t see for sure he played paper to cover Esswein’s rock. Either way, it was Özcan first.
Özcan goes to his right. Jarstein to HIS right. 1:0 to the FC
Lustenberger goes to his left. Timo . . .
The fans in blue behind Timo’s goal were cheering the save. I think the Arminia Bielefeld faithful are favoring Köln in this one.
Terodde goes to his left. Jarstein goes the other way. 2:0 to the FC, and Terodde has his first goal back in the red and white!
Darida vs. Timo looked fairly familiar.
Tim Henry Handwerker went to his right. Jarstein to his right. I sense a pattern. 3:0 FC.
Valentino Lazaro tried the same corner his two teammates had already failed to find, but he must have given a bit extra gas as Timo couldn’t catch up to it. 3:1
Matzelinho closes the matter by hammering one in about the same spot Lazaro had, beating Jarstein to clinch the match for the FC, 4:1 in penalties.