Today in FC – Tuesday, May 9, 2017

I have to confess something:  I am STILL not quite back down to earth from last Friday’s 4:3 win over Werder Bremen.

Even if Neven Subotić looks a bit bad on two of the three Bremen goals, making me slightly concerned about how he is handled in the summer . . . and even if the overall recovery speed on the back line is a general concern . . . and even if Anthony Modeste could be poached away by someone with deep pockets, leaving us bankrupted in the attack for a normal season, much less one that may include some bonus European play . . .

You can pile up the concerns all day long. That is not a challenge. Whatever happens over the last two match days and then what follows, Friday night was a magical spectacle.  Over the years I’ve been following this club, there have been a handful of matches in which the team was positioned to make a statement or move or claim to something. For the most part, the team responded to such moments in a very flat, disappointing manner.

Not Friday.

Perhaps foreshadowed by Anthony Modeste’s tweet earlier in the day about being fired up for the match, the FC came out at full-throttle. It took no time to recognize the players and coaching staff knew what was at stake and embraced the challenge.

It was truly a beautiful match to watch. Eventually, even Bremen fans will be able to recognize that it was a top-notch battle for all viewers. When you want to sell newcomers on the genius that can be Bundesliga football, this would be among the best matches to pitch to them for viewing.

And if you get one of those stodgy sorts who quickly retort, “that level of defending would never cut it in the Premiership,” get as far away from that person as possible and never bother with them again.  Only bad can happen near them.

But now it’s “after the match,” which is also “before the match,” so let us start to look forward, shall we?

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  • Anthony Modeste was voted the “player of the week” for match day 32 on Bundesliga.de. He clearly was a spark in Friday night’s fireworks show, as he has been throughout this historic season.  Let’s hope the big man is far from finished performing feats in the red and white.

One has three German championships. The other is Leverkusen.

  • As the header photo on this post says, the FC is officially going to be the “number one on the Rhine.”  For the first time since 1996, the 1. FC Köln will end the season higher in the table than Bayer Leverkusen.  In a season where the league seems more likely than ever to be on the way to succumbing to the cynicism of modern football and just opening the floodgates to private ownership to wash away the remaining remnants of tradition around “club” football, it is not insignificant for this club to have built it’s way to this level of success through shrewd football operations, rather than just splashing money all over the place. The more-limited your finances, the less room for error, and the more success you have, the more the front office will have to work to replace players lured away by clubs with those larger budgets.
  • And now a win in Leverkusen Saturday would go a long way in helping secure a finish ahead of traditional rival Borussia Mönchengladbach. How sweet that would be! Consecutive victories would be more than enough to clinch it. Four points from the last six would likely get the job done, thanks to an eleven-goal edge in differential. This all, of course, is premised on the ponies taking all six of their remaining points, which is certainly possible against Wolfsburg and Darmstadt, but far from a given. You think Yannick Gerhardt won’t want to get a win that also dooms ‘Gladbach to a finish outside Europe and behind the club of his youth?
  • Yet, in an interview on the club’s English-language site, Timo Horn says he and his teammates are far more interested in the fight for a trip through Europe than in bossing the neighborhood.
  • Discussion around the FC’s stadium issues continues along multiple themes. Primarily, the club believes the 50,000 capacity of RheinEnergie Stadium is too small and therefore financially limiting.  The desire for a 75,000-seater leaves two distinct options: expansion or new construction.

    Christopher Kohl of effzeh.com has written an overview of several off-pitch issues currently swirling around the FC, which is well worth a test of your German skills and/or Google-Translate translation skills.  He says business manager Alexander Wehrle is firmly in favor of a new stadium for the club.  The FC currently pays the second-highest stadium rent among Bundesliga clubs. Ownership of their own venue would, of course, make the club “master of its domain,” so to speak.

    As Kohl points out, both options have plenty of risk, particularly because there is no certainty that the FC’s sporting success will continue its current upward trend. In fact, the odds and history would say that it absolutely will not. Even so, the FC regularly sold all available seats to second-division matches.  The long-term benefits to a larger, club-owned stadium are well in line with preparation for a long-term future in the Bundesliga.

  • Last, but far from least, today is the 53rd anniversary of the celebration of the first-ever Bundesliga championship, which was won, of course, by the glorious 1. FC Köln.

 

 

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