Schalke has a superb record against Köln, but manager Christopher Daum has only ever lost twice in seventeen matches against them in the Bundesliga. That form continued today as Köln walked away deserved 1-0 winners against the league leaders.
Indeed, the score line doesn’t do justice to the performance by Köln. They completely outplayed the Royal Blues and bossed them around the pitch. While they allowed the Miners to control play in the first 15 minutes, they quickly realized they could take the game to them, shifting from direct counter-attack to more link-up and possession. This allowed them to command the game. They could have easily had half a dozen goals. The only two faults they had in the entire match were poor decisions in front of goal, which squandered chances to put the game to bed, and dreadful set pieces. Defensively they were organized and solid and only allowed one shot on goal the entire game.
Schalke looked tired and listless, seemingly worn down by the three games in seven days. The passing was off across the entire squad, with Rakatic, Pander and Jones incapable of hitting a target. In fact, Rakatic was so poor, he was subbed at half. Farfan is looking like an expensive flop, 6 ft.6 midfielder Orlando Engelaar was continuously outmuscled off the ball by 5 ft. 8 Petit, and the aging center halves were a mess. The only player to come away looking good for Schalke was young keeper Ralf Fährmann. His six saves kept Schalke within striking distance and is going to continue to be a good problem for Fred Rutten, who now has a fit Manuel Neuer.
The only goal was by defender Youssef Mohamad who scored on a throw in by Wome which five Schalke players watched bounce across the box. Mohamad headed in the loose ball for the winning goal after having, minutes before, headed a corner off the woodwork.
Ratings (out of 10) for Köln
Mondragon (5) Little work but was almost caught by Halil late
Wome (6.5) Great throws
Mohamad (9.5) Great in defense and the goal
Geromel (10) Immense performance, cleaning up everything
Brecko (5.5) Average going forward and allowed some of the few attacks by Schalke
Pezzoni (6) Shadowed Farfan well but was rarely involved
Ehret (8) Good movement and pinned Rafinha back all game
Antar (6) Good defensive performance.
Petit (10++) Just amazing both breaking up play and distributing the ball
Novakovic (7.5) Dangerous up front but made many poor choices
Vucicevic (8) Was everywhere.
Adil Chihi (5) Not convincing in brief appearance
McKenna (NA) Not much time
Radu (NA) Not much time
Last week Kevin Kuranyi was booed off the pitch by his own fans even though they won against Eintracht. This didn’t seem to have inspired him as he was absent from today’s game with not one chance taken. Some of the blame for Kuranyi’s woeful start has to be placed on Rutten, who leaves him isolated, and his tactics, which see his great aerial ability under utilized.
Pas Petit! Tres Grande!
What a fantastic pickup for Köln. Petit was magnificent to watch in this match. He ran the midfield and broke up attack for the full 90 minutes. At 32, he never stopped running and he didn’t allow those around him to stop either. He milked the clock when he was fouled and set up Novakovic twice with beautiful passes that should have been put away.
In the 76’, he helped get Farfan booked. Farfan tried to place the ball a meter forward on a free kick, which Petit spotted and argued. The referee agreed and placed the ball back. As Petit and the referee turned, Farfan tried to get the meter back and the fans at the RheinEnergieStadion made the infraction know. Myers booked Farfan for this and had it not been for Petit, he would have gotten away with it.
That Other Guy from Superliga
Geromel was considered the best defender in the Portuguese Superliga last year. He was a good buy by Daum in the off-season. Tonight he showed why he was such a good buy. He never allowed Schalke to get close to goal. Anytime the Knappen found their way past the midfield, Geromel was immediately there to break up play. Had it not been for Petit, he would have easily been man of the match. He should probably let Kuranyi out of his back pocket.
So while Petit was the better know signing from Portugal, Geromel is going to be more important going forward as he just turned 23.
Try a Little Imagination
Wome has a hard shot, but he’s not very gifted at free kicks. When you have someone like Diego, you can trust them to score often on free kicks. When Wome is your best option, you should look to be inventive on free kicks. Try freeing a player off the wall or taking the ball wide for a quick inswinger. In the long run, Köln had half a dozen free kicks from dangerous areas and not once did they look dangerous.
Ernst’s red card and three game suspension have taken the life out of the attack for Rutten’s men. They haven’t scored in the past two games. Today they had a total of four shots, with one on goal, and two of them came in the dying minutes of added time. Their second attempt wasn’t until the 80th minute.
What does this have to do with a defensive midfielder? Everything! Without their ball winner, Schalke are starting from a deeper position when attacking. The extra three or four meters gives defenders time to see the buildup develop and be proactive rather than reactive. Without their hardman, Engelaar has to take up some of the duties, which isn’t his strong suit. He’s better suited to creating from deep. Westermann has had to take on some of the duties as well, which has pinned him back. He is obviously a player you want getting forward more than two or three times a game, like today. Ernst is sorely missed.