Pre-Season Preview: 1. FC Koln
Manager Zvonimir Soldo will know that he’s really up against the odds with Koln this season. After a summer of changes, Koln will either be in a relegation dogfight or securing themselves a place in the safety of mid-table. Koln’s status as a yo-yo club is certainly not one Soldo wants to nurture. Koln will head into their third consecutive Bundesliga season this year, a feat they haven’t matched since the early 1990′s.
Germany World Cup star Lukas Podolski returned to his childhood club last season after a three-year spell with Bayern Munich. After his World Cup performances, one would expect Lukas Podolski to steer Koln clear of relegation and safely into mid-table. Unfortunately, this is a common misconception with Podolski. Having only scored 15 goals in three Bundesliga seasons at Bayern Munich, he was deemed a Bundesliga flop. On his return to Koln, big things were expected from the young German star. Unfortunately, two league goals in 27 league games is certainly not what Koln fans expected. However, after an extremely successful World Cup, maybe Podolski will begin to show that kind of form at the club level as well.
The experience of Portuguese midfielder Petit will be vital once again this season for Koln. At 33 years old, Petit is enternig the twilight of his career but he certainly doesn’t let it show. His battling performances in midfield and his long-range shots are a real asset to his side. Petit’s work-rate and tackling ability will be pivotal in the spine of this Koln side.
Martin Lanig has joined Koln this summer from Bundesliga side VfB Stuttgart. Lanig will look to fill the space in the midfield left by Maniche, who was released this summer. Lanig’s box-to-box style will be welcomed in this Koln side, but he doesn’t possess the class or the vision to really effectively replace a player like Maniche.
Koln’s transfers haven’t been impressive, and they’ve really had a lot of players outgoing than they’ve had coming in. It’ll be interesting to see how the team balances out this season and who steps into the limelight for Koln, if anyone does at all.
It all depends on key players having consistent impressive performances. Unfortunately, that never does seem to happen for Koln. I think they’ll be involved in a very scrappy relegation dogfight, and then just edge it by a few points. There isn’t much about this Koln side that suggests a season that fans should be optimistic about.