After triumphing in the DFB-Pokal semi-final on Wednesday, Borussia Dortmund have to turn the corner for the final run in in the Bundesliga. The Black and Yellows will host Cologne in Westfalenstadion on Saturday, a team they haven’t beaten in their last five attempts. To get acquainted with Dortmund’s opponents, we reached out to Thomas Reinscheid, chief editor of online fan magazine Effzeh.com.
Cologne used to be a favourite opponent for Dortmund but have turned into somewhat of a bogey team since Peter Stöger has taken over head coaching duties. Can his influence on the steady upturn of the club be put in words?
Peter Stöger definitely is a big and hugely important piece of the puzzle that is the new 1. FC Köln. With calmness and persistence, but also the necessary ambition, he has managed to form a successful team that plays close to the maximum of their abilities. But, as always, it’s an entire team that pushes you forward: Everyone at Cologne is doing a very good job at the moment, from the board to the coaching staff.
Effzeh are still in the race for European spots but has lost a bit of ground in the second half of the season. Is there an explanation for that?
I think the reasons are twofold. Firstly and more obviously, an injury crisis — especially in positions without much cover, such as the attacking wings, we were hit very hard with injuries to Marcel Risse and Leonardo Bittencourt. Key figures such as Timo Horn and Matthias Lehmann also missed a lot of time. That cost a lot of energy, which has become apparent in the Rückrunde. Further, however, a slight downswing was almost inevitable, seeing as the team punched above their weight a bit and won the respective amount of points. From my viewpoint it was foreseeable and not overly surprising that there’d be a dry spell at some point.
How will this season be judged in Cologne if the team doesn’t reach fifth, sixth or seventh in the final standings (i.e., qualify for Europe)?
Of course there’ll be a lot of disappointment in there to not have achieved that huge dream of ours. A sensational qualification for a European competition was within our reach, after all. But in hindsight it’ll be considered a success: We’ve again managed to improve, stayed up in the Bundesliga at an early point in the season and had quite a lot of fun.
How has Neven Subotic fit into the team and how do the fans view him? Do you think a permanent move in the summer is the desired outcome?
He’s fit into the team very well, it’s not for nothing he’s calling himself a “prime example for a successful integration”. He seems to like it in Cologne, even if he hasn’t fully caught on in a sporting sense so far. I’d have liked to see him a bit more often, but it’s not like Neven was so outstanding that he should be considered an automatic starter. Fans consider him an intelligent and likeable bloke who has a lot more in him than football. Personally, I’d like to see him stay with Effzeh, but perhaps the value-for-money ratio isn’t the best.
Your prediction for Saturday?
If we want to keep dreaming of Europe we’ll need at least a point. We’ve always managed that against Dortmund since moving up to the Bundesliga in 2014. I think that’ll stay the same after Saturday: We’ll go in front, you’ll manage the equaliser and then BVB will run out of steam after an exhausting week: 1-1!
Thanks to Thomas, whom you can follow on Twitter at @koelnsud.