Cologne and Nuremberg looked all but certain to have played out an entertaining and fiery 0-0 draw until Slovenia international Milivoje Novakovič scored an injury-time winner for the hosts at the RheinEnergieStadion.
For the neutral football fan, a Bundesliga battle between the sides in 12th and sixth place respectively may not have forced all other afternoon plans to be cancelled, but there was a fair bit riding on this game, with the hosts knowing that if they lost here and Wolfsburg beat Eintracht Frankfurt in the day’s other game, they would be just two points above the drop zone. Frank Schaefer has turned Cologne’s fortunes around since replacing Zvonimir Soldo, but a 6-2 hammering at the hands of Hamburg in the last round emphasised that this is the same team which the Croatian struggled to push up the table. At least Schaefer had few injuries or suspensions to contend with when it came to selecting his side, although 12 members of the Cologne squad were returning from international duty. By way of comparison, Nuremberg came into this game in fantastic form, and knew they could move into the Europa League spots with a win. Continue reading →
Lanig and Ehret kept the width, while Jajalo and Clemens veered inside to make a three-pronged central attacking-midfield unit.
Round six of the Bundesliga began on Friday night with Hoffenheim travelling north to a ground where they’d never tasted defeat.
Both sides lost in the midweek round of fixtures, but Cologne had sealed a first victory of the season on home soil last weekend, and Hoffe had made a decent all-round start.
The first half began slowly with caution fully in charge of both sides’ operations. Eventually Hoffenheim began to test the waters, and the home side retreated; encouraging their guests to do something with the ball.
Several stabs at ‘something’ saw Cologne’s deep defence put under pressure by the last-shoulder lurking Vedad Ibišević, and goalkeeper Faryd Mondragón was forced into a series of clumsy hoofs upfield.
After realising scoops over the top weren’t going to grant the Bosnian room to reach and then use the ball, Hoffenheim decided to let the home side show their hand.
Cynical batches of Hoffenheim melina drew jeers from the partisan RheinEnergieStadion crowd, and Ralf Rangnick’s side only halted it via occasional surges down the right-hand flank. Continue reading →