Cologne 1-2 Dortmund

Lukas Podolski's pre-match rant made for a raucous atmosphere.

A scrappy injury time winner from Nuri Şahin saw Dortmund temporarily go top of the Bundesliga table!

The visitors were good value for the three points after making the most chances in a fast-paced and occasionally fiery Friday night thriller.

An hour’s drive separates Dortmund from Cologne, and as a number of Dortmund players were on international duty this week, a short journey to face the team in 16th was definitely what the doctor ordered.

Save for handing Croatian rookie Miro Varvodić his Bundesliga bow, Cologne’s line-up was identical to the one that held Hoffenheim before the international break.

The first half began at a brutal pace, setting the tone for the rest of the game. No one was given the luxury of time on the ball, and it was all a bit slapdash.

This cut-thrust nature didn’t stop either side from having plenty of chances though: Podolski and Lucas Barrios having the best of the bunch, both rattling the woodwork.  Continue reading

Cologne 2010/11 preview

North on this pitch is Cologne's XI for the 3-2 home loss to Dortmund in January. The lack of width was detrimental, while the position of Maniche was never fully solved. The formation shown in the southern part of this image is the team Soldo sent out for the round 24 clash at local rivals Leverkusen. The lack of width still rendered attacking problematic, but the creation of more banks ensured that Cologne's team linked up more effectively when they did have the ball.

Is Zvonimir Soldo the new Claudio Ranieri? Cologne’s Croatian manager loves to tinker, amending his side’s personnel and tactical layout each week.

Such excess is in part borne from necessity – clubs of Cologne’s middling, relegation-flirting size have to adopt straitjackets when Bayern & co. come to town.

Inevitably, such variety equates leads to vastly contrasting results. Despite corking Bayern and at-the-time table-topping Bayer Leverkusen, the North Rhine-Westphalian side were hammered by both Stuttgart and Hoffenheim last season.

Such thrashings were odd given that Cologne’s inability to score was matched by an ability to render opponents equally impotent. However, the aforecited defeats were at RheinEnergieStadion – their unhappy home hunting-ground.

With more holes to exploit in away games, Soldo’s counter-attack-constructed side were fluid and rampant on their travels. But as hosts, Die Geißböcke couldn’t adjust accordingly.

Embarking on a third successive top-flight campaign, Soldo’s soldiers must achieve mid-table anonymity at a far earlier stage – the 62-year-old club only survived *comfortably* last time out due to the failings of others. Continue reading