Posts Tagged ‘Lukas Podolski’


1899 Hoffenheim v 1.FC Köln (04.03.2012 – 16:30 GMT)

The curtain will be drawn on Bundesliga Matchday 24 when under pressure Koln, travel to the Rhein-Neckar Arena for Sunday’s encounter with Hoffenheim.

Hoffenheim, under the guidance of newly appointed coach Markus Babbel, are looking for back to back wins after an impressive victory away to Wolfsburg on Matchday 23. The Sinsheim side are now undefeated in four and will see this home tie against a Koln side, low on confidence, as a great opportunity to grab another morale-boosting victory. Last week’s victory was their first since December, and you have to go back to Matchday 10 in October for their last win in Upper Rhine country. Currently sitting mid-table, Hoffenheim are still in danger of being dragged into a relegation dogfight by some sides, including this week’s visitors, but could with a couple of victories, consolidate a healthy 7th or 8th in the table.  FC Augsburg have ventured out of the relegation zone in recent weeks could leapfrog Koln if their poor form continues – The Billy Goats are heading in the wrong direction and have lost six out of the last seven Bundesliga matches shipping thirteen goals in the process.

The return of talisman Lukas Podolski to Solbakken’s team did little to inspire Koln, as Bayer Leverkusen easily dispatched their Rhineland Rivals last week amid further rumours of the German internationals’ possible departure from the RheinEnergieStadion in the summer.  This may well have been unsettling the fan’s favourite but further developments this week suggest Poldi has now agreed personal terms with long-term admirers, Arsenal, and that he will be set to join the Gunners in the summer.  General Manager Claus Horstmann has also issued under-fire manager Stale Solbakken the dreaded vote of confidence amid rumours the clubs recent poor run of form would see the end of the Norwegian managers’ leadership prior to Matchday 24.

One positive to take out of last week’s defeat for Koln was Mitchell Weiser, who became the youngest ever player to turn out for the side in the Bundesliga at the ripe age of seventeen years, three hundred & ten days – but even his youthful exuberance could not inspire his side as they lacked any real purpose and appeared very lackadaisical in defence.

1899’s German defender Matthias Jaissle is still out with an achilles tendon problem and joins Andreas Ibersberger on the sidelines for Hoffenheim. Bosnia-Herzegovina international, Sejad Salihovic has been ordered by Babbel to train with the under 23 squad and sits this out due to the disciplinary measure. Salihovic, who will miss out against Bayern Munich next week as well, was recently banned for four games by the national team due to “unsporting behaviour”.  Koln midfielders Petit & Adil Chihi are still long-term absentees along with defender Henrique Sereno, however Slawomir Pezko and Miso Brecko are available again after sitting out the Leverkusen match through suspension. Left-back Ammar Jemal started light training again on Tuesday while captain Pedro Geromel could return to the Koln midfield after nursing a calf problem. Kevin Pezzoni is also back in training and should be available for selection following a successful operation on his broken nose –Pezzosustained the injury after being attacked in a nightclub following the cities’ carnival a fortnight ago.

Die Geißböcke have the upper hand in the most recent encounters taking eight points from a possible fifteen in the last five – with the only defeat, a heavy one at that, back in the Rhineland in November 2009 when Hoffenheim ran out comfortable four nil winners.

Last 5 Matches

2009/2010      21.11.2009          1.FC Koln                   1899 Hoffenheim       0:4

2009/2010      10.04.2010         1899 Hoffenheim     1.FC Koln                     0:2

2010/2011       24.09.2010         1.FC Koln                   1899 Hoffenheim       1:1

2010/2011       19.02.2011          1899 Hoffenheim     1.FC Koln                     1:1

2011/2012        25.09.2011         1.FC Koln                    1899 Hoffenheim     2:0

Key Battles

Sven Schipplock v Kevin McKenna

The young German striker has only had 128 minutes of Bundesliga action so far this season, but repaid the faith shown in him by the new coach by coming off the bench to grab the winner at Wolfsburg.  Hoffenheim’s number nine will be hoping his impressive display has done enough to give him the nod over Croatian forward Srdan Lakic, who recently came on loan from the Wolves but has failed to find the net in his last three starts. Canadian defender Kevin McKenna will be hopeful of using his vast experience to keep the youthful 1899 front line in check.

Daniel Williams v Slawomir Pezko

German born US international, Daniel Williams will be looking to control the centre of the park and dictate the tempo for Markus Babbel’s side as he did last week, turning in a masterful performance at the Volkswagen arena. Pezko returns from suspension and his slick passing and interplay could give Koln the upper hand in the attacking third – Leverkusen were able to capitalise on their  poor ball distribution last week and bossed large parts of the game.

Bundesliga Football Prediction 2:1

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Podolski is integral in FC Koln's Bundesliga involvement

News of Arsenal’s interest in the German striker came as no surprise to me yesterday – a constant threat and consistently excellent performer with the  North Rhine club, the twenty-six year old surely has all the ingredients to showcase his talents at a top club. I can only imagine that he and van Persie together would make a lethal combination in the Premiership and Europe – the Dutchman’s magical feet & artistry, the Polish born stars’ striking ability and predatory instincts – he could possibly be the final piece in the jigsaw with which Wenger needs to impose a title challenge.

He has been at this juncture before in 2006 – following the relegation of Koln from the Bundesliga, even with Podolski’s dozen goals – he felt he could no longer be the talisman at the club. With many clubs circling, he choose to stay in Germany and a move to Bayern Munich was finalised before the 2006-07 season began. After a slow start, Lukas managed a few goals before a training ground incident with Mark van Bommell ruled him out for a period and disrupted his first season in Munich. The majority of his tumultuous spell in Bavaria was spent warning the bench, misfiring and generally not settling in.

A return to the RheinEnergiestadion was inevitable and following Luca Toni’s arrival at Bayern in 2009, Podolski’s striking berth looked untenable. Lukas started with the FC Köln youth team and being his childhood hometown, the special bond has never left. The club put their full funding behind the return of the player and even partly funded the transfer with an online sale of Podolski Pictures on their club website – this raised around €1m for the kitty. When Podolski returned, so had the club to Germany’s top flight – his first full season back seemed to back up the saying that you should never return to a former club with only three goals to his name during 2009.

Since then he has felt more at home and managed an impressive twenty-three goals in almost seventy appearances – for a team usually skirting just above the relegation zone that’s a stunning ratio. The prodigal son has returned and with the striker and family settled & the club fawning over their indispensable asset surely there is no question to be answered over a move? His starring role with Köln has been integral to their Bundesliga survival over the past two seasons and without Podolski they would surely not find such an all rounded or committed player. He is still also one of the first inclusions in the National squad and so staying in Köln would not affect his Euro 2012 or World Cup aspirations – therefore the only question is about personal ambition?

There is no doubt that Lukas Podolski would be anything other than a revelation in England – a bustling hardworking forward is the epiphany of the English front man. His country & his club are everything to Mr Köln, but there must be a niggling desire to prove he can fully adjust to another country & lifestyle and be commended & recognised with a top side. After reading the tragic story of former German number one Robert Enke, it seems that a continual need for reassurance and praise at a higher level of football can be detrimental to your health and abilities to operate on the pitch.

The former Hannover stopper had two such abrupt and disastrous spells at Barcelona and Fenerbache – the latter lasting only one game after a debut which ended in a storm of lighters and coins surrounding his goal mouth following a hefty defeat. Men who show total commitment to their clubs are a dying breed, the adulation shown for such players as Francesco Totti at AS Roma & Joseba Exteberria with Atlethic de Bilbao is fanatical and such players are revered forever in their clubs history books. A local bar just off the main square in Köln would though save some money from the players departure, their “Podolski Special” means all your kölsch that day is for FREE, whenever Lukas scores the last goal of a Bundesliga game – The Corkonian in the cities’ Alter Markt would rather take that hit then have their Number Ten exit in January. But can the club afford to rebuff a potential – which I would estimate at upwards of £12m – in their coffers?