Bundesliga Weekend Review – Cologne Progressing Under Innovative Solbakken

Football will always benefit from tactical innovation. To continue to improve its necessary push the boundaries. Cologne’s Sporting Director Volke Finke looks to have provided new manager Stale Solbakken greater publicity and a bigger stage to showcase his ideas.

Prior to his arrival at the RheinEnergieStadion, the Norwegian Solbakken was at FC Kobenhavn between 2006 and 2011. He won the Danish league title in five of his six seasons at the club. Now in North West Germany, it will be interesting to see whether Solbakken’s zonal marking taken to the extreme can succeed in the long term.

Defensively, it should help Cologne but conceding five away to Schalke earlier this season illustrates more work is required. However, the new system has also allowed for fluidity going forward which was shown by their 4-1 thrashing of bitter rivals Leverkusen away from home. On their day Cologne are a formidable outfit.

This is the problem though. Despite the Billy Goats overcoming Hannover 2-0 at the weekend with a good performance Solbakken needs to find some consistency. His new side have won four, drawn one and lost four this season and if the team are to reach their potential, the new coach will need more from his side.

However, the players look like they adore their new coach and the importance of having the whole squad buying into the ideas of the coach cannot be underestimated. Lukas Podolski, a man who has struggled on the domestic scene over the last few seasons, has rediscovered some scintillating form. Having scored the second of his two goals on Sunday, he rushed, along with the rest of the team, towards Solbakken and embraced him.

Considering the short amount of time his new coach has been there, it demonstrates some show of affection. Perhaps with Podolski, it’s something to do with the added freedom he appears to have been given in the new system. If you also take into the account the supposedly volatile nature of the Cologne dressing room in past seasons, Solbakken is doing well so far to keep control.

After quite a few years of instability at the club, Cologne must ensure their new man is at the helm for many years to come. There is definite room for improvement in the team but most importantly for now, Stale Solbakken is making steady progress in the Rhine Valley.

Matchday 9 Results:

Werder Bremen 0-2 Borussia Dortmund – Jurgen Klopp’s team take the points thanks to goals from Ivan Perisic and Patrick Owomoyela. It means Werder’s 100% home record is over but Borussia move into the Champions League places.

Bayern Munich 4-0 Hertha Berlin – Die Roten obliterated their capital rivals with apparent ease – Jupp Heynckes’ side march on.

Mainz 0-1 Augsburg – Newly promoted Augsburg finally secure their first win of the season with a late penalty as Thomas Tuchel’s Mainz shouldn’t have had Nicolai Muller’s goal disallowed however but this is no excuse for their defeat.

Stuttgart 2-0 Hoffenheim – Shinji Okazaki and Pavel Pogrebnyak secured the win for Stuttgart as Die Hoffe are frustrated in the Mercedes Benz Arena.

Wolfsburg 2-1 Nurnberg – The Wolves move away from the relegation places after a double from Mario Mandzukic. Nurnberg meanwhile struggle for consistency.

Gladbach 2-2 Bayer Leverkusen – In the pick of the weekend’s games, Borussia will be disappointed they couldn’t hold on to their 2-1 lead late on. Stefan Reinartz nodded in for Bayer but Lucien Favre’s men came back strongly. Marco Reus and Patrick Hermann took two of many chances created by Gladbach. André Schurrle though curled in a great late equaliser meaning a share of the spoils.

Schalke 1-2 Kaiserslautern – A surprise home defeat for the Royal Blues came thanks to a determined performance from the visitors. Kouemaha grabbed the winner for the Red Devils after two converted penalties and two sending’s off had kept the sides level.

Freiburg 1-2 Hamburg – Hamburg continue to show signs of life with an important away win. Thorsten Fink takes over on Monday. Ilicevic’s late goal settled this contest but Papiss Demba Cisse missed a late penalty for the home side.

Cologne 2-0 Hannover – The Billy Goats secure victory thanks to two goals from Lukas Podolski. Hannover were very unlucky to have a goal incorrectly disallowed for offside at 1-0. Slomke’s side failed to offer enough in the match to merit a result though.

Rank Club Matches W* D* L* G* GD* PTS*
1 FC Bayern Munich 9 7 1 1 25:1 +24 22 CL*
2 Borussia Mönchengladbach 9 5 2 2 11:6 +5 17 CL*
3 Borussia Dortmund 9 5 1 3 15:7 +8 16 CL*
4 VfB Stuttgart 9 5 1 3 14:6 +8 16 CL* Qual.
5 SV Werder Bremen 9 5 1 3 16:12 +4 16 EL* Qual.
6 FC Schalke 04 9 5 0 4 18:15 +3 15 EL* Qual.
7 Hannover 96 9 4 3 2 11:12 -1 15
8 Bayer 04 Leverkusen 9 4 2 3 12:13 -1 14
9 1899 Hoffenheim 9 4 1 4 12:9 +3 13
10 1. FC Köln 9 4 1 4 15:18 -3 13
11 Hertha BSC Berlin 9 3 3 3 12:13 -1 12
12 VfL Wolfsburg 9 4 0 5 11:16 -5 12
13 1. FC Nuremberg 9 3 2 4 10:12 -2 11
14 1. FC Kaiserslautern 9 2 2 5 7:13 -6 8
15 1. FSV Mainz 05 9 2 2 5 12:19 -7 8
16 FC Augsburg 9 1 4 4 7:16 -9 7 Play-offs
17 SC Freiburg 9 2 1 6 14:24 -10 7 Relegation
18 Hamburger SV 9 2 1 6 11:21 -10 7 Relegation

Table from Bundesliga Website