The second weekend of the Bundesliga season begins on Friday night as clubs from two of Germany’s biggest cities clash.
Hamburger SV meanwhile will hope to build on last weekend’s victory over FC Augsburg, but they will have to do it without Nicolai Müller after his freak injury in that game leaves him ruled out for at least the next seven months.
First Friday night meeting in 20 years
When these two teams last met in the Cathedral city in October, Anthony Modeste was destroyer-in-chief for Köln, scoring a hat-trick as they brushed aside Hamburg to keep them rooted to the bottom of the table.
Things have changed since then. Modeste is of course no longer with the Billy Goats, replaced by Jhon Córdoba, whilst Hamburg – who ultimately survived relegation – have back-to-back home victories against Köln under their belt, knocking them out of the DFB-Pokal in February before beating them in the return league fixture two months later.
Hamburg have never beaten Köln three times in a calendar year, so that is something to aim for. After a 2-1 win the season before, the hosts are looking to win at home against Hamburg for the third time in a row – the last time they managed that was when they achieved an eight-match winning streak between 1968 and 1973.
Overall Köln have won exactly half of their matches against Hamburg on home soil, however they have not drawn with any team (either home or away) as many times as they have with der Dino – 25 to be specific.
By a quirk of the league’s scheduling, this is the first of three consecutive matches Hamburg will play on a Friday night, ahead of matches against RB Leipzig and Hannover 96 after the international break. Hamburg have won five of the nine meetings between these two sides on a Friday, including 2-1 wins in each of the last two, both in the 1997-98 season. Hasan Salihamidzic, now Bayern Munich’s sporting director, scored in both games.
Billy Goats undistracted by Europa League excitement
After starting the season with a disappointing 1-0 Rhine derby defeat to Gladbach, Köln have now turned attentions to their first game at the RheinEnergieStadion since their fans flooded the pitch to celebrate qualifying for Europe for the first time in 25 years after victory against 1. FSV Mainz 05 in May.
By the time their fans decent again on Müngersdorf, they will know the identity of their UEFA Europa League group stages and that will likely be on everyone’s lips. That is not the case with the players, or so insists coach Peter Stöger. “No-one is talking about the draw internally,” he insisted. “We are clearly focused on the game against Hamburg.”
The Austrian is looking forward to “a great atmosphere” for the homecoming, but he is also expecting “a difficult match” against the Red Shorts. He expects his team to bounce back from the defeat to the Foals. He says that they “always fight until the end” and that they will have to do just that “if we want to be successful” on Friday night.
He confirmed that Yuya Osako should return after a ligament problem. “As long as he is feeling fine, he will be in the squad,” he confirmed; Milos Jojic is tipped to make way. He remains hopeful that Timo Horn will be fit, despite sustained an unspecified injury during the week. That would be just as well, as second choice goalkeeper Thomas Kessler remains out with a broken finger, meaning Sven Müller would have to start if Horn was unavailable.
One player that will definitely be absent is Konstantin Rausch, after he sustained concussion against Gladbach. Jannes Horn replaced him in that game and will likely do so again against Hamburg, meaning skipper Jonas Hector would remain in midfield. Any other changes will presumably only come if Stöger opts for a change of formation, something he is not unknown to do.
Gisdol calls on whole team to make up for Müller absence
After their 1-0 win against Augsburg last weekend, Hamburg are in potential nosebleed territory going into this game. They currently sit joint-fifth with three other teams, but a point, or three, in Cologne would see them top the Bundesliga for the first time since 2009 – until Saturday afternoon at least. “That is a nice though,” said Markus Gisdol on Thursday, however “we won’t occupy ourselves with that before the game.”
A lot of the focus on Hamburg in the past week has been on the ACL injury Müller sustained whilst celebrating the goal against Augsburg, which is set to rule him out for the majority of the season. Gisdol confirmed that Müller’s operation on the injury, conducted by of all people Köln team doctor Peter Schaeferhoff, was successful.
Whilst Gisdol has not ruled out the club signing a replacement, he says his existing players are “required to fill this gap,” especially “the players who haven’t had much time [to contribute] so far.”
Apart from Müller, the only other player unavailable is Bjarne Thoelke, with former Köln defender Mergim Mavraj expected to return. He has recovered from the dislocated rib that kept him out against Augsburg, and he told the HSV website that he is “very much looking forward to the Friday night floodlit atmosphere.”
He could come in for Gideon Jung or replace Walace, allowing the former to push onto midfield. Aaron Hunt would be favourite to take Müller’s place in the side, as he did against Augsburg, although a possible switch to 4-4-2 would open the door for Luca Waldschmidt or Bakery Jatta, with André Hahn playing up front with Bobby Wood. Douglas Santos, linked with a move to PSV Eindhoven, could return although youngster Rick van Drongelen is expected to retain his place at left-back.
1. FC Köln: (4-1-4-1) T. Horn; Klünter, Sörensen, Heintz, J. Horn; Risse, Lehmann, Hector, Bittencourt; Osaka, Córdoba.
Hamburger SV: (4-2-3-1) Mathenia; Diekmeier, Papadopoulos, Mavraj, van Drongelen; Ekdal, Walace; Hahn, Hunt, Kostic; Wood.
Quotes via Kicker, 1. FC Köln, Welt and Hamburger SV.