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Bröker Fit for Friday (Will it matter?)

It’s Election day here in the United States.

Suffice it to say, there are bigger items on my plate today than the fortunes of 1. FC Köln.

Yet, I’ll allow myself to be distracted by the news of the return of Thomas Bröker to practice, rather than ruminate on what sort of country I live in where nearly half the citizens think homosexuals deserve to be discriminated against and that women’s reproductive health is a perfectly reasonable area for government oversight.

Because, frankly, that’s scary.

But, honestly, so too is the recent play of the effzeh.

Did a five-game unbeaten run spoil me a bit? Raise my expectations? Certainly, it has to be considered. Even though VfR Wormatia Worms had dispatched Hertha BSC in the first round of the DFB Cup, I thought the rejuvenated billy goats would make short work of their second-round opponent. Even after that mid-week match went to penalties before the effzeh could claim victory, I figured the streak would continue in Aalen.

Instead, I’m reminded of all the problems that have reared their ugly heads so far this season.

  • A lack of punch on the offensive side of the field.
  • Too many defenders finding themselves behind the ball as it races by them on the foot of an opponent.
  • Too many guys standing around watching a ball headed into the net.
  • A general lack of spirit from start to finish.

Despite, once again, dominating the ball with a 61-39% edge in time of possession, VfR Aalen outshot the effzeh 17-9 and, of course, won the match 2-0.

I’m simply annoyed with the defense. I watched replays of both goals multiple times and was stunned by what I perceive as a lack of effort in crucial moments.

The first goal was, granted, a little bit fluky in that a ball ended up lying in the perfect spot for Martin Dausch, who simply beat everyone else to it to drill it into the net, but what is with the ridiculous “zonal marking” trend that allowed him to be moving around freely unchecked, simply because he didn’t have the wall, while three guys in red surrounded Enrico Valentini WAY out by the sideline?!

Granted, if Valentini is boxed in to such a degree he cannot get the ball toward the middle, then all the other players roaming around out there freely are pretty much useless. The problem is that it’s been proven that it’s not as easy to stop the ball as you’d hope. Only one has to get one ball through in order to create havoc.

I’m sure someone much more familiar with tactics can explain to me how it was a better gamble that those three defenders would shut down the play on the flank rather than be toward the penalty area defending guys who are moving without the ball. To someone who grew up playing basketball, it seems incredibly dumb, however. Valentini could not possibly score from out there, whereas Dausch was in a dangerous spot. Dominic Maroh did all he could to mark Cidimar and was the victim of a bad bounce after his tackle, but that doesn’t change the fact someone needs to be defending Dausch on that stretch.

The second goal is even more irritating to me because it was a simple cross into the box for which Cidimar leapt to turn into a goal, somewhat aided by the fact that Maroh and Kevin Wimmer jog lazily into spaces rather than pay attention to where the lone striker is headed to receive a pass. Again, is the hope that the pressure on the player delivering the pass will be sufficient to ensure that the ball is unlikely to find it’s target and, hence, it’s better to be in some other randomly determined spots to intercept the pass?

It makes NO SENSE to me! Even when playing zone defense in basketball, you don’t guard an area of the floor, rather you take a tight defensive position against a player who comes into that area. The games are not that similar, but this particular defensive principal would seem to merit consideration. Make the offensive player make a great play to finish and score. While Dausch had to put on a burst of speed to beat others to the ball, Cidimar could not have been less attended on his goal. Maroh and Wimmer would have been equally effective sitting in the stands on that particular play.

This has to be a philosophical thing. Generally, the offense for Köln maintains possession so much that the actual offensive chances for opponents are somewhat limited. Hence, it’s alarming that goals are scored so frequently on a diminished number of chances. The chances allowed are simply too high in quality. My personal opinion is that the back four needs to play a LOT more aggressively.

You know, the what Bröker plays on the other side of the field.

Reportedly returning to practice after some issues with his back forced him to miss the last three matches, Bröker could help get the offense back on track a little bit. While he’s not necessarily been the most-dangerous (Anthony Ujah) or thrilling (Sascha Bigalke) player with the ball, he is, for me, the most-consistent. I find him to be utterly dependable. I also feel like he lends a jolt of energy to his teammates in spots (You taking notes, Miso Brecko?).

Having Bröker back in the line-up will, of course, mean someone else has to sit, assuming Stani continues to insist on playing two defensive midfielders, despite the fact they seem to be utterly useless in helping the back four stop quick counter-strikes. Even should the team come out in a more-offensive formation, you can’t really get Ujah, Bigalke, Bröker,  Daniel Royer, Adil Chihi, and Christian Clemens all out there at the same time, can you?

There’s a chance I tend to overrate all six of these players. If you ask me about any one of them, I would probably tell you I thought they had the potential to be a top-flight threat.

I guess if I had the answers, someone would find a reason to pay me to help design strategy by Friday.

And, as I’ve hinted, if Mitt Romney wins the election tonight, I’d be available to move to Köln pretty quickly, as long as the opportunity were there.

Ah…who am I kidding? Even if Obama wins, I’d be happy to move over there. I’ve been promised tickets to at least one match at Rheinenergiestadion!

Here’s to a happy tomorrow and a happier Friday! Prost!

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