Bundesliga / football / Germany / Sports

Here comes Royer? Still no Bröker? Stani’s Startelf?

I vaguely understood that one of my personal favorites to become an important player on this year’s 1. FC Köln squad, Daniel Royer, said something in an interview in his home country of Austria that was contrary enough to Holger Stanislawski’s idea of how a team member should speak of his team and the activities surrounding it that he was completely removed from the squad for the recent match against VfL Bochum.

I’m certain I meant to, at some point, try to locate the offending interview and discern what the offense was, not only to see whether Royer would remain a player I wish to promote, but also to get more insight into what sort of coach Stani is. I’ve liked him as long as I’ve known of him, so I was glad he was hired to replace Stale Solbakken. He seems to me to have the ability to relate to players as men with the responsibility to team and self while also knowing when to take more of a disciplinarian role.

To pretend I have any actual knowledge to this would be transparently daft, but I get to believe what I want, especially if I am willing to move my stance based on actual information when made available to me, no?

However, as I wrote yesterday, I’ve been a bit busy lately with things not related to 1. FC Köln, including fumbling through the internet with my out-of-practice German-language skills.

While I’m still curious as to what Royer said (and will try again to remember to find the interview), it seems to have been not so bad to keep him out of the team for more than the one match, as Kicker is reporting he will be reinstated for tomorrow’s battle with promotion-favorite Hertha Berlin, though likely to at least begin the game on the bench.

Meanwhile, though Thomas Bröker has been consistently training with the team, seeming to indicate he’s recovered from a back injury, he will not yet be available to play, again according to Kicker.

What the circumstances surrounding the two mean lead to for Stani would seem to be a good excuse to use the same starting eleven he’s put forth the last two matches.

Two matches which, by the way, were solid victories for the Billy Goats.

The one consistent thing that could be said about the line-up throughout the first few months of the season is that it would always be different from game to game. In fact, were Stani to use the same line-up tomorrow, it would be the first time he’s put forward the same starting eleven in three consecutive league matches this season. The recent back-to-back line-up was actually the first time he’d used the same look in consecutive matches since the first two of the season.

While some of the tinkering certainly has stemmed from working around injuries to key players, a lot of it has appeared to be Stani seeking the right formula for success. The recent run of success, which has seen the Effzeh gain at least one point in eight of the last nine league matches, as well as earning a spot in the DFB Pokal quarterfinals, has occurred with Bröker now missing for more than half of it. This is a bit ironic in that, when the team struggled mightily the first six matches of the season, Bröker seemed to be the only Kölner who knew where the goal even was, tallying the only two goals scored by the Effzeh during that long, dark stretch.

It would be difficult to argue, however, that the team would not be improved when he returns to action. I wish I could remember who it was who described him as “tierisch” in a brief exchange as to whether his return was going to help the team immediately. He does have an animal-like aggressiveness in his demeanor which seems it can only be of benefit as long as it’s within control of the player, which it seems to be. I think that sort of passion is needed as an example for some members such a young squad. Talent is one thing, but without the drive to want to win, it’s virtually useless.

Nobody should question Bröker’s drive to succeed.

At any rate, I’m certain Bröker is likely to be returned to full-duty the minute he is fully healthy, even if the combination of Anthony Ujah, Mato Jajalo, Christian Clemens, and Adil Chihi seems to be clicking well enough right now.

I would not be surprised if Stani makes a change on the back line tomorrow, however. With no 2. Bundesliga team scoring at quite the pace as Hertha is, you have to wonder whether converted midfielder Jonas Hector will again appear at the left back spot or be replaced by someone with more experience at the position in the face of a more-skilled opponent. While I believe Hector has been surprisingly solid in his new role (and I’d even argue better than Christian Eichner by a good stretch), MSV Duisburg, 1860 München, and VfL Bochum are hardly the best opponents against whom to test one’s defensive mettle. Bochum and Duisburg are currently the two lowest-scoring teams, though Sandhausen was among them before today’s three-goal outburst. 1860 has been only marginally better, entering match day 16 with one goal fewer than the Effzeh have managed (and let’s not kid ourselves, our beloved team is far from being an offensive juggernaut).

On the other hand…why not? Assuming Hector is open to the idea of transforming his game in order to get more playing time, maybe this would be the perfect opportunity to see whether there’s a future in it. Realistically, he doesn’t have a shot at supplanting Adam Matuschyk or Matthias Lehmann as starting defensive midfielders, not only because he was not really remarkable in his appearances in their stead, but also because those two are simply quite good where they are. I don’t know he has enough in his game to assert himself into the attacking part of the midfield when that is the area in which the club seems to actually have depth.

I guess I’ve just talked myself into hoping Hector plays there again tomorrow and grabs himself a regular role, which would mean he had an impressive performance, which is what the Effzeh will need to get points in Berlin.

I have hope.

Now, all y’all get to bed, so you can have lots of energy for the match tomorrow (kicking into Dad mode, here).

Berlin! You best be ready!

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