1. FC Köln / Bundesliga / football / Germany

If not now, when? Time for the 1. FC Köln to deliver!

This one is about as big as a match as we’ve had in a good, long while, ja?

It’s not so much that it’s a head-to-head match with one of the few remaining competitors, though that certainly plays into it.

Also playing a role is that it’s been far too long since we’ve all experienced that great feeling of confidence that comes after a decisive victory. The 2014 portion features the win over Sandhausen and the draw at Kaiserslautern.

As surprisingly efficient as Sandhausen has become, a 1:0 over them is hardly the stuff of legend.

Sidebar: No offense, SVS! I salute what you’ve done this season!

And while a good many  Effzeh fans were thrilled to leave the Betzenberg with a point due to the long-term dominance of the Red Devils in the series, you’re hardly going to point to a scoreless draw as a major statement of a club’s primacy over second-division competition.

Hence, the anxiety around this club and it’s promotion chances has grown since the winter break from nearly non-existent to concern enough to have would-be tacticians suggesting all sorts of things Peter Stöger might should try to get things rolling again.

None of which has really mattered much the last few months as the wishy-washy results of the clubs in pursuit have been slow to erode the advantage 1. FC Köln had over those chasing them.

Until now, that is.

Without a three-point result at home to Karlsruher SC on Wednesday, Greuther Fürth and SC Paderborn will head to the weekend directly on the heels of the long-established Spitzenreitern.

Still behind, mind you, but close enough to where it would be ridiculous to continue to repeat the party line of “the competition remains far behind.”

Our club came out of winter break with every reason to be very confident of their promotion chances, holding enough of a lead on third place to own a fairly sizeable margin for error. With Fürth and Paderborn winning on Tuesday to pull within one and three points of first, respectively, that margin for error is finally almost completely evaporated.

1. FC Köln will remain in first place no matter what happens tomorrow at Müngersdorf, but the result ultimately has the potential to become either a huge launching point for a late show of strength to the would-be challengers, or throw the club into a deeper spiral of confidence issues than what already seem evident, whether anyone officially attached to the club cares to admit it publicly or no.

Why doesn’t he look worried?

Either way, a fan base that is fairly on-edge, is likely to remain so, even with a victory over the KSC, should the three points not be accompanied with some indication there is reason to believe the offensive part of the Effzeh game was simply in a lull, rather than the lack of scoring being a matter of irreparable dysfunction. 

If I’m honest, my facade of relative calm is a false one. I want to appear that I’m as cool and collected as Stöger always seems to be.

But the fact is, I’m anxious as hell. The only reason I’m able to pretend otherwise is that I have the ability that seems common among my Effzeh brethren (and sister-thren?), which is the blind certainty that the brilliance that is everything about the club will translate to the on-pitch product ANY MINUTE NOW! Hence, my facade of “All is well!” is bolstered by my assumption that the damn will break tomorrow, Ujah and Helmes will each get a goal, and the last two months will be something to laugh about upon later reflection.

If it doesn’t go down that way, I’ll be scrambling for a new way to spin it.

For my own mental health, it will be damned near requisite.

 

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