Marcel Risse will be unavailable to Peter Stöger for the second-consecutive match day when the 1. FC Köln travel to wherever the hell TSG Hoffenheim play their home matches.
Risse’s status is not much of a surprise, as initial reports of his injury had him out at least this long. But the injury to his left knee required surgery this week, which will keep one of the bigger Effzeh threats sidelined reportedly four to five weeks, which means we could even not see our regular right-mid presence until Florida.
A bout of bronchitis has made Slawomir Peszko (“I’m ill. Bronchitis. I cross my fingers for the team.“) also unavailable Saturday, further reducing Stöger’s options in midfield.
With Sunday’s trio of Daniel Halfar, Yuya Osako, and Dusan Svento being largely ineffective against SC Freiburg, it’s difficult to imagine Stöger is not looking to shake things up, even as he reminds everyone there is more to football than offensive creativity.
“Naturally,you can talk about the second-worst offense,” philosphizes Stöger, “ but you can also talk about the third-best defense, which we have as a promoted side.”
Who will be running along that right flank in . . . where DO they play? Sinsheim? Where is that?! . . . let’s just say “Hoffenheim.” That’s easier.
Probably the most-sensible thing, assuming a change is made, would be to move Pawel Olkowski into the midfield, where he’s played before, and bring the captain back into his normal role. I’m sure it’s not ideal for Miso Brecko to find his role being even more defined as a back-up for Olkowski, but that may simply be the reality from here on out. He had to know it was coming, even if he didn’t expect it so soon.
Olkowski can be effective on both ends, as he’s show as both a midfielder and a right back. With the offensive weaponry on Markus Gisdol’s roster, even if Kevin Volland and Roberto Firmino have yet to show form this season remotely as threatening as they have in the past, the extra defensive capability in the midfield will be important.
“Yeah, but what about the offense?”
Still a problem, I grant you that. BUT, FC DietmarHopp 1899 is no joke this season. They have a talent-packed roster and are playing a much-more disciplined football than last season’s run-and-gun crew who were happy to surrender three or four goals as long as they got somewhere between three and five themselves. Our boys will necessarily be playing for a point once again, which will do nothing for the people agonizing over the punchless attack.
Stöger also said that Bard Finne is a “consideration” on the right, but it would be a surprise if the youngster played from the start at all, much less a bit out of role.
Can we hope to see Anthony Ujah from the start? I’m 50-50 on that proposition. On the one hand, I believe he’s simply more a threat with the ball than Simon Zoller has shown himself to be. On the other hand, Zoller has been able to pull some long balls down, which is where Ujah had been failing earlier. It doesn’t appear that offensive strategy is going away anytime soon, but probably really not against a contender for Europe.
“My feeling is the TSG will stay in fight for European-league spots,” says Stöger. “The team really impresses me.”