Red Star Belgrade vs Köln – Thursday, December 7, 20:05GMT/21:05CET – Marakana, Belgrade, Serbia
It has finally happened 1.FC Köln have parted ways with head coach Peter Stöger following matchday 14 of the Bundesliga. The decision was made on Friday ahead of the Bundesliga showdown against Schalke 04 and then got leaked after Köln’s U-19 coach Stefan Ruthenbeck told his players that he was about to take over the job of the senior team on interims basis.
The media, therefore, found out about Stöger leaving the club ahead of the crucial match against Schalke and it is fantastic that the players put in a strong performance wrestling Schalke to a 2-2 draw. Although there are positives form the weekend the bottom line is three points from the first 14 games in the Bundesliga and a likely relegation at the end of the season.
Things are not quite as bleak in the Europa League, however. A 1-0 victory on matchday 5 over Arsenal means that Köln are now third in Group H and even on points with Thursday’s opponent Red Star Belgrade. Both sides are currently on six points, but Belgrade won the first leg 1-0, which means Köln will have to win the match to leapfrog Belgrade to one of the top spots and qualify for the round of 32.
Whether it is actually in the true interest of Köln to reach the next round is another question. Playing extra matches in the spring could hurt Köln’s chances of achieving a miracle and stay in the league. On the other hand, the Billy Goats need positive results to gain confidence, and new head coach Ruthenbeck will, therefore, go all in to secure the three points against an excellent Red Star Belgrade side.
Red Star Belgrade vs Köln – Players to look out for:
Mitchell Donald #20 – Red Star Belgrade
The 28-year-old struggled to make the grade at Ajax under Martin Jol but established himself in a decent three-year stint at Roda JC. After suffering a relegation in the Russian Premier League with Mordovia two years ago he moved to Red Star, becoming an essential anchor of their midfield. The Dutchman has a taste for yellow cards, but if he keeps his composure and is given time to feed balls to Boakye, he could be a threat.
Matthias Lehmann #33 – Köln
Matthias Lehmann returned to regular play against Arsenal and was a key player in Köln’s 2-2 tie against Schalke. The midfielder has been absent with injuries at times this season and has been missed in Köln’s midfield. Köln have lacked structure at times, and Matze Lehmann should be able to bring some order to Köln’s play.
Köln vs Hertha – Match Stats
- Red Star Belgrade prevailed 1-0 at Köln on matchday two thanks to a spectacular 30th-minute strike from Richmond Boakye.
- In the sides’ only other meetings, Christoph Daum’s Köln overcame a 2-0 away deficit to eliminate Dragan Šekularac’s Red Star from the 1989/90 UEFA Cup third round with a 3-0 victory in Cologne.
- Red Star went on to win the European Cup the following season, making Köln the last team to eliminate them from continental competition before that triumph.
- Red Star’s record in 30 games against German opposition is an evenly-balanced W13 D4 L13. At home, it is W9 D4 L2.
- Köln have won two and lost three of their five matches against Serbian outfits.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Red Star Belgrade vs Köln 0-1
Red Star Belgrade vs Köln – Lineups
Red Star Belgrade
Borjan – Rodic, Savic, Le Tallec, Stojkovic – Donald, Krsticic – Srnic, Kanga, Milic – Boakye
Head Coach: Vladan Milojević
Horn – Mere, Horn, Sörensen – Rausch, Lehmann, Özcan, Olkowski – Jojic, Osako, Guirassy
Head Coach: Stefan Ruthenbeck
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and social media editor at Bundesliga.com. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.