Winter break: 1. FC Köln

10th place

Grade: C+

Köln is an interesting team to watch. They are chaotic in defense but can score. Or rather Lukas Podolski can score. The German international has already bagged 14 goals and is single-handedly keeping this team afloat. If they sell him in the winterbreak, surely they will collapse and go down…

Goalkeeping is pretty decent. Michael Rensing failed at Bayern, but has done fairly well on the Rhein. He hasn’t been spectacular, but has been steady. He’ll never be an international, which would have been almost automatic if he had made it at Bayern, but he’s proven enough that he should have a decent career.

The defense has been a disaster. Everybody sucks. Brazilian Geromel is at least valued highly, although he hasn’t really shown it on the field. Clearly they need more from him if they’re not going to fall. Ammar Jemal has had a couple of decent games as a starter, but is not a regular.

The midfield is even worse. Sascha Riether is supposed to hold things together as DM, but has been barely passable. Others such as Martin Lanig, Mato Jajalo and Christian Clemens have been largely horrible. It’s pretty sad when your only hope for improvement is 35 year old Portuguese Petit, who will hopefully be able to recover from his injury and get his first matches after winterbreak.

Prinz Poldi is a god in Köln. He’s scored more than half the teams goals, and has assisted on many others. In the past he’s had Milivoje Novakovic to at least help out with scoring goals, but he’s been out injured. He should be back, but Novo is getting up in years and could be losing effectiveness. Until he comes back, rest assured Köln should stick with a single attacker. So it’s all on the shoulders of Podolski. He’s almost becoming a mythical figure for Köln fans, sort of like Matt Le Tissier was for Southampton. He’s only 26 and has fully recuperated from his disastrous time at Bayern. (Although oddly enough, he has generally always been effective with the national team). It’s been rough since Köln basically stinks, and he’s often on his own, but his goals are keeping the team afloat. However, most pundits expect him to leave. Köln can’t afford him, and Poldi should be entering his prime years with a fat-ass contract. Perhaps the last service he can give to his club is some massive transfer fee.

If Podolski leaves, things become very difficult for coach Stale Solbakken. If Novakovic doesn’t come back, they won’t be able to score, and the defense is crap. Köln could easily sink like a stone right into relegation.


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