Little visibility and a lot of confusion – for 1. FC Köln the trip to the Conference League game at 1. FC Slovacko has become a memorable experience with an extension until Friday. Not only the twice changing of the original kick-off time from 6.45 p.m. to 7.15 p.m. and 8.00 p.m. due to thick fog caused discussions. The fact that the game, which had started with a great delay, was called off prematurely in the seventh minute by referee Giorgi Kruaschwilli from Georgia made the chaos perfect.
“I haven’t experienced anything like this before. But I think the demolition is the right thing to do,” commented coach Steffen Baumgart. Referring to the new date on Friday at 1:00 p.m. (CEST), he jokingly added: “Fortunately, I was in the second division long enough. Then I know how 1 p.m. works.”
Due to the tight schedule before the World Cup in Qatar, there was no other choice when it came to rescheduling. As early as next week, the Cologne team (November 3) will be playing their preliminary round showdown at home against Nice. In the Bundesliga, FC meets Hoffenheim in Cologne on Sunday. “The return carriage will then come on Sunday. But we have to live with it and make the best of it,” said Baumgart, concerned that his pros might not have enough recovery time.
The starting position for the Bundesliga tenth is now clearer than before. After the 2-1 win over Partizan Belgrade (8 points) early on Thursday evening, the team from Nice took the lead in the table. Cologne and the Czechs are three points behind.
Baumgart hopes that his team can make up ground in the fight for the round of 16 after the last two defeats against Belgrade: “We’ll try to win this game.” Only the group winner qualifies directly for the round of 16. The eight second move into an upstream knockout round against the eight Europa League relegated.
Two other German clubs have also been affected by game transfers similar to those in Cologne in recent years. Heavy rain prevented the game between Manchester City and Borussia Mönchengladbach from kicking off in September 2016. In 2001, Bayer Leverkusen’s game at Juventus Turin had to be canceled due to thick fog and was rescheduled for a week later. The fog was too heavy on this date as well, so the game was rescheduled for the following day.
Rani Khedira rushed to Robin Knoche immediately after the final whistle, and goalkeeper Frederik Rönnow quickly thanked the penalty expert from 1. FC Union Berlin. After his celebrated winning goal with a hand penalty (68th minute), the smile on Knoche’s face hadn’t disappeared long after the 1-0 (0-0) win against Sporting Braga.
“Pure joy, relief. Especially when you have a game like that, which wasn’t exactly promising. Of course you’re happy to take a penalty like that,” said Knoche on Thursday evening. “We hit the lucky punch today and now have everything in our own hands.”
Thanks to the important success, the leader of the Bundesliga has kept the chance of moving into the knockout round of the Europa League. The Irons passed the top Portuguese club in Group D in second place. Knoche had already secured a 1-0 win against Malmö FF from the penalty spot.
“That was a very important win for us,” said Berlin defender Diogo Leite. “There is one game left and we will try to win it.”
With another win at leaders Union Saint-Gilloise, who have already qualified for the round of 16, next Thursday, Union would certainly still be in the Europa League. A draw in Belgium could mean falling back to third place. Then only participation in the Conference League would remain as a consolation prize.
The Union fans hung a huge golden banner on the fence more than half the length of the stadium. It read about the iron legend sung in the club’s anthem. However, the Berlin game was not a “thunder” that once roared through Köpenick. The “access” that coach Urs Fischer had demanded from the first minute didn’t work.
Braga, who didn’t necessarily need a win, had a passably staggered formation to control Union’s limited offensive efforts. A Morten Thorsby header after half an hour was the first approach to the Braga goal. Captain Christopher Trimmel (40th) then headed over it from a more promising position. The Portuguese, for their part, had two moderately dangerous shot chances through Ricardo Horta (32nd) and Abel Ruiz (36th). This game really didn’t have an elevated European level.
Fischer brought in Andras Schäfer for Thorsby in the second half. The Hungarian should provide more moments of surprise with his technical skills. Union moved up more, you finally had to take risks. First of all, however, this provided more space for the Portuguese to counterattack, which Fischer had conjured up as a danger. Referee Craig Pawson called for a penalty after a handball by Fabiano according to video evidence, which turned Union around.
Union was lucky shortly before the end when goalkeeper Frederik Rönnow slipped through his fingers a free kick from the Portuguese, but the ball went over the goal.
Meanwhile, SC Freiburg is in the round of 16 of the Europa League ahead of schedule. The Bundesliga soccer club fought a 1-1 (0-1) draw against Olympiacos Piraeus late on Thursday evening. Lukas Kübler scored the acclaimed equalizer for the Breisgau team in the 3rd minute of added time. Since pursuer Karabakh Agdam also lost 1:2 in the parallel game at FC Nantes, Freiburg have secured the group victory before the last matchday and thus save themselves the playoff round after the turn of the year. Youssef El-Arabi scored for Piraeus in front of 33,600 spectators in the 17th minute.