Sunday 17th January
Why cant British press and media types get their collective head around foreign football teams calling themselves after the town or city they come from in their mother tongue? Really, ESPN advertised this game as ‘Cologne v Dortmund.’ Why? Were they afraid that viewing figures would be affected as British TV sports fans (which I presume you all are) wouldn’t tune in as they were confused as to which city ‘1.FC Köln’ represent? Why does it only affect certain teams as well? Later on that evening the same channel showed Napoli v Palermo. Surely if the insistence of using ‘Cologne’ were to set a precedent then our fellow euro-soccer enthusiasts would be treated to Naples v Palermo later that evening. Unfortunately it annoys me significantly enough to influence me to waste the 1st paragraph of my first posting. Just be grateful they weren’t showing Bayern Munich v Inter Milan loyal readers as this whole blogging nonsense could well have been over before it even started.
Commentator Steve Bower with whom I have a tenuous link (great mate Cheets worked with and speaks highly of the feller) welcomed us to this ‘battle of the west’ in ‘Germany’s fourth largest city’. It was the expected packed Bundesliga stadium with the usual smattering of away fans all around the ground bar Cologn..sorry Köln’s ‘end.’ I’m surprised how common this scenario is in Germany as I cant think of another country where there seems to be this complete non-requirement for mass segregation. Its not like they don’t have a hooligan problem, big supports or like a good drink beforehand but the average German seems more than content to sit next to a fellow sausage muncher wearing a different coloured scarf.
The home team started the better but didn’t really create any chances and were limited to a couple of long-range efforts. Dortmund’s keeper was the stand out player of the 1st 20 minutes, firstly in his attempt to appear on a future own goals and gaffs video by fumbling a weak shot and then by diving at the feet of Köln’s big centre forward in the way ‘goalkeepers don’t do anymore’ (© Old Bury fan at work). This act of old-skool bravery leading to him getting injured and being taken off. To be fair he clearly took a knock but you have to think Bert Trautmann would’ve continued.
It had been all Köln up to this point when out of nothing Dortmund get a corner and score with their first notable effort. The technical term is I believe ‘a clanger’ from the keeper who came for a cross and completely missed it leaving Dortmund’s centre half Mats Hummels to head into the unguarded onion bag. Almost immediately after Köln had a very good penalty shout (i.e. it should’ve been a penalty) turned down. ‘I’ve seen them given’ comments Bower which as a recent writer to WSC commented, is a ridiculous thing to say as we’ve all seen the most implausible decisions awarded. I have however seen them given.
Köln again are doing most of the attacking but the game calms down as we reach the 45 minute stage with the most noteworthy incident being Dortmund fans singing a song that sounded to my ears like a Deutsch equivalent of ‘my garden shed’ that Villa fans seem so keen on. Köln’s Lucas Podolski now seems to be in a right strop and gets booked for what would commentator worth his salt would call (I can’t remember if Bower said this or not…he probably did) a ‘cynical foul.’ The resulting free kick is lofted into the box where Hummels gets on the end to bag his 2nd after another week effort from the Köln ‘stopper.’
At this point I realise the major handicap this keeper is placing upon himself. He’s wearing trackie bottoms! When will our friends on the continent realise that wearing trackies automatically decreases your ability as a goalkeeper? There’s been overwhelming evidence over the years to highlight this yet many still ignore it and for this I’ve no sympathy for the hapless scally lookalike.
While on the subject of playing attire I should inform you that Dortmund are wearing the brightest possible yellow that does not cross the barrier into the category marked as luminous. Köln’s shirt is from the same Reebok template as Bolton’s but in red with red shorts and socks. I’m sure that back in the Toni Polster’s day Koln’s home shirt was white with red trim but Bower has already told us that they are ‘wearing the traditional all red colours’ so maybe I’m wrong, and more importantly maybe its not that crucial you know this.
As the game went on I got a bit more aggrieved by Bower’s commentary mainly due to him repeating the facts that Cologne is Germanys 4th largest city and that Kevin McKenna their large Canadian central defender had a spell at Hearts.
The game went into something of a lull after Dortmund had doubled their advantage with the only highlights being Podolski’s textbook petulant reaction to being subbed (chucks trackie top on floor, sulks off down tunnel) and the travelling Dortmund fans (actually Bower went on a few times about what a large fan base Dortmund have which didn’t need repeating and everyone knows that anyway) singing and bouncing away. Then with the visitors seemingly easing to a routine 3 points the team from the 4th largest German City got back in the game through a header form their tall Canadian former Hearts centre half, Kevin McKenna.
This re-ignited both the home team and crowd and the proverbial kitchen sink was now being launched at the Dortmund goal. Then with just 2 minutes left Köln’s Lebanese skipper Youssef Mohamad beat Dortmund’s keeper to a 50-50 and poked the ball into the net to send the locals into delirium. As it went in I was just scribbling ‘equaliser…brave’ down when Bower out-articulated me (and not many do that) with a passionate ‘what courage..what spirit!’ This caused another immense display of passion as Dortmund coach Juergen Flopp got in a right hissy-fit and was sent to the stand. He proceeded to climb into the stand and looked like he was offering all the home fans outside. Unfortunately no one took up the challenge as I would’ve loved to have seen someone stick one on him.
What drama for the 1st game of the 1st blog, bit of a local derby, dramatic comeback and child like petulance from players and management but it wasn’t over yet. Just into injury time after something of a scrappy build up, Dortmund’s Kevin Grosskeutz hit a speculative effort from outside the box that hit Kevin McKenna (he played for Hearts yer know) and left the newly nicknamed ‘Trackies’ stranded as it trickled into the net, sending what seemed like most of the ‘home’ stand behind into raptures. Dummy out of the pram specialist and Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp ran along the main stand in celebration in a manner that can only be described as ‘giving it large.’ How no one chinned him I’ll really never know.
The game finished shortly after and Köln will feel hard done by at the 3-2 scoreline and stay perilously just a point above the relegation zone. Dortmund are well in the hunt for a champions league spot after this result and have a huge game against fellow champs league pretenders Hamburg next Saturday in what looks like the most open of Europe’s major leagues. This a game you can watch on the same channel and I’d imagine Mr Bower will do another half-decent job of talking you through it although I’m sure he’ll repeatedly tell you what big clubs these two are and that Hamburg were of course managed by former Tottenham boss Martin Jol last season.
Next live Bundesliga coverage (both on ESPN):
Freiburg v Stuttgart
Friday 22nd January at 19:30
Borrusia Dortmund v Hamburg
Saturday 23rd January at 17:30