Summary

  • Köln finished last season in ninth place.
  • Optimistic supporters hoping for a European place this time around.
  • Shrewd summer business has increased competition for places in the squad.

With not long until the 2016/17 Bundesliga season gets under way, it is high time to put each club's upcoming campaign under the microscope. bundesliga.com's previews will provide you with all you need to know ahead of the big kick-off on 26 August…

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Next up are 1. FC Köln

Big question

Köln fans were over the moon at finishing ninth last season, the club's first single-digit placing in the top flight since 1992. The main question, then, is whether they can maintain the improvement of the last few years into the new campaign.

There were plenty of reasons for cheer in Cologne last season.

While you get the sense that the club itself would be delighted with more of the same, some more ambitious supporters – and there are plenty in the Domstadt – would like to see a sustained push for Europe from the two-time Bundesliga champions.

New faces

Konstantin Rausch has joined the Billy Goats from Darmstadt.

The Billy Goats have reinforced wisely, bringing in cover for problem positions from last season. To that end, new boy Artjoms Rudnevs will compete with Anthony Modeste for the lone striker berth in Peter Stöger's preferred 4-2-3-1 system.

After a fine season at SV Darmstadt 98, Konstantin Rausch offers a real threat on the left in front of Jonas Hector, while Marco Höger – a new arrival from FC Schalke 04 and Köln fan as a boy – boasts plenty of top-flight experience.

The additions and increased squad depth could certainly help with a European push, but the departure of young midfielder Yannick Gerhardt to VfL Wolfsburg is a blow.

Coach

Peter Stöger is a good fit as Köln coach.

A pragmatic, reasonable and level-headed coach, Stöger is the perfect fit for the club and the city. The Austrian tactician, 50, took over in 2013 and led Köln to the Bundesliga 2 title in his first season.

Successive mid-table finishes in the top flight have since followed and with improvement evident in every year of his reign, Effzeh fans are rightly optimistic about the coming campaign.

Key man

Jonas Hector was one of Germany's best performers at UEFA EURO 2016.

Hector was one of Germany's star men at UEFA EURO 2016, scoring the winning penalty in the quarter-final shootout victory over Italy as well as picking up one assist during the tournament.

Capable of playing in defensive midfield as well as at left-back, the 26-year-old was also a key part of the best defence outside of the top three last season and is expected to continue his impressive form this year.

Key dates

The Billy Goats begin the season on home turf against Darmstadt. Stöger's side face promoted duo RB Leipzig and SC Freiburg in the two home games after that, but the first three away games take them to Wolfsburg, Schalke and FC Bayern München.

Köln travel to Borussia Mönchengladbach for the Rhine derby on Matchday 11, with other local rivals Bayer 04 Leverkusen visiting on Matchday 16.

Click here to see Köln's full schedule

Home ground

A 50,000-seater stadium, the RheinEnergieSTADION hosted five games at the 2006 FIFA World Cup and is located in the west of the city.

Watch: get to know the RheinEnergieSTADION in the exclusive video tour below