“We've shown we're nobody's whipping boys. People had better start getting used to that,” said attacking midfielder Moritz Stoppelkamp with a broad grin after the 3-0 dismantling of Hamburger SV in their own back yard.
Breitenreiter enjoying the ride
Widely tipped for a post-haste return to Bundesliga 2 ahead of the season start, Paderborn have four points in their account already and but for a last-gasp equaliser by 1. FSV Mainz on Matchday 1, it would have been six. Their aggressive, hard-running, direct style has thus far been paying dividends and as Stoppelkamp put it, “we're so motivated, we could run our next opponents into the ground the day after tomorrow.” Having shown little respect for bigger names as they marched through to a surprise second place last season, head coach André Breitenreiter's troops are continuing seamlessly in the same vein amidst even more elite company.
Breitenreiter and his staff have clearly done their homework in how best to optimise the team on the Bundesliga's smallest budget. And for all the fighting talk, nobody at the provincial North Rhine-Westphalian club is likely to lose sight of the bigger picture. “The lads are a down-to-earth bunch, they won't be getting carried away,” stressed sporting director Michael Born, adding that, “it's nice to have four points already - now we can really relax a bit.”
Stöger: "We compete"
So, too, can fellow promotees 1. FC Köln, who have likewise garnered four points from their first two games back at the top table. Peter Stöger's side once again looked impressively compact in winning 2-0 at VfB Stuttgart last time out. The defence was the bedrock of their successful promotion drive last season and, as the only team still to concede a goal, the Billy Goats are evidently sticking to a tried-and-tested formula with no little success in the Bundesliga as well. Like their counterparts at Paderborn, the team are letting their feet do the talking. “We're competitive, on the road as well as at home. And that's something we're very happy about,” is Stöger's sober early-season assessment.
Having bounced back and forth for years between the top two divisions, consolidation is the middle-term aim for Köln now and the management team of Stöger and sporting director Jörg Schmadtke have inculcated the club with a new, low-key mentality. The concept appears to be paying off and despite making their best Bundesliga start in almost a decade, no-one at Köln is reaching for the stars quite yet.