bundesliga.com has the pre-match lowdown on a clash between two sides who have picked up more points on foreign soil than in front of their own fans this term…
Victory over Hamburger SV on Saturday moved Köln five points clear of the drop zone, and while they may be the league’s second-best travellers, the question remains whether they can reproduce that form on home soil. Stuttgart once again find themselves in the bottom three following their 1-0 loss to Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Striker Patrick Helmes is the only player unavailable to head coach Peter Stöger. The Billy Goats signed Brazilian forward Deyverson (r.) on loan on deadline day, but the best the 23-year-old can hope for is playing a bit-part role from the bench with Anthony Ujah the undisputed choice for the lone striker role.
Stuttgart completed the deadline-day signing of Geoffroy Serey Die from FC Basel 1893, but will be unable to call upon the midfielder’s services due to on-going AFCON commitments. Elsewhere, head coach Huub Stevens admitted he’s taking it "day by day" with the injured quartet of Antonio Rüdiger (l.), Daniel Didavi, Mohammed Abdellaoue and Carlos Gruezo.
Conceding at a rate of just a goal a game at the RheinEnergieStadion, defensive problems are not the reason for Köln’s poor home form. Instead it’s in front of goal where they’ve struggled, scoring just four times in eight outings. If they’re to turn that around in midweek, the club’s top goalscorer Anthony Ujah holds the key.
Stuttgart have scored as many goals as they’ve conceded on their travels, but in order to tip that scale in their favour against Köln, Vedad Ibisevic will need to find his scoring boots. Having been sidelined since Matchday 8 with a stress fracture in his right foot, the Bosnian, who is yet to score in 2014/15, made his comeback against Gladbach.
Peter Stöger (1. FC Köln head coach): "Stuttgart are a strong team on the counter. We’re aware of that, but our goal is to pick up three points."
Huub Stevens (Stuttgart head coach, r.): "The players have to believe in themselves and put into practice what we’ve worked on in training."
Stöger: "The main thing is to integrate Deyverson into the team and get him acclimated to the Bundesliga." pic.twitter.com/s1pr0j64JM— 1. FC Cologne (@fckoeln_en) February 3, 2015
Köln have taken just one point from their last four home games, with Matchday 8’s 2-1 win over Borussia Dortmund their sole victory at the RheinEnergieStadion this season. Conversely, Stuttgart collected seven of a possible nine points in their final three trips of 2014, a year in which they failed to win against any newly-promoted teams.
The Billy Goats are unbeaten in their last three meetings with Stuttgart, picking up two draws and a 2-0 win on Matchday 2 courtesy of goals from Yuya Osako and Ujah. The Billy Goats boast the historical advantage with 34 wins to Stuttgart’s 26, but the home side has not prevailed in the last 16 encounters between these two clubs.
Köln: Horn - Olkowski, Maroh, Wimmer, Hector - Vogt, Lehmann - Peszko, Risse, Halfar - Ujah
Stuttgart: Ulreich - Klein, Baumgartl, Niedermeier, Hlousek - Romeu - Harnik, Leitner, Gentner, Werner - Ibisevic