- Köln unbeaten in the current campaign.
- Frederik Sörensen part of the joint-best backline.
- Danish youngster believes Köln can still improve.
Unbeaten after seven matches and boasting the joint-best defensive record, second-placed 1. FC Köln are proving to be the early season surprise package in the Bundesliga.
Just two points separate die Geißböcke and league leaders FC Bayern München at the top of the table ahead of a trip to the capital to take on Hertha Berlin, who themselves are just a point worse off.
Talking exclusively to bundesliga.com before the game, right-back Frederik Sörensen discussed what’s changed for Köln this season, the unity amongst the squad and the tough test awaiting the team this weekend.
bundesliga.com: Frederik Sörensen, even the experts have been shocked by 1. FC Köln’s remarkable start to the season. Are there similar feelings amongst the squad?
Frederik Sörensen: At the start of a long season you’re always a little unsure of how it’s going to go. However, now we’ve realised that we can win against the so-called ‘smaller teams’, which is something we struggled to do in the previous campaign. We’ve already beaten Freiburg, Darmstadt and Ingolstadt and are therefore picking up points we used to drop.
bundesliga.com: How have the side improved against these types of opponents?
Sörensen: A deciding factor is that we explicitly stated in the summer that we needed to be taking more points from games against sides at our level. We now have a much better understanding how to convert a greater share of possession into goals.
bundesliga.com: The times when a football team were expected to be made up of “eleven friends” are a thing of the past. However, this Köln squad appear to be a really tight-knit unit?
Sörensen: That’s true. A good example of that is that we all went for lunch together after today’s morning training session, whereas at other times we may have split up into smaller groups. It’s in moments like that, that you feel the unity amongst the ranks off the pitch as well as on it. I think that’s one of the best qualities about this team, that we get on with one another away from football. That goes for those people who work with the team behind the scenes. We function so well out on the pitch because we all know each other as well as we do.
Everyone now knows what we’ve capable of producing in terms of a performance and no one is going to be underestimating us anymore. Frederik Sörensen
bundesliga.com: Riding this wave of euphoria, is the team playing to their limits right now or is there more to come?
Sörensen: Last season we had five or six new players who joined the club. This season it was just four. All of them were integrated impressively quickly, not least because there are parts of this team that have been playing together since their time in the Bundesliga 2. The contract extensions for Tony, Jonas and Leo [Anthony Modeste, Jonas Hector and Leonardo Bittencourt] proved that there’s a real belief and interest in working with a project that is far from complete. I’m convinced that we can get even stronger in one or two years.
bundesliga.com: Right now though, it’s all about the top-four clash in Berlin. What do you make of Hertha this season?
Sörensen: I watch a lot of football and, for instance, saw Hertha’s UEFA Europa League qualification second leg against Brondby IF, which they lost convincingly. However, that feels like a completely different Hertha team to the one that picked up a 1-1 draw in Dortmund last Friday. I watched that game as well. Hertha were aggressive, very strong in their challenges and fully deserved the point. That’s why they’ll prove a very difficult challenge for us. Everyone now knows what we’re capable of producing in terms of a performance and no one is going to be underestimating us anymore.
bundesliga.com: Effzeh have the joint-best defensive record along with FC Bayern München and you’ve certainly played your part in that. Considering your height, you’re more of a natural centre-back, but have been having a lot of success at right-back this season. How tricky was the transition?
Sörensen: I had the advantage of being able to gain experience in both positions for the Danish U-21s and other youth sides I played in. It wasn’t always easy at the beginning, but now I’m profiting from having that variety in my game.
bundesliga.com: To produce good performances, is it helpful to feel both comfortable at the club you’re playing for as well as the city you live in? How do you like Cologne and the locals' way of life?
Sörensen: I like Cologne a lot, partly because it reminds me a lot of my home town Copenhagen in terms of the size of the city and the way the people go about things. The Cologne locals are very open and give off a vibe of loving life. That made it a lot easier for me to get settled here.
Interview by Andreas Kötter