Cologne - 1. FC Köln are determined to prove last term’s 12th-placed finish was no fluke as they bid to avoid the dreaded second season syndrome in 2015/16.
The Billy Goats got off to a flier on Matchday 1 by beating VfB Stuttgart 3-1 away, but history tells us there’s little chance of Peter Stöger’s men getting carried away so early on in the campaign.
“It will be a difficult season, but we are up for the challenge,” the Köln head coach affirmed, his side having just won an opening league fixture for the first time since 2007. “The Bundesliga is a competitive and even league.”
Indeed, since being relegated to the second tier for the first time in their history at the end of 1997/98, the Billy Goats have spent almost as much time out of the top flight as they have in it (eight seasons in Bundesliga 2 and ten, including the current campaign, in the Bundesliga).
Stability under Stöger
By the early noughties, Köln had become the very definition of a yo-yo club, unable to tie down a place in the Bundesliga for more than a single season until a three-and-a-half-year stretch lasting from August 2008 until May 2012.
Then, a year after narrowly missing out on an immediate return to the Bundesliga at the end of 2012/13 under Holger Stanislawski, the Rhineland club were promoted as Bundesliga 2 champions in Stöger’s debut campaign as head coach.
Operation Bundesliga permanence
A watertight defence underpinned last season’s respectable mid-table finish, and will once again provide the foundation in 2015/16 as the two-time Bundesliga champions look to re-establish themselves as top-table mainstays.
As new Köln defender Dominque Heintz told bundesliga.com following Sunday’s impressive victory in the Baden-Württemberg capital: “It’s a great feeling to play in the Bundesliga, it’s just awesome.”