1. FC Köln: Benno Schmitz and the double dot over i’et

Benno Schmitz is the representative of the completely surprising progress of 1. FC Köln this season. On Saturday at the season finale in Stuttgart, the right-back wants to take the crown twice.

Still waiting for his first goal in German professional football: Benno Schmitz.
IMAGO / RHR image

In the 6th minute of the 0: 1 defeat against Wolfsburg it was very close. But VfL goalkeeper Pavao Pervan deflected Benno Schmitz’s shot to the post. And therefore the Cologne defender has to wait for his first goal in German professional football. The right-back said on Wednesday that he had received many messages that he was very close and expressed hope: “Maybe it will go again. That would be nice. I already have a small series now.”

How many matches has he been waiting for for his debut goal? “A little too many …” he says. There are 78 in the Bundesliga, 15 in the second division and six in the DFB Cup. But it would suit Benno Schmitz this year if he could also erase this black spot on Saturday in Stuttgart.

Convinced of Baumgart

That would be the second icing on the cake for Schmitz after qualifying for the Europa Cup. Is the 27-year-old, who before this season many fans and observers classified as not suitable for the Bundesliga, represents the equally wonderful and wonderful progress of 1. FC Cologne. When Schmitz says of Cologne’s high flight, “you might not have thought many players were capable of it. Therefore, it’s all the better,” he also talks about himself. Under coach Steffen Baumart, he really flourished, played confidently, had five Hit prepared, earning him the nickname “The Cologne cafu”.

“For me, it was important that I felt confident from the start and stayed injury free, was able to build confidence and we all performed on the field week after week,” he explains his development. Everyone was convinced of Baumgart’s game idea from the start. The quick wins served as confirmation that the coach’s approach could work.

Ljubicic probably ready for Stuttgart

And he does it in an impressive way. Now, with a victory at VfB, FC can even get into 6th place and thus get directly into the group stage in the Europa League. Provided that Union Berlin does not win their home match against VfL Bochum. “There is still a theoretical chance that we will end up in sixth place and not be in the playoffs for the Conference League. Therefore, we will give it our all again,” explains Schmitz, for whom one thing is clear. regardless of the outcome of the game: “Then everyone can look back with satisfaction on what we have achieved this year.”

The match in Stuttgart will be an uneven duel, where midfielder Dejan Ljubicic, who was absent from training on Tuesday and Wednesday for private reasons, is expected to be available. VfB must win in the league’s battle for existence to still have a chance to avoid relegation. “For Stuttgart, of course, it’s about survival. We experienced that ourselves last season. It’s going to be extremely difficult for us, that’s for sure,” said Schmitz. FC, on the other hand, can play for free – as it has been for weeks.

Nothing to lose

“We have not had much to lose in the last five or six games. We have had fun every week and we have also had fun. That is why we have enjoyed the last few weeks,” the defender describes especially for a professional for a of 1. FC Cologne, unusual starting position.

It was no different against VfL Wolfsburg, who unfortunately lost 1-0. From Benno Schmitz’s point of view, FC had as little to lose on Saturday as they had in the season finale. “Who would have thought we could do that?” asks Schmitz rhetorically about the already secured participation in a European Cup competition, “when you see where we’re coming from, look back with humility. We have not lost anything. Now we can do something again to win.” And Benno Schmitz even twice with a possible first goal.

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