1. FC Köln – Mainz 05: Ping-Pong Style Welcomes Back The Bundesliga (2-2)

1. FC Köln were able to take an early lead and later in the game also managed to double the score in a way that did not reflect the game’s happenings. Eventually, though, Mainz 05’s efforts to equalize the score paid off, and just when most spectators expected a dazzling ending to the game, tired legs kicked in, showcasing a scenario that will most likely define this post-lockdown Bundesliga spell.

Tactical analysis and match report by Kareem Bianchi

Köln had just fallen short to Borussia Mönchengladbach when the COVID-19 pandemic brought European football to a halt. Prior to that, they had embarked on a promising streak of three consecutive wins. 

Markus Gisdol had been in charge for almost four months, and his record sparked faint hopes for European football next season, while he was almost definitely steering off relegation threats. Two months on, the tables could have turned, as Köln’s first match after the break saw them face off with their former manager Achim Beierlorzer’s Mainz 05. 

Gisdol only made two changes to the 4-2-3-1 lineup defeated by Gladbach, starting Katterbach over Kingsley Ehizibue and Thielmann over Ismail Jakobs. Mainz also started in a 4-2-3-1 shape. Florian Müller replaced the injured Robin Zentner in the goal. Jeremiah St. Juste and Moussa Niakhatè started as center-backs, flanked by fullbacks Aarón Martin Caricol and Ridle Baku. In midfield, Pierre Kunde and Edimilson Fernandes formed the double pivot; upfront, Karim . . .

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