The pros at 1. FC Köln felt the double burden even before the start of the group phase. With heavy legs and a tired head, the people of Cologne struggled after the successful playoff trip to Hungary to a 0-0 draw against VfB Stuttgart.
"Stuttgart took advantage of what we've got behind us in the last few days," said coach Steffen Baumgart, who had been celebrating the 3-0 win at Fehérvár FC three days earlier and their entry into the group stage of the Conference League. One noticed "that the freshness is missing," said Baumgart: "We paid a lot of tribute today."
"The road through the playoffs was tough"
This was also emphasized by Thomas Kessler, head of the Cologne licensed player department. "First and foremost, we don't want to complain, we're happy about the extra games," said the former goalkeeper: "We worked hard for ourselves last season. The way through the playoffs was tough and we're glad we made it to have."
Of course, you have to “manage the players differently now. You have to be very, very professional about it. Be good at communicating, also in the athletic and medical departments.” However, Kessler believes that the adjustment process is not rocket science. "It's a new situation for some," he said. "But there are many players in the Bundesliga who have been doing it for ten years."
FC must undergo the next test for this on September 11th. Three days after the guest appearance at OGC Nice with coach Lucien Favre, Union Berlin comes to Cologne. But the Köpenickers are also on international duty during the week.