1. FC Köln: 6 facts before the 1st Sparkle Final

From today on, Cologne!

The rescue mission from Gisdol’s successor Friedhelm Funkel (67) starts the derby in Leverkusen. Ironically, where Funkel retired 15 months ago after a 3-0 draw with Düsseldorf. Now he has six finals left.

The 1st Sparkle Final. BILD answers the last questions before the FC restart!

Is there enough time to save?

Does she have to! Cologne’s bosses wasted valuable time with their long hesitation and Funkel didn’t exactly make their work easier – but the coach doesn’t have to change much for that. Funkel does not find a “pig troop” or a badly trained team. He has to change little things, give courage, strengthen self-confidence, show sensitivity. And he still has an international break before the decisive duels with Werder, Hertha and Schalke.

Was the Gisdol cut too half-hearted in the end?

Possible, because with André Pawlak (50) at least one direct assistant coach has stayed on board, whom Funkel now trusts completely and leaves a lot of work. The danger here: too much could just go on as before. And players who were dissatisfied under Gisdol could also doubt their chance under Funkel and Pawlak. Funkel, on the other hand, says: “Everyone is extremely committed – especially those who haven’t played recently.”

Funkel and co-trainer Andre Pawlak, who already worked with Markus GisdolPhoto: Andreas Pohl

What does Funkel change?

Not much! He will stick to the Gisdol system (4-2-3-1). The axis of the chief player remains the same. But Funkel relies more on personal contact than its predecessor and tries extremely hard to talk to all players and to build trust. Cologne’s coach: “I want to take everyone with me – even those who are not in the squad.”

How’s the derby day going?

At 6.45 p.m. the team drove to the team hotel yesterday. Everyone is allowed to have breakfast there today, whatever the time suits them. The team then meets for a walk together. This is followed by video analysis, lunch and a break. There is a last snack three hours before the game and the final meeting before departure.

Who is Funkel betting on?

After the failures of Duda (5th yellow), Jakobs (ligaments), Thielmann (muscle problems) and Andersson (knee), he MUST rotate. Dennis will storm. Bornauw plays instead of Meré, Meyer probably instead of Duda. There are two last-minute decisions on the outside (Drexler or Kainz) and behind (Horn or Katterbach).

What is Funkel looking forward to most?

Not on his first ghost game (“I won’t get used to that”). But on his ex-assistant Peter Hermann (69 / Bayer co-trainer). Funkel: “Let’s see who has a bigger smile on their face after the game.”


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