Top of the league, scoring for fun and looking odds-on to make a swift return to the Bundesliga as Champions, it all looked so good for the team from North Rhine-Westphalia.
But as 1.FC Köln fans know all too well, their beloved Efzeeh never get to do things the easy way and as the news broke on Monday that Lasse Sobiech, Vincent Koziello and influential winger Christian Clemens have all been ruled out until at least after the winter break mumblings of “I knew it was too good to be true” could be heard all around the city of Köln.
Centre-back Lasse Sobich, a summer signing from FC St Pauli broke his toe in training, while diminutive French midfielder Koziello badly injured his shoulder in the 3-0 friendly win against Belgian first division outfit Wassland-Beveren, but whether he will need to have surgery to fix this issue is not yet clear.
For Köln however the loss of Christian Clemens will undoubtedly hurt them the most, the attacking midfielder has been in fantastic form this season, registering 2 goals and 4 assists. His understanding with the league’s leading scorer Simon Terodde has been one of the major contributing factors for Köln’s success so far this season.
Clemens has suffered what is believed to be a severe high ankle sprain and a tear to his syndesmosis ligament in a light training session on Monday, he also suffered severe bruising to his knee according to the clubs official website. He will undergo an MRT scan when the bruising has gone down and the clubs doctors will then decide if surgery is necessary. “I do not expect any of the three to feature again this year, this is of course bitter, especially as all the injuries happened in such a short time” said FC coach Markus Anfang in an interview with BILD.
For comparison: BVB star Marco Reus suffered a similar injury to his Syndesmosis ligament and was out of action for 66 days.
Bitter Pill to Swallow
The injury to Clemens will be a bitter pill to swallow for him personally. Having re-signed for his hometown club from Mainz 05 for an estimated 2.75 million euro in December 2016 he has struggled with injuries and was limited to just 14 appearances throughout the 2017/18 campaign as Köln finished bottom of the league were relegated to the Bundesliga 2.
Clemens joined 1.FC Köln at the age of ten and progressed through the club’s youth system. He made his first-team debut during the 2010/11 season in a 1–0 win against FC St Pauli. The attacking midfielder was starting to get regular minutes for the first team and on 11 December 2010, he scored his first goal for the club in a 1–0 home win against Eintracht Frankfurt. The Köln team that day contained Lukas Podolski and Simon Terodde (in what was his first spell for the club).
In an interview in September with the Köln supporters club website Effzeh.com, Clemens spoke about how he used this summer to get himself back fully fit and injury free for the first time in almost 3 years. “I used the summer break to get really fit. And I came through the preseason unhurt, that’s why I’m very happy that things are going so well for us and me right now!”
Under new coach Markus Anfang, a fully fit Clemens has flourished. His presence in the team cannot be underestimated, not just with his scoring and assisting but his speed, trickery and ability to turn defence into attack with his quick thinking and passing making him an important element in the attacking game of 1.FC Köln.
The memories of last year’s relegation still fester in the thoughts of the tricky winger, “Köln is my club, my hometown. I want to make up for last year and use the criticism we received as an incentive. But not only that: I’ve have to take some of the blame myself, I was not satisfied with my performance in the last year and a half since I returned to the club.”
This latest injury setback will once again test the mental resolve of the former Germany U21 international as well as the squad depth of Köln. The Billy-Goats will be hoping that surgery is not needed and that the injury can be treated with rest and physio. As for the immediate future coach, Anfang might not know how long he will be without his influential winger but he does know that the hole left by Clemens will be a tough one to fill.
By: Jamie Walker
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