The German Bundesliga starts on August 5, and heinnews is providing extensive coverage in the buildup to the 2011-12 season with a club preview each day. Today we look at Cologne.

Head coach Stale Solbakken has kept together most of a Cologne side which fought hard all season and finished a strong 10th place in the Bundesliga. Now the Norwegian’s task is to quickly install his system and try to come up with a good start as to avoid early talk of a relegation fight.

The obvious goal is to avoid the drop though Cologne fans would love to play for more. Still a placing among the international ranks for the first time since 1997-98 is very unlikely.

Cologne appeared in the UI Cup in 1995-96 and 1997-98 and last played in the UEFA Cup (Europa League) in 1992-93.

In 2011-12, Solbakken will be relying mainly on the same team as left year as Cologne extended their contracts with Petit, Mato Jajalo, Slawomir Peszko and Adil Chihi.

He also little-used players such as Simon Terodde, Reinhold Yabo, Stephan Salger, Jose Pierre Vunguidica, Taner Yalcin and Konstantinos Giannoulis on loan to lower level teams to gain experience and give Solbakken a leaner roster for 2011-12.

The biggest addition to Solbakken’s side is 2009 Bundesliga champion Sascha Riether from Wolfsburg, who come in with 174 Bundesliga appearances to his credit.

In addition, center back Geromel had been rumored to be out in Cologne but Solbakken instead handed the Brazilian the captain armband over his predecessor Lukas Podolski with Riether being Geromel’s deputy captain.

Podolski will be facing loads of pressure to finally come through in the attack after scoring 13 goals last season – though it was an improvement from the two the previous campaign.

Solbakken will also be counting on Brazilian defender Andrezinho to prove his qualities after just one assist in eight matches last season.

“This is a big challenge, there is no reason to delay,” said Solbakken at his introduction as new Cologne coach.

“This is a tradition-rich club with a lot of potential.”

Cologne should have the potential to avoid the relegation but securing a spot in international football would be a tall order for Solbakken and company.

 

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