Peter Stoger is eyeing a final-day upset against Borussia Dortmund as Cologne seek to clinch a first top-half Bundesliga finish since the 1991-92 campaign.
Dortmund’s title bid was finally ended last weekend as Thomas Tuchel’s men were beaten 1-0 at lowly Eintracht Frankfurt, while Bayern Munich were crowned champions again following a 2-1 win at Ingolstadt.
That result did Cologne a favour as it helped them move two points clear of Ingolstadt in ninth and coach Stoger now wants to finish the season in style on Saturday against a Dortmund side who may have an eye on the DFB-Pokal final, where they face Bayern.
“The match against Dortmund is the ideal way to close the season,” he said.
“There are not too many games on the road that are as interesting and attractive to play than being able to play in Dortmund.
“We want to try and stay unbeaten for the fifth game in a row. It will not be an easy task, but we have put in some solid performances in recent weeks.
“The team is in good spirits and we want to make another statement. We are going to prepare in a way that makes us an interesting opponent for them.”
Cologne have a surprisingly good recent record against BVB, having taken seven points from their last three meetings, with Stoger yet to experience defeat against them in his tenure.
They are seeking to become the only side to do the double over Tuchel’s charges this term, but they have not won at Dortmund since April 1992.
In addition, they have failed to find the net in any of their last four visits to Signal Iduna Park.
December’s reverse fixture ended in dramatic fashion as Simon Zoller and Anthony Modeste scored in the final eight minutes to wipe out Sokratis Papastathopoulos’ 18th-minute effort.
The hosts have had a mixed week on the transfer front, with Mats Hummels set to join rivals Bayern Munich, while Ousmane Dembele will bolster their forward line after agreeing a move from Rennes for next season.
Tuchel could factor the Pokal final against Bayern into his selection process, with Dortmund assured of a second-placed finish, although they are putting their season-long unbeaten home record on the line.
The 1-0 loss to Frankfurt may have had him considering changes anyway, with his side beaten by Stefan Aigner’s goal despite enjoying the overwhelming majority of possession at the Commerzbank-Arena.
Dortmund will be without Neven Subotic (thrombosis) and Ilkay Gundogan (knee), while Henrikh Mkhitaryan is suspended. Cologne’s Matthias Lehmann is back from a ban.
Key Opta Facts:
– Cologne have 42 points to their name – their highest tally at this stage of a season since 2000-01 (45).
– Borussia Dortmund have already equalled their club record for home points won within a season: 44 (same as 2011-12 and 1998-99).
– Cologne have lost just one of their last 11 away league games (W3 D7), including none of the most recent five (W2 D3).
– Dortmund have scored a league high 80 goals this term. They could set a new club record for goals scored in a season this weekend (81 in 2012-13).
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