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Could FC Cologne pull off the Bundesliga’s greatest ever escape?

Stefan Ruthenbeck’s men are on the up

Heading into the winter break, FC Cologne were among the poorest performers in any European league. Die Gleissbocke were marooned at the bottom of the Bundesliga, having taken just three points from their first 16 games of the season.

It seemed nigh-on impossible that Stefan Ruthenbeck’s men could survive the drop. But following a stellar run of results, they’re now just seven points off Mainz 05 in the relegation play-off spot, and eight below VfL Wolfsburg who sit in the safety of 15th.

The Coral News Team investigate the story behind Cologne’s sudden revival, and whether they could pull off the ultimate great escape…

That winning feeling

It’s no secret that winning games breeds confidence, and it’s been the case for Cologne. They broke their Bundesliga duck in mid-December, weeks after the current boss replaced Peter Stoger. It came through a hard-fought 1-0 home win over Wolfsburg.

That was the first impressive result in a streak which has seen Die Gleissbocke take 14 points from their last nine games. And on Sunday, they pulled off the most impressive result of the lot.

Ruthenbeck’s men recovered from conceding a fifth-minute goal at RB Leipzig, coming back to win 2-1 in the latter stages.

In the process, they became just the second visitors to win in the league at Red Bull Arena this season. And the visitors’ dominance in terms of shots on goal shows it was no fluke.

Terodde could be their saviour

He may only have signed for the club from VfB Stuttgart in the January transfer window, but Simon Terodde is already Cologne’s top Bundesliga scorer this season, with five.

The powerful forward had been patchy for his former employers at this level, but has slotted straight into the system Ruthenbeck has built – with the likes of Milos Jolic and Christian Clemens now having the ideal target for their whipped-in crosses.

Terodde can boast five goals in his first seven games, and they’re coming at the crucial time. His first for the club was a 95th-minute winner over Borussia Monchengladbach, while he also bagged both in the 2-0 win over Hamburg.

The sides above them are feeling the heat

For Cologne to bridge the gap above them, they’ll need one or two of the sides involved to struggle. And right now, that’s happening.

There seems little doubt that Hamburg – above Die Gleissbocke on goal difference alone – will take up one of the two automatic relegation spots. They’ve managed just four points in 11 games, scoring a meagre five goals in the process.

Meanwhile, Mainz have lost three of their last five – shipping four goals at Hoffenheim earlier this month. They also have to head to Cologne’s RheinEnergie Stadion before the season ends.

As for 15th-placed Wolfsburg, they’ve managed one win in 10 games. With 12 games of the Bundesliga season remaining, Cologne’s heroic struggle is far from over.

Next up for Cologne is the visit of Stuttgart on Sunday. A home win is 11/8, and could pull the hosts within four points of safety. Will Terodde be the star once again, as he faces his former employers?

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