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Thursday 02/01/2018

Backs to the wall

Focus on 1. FC Kaiserslautern

FCK have come out of a first round of games which they will surely want to forget, having collected just 12 points during the first half of the campaign. And the re-start in 2018 didn’t go according to plan either, as at the end of a hard fought battle, the Roten Teufel were beaten 1-3 by Düsseldorf. An element of shock could still be felt around the ‘Pfälzern‘ following their game in Darmstadt three days previously: Following a serious medical incident incident involving trainer Jeff Strasser, the match was abandoned at half-time. In spite of the precarious sporting situation in Kaisereslautern, the actual position in the table is naturally not always top priority.

The news that Jeff Strasser had been taken to hospital during the half-time break of the game against the ‘Lilien’ quickly made the rounds. The first reaction came from the fans from both sides in the Böllenfalltor stadium – who joined in singing „You’ll never walk alone“, as the sporting issue took a back-seat under the circumstances. The 43 year old ‘Roten Teufel‘ (Red Devil) coach received massive consolation from colleagues, clubs and fans. Strasser is now on the mend, but is not healthy enough to continue his coaching tasks. The head-coaching role at FCK has been taken on by Michael Frontzeck, as the club announced on Thursday.

Lack of leaders

After a sportingly disappointing first half to the season, the club still find themselves with their backs to the wall, with the task of avoiding the plunge into the third division looking a mightier task from week-to-week. Considering the Darmstadt game, which is yet to be replayed, FCK do have a match in hand over their competitors, but ten points adrift of the relegation play-off places, Kaiserslautern desperately need points this coming weekend against the Löwen. The will of the team was always there to be seen, but without being able to replace the snice departed leaders from last season, such as Ewerton, Robin Koch or Julian Pollersbeck, the task is all the tougher.

To add to the departures, FCK were also left struggling to deal with long-term injuries to Daniel Halfar, Marcel Correia and Kacper Przybylko. Naturally, the search has been on to boost the quality within the squad – finding options at FC Augsburg and FC Groningen: Jan-Ingwer Callsen-Bracker and Ruben Jenssen linked up with the ‘Roten Teufel’ in the winter. In addition, the side from the Pfalz region landed a major coup on the final day of the transfer window: In Halil Altintop, the club brought a former Lautern player back to the Betzenberg, whose experience alone could be vitally important for the team.

Existing moral

One major problem for FCK has been their potency in front of goal – with a tally of 15 scored proving the most harmless attack in the league. On six goals, Sebastian Andersson, who was signed from Swiss club IFK Norköpping in the summer, is the side’s best scorer, whilst Christoph Moritz and Lukas Spalvis boast three apiece. One thing the players however don’t lack is team-spirit – which was clear to see during the first-half against Darmstadt, as well as at league leaders Fortuna Düsseldorf. "In the past few games, you couldn’t really see which side was at the top and which side was at the bottom of the table,” noted Michael Frontzeck at his official presentation. The 53 year old is approaching the clash against the Löwen with “optimism, but also well aware that it will not be easy in Braunschweig."

Photo: Eibner Pressefoto

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