1. FC Köln: Only wins will aid survival bid

The fact that 1. FC Köln are in the lower regions of the table at this stage of the season will not throw anyone off course in the Cathedral City. Now under the tutelage of new coach Timo Schultz, the team brought their six-match winless run to an end just in time for the Carnival season by beating Eintracht Frankfurt 2-0. On Carnival weekend, they will now travel to Sinsheim to face TSG Hoffenheim (Sunday at 17:30 CET / Live Ticker at But securing survival this season would probably surpass the usual celebrations at this joyful time of year; with the club currently banned from conducting transfers, a relegation this summer would have even more far-reaching consequences than in the past.

January was once again a busy month for many clubs. Adjustments and changes were made to their squads for the upcoming second half of the season to ensure that they approach the remainder of the campaign as well-equipped as possible. But that was not the case this year for 1. FC Köln. Due to the transfer ban imposed in December, Köln are not allowed to sign or loan any players this winter – or this summer for that matter.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has confirmed a FIFA ruling to impose this ban on the club. The Billy Goats were accused of inciting then 16-year-old youth player Jaka Cuber Potocnik to breach his contract with FK Olimpija Ljubljana, his club at the time, before he joined 1. FC Köln. The club officials were unable to refute those allegations in court.

The new coach Timo Schultz, who has only been in the role since the turn of the year, must therefore work with the players who were already there. It is now down to those players to ensure that 1. FC Köln, who have been relegated and promoted six times since 1998, extend their current spell in the top flight to six years. But the team need wins to do so – there were only three in the opening 20 matchdays. That has left them languishing in 16th in the relegation play-off place, three points behind Union Berlin and above Mainz 05.

The team's problem this season has been the attack, with only 14 goals scored to date. No team has found the net fewer times, and two of the six players who have already scored a goal this season – former Hoffenheim man Davie Selke (five goals) and Luca Waldschmidt (two) – are currently sidelined.

The transfer ban means that a relegation would have much bigger consequences than it otherwise would. Key performers could leave the club and the replacements would then need to come from their own academy. That makes it all the more important for Timo Schultz's team to win again on Sunday. But Köln have only managed three wins in their 12 previous Bundesliga matches in Sinsheim.

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