Rouven Schröder’s composure was quite impressive. Schalke’s league start after returning to the Bundesliga could hardly have been more unfortunate. “A very bad feeling” spread over him during and after the 90 minutes, and the Schalke sports director became specific with a look at the video referee: “I’m always someone who names things clearly. Congratulations to the people of Cologne. But the nature of this defeat bothers me fundamentally. Decisions that were not clearly wrong decisions have been corrected. For me, this is a feeling that makes me very, very restless and upset. We’re ambitious, and we’re going to make certain decisions… Yes, we’ve been disadvantaged.”
The emotional world of the opponent is completely different: first frustration at the departure of top scorer Anthony Modeste, but then exuberant jubilation at the deserved opening win: On an eventful Sunday, 1. FC Köln started the new Bundesliga season with a win and has suppressed the greatest anger about the loss of the crowd’s favorite Modeste, who switched to Borussia Dortmund.
With the 3:1 (0:0) against FC Schalke 04, the Rhinelanders, who started without the striker who was banned from the squad, also spoiled the Royal Blues’ return to the Bundesliga after direct re-emergence.
Schalke struggled with the video evidence, which led to the withdrawal of Rodrigo Zalazar’s goal (10th), the red card for ex-Cologne Dominick Drexler (35th) and the 2-0 by Florian Kainz (62nd). But all decisions were hard, but legal. Luca Kilian put Cologne in the lead (49′) after the ball had actually been out of bounds. Marius Bülter’s (76th) interim goal for Schalke was not enough. Dejan Ljubicic (80th) made the decision with his goal. After his shot, the ball bounced off the post to Schalke goalkeeper Alexander Schwolow and from there into the goal.
Much discussion about the VAR
Just under half an hour before kick-off, the BAP song “Nix wie bessher” played over the stadium speakers, with the lyrics “Schalke en Paket vom FC käät”. But then the Cologne euphoria of the preparation, which had already been damaged by the cup end in Regensburg, was completely gone. Because in the morning it was leaked that Modeste’s move to BVB was almost fixed. At 4:30 p.m., the Cologne team confirmed a “basic verbal agreement” with BVB. Modeste wanted to play, but wasn’t allowed to.
“There is a clear edge,” Baumgart said on the DAZN streaming service. “I wasn’t in a good mood,” he said. “Everyone can imagine that this is also borderline for us in terms of timing.”
There was a lot of criticism and anger among the Cologne fans on social media. Just like five years ago, when he shot FC into the European Cup, Modeste’s second farewell from Cologne was also met with displeasure. Although it was more of a disregard in the stadium: There was no audible poster and no singing in the direction of the 34-year-old Frenchman, who had scored 20 Bundesliga goals in the previous season. Modeste also held back on social media.
Schalke, who started with seven new signings, initially set the tone against Cologne and seemed to quickly take the lead. But because Maya Yoshida blocked the view of goalkeeper Marvin Schwäbe in an offside position, referee Robert Schröder ruled out Zalazar’s supposed first Bundesliga goal.
“This is not a clear wrong decision,” said Schröder to the supposed Schalke 1-0, which was initially given: “We need a video assistant, an assistant and not a referee. We don’t need anyone to intervene in the case of an unclear wrong decision. Completely unnecessary.”
Also according to the pictures, Drexler saw red when he stepped on the calf of FC captain Jonas Hector; Hector comforted his former teammate. “If you give a red card in the 35th minute, where nothing happens from the game… We’re all calm outside, there’s a certain conversation. If you then see the entire course of this duel and don’t stop… And in the scene of the foot in the hollow of the knee: it looks dramatic at that moment. But if you see the entire scene, it’s not a clear wrong decision for me. There was no whistle from the game. If I give the red card in the 35th minute, the game is completely changed. There was also no palaver between the players. But giving the red card retrospectively is difficult for me. Before Cologne made it 1-0, the ball was out. There is no correction. There’s no asking. That feels bad. An absolutely needed day for us.”
Cologne got the upper hand after a quarter of an hour, with Florian Dietz (21st/25th) having the greatest chances. The 24-year-old replaced Modeste in the team and made his Bundesliga debut. After the change, the Cologne team became oppressive and took advantage of their numerical superiority.
However, the activities of the VAR provided material for discussion, and Schalke found support on the Cologne side at least when assessing the game-decisive dismissal. “Maximum unfortunate,” said the injured FC attacker Mark Uth during the break on “DAZN”: “Especially for Schalke and Drexler. Yellow would have done it too, I think.”
And Steffen Baumgart also agreed with Schalke: “From my point of view, the footballers can see for themselves whether it was intentional or not. I always find it difficult when someone intervenes five minutes later. In this respect, you can omit it, because nobody has complained. And ‘Drax’ is anything but an unfair player.”