Judgement day for German clubs in the Europa League | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 18.10.2017
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Judgement day for German clubs in the Europa League

The German clubs in the Europa League must be victorious on matchday three if they're going to stick around in the Europa League. Hoffenheim, Cologne and Hertha Berlin are all still looking for their first win.

Hoffenheim, Hertha Berlin and Cologne all celebrated qualifying for the Europa League but after none of them picked up three points in their opening two games, only victory gives them a realistic chance of making the knockout rounds.

In front of a home crowd, Hoffenheim host the side that finished second in Turkey last season, Basaksehir. "I hope they don't park the bus, but play," Julian Nagelsmann said ahead of the game. Both sides needed a win, but with Basaksehir boasting names such as Emmanuel Adebayor, Gael Clichy and former Werder Bremen winger Eljero Elia, Hoffenheim face a challenge.

For the 30-year-old head coach, it's not just about getting his side some points in Europe but also showing he can be successful outside of the Bundesliga. Including the Champions League playoffs against Liverpool, the club's first four European games ever have all ended in defeat.

Cologne know far too much about losing this season. Their disastrous domestic form - no wins and just three goals in eight games - has been accompanied by more of the same in the Europa League. Peter Stöger's side are last in Group H and have scored just one goal.

New training methods

In an attempt to improve their reaction and concentration, Cologne spent the week training with different type of balls (one shaped like a triangle, another like a bean). A win against BATE is much-needed for a side bereft of confidence, but the club's Bundesliga game against fellow poor-starters Werder Bremen on Sunday looms large.

"I'd say for the first time that a game is untimely," Cologne captain Matthias Lehmann said ahead of the game in Belarus. "The game against Bremen on Sunday is much more important."

Head coach Stöger though, says he isn't up for a sad trip. "At times like this it's easy to badmouth everything. Then you don't want to get up early, or go to training or travel or even play out of fear that you might lose." Europa League or Bundesliga, Cologne know they need to start winning this week.

Most of the news this week about Hertha Berlin has been about their 'Take A Knee' protest rather than their poor form. "For me, it's like terrorism. Either you're for or against it," forward Salomon Kalou said.

Read more: Opinion: Hertha's gesture is about the message

While the Bundesliga still offers the club plenty of chance to make amends, time is running out in the Europa League. Hertha have not won or scored in their first two games and against Zorya Luhansk, Hertha must change that or face a group-stage with little hope in sight.

Due to the war in Ukraine, Luhansk have been playing their home games in Odessan and Kiev, but Hertha will face them in Lviv.

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