FC Köln will attempt to claim their first league win since October 16 when they face Werder Bremen on Saturday.
After picking 16 points from their opening 10 league games, Köln looked well-placed in seventh position. However, they went on to draw one and lose four of their final five league games in 2022, causing them to slip to 13th place. As a result of their slide down the Bundesliga table, Köln are now only three points clear of the bottom three.
While Die Geißböcke struggled in the league, they also failed to progress from the Europa Conference League group stage. Although Köln would have been disappointed with their European exit, a lighter schedule could turn out to be helpful for their domestic form.
Steffen Baumgart's side have only scored two goals in their last five league games, and while the Köln boss will want his side to offer more of a threat in the final third, he will also be aware that an improvement is needed at the other end of the pitch. Only two teams - Bochum and Schalke - have conceded more goals than Koln in the topflight this season. They have also kept just one clean in their 15 league games this term, which will frustrate Baumgart.
Ahead of Saturday's contest, Köln can take inspiration from the fact that they are unbeaten in 10 home Bundesliga meetings with Bremen.
Baumgart has stated that January signing Davie Selke will have a role to play off the bench, with Steffen Tigges set to lead the line. Meanwhile, the hosts are unable to call upon Kristian Pedersen, Jan Thielmann, Luca Kilian, Florian Dietz, Sebastian Andersson and Mark Uth due to injury issues.
Following their promotion from the second-tier, Bremen have proven to be one of the most entertaining teams in the topflight this season. Their 15 Bundesliga games have averaged 3.47 goals per match - only games involving Eintracht Frankfurt and Bayern Munich have a higher average.
Although their commendable approach yielded a number of positive results in the first half of the campaign, the winter break may have come at the right time for Ole Werner's side. In their opening nine games, Bremen recorded four wins, three draws and two defeats. However, they went on to win only two of their final six league matches of 2022, losing the other four.
Despite their form dropping off before the winter break, Bremen begin 2023 in ninth position with four points separating them from Borussia Dortmund in sixth place. Qualifying for European competition is an unlikely scenario, but Bremen will be keen to secure a midtable position.
Werner is without the services of Felix Agu and Romano Schmid, with the pair currently sidelined through injury.