Two weeks prior to his team's meeting with regional rivals Bayer 04 Leverkusen, 1. FC Köln head-coach Steffen Baumgart took a jab at the neighboring club during his Thursday presser.
|Steffen Baumgart.||Photo: Sandro Halank, Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-SA 3.0|
Some two years ago, early in his first season as 1. FC Köln's trainer, Baumgart commented on Wirtz's move a short distance up north. The characteristically gruff coach characteristically remarked in his gruff tone that the "swoop" of Wirtz proved how unfair the footballing business can be at times. It thus came as no surprise that Baumgart pulled no punches when asked about a new Leverkusen campaign released earlier today that took a stab at his club.
Leverkusen released a photo with star striker Victor Boniface standing alongside FC Bayern München forward Harry Kane. The two blockbuster summer acquisitions were billed as fans of one another. A twitter post invited those interested in "good football" and "European cup matches" to come to Leverkusen, while those more interested in the relegation race were welcome to follow Köln.
"First of all, you have to say that Leverkusen are playing really good football at the moment," Baumgart said at his Thursday presser when first asked to comment on the social media post, "For me, they are the team that plays the best football. They're right: if they want to see good football, they can go to Leverkusen."
"If you want to see even more beautiful football with more emotion in a full stadium which doesn't have to ask for fans to come," he nevertheless continued, "then come to us. There is a big club and there is a not so big club. I think we are the bigger one, even if it might seem different in sporting terms. Once again: FC is above everything in this region."
Baumgart also took a shot at Leverkusen's famous nickname. Germany's red company team are frequently referred to as "Vize-Kusen" after finishing second place in the league five times, second place in the country's domestic cup thrice, and second in the Champions' League once. Köln have won two league championships and four DFB Pokals.
"You can always finish second," Baumgart said with some bite.