Rot-Weiss hope to hit the ground running

Rot-Weiss Köln are looking to hit the ground running with a double-header of fixtures against EHL rival sides Hamburger Polo Club on Friday and then Harvestehuder THC on Saturday.

Their star-studded line-up will bring several men’s World Cup winners to the party along with runner-up Vincent Vanasch for a very hectic start to their 2023 outdoor schedule.

Johannes Große, who had to miss the World Cup due to a back injury, returns while Florian Pelzner, who sat out the first half of the season for professional reasons came back for the indoor season.

On the flip side, Ole Boelke is no longer with the squad who dropped just five points from 10 games before Christmas to have the best record in the Bundesliga. 

Elian Mazkour has been powering in the goals, netting 11 already, while star man Christopher Rühr has been more of an assist-maker this term with two goals to his name but he is not too bothered how his side succeeds, providing they are the ones lifting the German title for a third successive season in a few months time.

“There hasn’t been a hat-trick for the title all that often!” he said during an extensive preview on the Rot-Weiss club website. “At the end of the day, when I’m over there on the podium with the trophy in my hand, it doesn’t really matter to me how many goals I’ve scored. 

“The expectations are the same as in the first half of the season: we want to win and if I then make six assists and one goal, then that’s okay too.” 

This weekend’s fixtures give Rot-Weiss some much needed game time together ahead of the EHL where they will again face Hamburger Polo Club on Friday.

With German clubs returning to outdoor action far later than the other countries taking part in the EHL, Rot-Weiss coach Pasha Gademan says it is a tough ask for his side, particularly after an intense international winter and the German indoor season.

“We planned this early start ourselves, that was our wish,” Gademan said of playing these games before the EHL and the full return of the Bundesliga.

“Otherwise we would have only had one test match before the EHL, against a team that started much later in the Bundesliga. The disadvantage compared to the Dutch is definitely big, since they have been training with their teams on the field for four weeks and have had much longer preparation overall. 

“We’ve only been back on the pitch together for 1.5 weeks, so we’re already at a big disadvantage there. Nevertheless, I believe that we always have the qualities to play for the title there and I am pretty sure that we will do the same this year.”