Teufels Ecke / La Esquina Del Diablo / Devil's Corner
Herzlich Wilkommen zu den Betzenberg... This will be the first of my installments regarding the Red Devils of the 1. FC Kaiserslautern. The team that has re-promoted itself into the Erste Bundesliga after four long years languishing in the Zweiten. For those that may not know, the Lauterer (as the Red Devils are most commonly called) are considered a legacy team in Deutschland. In the "Ewige Tabelle" (the forever standings) Kaiserslautern ranks number eight of 50 teams. Their home is the Fritz-Walter Stadion which stands atop the Betzenberg near the train station in Kaiserslautern. It is an imposing hike up the Betzenberg just to get to the gates of the stadium, while the whole time its facade towers dominantly above you. It should be a requirement that every away team be required to solemnly march up this hill ;) . The fans of Kaiserslautern are also some of the most loyal in the league and Fritz Walter's Westkurve is one of the most imposing grandstands in all of German futbol. I grew up not far from Kaiserslautern, in Zweibrücken, and therefore consider myself a Lautern fan. Although I now live in the United States, this allegiance to the club was awakened in me during the first match I attended at the Betzenberg back in 2004. In my younger years I was a Bayern fan, Blagh!, oh the vagaries of the naivity of youth...
Kaiserslautern has had a rollercoaster ride during its most recent stint in the Zweite Liga. The club was nearly relegated to the third league in 2008 after a horrible first half of the season. Not until the final game of the season with a victory against FC Köln were the Lauterer able to pull themselves up from the relegation zone and remain in the second league. Under Milan Sasic and a new management team which includes Stefan Kuntz, they have been able to work wonders with the heavily indebted team. 2008-09 was a relatively successful season as Kaiserslautern seemed to be able to find little-known players with a lot of talent that fit well into the squad. This success was carried into the 2009-2010 season where the Lauterer dominated the league under newly installed coach Marco Kurz. This dominance was a result of a return to the philosophy of a young team that would play attractive futbol like Devils. It was also aided by a defensive line that consisted of the players of Amedick, Bugera, Rodnei, and Dick allowing only 28 goals the entire season. This back four also started every game of the season save for one due to yellow cards.
The 2010-11 season sees the defensive unit mostly the same as the last. Which is a good thing. The starting goalkeeper, Tobias Sippel, is an excellent and aggressive player and also remains. However, the mid-field and forwards have had dramatic changes with seemingly every position occupied by a new face. It seems to have worked thus far and the Lauterer have enjoyed success in all of their pre-season games. Including a victory over Liverpool. It will be interesting to see the Red Devils play once again in the Ersten Liga and especially to hopefully catch a game live on GOLTV. I'm so glad to have dropped my subscription with Dish Network after they dropped GOLTV shortly after I signed up. They were very nonchalant about the whole deal and I will probably never return to their service.
Kaiserslautern's first match is against FC Köln on the 21st of August. The team that Lautern beat to keep from falling into the third league a little over 2 years ago. The World Cup was great, but I always look forward to the start of the season after the "Sommerpause". Auf, auf zum fröhlichen Jagen.