With the English week upon us, Fortuna Düsseldorf certainly can’t afford to ‘keep calm and carry on’. For 88 minutes in the derby against FC Köln they had done everything right, 2-0 up and seemingly cruising. The home side had struggled to break down the solid backline of Mathias ‘Zanka’ Jørgensen and Andre Hoffman, who kept Jhon Cordoba quiet up until the 91st minute. However, within three minutes all the hard work of Uwe Rösler’s side had been undone. They should have left their city rivals with all three points, but instead came away with just one.
This has become an all too familiar story for Fortuna under their new head coach. Fans are becoming used to the side seemingly on course for a victory only to throw it away in dramatic fashion. At the start of February, Fortuna were 1-0 up against Eintracht Frankfurt until a 93rd minute equaliser. In the next game against Wolfsburg, the side were 1-0 up against 10 men for the entire second half but still failed to win. Against Hertha Berlin, Fortuna were 3-0 up at half time, again cruising, before 10 minutes of madness let Hertha bring it back to 3-3. In the following game against Mainz 05, the team had 61% possession and 19 shots. Mainz only had one shot on target but escaped with a 1-1- draw.
Overall that equates to around 10 points, if you include the recent game, that Fortuna should have had. This would see them above the drop zone. However, the side cannot see out matches and lapses in concentration are being punished. As soon as Anthony Modeste pulled one back, many Fortuna fans knew what was coming next. Despite having three tall central defenders on the pitch during the closing stages, Cordoba still somehow managed to find space in the box and easily won the header.
To add to the frustration, Werder Bremen’s victory over SC Freiburg had ramped up the pressure on Fortuna to get a result in midweek. Many Fortuna fans would have realistically taken four points from the last two games, expecting a win against SC Paderborn and then a draw in the derby away from home. To only take two, with the club being 5 minutes away from doing the double over their local rivals, will really hurt. RB Leipzig’s demolition of Mainz had given Fortuna a great chance to close the gap, yet they were unable to take it.
Looking ahead, Fortuna welcome struggling Schalke 04 to the Merkur-Spiel Arena on Wednesday. Fortuna simply have to win this game. After Schalke, they face Bayern München, Borussia Dortmund and Leipzig, with Hoffenheim in between. Realistically, they are unlikely to take any points outside of the Hoffenheim game. Schalke’s abject performance against Augsburg should give Fortuna hope that they can get something against David Wagner’s side.
With only 7 games to go, time is running out for Fortuna to escape the drop. They now enter what appears to be their hardest sequence of games with three points separating them from safety. However, they are also only three points above Werder, who have a game in hand against a Frankfurt side who themselves are beginning to be sucked back into the relegation battle.
As of now, it appears that Werder, Fortuna, Mainz and Frankfurt are going to be scrapping it out for points. Fortuna need favours from both Borussia Mönchengladbach and Union Berlin during the English week, while also needing to do their own job and pile further misery on Wagner and his Schalke side.