Cologne goalkeeper Michael Rensing admitted his side have got to prepare themselves for a relegation battle after going down 4-1 to Schalke yesterday. It was their second straight defeat in 2012 left them just three points clear of the Bundesliga bottom three and Rensing has sounded the alarm.
"I had the feeling during the winter break that, despite having 21 points, it was going to be tight," he said. "We now all need to be clear that the second half of the season is going to be as hard as the second half of last season was."
Cologne threw away a 1-0 lead after an hour's play and that is what Rensing is most perturbed about. "It was not necessary," he told Sky TV. "It was looking good for us for so long, but then we conceded. But then there was the typical Cologne syndrome and we just fell apart."
The three points lifted Schalke back into a three-team share of the lead at the top of the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, who both have a superior goal difference. However, their coach Huub Stevens said there was still a long way to go this season and that his side were not considering themselves as real title candidates.
"I have always said that the table never lies, but we are realistic - we know where we want to go," he said. "We are taking things step by step and today we made another one."
Schalke goalkeeper Ralf Fahrmann, who missed yesterday's game due to injury, said Bayern were still the team to beat. "They just have the best squad," he said. "They had difficulties to begin with against Gladbach, but I think they are so superior and they have so much experience that they will be at the top come the end of the season.
"I would love that to be Schalke, but the second half of the season has just started so I will restrain myself from making such remarks for now."