Wolfsburg v Holstein Kiel
Bundesliga Relegation - Thursday, May 17th, 7.30 pm BST
The Bundesliga season climaxes with the relegation play-off between VfL Wolfsburg and Holstein Kiel.
Die Wölfe reached the quarter-final of the Champions League in 2015-16 but are now fighting for their top-flight survival. It was a nail-biting final day with Hamburg piling on the pressure with a 2 – 1 win over Borussia Monchengladbach. Wolfsburg’s 4 – 1 win over bottom-club Koln kept them in the division for the time being.
Holstein Kiel finished a comfortable third in 2. Bundesliga. One defeat in 11 at the hands of Nurnberg, who finished second, stopped them grabbing the second spot instead. Since the re-organisation of German football in 1963, Holstein hasn’t appeared in the 1. Bundesliga. They may not get a better chance than this.
The win on the final day of the season ended a run of four without a win (D1, L3), which stretched to two wins in 12 (D4, L8). The real damage to their season came earlier with a run of seven drawn games; most were good results with points taken from Bayern, Bayer, Schalke, and Hoffenheim.
While those points contributed to Wolfsburg’s safety, it stopped them building any momentum. They failed to win back-to-back games this season, something they must now do if they are to remain in the top flight.
At home, their form is mixed to say the least winning just three of the last 10 (D3, L4), five of which featured over 2.5 goals.
Daniel Didavi is the club’s top scorer with nine goals this season, including one of the four which sunk Koln. That was his third in four games, after a double in the 2 – 0 win at Freiburg. An Achilles injury may keep him out of the game.
His absence means a big moment for Divock Origi; the on-loan Liverpool striker has impressed with his attitude but not his goals tally. It was the first he scored in 14 appearances. Wolfsburg could do with him scoring more; they haven’t lost any match in which he scored (W1, D5).
Holstein Kiel were pre-World War I German national champions and prior to the creation of the Bundesliga, were a top-flight side. Since then, it’s been a dream rarely seeming to come true. Now, it may do.
Marvin Ducksch is the 2. Bundesliga top scorer but was upstaged on the final day of the season when Steven Lewrenz grabbed four goals (8 in total) in the 6 – 2 win over Braunschweig. Add into the mix Kingsley Schindler (12) and Drexler (12), and Holstein Kiel’s potency in front of goal is obvious.
The 2. Bundesliga most prolific side scored more goals than Wolfsburg saw in all their matches, both for and against. Indeed, Holstein Kiel conceded more goals than Wolfsburg scored.
And therein is the warning. The 1. Bundesliga outfit may be struggling but their challengers are not rock solid at the back. More solid, they hope, than the 1986 meeting between the two sides which Wolfsburg won 9 – 1 and remains a club record to this day.
It’s not unusual for the 1. Bundesliga teams to survive; 14 of the last 19 have done so in these play-offs. Wolfsburg won 1 – 0 home and away last year against Braunschweig and that experience may serve them well. We’re leaning toward a narrow home win in this first leg.
Correct Score Betting Tip, Wolfsburg 2 - 0 Holsten Kiel @ odds of 9.00
1x2 Betting Tip, Wolfsburg @ odds of 1.90
Over / Under Goals Betting Tip, Under 2.5 Goals @ odds of 1.66
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