Eintracht Braunschweig vs Wolfsburg – Monday 19:30BST/20:30CEST – Eintracht Stadion – Braunschweig.
Eintracht Braunschweig will feel hard done by after they lost the first leg 1-0 to Wolfsburg at the Volkswagen Arena. Referee Sascha Stegemann oversaw a clear handball by Mario Gomez just moments before Gustav Valsvik accidentally blocked a shot by Yunus Malli with his hand.
Mario Gomez stepped up and converted the penalty to make it 1-0 for Wolfsburg giving the Wolves an edge when the relegation playoffs move to Braunschweig on Monday night. Braunschweig, however, where Wolfsburg’s equal in the match and Braunschweig head coach Torsten Lieberknecht made no qualms about the fact that the referee team disadvantaged the Braunschweig.
The poor decisions were also a topic in Germany’s sports press, and the German magazine kicker even gave the referee team a six (the lowest grade). The performance by the referee was made even worse given the fact that Stegemann was also in charge when Braunschweig lost the Niedersachsen Derby to Hannover 96 earlier this season. Stegemann oversaw a clear foul in the penalty box by Hannover striker Martin Harnik on Braunschweig’s Julius Biada. As a result, Braunschweig lost the derby and ultimately second place in the Bundesliga 2 standings.
Before the match, Germany’s Bild newspaper contemplated whether Braunschweig would be given a fair chance in the promotion race. Both Wolfsburg and Braunschweig are connected to Volkswagen and Bild was wondering whether Volkswagen would influence the matter ensuring that Wolfsburg would get the preferential treatment.
Aside from the referee performance, there was, however, no indication that Braunschweig would allow Wolfsburg a free ride. Stegemann and his team in the meantime simply had a bad day in the office, and one goal difference still gives Braunschweig the opportunity to secure promotion to the Bundesliga.
Wolfsburg, on the other hand, will feel that they have made a first significant step towards securing their Bundesliga spot for next season. But at the same time, Mario Gomez and Co. will have to be careful not squander the small lead over their regional rivals. Just one goal by Braunschweig could make live difficult for a team that struggled all season for consistency. Hence, while Wolfsburg are the clear favourites going into the second leg, they will have to aware that this relegation playoff battle is far from over.
Eintracht Braunschweig vs Wolfsburg – Players to look out for:
Ken Reichel #19
If Braunschweig harbour any real prospect of coming out on top over this two-legged fixture then a clean sheet on leg one in Wolfsburg could be the key element. Reichel is a typical no nonsense left back, with a well-known ability to concentrate for the entire 90 minutes he will also add an attacking ability should the Lion’s find themselves in advanced positions on Thursday night. With seven goals and five assists this season he is very much a left back who gets forward. The 30-year-old will bring danger to any set piece that presents a fifty-fifty chance. Watch out for his wicked left foot shot, should the opportunity arise— however, Wolfsburg will be wise not to push him to his right foot only, the defender can also unease a finish from his less favoured side.
Mario Gomez #33
The well-travelled German international scored 10 of his 16 goals this season after the arrival of Dutch coach, Andries Jonker. Having worked together at Bayern Munich, the striker and coach understand the brand of football that fits them best. This understanding will be critical if Wolfsburg wish to avoid a drop into the second tier. Strong in the air, and on the floor, Gomez can score from almost any predatory position. Working well with those around him on the edge of the box his quick interplay skills allow him to get beyond the last line defence. Should a set piece opportunity arise then be sure that the target man will be ready to dispatch any cross that presents an opportunity.
Eintracht Braunschweig vs Wolfsburg – Match Stats
- Wolfsburg’s total of 37 points was the best for a side in 16th since Nürnberg in 1998/99.
- Eintracht were relegated in 2013/14 as Wolfsburg finished fifth, they did, however, better their rivals head-to-head, winning 2:0 and drawing 1:1.
- Wolfsburg have conceded 16 goals this season after the 75-minute mark.
- Eintracht’s total of 66 points was the best for a third-placed team in Bundesliga 2 since the introduction of the three-points-for-a-win rule.
- This is the fifth relegation play-off to feature two teams from the same German state.
Prediction: Eintracht Braunschweig vs Wolfsburg – 1-1
Eintracht Braunschweig vs Wolfsburg – Possible Lineups
Fejzic; Sauer, Decarli, Valsvik, Reichel; Moll, Boland, Hochscheidt, Hernandez; Kumbela, Nyman
Coach: Torsten Lieberknecht
Casteels; Vieirinha, Knoche, Luiz Gustavo, Gerhardt; Guilavogui, Arnold; Didavi, Malli, Ntep; Gomez
Coach: Andries Jonker