Thrills and spills in season finale
A round-up of all the key facts and figures ahead of the season finale against 1. FC Köln.
There are three possible outcomes for VfL going into the last Bundesliga game of the season on Matchday 34: the relegation play-offs, outright safety or automatic relegation. The top priority for the Wolves is obviously to avoid the drop at home to Köln on Saturday (kick-off 15:30 CEST).
Guests from the Cathedral City
Relegation is already confirmed for visitors Köln, marking the sixth time in the club's history that they have dropped down from the top flight. Last season the Billy Goats recorded a remarkable fifth-placed finish in the Bundesliga, but during the first half of the current campaign they managed just one win – ironically against the Wolves in the final fixture before the winter break. The only goal of the game was scored by Christian Clemens, who had been introduced as a substitute just four minutes previously. Although now already consigned to the second tier, Köln will be looking to continue their recent good performances with another strong showing on the final matchday of the season. "We want to play well for the fans making the trip to Wolfsburg," said goalkeeper Timo Horn. "We didn’t let our heads drop against Bayern Munich and we won’t do it in this game either."
Room for improvement at home
Although the Wolves haven't won any of their last six meetings with Köln, they can take heart from the fact VfL have triumphed each of the last four times they have played at home on Matchday 34. Furthermore, the Green-Whites have only lost one of their last 12 home assignments in the Bundesliga against Köln. Having said that, Wolfsburg's most recent victory over the Billy Goats at the Volkswagen Arena was over three years ago in a game in which current VfL midfielder Yannick Gerhardt was on the opposite side of the pitch for his boyhood club. Another familiar face on Saturday will be that of Jannes Horn, who was at Wolfsburg between 2008 and 2017 before moving to Köln last summer.
If VfL win on Saturday they can no longer be relegated automatically. As the Wolves' goal difference is far better than 17th-placed Hamburg's, a draw against Köln would more than likely be enough for Bruno Labbadia's side to stay in the play-off spot, as Hamburg would need to beat Borussia Mönchengladbach at home by a ten-goal margin. However, if VfL lose, a HSV victory would see them move into the play-off spot and the Green-Whites would be automatically relegated to the second division. The Wolves can also secure outright survival if they beat Köln and 15th-placed Freiburg lose at home to Augsburg. That would leave the two teams level on points, but VfL's superior goal difference would ensure safety and force Freiburg into the play-offs.