VfL Wolfsburg have ended the first half of the 2017/2018 campaign with a defeat: In their final Bundesliga game of the year, the Wolves, who had three late absentees to compensate for, slipped to bottom of the table 1. FC Köln through a single goal scored by Christian Clemens (67'). With the match ending in a 0-1 (0-0) defeat, the Green-Whites go into the winter break in twelfth place on 19 points.
Bruma comeback after nine and a half month absence
VfL head-coach Martin Schmidt was forced to make three changes to his starting eleven from the 1-1 draw with RB Leipzig. Felix Uduokhai and John Anthony Brooks, who both remained in Wolfsburg due to injury, as well as Maximilian Arnold, who came down with a stomach bug on Saturday morning, were replaced from the outset by Jeffrey Bruma, Robin Knoche and Divock Origi. For Bruma, it marked the end of a long period of absence, having made his last appearance in the Green-White back on March 4th, when the Wolves played out a 1-1 draw with 1. FSV Mainz. During the tie, the 26 year old suffered a knee injury which put him on the side-lines for eight full months.
Impressive Casteels to the rescue
With neither side managing to create any clear chances on goal in the opening half-hour, the game then took a turn for the better. The first opening fell to the Wolves, following a horrendously ill-played pass from Salih Özcan, but Mario Gomez was unable to get himself into the ideal position and was blocked in his attempt to shoot (23'). From a delivery from Yunus Malli, the German international again lacked precision with a header from seven meters out (27'). As the game wore on, the hosts from Cologne raised their game, causing a particular problem through Milos Jojic on the right. The best chance ion the first-half went to FC, as Lukas Klünter broke free on his own from the right, but Koen Casteels stood strong and saved twice from close range (34'). Ultimately, the two sides went into the break locked at 0-0.
Clemens nets, Wolves waste opportunities
Both sides took a more offensive approach coming out for the second period. As a result, there was a more determined and active tie to be seen immediately from the re-start. And it was FC who initially made an impression – and how! Jolic let fly from 14 meters out and Casteels managed to get a hand to the ball and turn it against the crossbar. In the 67th minute however, the VfL keeper was left without a chance, as Clemens took on a pass in the area and slotted home from close-range, to make it 1-0 for the home club. The Wolves eventually shook themselves late on and had efforts on goal through Malli (75'), Gomez (77') and Bruma (78'), with an excellently executed volley, but FC keeper Timo Horn stood strong on each occasion and VfL were subsequently left empty-handed, as 1. FC Köln notched up their first win of the season thus far.
1.FC Köln: T. Horn – Sörensen, Jorge Meré, Heintz, J. Horn – Lehmann (58' Höger), Özcan – Jojic, Führich (71' Handwerker) – Klünter, Risa (63' Clemens)
VfL Wolfsburg: Casteels – Verhaegh (83' Dimata), Knoche, Bruma, William (61' Tisserand) – Guilavogui, Gerhardt (81' Osimhen) – Origi, Didavi, Malli – Gomez
Goals: 1-0 Clemens (67')
Yellow cards: Sörensen, Höger / Origi
Referee: Benjamin Brand (Unterspiesheim)