First Team

First Hertha, then Europe?

Here is how VfL can qualify for Europe next season.

Jubelszene eines Tores gegen den 1. FC Köln.

The Bundesliga is in the home straight of the 2022/23 season, with the final round of fixtures on Matchday 34 all kicking off at 15:30 CEST on Saturday. VfL Wolfsburg have their sights set on UEFA Europa League qualification when they host a Hertha BSC side whose relegation was confirmed last weekend.

Ahead of the final matchday there is always a variety of possible permutations. Ordinarily, the top four teams all qualify for the Champions League, fifth place goes into the Europa League and the team in sixth earns a spot in the Europa Conference League play-offs. However, things will not necessarily be quite that simple this season.

Final decisions in June

As Eintracht Frankfurt and Leipzig will contest the DFB Cup final, matters in the top third of the table become slightly more complicated. Leipzig's 3-1 win at Bayern Munich on Saturday ensured them a place in the Champions League, so if they defend their DFB Cup crown on 3 June then the sixth-placed finisher in the Bundesliga would go into the Europa League, with seventh taking the Europa Conference League play-off spot.

Going into the last matchday of the season, Wolfsburg, Leverkusen and Frankfurt are all vying for European qualification as they respectively play against Hertha, Bochum and Freiburg. If Frankfurt win the DFB Cup then that would guarantee their participation in the Europa League. In such a scenario, the team ending up in sixth place would get the Europa Conference League ticket but the team in seventh would be left empty handed – unless Frankfurt themselves finish in sixth (see scenario 2 below).

VfL's permutations at a glance

  • Scenario 1: If the Wolves win on Matchday 34 and Leverkusen lose then VfL will take sixth place and book their place in European competition next term. The outcome of the cup final would determine whether they play in the Europa League or the Europa Conference League.
  • Scenario 2: If the Green-and-Whites draw against Hertha then they would need Leverkusen to lose. That would leave the two clubs level on points, meaning goal difference would determine who finishes sixth. Were that to happen, Frankfurt could still leapfrog both teams with a big win, but it would need to be by at least five goals. If Eintracht were to take sixth place, then seventh would be enough to get into the Europa Conference League.
  • Scenario 3: Defeat on the final day could end the Wolves' hopes of a continental adventure, because if Frankfurt win then VfL would slip down to eighth in the standings.

Summary: The Wolves will need plenty of support as they target Europe on the last day of the season, but would maximise their chances with a win over Hertha. Frankfurt and Leverkusen have tough fixtures too, however; the Eagles face Champions League hopefuls Freiburg, while Leverkusen must travel to a Bochum side who will be backed by vociferous home support as they bid to avoid relegation. One thing that is for sure – it is going to be a tense final day!

See the full Bundesliga table