First Team

Season ends in defeat

VfL finish the campaign in 12th place after a 3-1 loss to 1. FSV Mainz 05.

The Wolves lost 3-1 at home to Mainz 05 at the Volkswagen Arena in their final match of the season. Kevin Paredes put VfL in front early on (18’) but Brajan Gruda (24’), Sepp van den Berg (71’) and Jonathan Burkardt (85’) turned the contest on its head for the visitors to secure their league status. Seventeen-year-old Bennit Bröger celebrated his first few Bundesliga minutes as a late replacement for injured substitute Patrick Wimmer.

The result means Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side finish the 2023/24 Bundesliga season in 12th position, with the Zerofivers moving up to 13th and celebrating survival. The Green-and-Whites now head off for their summer break. Check out the summer schedule to find out what’s lies ahead for the squad.


  • 1-0 Paredes (18’): Yes! The Wolves lead thanks to a great strike from Paredes. The American makes a good run to connect with Jakub Kaminski’s pacey left-wing delivery and hits it first-time into the bottom-left corner.
  • 1-1 Gruda (24’): The away fans go wild as Gruda levels promptly for Mainz with a vital goal. Lovro Majer loses the ball to Burkardt in midfield and after a quick counter via Nadiem Amiri, the ball comes to Gruda, who keeps his cool in front of Koen Casteels and finds the net with his left.
  • 1-2 van den Berg (71’): The goal that keeps Mainz up? Shortly after Union Berlin score to put pressure on FSV, an Amiri free kick from the right finds van den Berg, whose initial header is saved by sharp reflexes from Casteels, but the Dutchman bundles the rebound over the line.
  • 1-3 Burkardt (81’): Burkardt seals it! The impressive Gruda is again involved, squaring the ball in the penalty area at mid-height for the striker to turn in with a diving header. Casteels gets a hand to it but can’t keep it out.


Bo Henriksen: “It was a bad game. We were very poor in the first half. We had big problems, particularly in the duels, and Wolfsburg kept putting us under pressure. That’s why they’re a strong team who are very well organised. We had real problems with their long balls and the second balls. With our first move in the opposition half we equalised. From that moment on it was an even game. We defended very well after that. We’re extremely delighted about our first away win [of the season] against a strong side.”

Ralph Hasenhüttl: “First of all, congratulations to Mainz. It was a very tight game which Mainz turned in their favour at the end. The final squad that I had available today did very well. I didn’t get the sense at any time that there was more at stake for Mainz than for us. We fought and tried to play the football we want to stand for. As my counterpart already highlighted, we did a lot of things well in the first half. Unfortunately, we let our opponents back into the game by giving away possession in midfield with an individual error. In the second half, we had the better chances up until the 68th minute, although the game was more even. We had two good chances to score a second goal, then we conceded a second, which was a matter of millimetres. That makes it difficult. In addition, we had to make further changes. Nevertheless, it was pleasing to bring on Bennit Bröger. He’s a player with a big future here. We approached the final game as you should in keeping with the competition. We never gave the impression that we didn’t care. Quite the opposite: we wanted to win the game from the first second.”

Line-ups and stats

VfL Wolfsburg: Casteels – Fischer, Lacroix, Bornauw, Zesiger – Arnold, Majer, Baku (76‘ Cerny), Kaminski, Paredes (46’ Wimmer, 80’ Bröger) – Wind (76’ Behrens)

Subs: Pervan (GK), Klinger (GK), Jenz, Börset

1. FSV Mainz 05: Zentner – Kohr, van den Berg, Hanche-Olsen – Widmer (73‘ Caci), Barreiro, Amiri (90‘+5 Richter), Mwene, Gruda (87‘ Krauß), Lee (73‘ Ajorque) – Burkardt (90‘+4 Guilavogui)

Subs: Batz (GK), Fernandes, da Costa, Weiper

Goals: 1-0 Paredes (18‘), 1-1 Gruda (42‘), 1-2 van den Berg (71‘), 1-3 Burkardt (85‘)

Yellow cards: Wimmer, Majer / Lee, Hanche-Olsen, Kohr

Referee: Frank Willenborg (Osnabrück)

Attendance: 26,627 at Volkswagen Arena