On Sunday night, Wolfsburg will host Union Berlin in a matchup between two Bundesliga teams that have slowed down following strong openings to the new year.
In the final week of January, Wolfsburg found themselves just two points shy of fourth place in the Bundesliga, following convincing victories against Freiburg and Hertha Berlin, scoring 11 goals.
However, their form took a nosedive in the last six league games, managing only a solitary win and conceding a whopping 11 goals, compared to just 10 in their previous 12 matches.
Last weekend, they faced off against Frankfurt, who were also vying for a European spot. Wolfsburg initially took the lead, but two first-half goals from the visitors, courtesy of Randal Kolo Muani, left the home side trailing.
Yannick Gerhardt, the top scorer for Wolfsburg, managed to salvage a point by heading in a set-piece, but neither team was satisfied with the result as it did little to bolster their chances of making it to the continent’s elite tournament.
Wolfsburg’s recent slump has left them eight points behind the Champions League qualification spots, and they need to turn their fortunes around if they wish to compete at the highest level of club football.
Wolfsburg Bundesliga Form: L D L W D
Fischer’s Union Berlin has made history in their fourth-ever season of Bundesliga football, thanks partly to their famed set-piece deliveries, which have helped them master acceptable margins.
The club currently sits third in the league, a remarkable achievement considering they played in Germany’s fourth tier as recently as 2006. They now have a realistic chance of qualifying for the Champions League.
During the Europa League group stage, Union balanced its domestic and European commitments quite well. However, the effects of the Thursday-Sunday shift have started to take their toll in recent weeks.
After starting the new year with five consecutive league wins, Union has collected only two points from their last three Bundesliga matches and has yet to score since returning from the Europa League.
Union berlin Bundesliga Form: W W D L D
Wolfsburg manager Niko Kovac will have to make do without the services of the team’s captain, Maximilian Arnold, who is suspended for their upcoming fixture.
In addition, Kilian Fischer and Bartol Franjic are doubtful for the game due to muscular injuries.
Meanwhile, Wolfsburg’s defense has been dealt a severe blow, as center-back Maxence Lacroix suffered a knee sprain during the team’s draw with Frankfurt last week.
The injury could sideline the Frenchman until April, which could significantly setback the team’s Champions League qualification hopes.
Andras Schafer, the midfielder for Union Berlin, has been out of action for quite some time now, having made only two league appearances since Halloween.
The player is still grappling with a foot injury that has plagued him for some time, and it is unlikely that he will feature in the upcoming game this weekend.
Jerome Roussillon, who recently switched to Union from Wolfsburg in January, is also facing some fitness concerns ahead of the game.
Wolfsburg’s predicted starting lineup:
Casteels; Baku, Bornauw, Van de Ven, Otavio; Svanberg, Nmecha, Gerhardt; Kaminski, Marmoush, Wimmer
Union Berlin’s predicted starting lineup:
Ronnow; Doekhi, Knoche, Leite; Trimmel, Laidouni, Khedira, Thorsby, Giesselmann; Becker, Behrens
Head to Head
Wolfsburg and Union Berlin have gone head-to-head 11 times on the football pitch. Out of these 11 games, both teams have managed to win four each, resulting in a very evenly-matched rivalry.
The remaining three matches between the two ended in a draw, adding further excitement and unpredictability to their encounters.
Time, Date & Venue
Date: Sunday, March 12
Time: 06:30 pm, UTC
Venue: Volkswagen Arena stadium, Wolfsburg
Despite recent lackluster performances from both teams, Wolfsburg has a slight advantage going into their upcoming match against Union Berlin. One factor that could prove decisive is Wolfsburg’s home advantage, which has historically had a significant impact on Union Berlin’s performance.
In light of this, Wolfsburg will capitalize on their home-field advantage to secure a win on Sunday.