Wolfsburg v Eintracht Braunschweig
Thursday 25 May, 19:30
Live on BT Sport 3


As falls from grace go, Wolfsburg's has been pretty spectacular. Last season they beat Real Madrid in the first leg of a Champions League quarter-final, and now they are scrapping to avoid a humiliating and potentially disastrous relegation.

The Wolves have never really recovered from losing Kevin de Bruyne to Manchester City, as it ripped the creative heart out of the side, and turned the team from one of the best counter-attacking outfits in Germany into one of the worst. Expensive signings like Max Kruse, Andre Schuerrle and Julian Draxler ultimately failed.

There have also been some bad coaching decisions. When the excellent Dieter Hecking found that his players were simply no longer responding to his instructions, two critical errors were made. Firstly, Wolfsburg perhaps understandably took too long to part company with a man who had delivered the DFB Cup and Champions League. Secondly, they had absolutely no plan in place when they dismissed him. Youth coach Valerien Ismael was a fish out of water from the get-go, and the Frenchman lost nine of his 15 games.

Wolfsburg's third coach of the season, Andries Jonker, was parachuted in from the Arsenal academy. Although he has managed to get the best out of star striker Mario Gomez (they worked together at Bayern, and their bond is clearly strong). Jonker looked set to take the team clear of trouble, but VFL lost five of their last eight games, including a catastrophic 2-1 loss at Hamburg on the final day. A point would have kept Wolfsburg up, but they conceded an 88th-minute winner.

Eintracht Braunschweig

Since their relegation from the top flight in 2014, the Lions have been working towards a return to the big time. The opportunity to also send down their Lower Saxony rivals (there are only 35 kilometres between Braunschweig and Wolfsburg) has also caught the imagination of EBS fans.

Torsten Lieberknecht's men were in the race for automatic promotion all the way through, but a barely comprehensible 6-0 demolition at Arminia Bielefeld robbed them of the chance to finish in the top two. A 2-1 home win over Karlsruhe was too little, too late.

What made the meltdown in Bielefeld all the more odd was that it was totally out of keeping with Braunschweig's recent form. The Lions have won five of their last seven league games, and they only lost six times across the entire Bundesliga 2 season. They only conceded 36 goals, which means that a sixth of the goals they leaked happened in one match.

There is plenty to like about Eintracht, who only finished three points behind the Bundesliga 2 title winners Stuttgart. Keeper Jasmin Fejzic has been a consistent performer, and in front of him centre-backs Saulo Decarli and Gustav Valsvik have formed a solid partnership. Enterprising left-back Ken Reichel has a penchant for scoring spectacular goals (he has scored 14 in the last two seasons), and veteran striker Domi Kumbela has netted 13 league goals this term.

Match Odds

Braunschweig have lost only two of their last 10 away games in the league, but both of those defeats came in the last three outings. The worry for Lieberknecht is that his team simply don't score enough goals on the road - they have netted just seven goals in the last ten away games, and have only scored more than once in one of those games.

Wolfsburg aren't playing particularly well, and they might not be ready for the stresses and strains of a derby duel, but I think that over 90 minutes their quality will show. Jonker has a plethora of attacking options at his disposal, and if they can get the ball to big Mario Gomez often enough, he can do some damage.

I think it's significant that Braunschweig lost all three away games against the rest of the top four in Bundesliga 2 this season, and I think they'll lose here. Either back Wolfsburg at 1.60, or use the Asian Handicap to boost the price when there is some liquidity in the market.

To Score

At time of writing, there isn't much liquidity in the market, but if you can get anything around 1.80 or bigger for Mario Gomez to score, it's worth a wager. The big man had a slow start to his Wolfsburg career, but he has gathered momentum, and he took off from the moment Jonker walked through the door.

Gomez has scored 11 goals in his last 13 league games, and 16 Bundesliga goals in total.

Recommended Bets

Back Wolfsburg -1 on the Asian Handicap at around 1.85
Back Mario Gomez to score at anything above 1.80

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