Professionals | 17/01/2020

Matchday 18

Preview ahead of the game against Wolfsburg

1. FC Köln take on VfL Wolfsburg at the RheinEnergieSTADION on Saturday afternoon as they return to competitive action after the Winter Break. After 28 days without a league fixture, Markus Gisdol’s men are hoping to hit the ground running after the training camp in Benidorm.

Form check

1. FC Köln: While the pause was much needed, FC would have been happy had a month-break not been the case after the win against Bremen. 1. FC Köln were the only side, along with Bayern Munich, to take nine points from a possible nine in the final week of 2019. That catapulted Markus Gisdol and his team out of the relegation zone. However, with things still tight at the bottom, a good start to 2020 is key to keeping FC above the line.

VfL Wolfsburg: After going the first nine games of the season unbeaten, Wolfsburg were second in the table and looking good under Oliver Glasner. Yet, following that run, things haven’t been smooth sailing of late. The Wolves have picked up just two league wins in their last eight games. For the club who have the joint-best defensive record in the Bundesliga, Glasner will be hoping that can bring them back in the right direction.

The managers have had their say

Markus Gisdol: “The most important thing was that we came through the last few days without any major injuries or knocks. We've worked on things physically. We're looking at the next game. At the end of the Hinrunde, we showed that we can cause difficulties for difficult opponents.”

Oliver Glasner: “Köln play extremely aggressively, and have gained confidence from the wins before Christmas. They also have experienced players in the side with the likes of Jonas Hector, Anthony Modeste and Marcel Risse. We want to get better at creating and taking chances. There's still a lot to do. Our desire and aim is to move up the table.”

Squad update

1. FC Köln: FC have brought in two new faces during the January transfer window. Mark Uth has returned after eight years away, joining from FC Schalke 04 on loan. Elvis Rexhbecaj arrived on loan for the next 18 months from Wolfsburg, while Louis Schaub will spend the rest of the season in Hamburg. Christian Clemens is the only long-term injury worry.

VfL Wolfsburg: Aside from the departure of Rexhbecaj, Lukas Nmecha has returned to Manchester City after six months and Yunus Malli has made his way on loan to Union Berlin. Marin Pongracic has completed his move from Salzburg during the week ahead of the game. However, he will play no part at the weekend.

Opposition dangerman

While the Wolves have found it tough going in front of goal this season, Wout Weghorst has been their shining light up front. Having scored seven of their 18 league goals, the Dutchman is without doubt their most important player going forward. In comparison, his 11 goals across all competition is seven more than Josip Brekalo, the second topscorer.

Refereeing team

Referee: Marco Fritz (Korb).

Linesmen: Dominik Schaal, Marcel Pelgrim.

Fourth official: Timo Gerach.

Video Assistant Referee: Tobias Reichel.

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Total table
12VfB Stuttgart0
121. FC Köln0
141. FSV Mainz 050