Koln vs. Holstein Kiel – Bundesliga Relegation Playoff First Leg (May 26, 2021)
The big European soccer leagues have all finished for the season, with some surprising winners in some countries. But there is still the small matter of the relegation playoff to be decided in Germany.
This two-legged tie pits Koln – who finished 16th in the Bundesliga – against Holstein Kiel, who ended up third in the German second tier this season.
Koln vs. Holstein Kiel Odds
Tradition states that the Bundesliga club gets the opportunity to play at home in the first leg. That has usually been enough to win the tie since the playoff was re-introduced in 2008/09. Only three second-tier clubs have been promoted this way since then, and the home team has not lost a playoff first leg game since 2012.
MyBookie fancies Koln to keep that trend going – although the draw bet might be of interest considering Holstein Kiel’s defensive strength.
Koln vs. Holstein Kiel Match Preview
With just four minutes of the season to go, Koln was headed to Bundesliga 2 after what had been another tough campaign for the Billy Goats. Werder Bremen was being roundly beaten in its game against Borussia Monchengladbach, but that meant nothing if Koln couldn’t score. That’s when Sebastiaan Bornauw pounced to earn a point and gave his side a 16th place finish after spending the six previous weeks in the bottom two.
Striker Sebastian Andersson is now ruled out of this first leg game with a knee injury, leaving Ondrej Duda alone up front. He will be hoping to get enough service from inspirational captain Jonas Hector to give Koln a valuable lead to take into the second leg on Saturday.
But Holstein Kiel is not going to be a pushover.
Two illness-enforced breaks caused a huge fixture backlog, making this game Holstein Kiel’s tenth in just 33 days.
There could also be an air of despondency in the squad. Holstein Kiel enjoyed a place in the top two of the league for the majority of the campaign before losing the last two games. Those results have forced the players to raise themselves for two more games in what has already been a grueling season. There will be a lot of pressure on veteran Fin Bartels to spur his side to glory here, but this first leg could be especially tight.
Koln vs. Holstein Kiel Prediction and Betting Pick
Bundesliga clubs have historically enjoyed the winner takes all relegation playoff system in Germany – and Koln is coming into this one high on confidence after sneaking out of the bottom two on the last day of the regular season. But, even considering the fatigue in the Holstein Kiel ranks, its strength is its defense.
The plan will be to stifle and frustrate Koln here, and I think it might be able to keep this first leg goalless, setting things up very nicely for the second leg at the weekend.