Sunday, June 16, 2024

Prediction: VfL Bochum vs Fortuna Dusseldorf

Verdict: Both teams to score

Best odds: 4/6

Bookmaker: Unibet

VfL Bochum will play host to Fortuna Dusseldorf at the Vonovia Ruhrstadion in the first leg of the Bundesliga relegation play-off on Thursday night.

The hosts are aiming to retain their top-flight status for next season, while the visitors aspire to return to Germany’s top tier for the first time in five years.

VfL Bochum

Bochum’s three-year stay in the Bundesliga is at risk after slipping into the bottom three on the final day of the regular season, following a heavy 4-1 defeat at Werder Bremen last weekend.

The Blues started the day in 14th place, one point clear of the danger zone, but defeats coupled with victories for Union Berlin and Mainz 05 relegated them to the playoff spot for the first time since 2011.

Heiko Butscher took over as interim manager following Thomas Letsch’s dismissal in April. Despite collecting seven points from his first four games, boosting Bochum’s survival hopes, Butscher has since overseen two defeats with a combined score of 9-1, including a 5-0 home loss to champions Bayer Leverkusen.

Bochum’s defensive woes are evident, with only already-relegated SV Darmstadt 98 (86) conceding more goals this season than their 74. They have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 16 league matches dating back to January.

Team News

Bochum will be without Philipp Förster (hip), Michael Esser, Moritz-Broni Kwarteng, and Mohammed Tolba (all knee) due to injury. Additionally, first-choice goalkeeper Manuel Riemann is unavailable for selection for both legs of the playoff tie due to a disciplinary problem. Andreas Luthe, the 37-year-old who also played in goal the last time Bochum competed in the relegation playoffs over a decade ago, should be between the posts again.

Butscher will welcome back right-back Felix Passlack from suspension, who is expected to replace Tim Oermann, joining Ivan Ordets, Keven Schlotterbeck and Bernardo in the back four.

Fortuna Dusseldorf

Speaking of Bochum’s defensive issues, staying tight at the back will be a priority for Butscher in Thursday’s first leg against a Dusseldorf side whom they have beaten in their last three meetings, including two second-tier wins by an aggregate score of 8-0 during the 2020/21 campaign.

In stark contrast to Bochum, Dusseldorf are in buoyant mood, having put together an impressive 14-game unbeaten league run stretching back to February, which includes nine victories and five draws.

Die Flingeraner have held third place in the second tier since the beginning of April and were in contention for automatic promotion heading into the penultimate week of the season. However, a 1-1 draw with second-placed Holstein Kiel just over two weeks ago forced them into the play-offs.

Dusseldorf claimed all three points in their final match of the regular season, with a superb hat-trick from Christos Tzolis—including an 88th-minute winner—securing a 3-2 home victory over Magdeburg last weekend.

Daniel Thioune’s side are hoping to carry their momentum into the play-offs as they endeavor to claim their first competitive win over Bochum since March 2017, when they secured a 2-1 victory away from home in a second-tier clash.

Team News

Fortuna’s only absentee is young central defender Jamil Siebert, who requires an operation on a thigh injury.

Having already secured third place heading into last weekend’s match against Magdeburg, Thioune was able to rest some of his star players, who are expected to return to the starting XI on Thursday.

Matthias Zimmermann, Tim Oberdorf, and Emmanuel Iyoha are all poised to return in defense, and Yannik Engelhardt could be recalled in midfield. Vincent Vermeij, who has scored 14 goals this season, is set to lead the line, while 24-goal Norwich City loanee Christos Tzolis will retain his spot on the left flank.


Both of these teams have shown attacking prowess and defensive vulnerabilities, and there isn’t much difference in quality between them. A high-scoring draw feels like the likeliest outcome.

Verdict: Both teams to score

Best odds: 4/6

Bookmaker: Unibet


Veselin Trajkovic

Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.



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