VfL Wolfsburg are experiencing a lot of ups and downs this season, but the second-youngest team in the Bundesliga have recently recently experienced a slight drop-off in form. After a strong run of ten games without defeat until Matchday 17, VfL Wolfsburg had their sights firmly set on a place in the Europa League. In the second half of the season, however, the performances of Niko Kovac's team have fluctuated frequently, with the Wolves only securing two wins in a row on one occasion. Their most recent outing – a 6-0 defeat in Dortmund – also meant their previously strong goal difference is now exactly equal to that of their competitors for sixth place at +11 (54-43) – and Leverkusen have two more points to their name. Whether seventh place will be enough to qualify for the Europa Conference League will only be decided in the cup final: a Leipzig win against Eintracht Frankfurt would mean that seventh place in the league would be enough for Europa Conference League qualification.
After a disappointing season last year, which saw Wolfsburg finish in twelfth place in the table, the Wolves have taken the desired step in the right direction this season. "We want to develop in such a way that we are consistently candidates for Europe," VfL supervisory board chairman Frank Witter told the "Wolfsburger Allgemeine Zeitung" this week, but added that it would be "no drama" if they did not manage to qualify for Europe this season.
In their efforts to qualify, the young team – with an average age of just 24.4 years – can rely on a former Hoffenheim player who, at the age of 30, is something of an elder statesman in this team. Koen Casteels has already kept twelve clean sheets this season – no other Bundesliga goalkeeper has more.
The Wolfsburg team in front of the Belgian shot-stopper, however, have been more inconsistent and unpredictable. Some 16 different players have already hit the back of the net, with eight players scoring four or more times. However, top scorers Yannick Gerhardt and Jonas Wind have six goals each – only 1. FC Cologne have a top scorer with as few goals to their name.
VfL won the reverse fixture in Hoffenheim 2-1, while TSG won the last match between the sides in Wolfsburg 2-1 more than a year ago.