We’re taking in a playoff game in Germany tonight, and Kev thinks it’ll be the top-flight side that takes a first-leg lead.
Hosts to take first-leg lead
Köln v Holstein Kiel
Wednesday 26 May, 17:30
Live on BT Sport 2
The ice didn’t quite melt as much as we hoped for last night, as KR’s 1-1 draw with HK left us a couple of goals short.
We’ll switch our focus to Germany now, because it’s the first leg of the relegation playoff tonight between Köln and Holstein Kiel. In German football, the team that finished third from bottom in the top flight takes on the team who finishes third in the second tier over two legs.
Köln nearly didn’t qualify for this playoff. With four minutes of the regular season remaining, they were being held to a goalless draw by rock-bottom Schalke, but giant defender Sebastian Bornauw came up with a far-post header that snatched a 1-0 win. Köln finished a poor campaign strongly, as they won three of their last five games, including two of the last three home matches. The decision to replace coach Markus Gisdol with veteran Friedhelm Funkel six matches before the end of the season was proved correct.
While Köln ended on a high, Holstein Kiel suffered gut punches in both of their final two games. Just one win would’ve secured automatic promotion, and Ole Werner’s side led in both games against Karlsruher and Darmstadt, but they ended up losing both 3-2. Ahead of this match, their away form is a concern, with just one win in the last seven. Kiel also have emotional baggage, having lost this playoff to Wolfsburg in 2018.
Köln shouldn’t really have gotten themselves into this position. They have a decent squad, and in-form players like midfielders Ondrej Duda and Jonas Hector. Funkel is a wily coach, and Kiel are hamstrung by the suspension of midfield duo Jonas Meffert and Alexander Mühling.
I’ll back the hosts to win the first leg -0.5 & -1.0 on the Asian Handicap at 1.9420/21. If they win by one goal we get a half-win, while a bigger victory will yield a full win at close to evens.
Source: Betfair German