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FEATURE | Bundesliga Review – Week 16: Modeste magic puts Wolfsburg to the sword

After a disappointing result to Augsburg last weekend, Köln got their Englische Woche off to the best possible start. There probably isn’t a better time to visit Wolfsburg at the minute. Having lost their previous five in all competitions, it appears Florian Kohfeldt’s bubble has well and truly burst. With Steffen Baumgart’s determined Köln side in town, it was soon six losses on the spin.

Having made two changes from the weekend, Wolfsburg rotated their team and got off to the best possible start. A lighting counterattack from the hosts was finished off by Lukas Nmecha who showed outstanding pace to get on the end of the cross. It was a run that started well within his own half but the forward was rewarded for his effort.

It was all going to plan for Wolfsburg until the 33rd minute. A ball that appeared to be rolling out for a goal kick was brilliantly kept in by Jonas Hector. Ondrej Duda then laid the ball to the onrushing Florian Kainz who really should have scored but instead hit the crossbar. Luckily for Köln, Anthony Modeste was there to head the ball home. Sometimes you make your luck in football and that’s certainly what Köln did here. The Wolfsburg defence switched off thinking the danger had gone but if there’s one thing Die Geißböcke don’t do, it’s give up. As quick as a flash it was 1:1 and Wolfsburg had only themselves to blame.

Five minutes into the second half and another Wolfsburg counter resulted in a goal. This time, Dodi Lukebakio took the ball from the halfway line into the Köln box before putting the ball on a plate for Wout Weghorst at the back post. It was a brilliant move by Lukebakio who’s clever quick feet enabled him to pick out his teammate at the far stick. It’s moments like this you wonder why and how Wolfsburg are in the situation they are.

20 minutes later and it was another case of Wolfsburg switching off at the back which led to Köln’s second. Benno Schmitz’s rather ambitious effort deflected high into the air and Wolfsburg’s box. Incredibly, not one defender made their way to the oncoming ball but instead watched as Kingsley Schindler played the ball across to Mark Uth who tapped the ball in with his chest. Watching it back, Florian Kohfeldt must have been livid with his side’s lack of defensive awareness. It was now becoming clearer as to why Wolfsburg are on a run of six defeats.

Just two minutes from time and Köln had their winner. Schindler’s ball from the right took a slight deflection before being met by the rising Modeste. The Frenchmen is certainly making a name for himself this season and it’s clear to see why. The Wolfsburg defence was once again static but it’s Modeste’s run that enabled him to get on the end of the cross. Positioning himself in between the two defenders he was able to head the ball completely unchallenged. The win puts Köln into 10th and leaves Wolfsburg in 11th.

It’s something that has almost become synonymous with Steffen Baumgart’s side this year. They might not be blessed with many household names or the league’s best talent but what they do have is spirit. Their first goal of the evening and in particular coming from behind twice only symbolises the togetherness and never say die attitude at Köln.

As a neutral, it is fantastic to watch. Köln is a club that has underachieved somewhat in recent campaigns but this year feels different. It wouldn’t be surprising to see them push to the end of the season for a European spot. Perhaps inspired by the recent achievements of Union Berlin,  Köln and their fans will be thinking they too can create history. Whether it’s Baumgart’s motivational skills, training methods, his flap cap, or Modeste’s dancing, it’s working for them!

Talking Points

1 | For the second time in three days, Bayer Leverkusen gave up a 2:0 lead. Last Sunday, they were cruising against Frankfurt before a second-half meltdown saw them lose the tie 5:2. Similarly, on Wednesday, Leverkusen were 2:0 up for a large majority of the game courtesy of in-form striker, Patrik Schick. With ten minutes to go, Hoffenheim pulled one back before adding another just three minutes later. It’s clear Leverkusen are lacking in defensive confidence at the minute. As soon as the first Hoffenheim goal went in, many of the fans and more importantly the players would have been fearing the worst. To rub salt in the wounds, Moussa Diaby was shown a second yellow card for Leverkusen and will be suspended for the next match. The draw keeps Leverkusen in 3rd but there are now many teams just below them eyeing up their league position.

2 | It’s now no win in four Bundesliga matches for Adi Hütter’s Borussia Mönchengladbach. They welcomed Hütter’s former side, Frankfurt, who had won five of their last six league games. Gladbach made four changes from the side that lost to Leipzig and it was one of these changes that opened the scoring in the 6th minute. Florian Neuhaus took one touch to set himself on the edge of the box before firing the ball into the far corner. On the stroke of halftime, the Eagles high press paid off. Having won the ball back in Gladbach’s half, Rafael Borré was left to tap it in from six yards. Five minutes into the second half and Frankfurt had their noses in front. This time Evan Ndicka set up Jesper Lindstrøm.

That’s now six games on the spin that the Eagles have scored at least twice in a match. Gladbach dug deep and were rewarded for their efforts when Kouadio Koné was fouled inside the box. There was minimal contact from the challenge but enough for the referee to stick with his decision. Ramy Bensebaini stepped up and made it all square at 2:2. Game on we all thought. However, just seconds later, Gladbach were completely undone as Daichi Kamada raced clear and scored his first goal of the season to make it 3:2 to the Eagles. Frankfurt did go down to ten men when Tuta saw a second yellow but hung on for yet another victory. It’s an all too familiar scoreline for Adi Hütter’s Mönchengladbach who are just a point off the relegation play-off.

3 | Bayern further tightened their grip on the Bundesliga title with a convincing 5:0 victory away to Stuttgart. The Bavarian’s dominance finally paid off shortly before the halftime whistle when Serge Gnabry beautifully curled his effort beyond the keeper and into the top right corner. Just seven minutes into the second period and Bayern doubled their lead. Stuttgart lost possession in the middle of the park and made it too easy for the Bavarians to take advantage. Müller played the ball into Gnabry who cut inside and calmly sent the keeper the wrong way. From there, Bayern took complete control scoring three goals in 5 minutes with Gnabry completing his hattrick. Playing in front of an empty Mercedes-Benz Arena, you feel the home fans dodged a bullet here.

4 | Bo Svensson is quietly going about his business as his Mainz side put in a fantastic performance to see off Hertha Berlin 4:0. The first goal was patiently worked before Jae-Sung Lee headed into an empty net. The second came just before halftime when Alexandra Hack’s deflected shot found its way into the bottom corner. Shortly after the break, it was 3:0 which put the game beyond any doubt. The final goal came late on and wrapped up a convincing night for the Karnevalsverein. After a narrow defeat to Bayern last week, Mainz got back to winning ways and keep themselves fighting for a European place.

Jamie Allen

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