Preview: Fortuna Dusseldorf vs. VfL Bochum – prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Monday’s Bundesliga Relegation Playoffs clash between Fortuna Dusseldorf and VfL Bochum, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Requiring a minor miracle to preserve their Bundesliga status, VfL Bochum travel to the Merkur Spiel-Arena for the second leg of their relegation/promotion playoff with Fortuna Dusseldorf on Monday.

The second-tier side stormed to a 3-0 success on Bochum’s turf on May 23 and simply need to avoid a catastrophic collapse on home soil to return to the big time after a four-year absence.

Match preview

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During his three-year stint at Dusseldorf head coach, Daniel Thioune has overseen the progression of Monday’s hosts from a mid-table 2. Bundesliga side to prospective Bundesliga competitors, and Die Flingeraner have one foot firmly in the premier division for 2024-25.

Indeed, Dusseldorf hit a beleaguered Bochum for three without reply in the first leg of their playoff tie, as a Philipp Hofmann own goal in the 13th minute preceded second-half strikes from Felix Klaus and Yannik Engelhardt on a near-faultless afternoon for Thioune’s side.

A third-tier outfit as recently as the 2008-09 campaign, Dusseldorf have not mixed with the big boys of German football since suffering relegation in the 2019-20 season under Uwe Rosler, but few will anticipate Monday’s hosts losing their iron grip on a Bundesliga berth now.

Finishing in third place in the regular season behind the automatically-promoted FC St Pauli and Holstein Kiel, Dusseldorf have now navigated each of their last eight matches without suffering defeat since being decimated 4-0 by top-flight champions Bayer Leverkusen in the DFB-Pokal.

Fans of the Flingeraner have to go even further back to February 4 for the last time that their side were beaten in league circumstances, and with each of the hosts’ last six competitive home matches ended in victory, Bochum should arrive in fleeting hope rather than expectation.

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Despite finishing the regular Bundesliga season comfortably clear of SV Darmstadt 98 and Koln in the automatic relegation places, Bochum are surely destined to join the doomed duo in the second tier next year, ending a three-year stint at Germany’s top footballing table.

2. Bundesliga champions back in the 2020-21 season, the team nicknamed the Undescendables should in fact be descending the divisions by the close of play on Monday, having agonisingly missed out on top-flight safety courtesy of an inferior goal difference to 15th-placed Union Berlin.

The 3-0 first-leg thrashing represented Bochum’s third heavy defeat on the bounce, having concluded the regular season with a 5-0 pummelling at the hands of Leverkusen and 4-1 final-day dismantling against Werder Bremen, as Heiko Butscher‘s severe defensive concerns were laid bare.

Each of Bochum’s last five matches has seen the Undescendables concede multiple goals – a staggering 17 in total – and Butscher’s men have coincidentally gone 17 games without keeping a clean sheet, a run stretching back to a surprise 1-0 success against Stuttgart in January.

Furthermore, Bochum finished at the bottom of the Bundesliga away form table for the 2023-24 season – accruing a mere 10 points on their travels all season long – although they did run out 3-0 victors on Dusseldorf’s turf in a 2. Bundesliga clash in March 2021, so an improbable turnaround may not be fully beyond the realm of possibility.

Fortuna Dusseldorf Bundesliga Relegation Playoffs form:

Fortuna Dusseldorf form (all competitions):

VfL Bochum Bundesliga Relegation Playoffs form:

VfL Bochum form (all competitions):

Team News

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As no fresh fitness concerns arose for Dusseldorf in their first-leg success, an identical squad should be at Thioune’s disposal, although Jamil Siebert (tendon) and Sima Suso (muscle) are both confined to the medical bay.

Even with a three-goal advantage and a tight turnaround to take into account, all 11 of Thioune’s starters from Thursday should therefore reprise their roles on home soil, where Norwich City loanee Christos Tzolis has often stolen the show this season.

Bagging 22 goals in the regular season, the 22-year-old finished joint-top of the Golden Boot charts alongside Robert Glatzel and Haris Tabakovic, before setting up two of Dusseldorf’s three goals at the Vonovia Ruhrstadion on May 23.

Bochum also emerged unblemished from their first-leg beatdown on the physical side of things, although Brazilian defender Bernardo was cautioned for the 10th time in league action and will therefore miss the return fixture through suspension.

Bernardo is one of two players on the Undescendables’ naughty step, as regular goalkeeper Manuel Riemann was axed from the ranks due to “irreconcilable differences” regarding team issues, so 37-year-old Andreas Luthe guards the sticks here.

Michael Esser (knee), Mohammed Tolba (ACL), Danilo Soares (muscle), Philipp Forster (hip) and Moritz Kwarteng (knee) are all sidelined for the visitors, who might call up Cristian Gamboa to deputise for Bernardo on the left.

Fortuna Dusseldorf possible starting lineup:
Kastenmeier; Zimmermann, Oberdorf, De Wijs, Iyoha; Engelhardt, Tanaka, Sobottka; Klaus, Vermeij, Tzolis

VfL Bochum possible starting lineup:
Luthe; Passlack, Ordets, Schlotterbeck, Gamboa; Losilla, Bero; Asano, Stoger, Wittek; Paciencia

We say: Fortuna Dusseldorf 3-1 VfL Bochum (Dusseldorf win 6-1 on aggregate)

All-out attack must be the tactic employed by Bochum if they are to pull off a sensational turnaround on Dusseldorf’s territory, but such an approach will inevitably leave them open to Flingeraner counters, which could prove devastating.

Keeping the back door shut has been a failed mission for the visitors all season long, and their demotion to the second tier should be confirmed on Monday, as Dusseldorf return to the Bundesliga in emphatic style.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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