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May 29, 2021 at 5pm UK
Holstein KielHolstein Kiel
FC KolnFC Koln
Jae-sung (4')
Porath (32')
FT(HT: 1-4)
Hector (3'), Andersson (6', 13'), Czichos (39'), Skhiri (84')
Bornauw (28'), Horn (44'), Horn (65'), Thielmann (88')

Preview: Holstein Kiel vs. FC Koln - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Holstein Kiel vs. FC Koln - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Saturday's Bundesliga Relegation Playoffs clash between Holstein Kiel and FC Koln, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Holstein Kiel host FC Koln in the second leg of the Bundesliga relegation playoff on Saturday, with the visitors knowing they must win in order to avoid a sixth relegation from Germany's top flight this century alone.

Kiel, meanwhile, produced an excellent performance in Cologne on Wednesday to secure a 1-0 lead to protect on home turf.

Match preview

Indeed, after making a slow start in what proved to be a fiery encounter, Kiel were the better side in the second half, particularly after Simon Lorenz headed his side ahead only seconds after entering the field as a substitute.

Koln had made a bright start to proceedings, with Ondrej Duda dragging his effort wide in first half stoppage time, but overall Ole Werner would have been extremely content with how his second tier outfit kept their opponents mostly at arms length.

Aiming to become the 57th club to compete in the Bundesliga having never reached Germany's top flight since it rebranded in 1963, Kiel must hold their nerve and ensure a congested schedule of late does not catch up with them on Saturday.

The fact that The Storks have lost only four times on their own patch while retaining the strongest defensive record in Bundesliga 2 this season suggests that they may just do it.

Friedhelm Funkel, who will be replaced in Koln's dugout by current SC Paderborn boss Steffen Baumgart once this season ends regardless of whether The Billy Goats survive on Saturday, will be fully aware that his side must significantly improve in order to stand a chance of overturning the deficit.

Koln did have twice as many shots as Kiel while retaining 58% possession during the 90 minute, and there is every chance the match could follow a similar pattern on Saturday despite Kiel having home advantage on their side this time around.

With Sebastian Andersson managing to feature in the second half of the first leg despite suffering a knee injury during the crucial final day victory over Schalke 04, it is likely that Koln will be more ruthless should they create any major chances for the Sweden forward to convert.

However, they cannot afford to concede any cheap goals like Lorenz's on Wednesday, otherwise a sixth relegation to Bundesliga 2 since the turn of the century will be staring them in the face.

Holstein Kiel Bundesliga Relegation Playoffs form:
  • W

Holstein Kiel form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • W

FC Koln Bundesliga Relegation Playoffs form:
  • L

FC Koln form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • D
  • W
  • L

Team News

Central midfielders Jonas Meffert and Alexander Muhling missed the first leg win against Koln due to suspension, with Werner likely to recall both players to his starting XI on Saturday.

That could mean Aleksandar Ignjovski and Niklas Hauptmann, who is on loan from Koln, drop out of the side.

Fabian Reese impressed as a second half subtitute and could replace Finn Porath on the left flank.

Johannes van den Bergh is suspended after picking up his fifth caution of the season, leaving Werner with a real headache at left-back.

Marco Komenda could shift over from centre-back, as he did in the 5-0 DFB-Pokal defeat to Borussia Dortmund, with goalscorer Lorenz coming into the side from the start after his winner on Wednesday.

Koln, meanwhile, should welcome Andersson back from the start to lead the line, with Jonas Hector and Duda both dropping deeper into more natural roles accordingly. Salih Ozcan or Ellyes Skhiri will make way.

Elvis Rexhbecaj could return depending on how fit the midfielder is after his recent knock, with Jan Thielmann and Dominick Drexler also both pushing for starts to try and freshen up a misfiring attack.

Holstein Kiel possible starting lineup:
Gelios; Neumann, Wahl, Lorenz, Komenda; Meffert, Muhling, Lee; Bartels, Serra, Reese

FC Koln possible starting lineup:
Horn; Schmitz, Bornauw, Czichos, Katterbach; Skhiri, Hector; Thielmann, Duda, Rexhbecaj; Andersson

We say: Holstein Kiel 1-1 FC Koln

Koln should have more attacking potency with the changes they are likely to make, but we expect Kiel to narrowly cling onto their aggregate lead and gain their first ever promotion to the Bundesliga.

Werner's side played with more spirit on Wednesday, and frankly more ideas in attack, particularly in transition. Should Koln leave defensive gaps, Kiel look to have the players to punish them.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data

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