FC Koln are set to take on local rivals Fortuna Dusseldorf in the Rhine derby on Sunday, 24 May 2020.
Fortuna Dusseldorf triumphed 2-0 at Merkur Spiel-Arena when both sides met earlier in the season, with Rouwen Hennings and Erik Thommy scoring the goals for the home side. This was their first top-flight encounter since 1996-97, when FC Koln did the double against their Rhine rivals.
All in all, The Billy Goats hold a significant advantage in their Bundesliga record against Fortuna Dusseldorf – 22 wins in 45 top-flight matches against just 10 in Fortuna Dusseldorf's favor.
FC Koln Betting Preview
The Billy Goats dropped a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 against Mainz 05 on Sunday, yet they remain 10 points clear of the relegation zone despite failing to win either of their last two matches – against rivals Borussia M'Gladbach before the break and then the aforementioned disappointment against Mainz 05 when the Bundesliga resumed last weekend.
FC Koln were bottom of the Bundesliga table until matchweek 14 and remained within the drop zone until the following week, but apparently influenced by Markus Gisdol's appointment in mid-November, Koln galloped away from the relegation zone and can even move close to the Europa League places if they return to winning ways here.
Indeed, Markus Gisdol's men have claimed eight wins in their last 12 Bundesliga matches (8W-1D-3L) and have also won five of their last 8 home matches, losing just one of them – to Bayern Munich in mid-February.
Experienced attacking midfielder Marcel Risse remains sidelined, but there are no fresh injury concerns in the home side.
Kingsley Ehizibue could return at right-back, while Benno Schmitz, who started there against Mainz 05, competes for the left-back spot with the talented teenager Noah Katterbach, who recently extended his contract with the club.
Ismail Jakobs has successfully recovered from the coronavirus and could return to the starting XI, most likely at the expense of 17-years-old Jan Thielmann who started against Mainz 05, while Colombian top goalscorer Jhon Cordoba (10 goals in 22 Bundesliga appearances) will be keen to continue his impressive form up front.
Mark Uth returned to his boyhood club (on loan from Schalke 04) in the winter break and has quickly become a pivotal figure to Markus Gisdol's formation. Embracing the No.10 position, the 27-years-old striker has scored in each of his last two matches and remarkably, Uth has either scored or assisted (five goals and four assists) in all of his eight appearances since returning to FC Köln in January.
Fortuna Dusseldorf Betting Preview
Fortuna Dusseldorf sit 16th in the Bundesliga table, four points off 15th Mainz 05 and the upcoming visit to rivals FC Koln could represent the perfect opportunity if they are to attempt a late season surge.
However, Uwe Rösler's side left their Merkur Spiel-Arena frustrated in last Saturday's relegation six-pointer against last-place Paderborn as they hit the woodwork four times in a goalless draw. Thus, even though they remain unbeaten in four Bundesliga games (1 win, 3 draws), their longest unbeaten run in 16 months, Fortuna Dusseldorf are seriously threatened to lose their Bundesliga status if they don't improve over the coming weeks.
Kenan Karaman and top goalscorer Rouwen Hennings are in contention to lead the line if Uwe Rösler once again opts for a 3-4-2-1 formation, with one typical centre-forward. This was the case against Paderborn, when Karaman started while Hennings was left out on the bench.
Rouwen Hennings is Fortuna Dusseldorf's top goalscorer during the 2019-20 campaign as the 32-years-old German forward has netted 11 goals in 25 Bundesliga appearances and will hope to add to his tally. However, Hennings has not scored in the Bundesliga since 22 December when he opened the score for a 2-1 home win over Union Berlin, while his standout performance has arguably been in the 3-3 draw at Schalke 04 in November.
Meanwhile, Hennings has scored a brace in Fortuna Dusseldorf's 5-2 win at Kaiserslautern in February, but Uwe Rösler's men suffered a setback in the German Cup quarter-finals as they lost on penalties to Saarbrücken in early-March.
Defender Kaan Ayhan, who captained the squad last time out, is suspended again after picking up his 10th yellow card of the season, meaning that winter signing Mathias “Zanka” Jorgensen could start at centre-back alongside Andre Hoffmann and Niko Gießelmann.
Morales's American international colleague Steffen has aggravated a knee injury, and the season might end before he regains fitness with a return to parent club Manchester City also up ahead.
Oliver Fink had to leave Fortuna's training camp quarantine in the build up to last week's return to action for personal reasons, but the veteran-skipper could be in contention to return to the starting XI on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Alfredo Morales and Adam Bodzek are both pushing for recalls in midfield after coming off the bench against Paderborn, while Alfredo Morales's USA international teammate Zack Steffen is sidelined. With first-choice goalkeeper Steffen ruled out, Florian Kastenmeier should remain in goal.
Possible Starting Lineups of FC Koln and Fortuna Dusseldorf
1. FC Köln: Timo Horn – Kingsley Ehizibue, Toni Leistner, Sebastiaan Bornauw, Benno Schmitz – Ellyes Skhiri, Jonas Hector – Florian Kainz, Mark Uth, Ismail Jakobs – Jhon Cordoba. (4-2-3-1)
Fortuna Düsseldorf: Florian Kastenmeier – Mathias “Zanka” Jorgensen, Andre Hoffmann, Niko Gießelmann – Matthias Zimmermann, Kevin Stoger, Marcel Sobottka, Markus Suttner – Valon Berisha, Erik Thommy – Kenan Karaman. (3-4-2-1)
Spooky Express Betting Prediction
FC Koln are considered favorites to beat their regional rivals Fortuna Dusseldorf and we're also backing the home win in this one. The Billy Goats are solid on home soil and even with no supporters on the stands, they seem to be the better team under Markus Gisdol's guidance and with Mark Uth’s efficiency.
Fortuna Dusseldorf are unbeaten in their last three Bundesliga away matches (1 win, 2 draws), yet they have one of the worst away records in the German top-flight, collecting just 10 points on the road.