VfL Bochum create German football history to remain in the Bundesliga


On Monday evening, VfL Bochum overcame Fortuna Düsseldorf 3-0 at the MERKUR SPIEL-ARENA and then 6-5 on penalties to remain in the Bundesliga.

Heading into the clash in Düsseldorf, there was significantly little expectation that Bochum would be a Bundesliga club at the end of the night. In fact, the hosts were so confident in a promotion back to Germany’s top flight that the party atmosphere was taking place prior to kick-off.

Having outplayed their Bundesliga competitors away from home last Thursday, rather than Bochum being able to mount a comeback, there was more expectation that Fortuna would see their aggregate lead of 3-0 improve. Regardless, Heiko Butscher’s side had different ideas.

From the first whistle, they looked to put the hosts under pressure, and when Philipp Hofmann opened the scoring after 18 minutes, the party atmosphere inside the MERKUR SPIEL-ARENA began to fade. Then, as it appeared that Fortuna would be able to hold onto their advantage, five minutes of Bochum magic turned the tie on its head.

Hofmann added his second before Kevin Stöger scored from the spot with 20 minutes left on the clock. Despite chances then falling to either side, the better of which came Düsseldorf’s way, after a goalless extra time, it was to be the lottery of penalties that decided both sides’ fate.

As the shootout headed into sudden death, there was little indication as to who would buckle first, with both sides converting with confidence. Regardless, it was the unfortunate Takashi Uchino who fired over the bar for Fortuna Düsseldorf, meaning that it would be VfL Bochum remaining in the Bundesliga while Fortuna’s wait for promotion would be put on hold for another campaign.

VfL Bochum create German football history

Prior to Monday evening, no side in the history of the Bundesliga promotion/relegation play-off had ever recovered from a first-leg 3-0 deficit. However, with a spectacular performance away from home, Bochum stunned the world to remain in the Bundesliga.

Nevertheless, could there be a good reason as to why a 3-0 deficit has never been overturned?

Monday evening played way to the 16th promotion/relegation play-off since the format made its return for the 2008/09 campaign. Bochum’s victory ensured that out of the 16 play-off games, only three times have the 2. Bundesliga side been promoted to the Bundesliga.

As well as this, in the 32 individual games played, only six times have the Bundesliga side tasted defeat. With the first division side expected to have the better side on paper, regardless of the seasons either side have experienced, the likelihood is that they will come out on top.

Therefore, while Bochum undeniably put in an excellent performance against Düsseldorf to create history, it is very unlikely that a Bundesliga side would ever find themselves 3-0 down heading into the second leg. On top of this, due to a Bundesliga side boasting better players, one would not expect a second-division side to win 3-0; in fact, this is only the second time it has happened.

Consequently, while Bochum’s achievement is remarkable, it is no surprise that overturning a 3-0 deficit had not been made until Monday evening. This then begs the question: is the promotion/relegation play-off effective?

Get German Football News have previously analysed the system, offering alternatives in the process. However, it does seem as though it is a second opportunity for Bundesliga sides to save themselves after having a poor season while punishing the 2. Bundesliga teams.

Regardless, Bochum deserve all their plaudits after their performance, and perhaps they deserve to remain in the Bundesliga. Nevertheless, it will now be a long road back for Fortuna Düsseldorf.

GGFN | Will Shopland

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