Bundesliga: Wolfsburg′s season in the balance after draw against Cologne | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 31.01.2016
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Bundesliga: Wolfsburg's season in the balance after draw against Cologne

In the final two games of matchday 19, Wolfsburg had themselves to blame in a scrappy game against Cologne. 2016 has not gone well so far for last year's German Cup winners.

Wolfsburg 1-1 Cologne
(Draxler 67' - Modeste 75')

On a five game winless streak and after a slow start to 2016, Wolfsburg once again were too many ideas short of a victory against Cologne. Despite reaching the Champions League knockouts, Wolfsburg's Bundesliga campaign this year has been below par, and the reasons why were evident on Sunday.

Credit to Cologne for their strong defensive setup, particularly Germany international Jonas Hector in a new defensive midfield role, but Wolfsburg's inspiration in the first half came from raking, long balls from their defenders. Having been handed the early initiative by the visitors, who looked happy to react rather than act, Wolfsburg failed to inspire.

Naldo's pinpoint pass was beautifully controlled and passed on by Julian Draxler, but Max Kruse couldn't beat Timo Horn. Wolfsburg were confident in possession and flirted with taking the lead, but misplaced passes both without and under pressure. Another disappointing showing from Andre Schürrle was just as concerning for Wolfsburg as the goalless scoreline at the break.

Wolves need width

When playing wide though, Wolfsburg looked better. They overloaded the space and left Cologne chasing shadows. It took a resurgence from Cologne before Wolfsburg really took advantage. With Hector retrieving and recycling possession superbly, Cologne started to apply some pressure, and it took a string of fine saves from Diego Benaglio to keep the scores level.

Sebastian Jung's cross from the right was flicked on by Luiz Gustavo, but the back post denied the midfielder a goal in his return from injury. Cologne's tactic of reaction was more effective in the second half, and were it not for Benaglio, Dieter Hecking's side would have been left answering even more tough questions.

Cologne's top-flight ambitions aside, Wolfsburg need to win these kinds games to stay competitive. When Vieirinha whipped a delightful cross in that Draxler volleyed through Horn, it seemed they had done just that. However, and not undeservedly based on chances, Modeste curled in a beautiful equalizer for the visitors. Wolfsburg are now seventh in the table and are losing their grip on a Champions League spot. The Champions League might be going to plan, but in the Bundesliga the absence of Kevin de Bruyne's playmaking week in, week out is a problem Wolfsburg haven't solved yet.

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