Preview: SV Darmstadt 98 vs. FC Koln 

Preview: SV Darmstadt 98 vs. FC Koln 

SV Darmstadt 98 will be aiming to end a winless streak of five matches when they host FC Koln in the Bundesliga on Friday evening.

Koln, meanwhile, will travel to the State of Hesse sitting at the bottom of the league table

Having returned to the Bundesliga for the first time since being relegated in 2017 by finishing as runners-up in the second tier last season, Darmstadt were always likely to be up against it to preserve their top flight status.

Collecting seven points from their opening seven matches represented a strong start for Torsten Lieberknecht’s side, but they have found things much tougher in recent weeks, losing three and drawing two of their last five games.

However, their 1-1 draw away to Freiburg on Saturday gave them another point on the board which they may not have expected to earn, with Lucas Holer cancelling out Mathias Honsak’s opener for the visitors. Honsak’s strike was Darmstadt’s only shot on target, but they managed to keep Freiburg at arm’s length for the most part to claim a second successive draw.

Lieberknecht and his players will sense an excellent opportunity to claim their third victory of the season when they host the Bundesliga’s bottom-ranked team at Merck-Stadion am Bollenfalltor on Friday. The clash is arguably something of a six-pointer even at this early stage of the campaign given that a win would move Darmstadt six points clear of their opponents.

Indeed, Koln suffered an eighth defeat in 12 matches at the hands of the reigning champions Bayern Munich last Friday, although it was a tight victory for the visitors courtesy of Harry Kane’s first half strike.

The Billy Goats struggled to impose themselves, mustering only one shot on target across the course of the encounter, but Bayern were clearly lacking sharpness after the majority of their players’ involvement for their nations during the recent international break. Thomas Tuchel’s side could not find a second goal despite enjoying 69% possession and 21 shots in total.

While Koln boss Steffen Baumgart will be satisfied with how his side managed to restrict Bayern to only one goal, he will clearly retain concerns regarding his team’s lack of offensive fluidity. Their tally of only nine goals from 12 games is comfortably the fewest in the division, and undoubtedly the major reason as to why they find themselves at the bottom of the table.

However, there is still a long way of the season to go, with the fact that Koln have finished seventh and 11th in Baumgart’s two full seasons suggesting that they have the quality to get themselves out of this situation. Friday’s trip to a newly promoted team will be a major moment in their season, especially with pressure growing on Baumgart to improve results sooner rather than later.

SV Darmstadt 98 Bundesliga form:

FC Koln Bundesliga form:

FC Koln form (all competitions):

We say: SV Darmstadt 98 1-1 FC Koln
With both teams likely to be desperate to avoid defeat, we can envisage them sharing the spoils on Friday evening. Darmstadt have drawn their last two games, while Koln had tied twice in a row prior to their expected defeat against Bayern.

It seems improbable that either of these sides will not be involved in a relegation battle for the majority of the season, making this a particularly important clash for both under-pressure managers.

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