On the edge of the football abyss, VfL Bochum was left with almost nothing but slogans of perseverance. “It sounds a bit silly now, but if Düsseldorf can score three goals here, why shouldn’t we do it,” said VfL top scorer Kevin Stöger after the disastrous 3-0 defeat in the relegation first leg against Fortuna Düsseldorf. “We won’t give up. We still have faith in ourselves.” But is there really any hope of avoiding the seventh Bundesliga relegation in the club’s history? What else speaks for VfL?

“It gives me hope that we managed to score three goals in one half two or three weeks ago,” said sports director Patrick Fabian, referring to the 4-3 win at 1. FC Union Berlin on March 32. Gameday. “It gives me hope that Fortuna scored three goals here today, so it’s possible to do that in football. We’ll try to build on that.”

“Brutal day for all of us”

Realistically speaking, the chances of not being relegated are probably negligible. Bochum is the weakest away team in the Bundesliga. VfL is in a complete slump in form, conceding twelve goals in the last three games and only scoring once. In addition, the Revierclub is competing against a defensively stable, counter-attacking and extremely self-confident opponent. Düsseldorf definitely wants to get back into the Bundesliga and VfL made that clear in front of the eyes of Bochum’s enthusiastic noble fan and Bayern star Leon Goretzka. The second division team could have won even more.

“This is a brutal day for all of us,” said sports director Fabian with an almost completely stone face about the emotional situation at VfL. The 36-year-old knows that criticism of his work and his decisions is increasing. “It’s my overall responsibility for the area. I have to face it. That’s how it is,” he said.

Bochum already seemed to be saved

The former VfL professional and the other people responsible for the sport have to ask themselves how an actually stable season could take such a turn. After the 3-2 win against FC Bayern on matchday 22, Bochum was nine points ahead of the relegation place. Then things went downhill. The change of coach from Thomas Letsch to Heiko Butscher also did not have the desired effect. In fact, Bochum currently seems more unstable than ever before this season.

In addition to the weak performances on the pitch, the removal of regular goalkeeper Manuel Riemann is causing unrest. The emotional 35-year-old and the sports management had not reached common ground before the relegation. Riemann was ruled out for the playoffs. From Fabian’s point of view, it was a decision with no alternative. “After a game like that you obviously have few arguments, but that changes Riemann’s personality in no time,” he said.

For the second meeting this Monday (8.30 p.m. Sat.1 and Sky) he also appealed to the players’ honor. In Düsseldorf we have to present ourselves “with all the power, with all the honor that this coat of arms brings with it and try to steer the thing in our direction.”

Fortuna speaks strongly to Bochum

The Fortunes tried to clearly prevent any thoughts that the Rhinelanders were already feeling safe after the clear first leg win and were underestimating VfL. Under no circumstances should you give the impression that you are already planning on the first league.

“I don’t think Bochum is now saying, ‘We’re giving up, we’ve already been relegated,'” said goalscorer Yannik Engelhardt. “That’s why we have to counter this on Monday.” Goalkeeper Florian Kastenmeier explained: “We’ve seen it often enough in football that a 3-0 result is scored.”