There are only three weekends of this very unpredictable Bundesliga season left. Who’s still playing for a prize, who’s offically out of it, and who’s playing to stay in the league?
While no one has been mathematically eliminated from both European competition and the relegation battle, we can assume certain teams are out of both races.
Borussia Dortmund: Guaranteed a Champions League spot, and with a 5 point lead and the best goal differential, the championship is theirs to lose. Their remaining games are Frankfurt, Nurnberg (this week at Dortmund), Bremen (next week in Bremen), and Frankfurt (at Dortmund to end the season). Jurgen Klopp’s men haven’t gotten the results in the season’s second half that they achieved in the first, but they have had a tremendous season, their goal differential is outstanding and they are especially formidable at home.
Bayer 04 Leverkusen: The 2nd spot is theirs short of a horrific collapse coupled with a 3 win finish to Hannover or Bayern’s season. They won’t want to take their foot off the gas in case Dortmund does slow down. After all Leverkusen’s been too close too many times to stop short. They shouldn’t slow down until they know where they’re going to finish. They play at Koln this week, then home to face Hamburg, and finish off the season at Freiburg.
Hannover 96 and FC Bayern Munich: The battle for the last Champions League berth the hottest at the moment and really no one’s quite sure how this is going to end. Hannover are currently in third place one point ahead but Bayern holds the tie breaker. Both want Champions League play next year, but for different reasons. Bayern wants to play in Champions League since the final will be at their home, while Hannover’s never been involved in Champions League and to be involved in the top competition would put hoist their brand and reward their faithful fans. I see Bayern winning third in the long run. But Hannover has been a never ending surprise this year. Hannover faces Gladbach in Hannover this week, then Stuttgart away, and finishes up with Nurnburg. Bayern plays Schalke at home this week, St. Pauli at the Millentor, and ends the season with Stuttgart.
FSV Mainz 05: They’re holding on to their European dream by two at the moment. Being 7 points behind Bayern it looks like 5th place is going to be their only hope for Europe. Still their path is known. Stay ahead of Nurnberg. Hamburg hasn’t been eliminated yet, but Mainz or Nurnberg have to slip to let the old dinosaur back into the race. Mainz finishes up against Frankfurt at home. They will also face Schalke away, and St. Pauli in their final week.
1. FC Nurnberg: Fighting for the final spot in the Europa League currently 2 points down and tied on goal differential, this is the other hot race at the top of the table. While failure wouldn’t be a disaster given their humble start to the season, being this close to Europa League play has fans of Der Club hungry for glory. Nurnberg have a hard road to in that they have to face Dortmund this week at Signal Iduna Park, they get a home game against Hoffenheim and then are thrown back into the fire against Hannover at home (a team which most likely will be battling Bayern still on the last week). This schedule is the only reason I think Mainz will hang on to the 5th place spot, but don’t count out Nurnberg. They didn’t get this far by giving up.
Hamburg SV: I’ve already touched on their predicament. They haven’t been eliminated yet, but they need someone else to slip up to open space for them. Onc can foresee many off-season changes for this underachieving club.
SC Freiburg, 1899 Hoffenheim, FC Schalke: None of these teams have technically been eliminated from Europa League or the relegation playoff spot, but they really don’t have a hope/are safe from these outcomes. Schalke have the daunting task of playing the second leg of the Champions League semifinal at Old Trafford down 2-0, and also will play for the DFB Pokal Cup championship against MSV Duisburg on May 21.
Werder Bremen, 1. FC Kaiserslautern, VfB Stuttgart: These three haven’t hit the all important 40 point mark yet, but I think they’re all safe. If not from the playoff spot then surely from the relegation spots which even Stuttgart sits 7 points above after a nice second-half turnaround..
FC Koln, Eintracht Frankfurt: Koln would be in the group above this one if they had played better in their last few games. These teams aren’t safe yet, and Koln’s angry fans, and coaching change might have the clubs below licking their lips. And Frankfurt sits just two above the playoff spot, they don’t have much room for mistakes.
VfL Wolfsburg: Who knows where Wolfsburg is going? They looked like they were set for the Playoff spot before last matchday, and suddenly a 4-1 drumming of Koln. Could this be a turn around from bringing on Magath, or does it say more about Koln’s state. They sit at the border in the Bundesliga, any clubs wanting out of relegation must catch them, and the rest must stay ahead of them.
Borussia Monchengladbach: What a difference a week makes, when that week is the week you beat the team at the top of the table, and pull yourself out of last place (for the first time since around late November) Gladbach looks to climb out of relegation, however their remaining schedule will make this hard. 1st an away game at Hannover, next a home game with Freiburg, and finally away at Hamburg. They may have shocked Dortmond, but can they do it a 2nd or 3rd time if needed?
St. Pauli: 18th place, worst goal differential in the league, and their remaining schedule is not to kind either. St. Pauli definitely have an uphill battle, being 3 points behind the Playoff spot isn’t too bad, but with their remaining schedule being at Kaiserslautern (where they don’t have a great record), then a home game against Bayern, and playing their last of the season at Mainz. Well it may soon be time to wish St. Pauli a speedy return.
Well there is where the league stands. You may think your team will beat my expectations, and to that I say “I can’t wait to see them prove me wrong.” Here’s to hoping from some great games this weekend.
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