2.Bundesliga Matchday 33 Preview: Preparing to say ‘goodbye’

Remarkably enough, seven of the nine Sunday matches on the 2. Bundesliga slate feature at least one contestant still in play for either a promotion or relegation spot. Two matches will actually have something at risk for both sides playing.

Granted, the chances for all but a few of them are fairly long, but that they mathematically still exist is enough for me to attempt to sell you on it.

That said, the odds are strongly in favor of the four teams currently sitting in spots still in play remain unchanged over the next two weeks, putting the real emphasis for this weekend on the battle for the automatic promotion spot and the relegation playoff spot. Both races remain very tight.

Whatever the situation is, table-wise, nine sets of home fans bid their clubs farewell for the final home matches of the campaign Sunday, always a bittersweet moment for football fans knowing a long wait for the resumption of festivities will be unbearable far too soon.

All matches this weekend are on Sunday and take place at the same time.

Engergie Cottbus : SpVgg Greuther Fürth

(Hinrunde result Fürth won 1:0)

Bet on Cottbus fans giving their club a strong farewell on their trip to the 3.Liga.

We already know Energie Cottbus will be playing in the 3.Liga next year, their fate of automatic relegation having been sealed with their loss and Dynamo Dresden’s point last weekend. Whether pride, job auditioning, and the desire to deliver one last ‘hurrah’ for their home fans in the last home match of the season will be enough to overcome a motivated visitor will be enough will be the question Sunday.

SpVgg Greuther Fürth had been cruising through 2014 as the owners of second place, until a surprise loss at home to 1860 München allowed the incredible run of SC Paderborn to finally overtake Fürth and put the Cloverleaves in danger of having to play a Bundesliga side in the playoff.

Erzgebirge Aue : SC Paderborn

Erzgebirge Aue “firmly planted in the second league”

(Hinrunde result 1:1)

This match could turn out to be a bit more of a gut-check for on-the-verge-of-promotion SC Paderborn than a glance at the table might indicate. Sure, the table-twelfth men-in-violet have already secured both their league status for next year and an improved point total from last year, but they have also stepped up their already tough home game in 2014. Aue have collected 30 points from 15 matches at Erzgebirsstadion, fewer than only 1. FC Köln and Paderborn, and have also scored at least two goals in each of their last five at home, including against defensive stalwart 1. FC Köln.

Even if you assume the Aue players would like to give one last “Danke!” to their home support, they simply will not be able to match the motivation of their guests, though. Paderborn, the highest-scoring side in the 2.Bundesliga, is no slouch on the road, sitting third in the away table at 25 points from 16 matches, but also know collecting a win in Aue would assure a top-three finish and, more importantly, leave their fate for an automatic promotion in their own hands, even should Fürth take three points in Cottbus. Two wins to close the season assures the SCP of a season in the Bundesliga, regardless of what anyone else does.

1. FC Kaiserslautern : Dynamo Dresden

(Hinrunde result – Dresden won 3:2)

Maybe it was a sign that all was not necessarily well with the Red Devils when 1. FC Kaiserslautern, the week after ascending to the top of the table, lost a 3:2 battle with season-long relegation favorite Dynamo Dresden. Kaiserslautern lost five of their next seven matches straddling the winter break, four to teams from the table’s bottom half, to find themselves at the back of a promotion-chasing pack. Kosta Runjaic’s side has not lost a match since that hiccup, but have managed few enough three-point weekends to stay on the outside of the top three, looking in. Last weekend, the Devils were presented a huge opportunity when Fürth surprisingly lost at home to 1860 München. A Monday night win in Berlin against flagging Union would put the FCK just one point behind third place with two matchdays remaining.

Instead, the home side which had earlier in the week agreed to part ways with coach Uwe Neuhaus managed to snag a point, keeping Kaiserslautern three points behind the chase and continuing a series of disappointing results in crucial moments by a side that knows it belongs in the Bundesliga.

Anything less than three points from visiting Dynamo Dresden likely ends their season.

Dynamo, however, also have plenty of motivation headed to Fritz Walter Stadion. Catching FSV Frankfurt for an automatic safety spot is possible, if unlikely, but should Arminia Bielefeld manage to get all three points in their home finale to keep Frankfurt a stationary target, it would also mean Dresden would be in need of a win in Kaiserslautern to keep from dropping into the direct-relegation spot below them. Further, a win this weekend takes the pressure of the season finale against Bielefeld, which could see the loser relegated at the final whistle, should this matchday’s results not separate the two clubs.

Considering Dynamo have won just one match since their home victory over Kaiserslautern and have a league-leading 17 draws, things could be very interesting for all involved next weekend.

Let’s hope?

Arminia Bielefeld : FSV Frankfurt

(Hinrunde Bielefeld won – 1:2)

If they’re consuming this much Apfel-Wein before the match, well, I wish I were playing for FSV Sunday.

Arminia Bielefeld got the win they needed last weekend to keep things interesting at the bottom of the table, putting a hammer to VfL Bochum’s hopes of  securing their 40th point of the season and reserving their spot in next year’s league with a third-consecutive home victory. The visitors got three first-half goals and cruised to a 1:4 victory to pull within a point of Dynamo Dresden in the relegation playoff spot. The relatively thin hopes of getting all the way into the safety of 15th place remain only if they can get their first back-to-back wins since September and, by doing so, dragging Frankfurt to within striking distance for the season’s last matchday.

FSV Frankfurt ended a five-match losing streak last weekend with a 3:1 home win over Energie Cottbus, sending the visitors to their 3.Liga fate. A win in Bielefeld could give the FSV back-to-back weeks of sending a club into relegation while finally saving their own place in the league for next year, giving a small consolation prize to a club that might have had higher expectations coming off a 54-point fourth-place finish a season ago. With league champion Köln bringing their farewell tour to Frankfurter Volksbank Stadion for the season finale with some goals of setting some records potentially in play, the FSV will not be assuming they can earn safety at home.

1860 München : VfL Bochum

(Hinrunde result – München won 1:2)

The 1860 rebuild seems to be going toward a youth movement.
The 1860 rebuild seems to be going toward a youth movement.

1860 München have won consecutive matches for the first time since December, despite no longer being in the mix at either end of the table and playing for an interim manager. Making it three in a row in the home finale for the fans would give the Lions a shot at finishing with a better point total and better table position than last season, which would be fairly remarkable considering multiple leadership changes and inconsistent play.

Stuck on 37 points since beating Energie Cottbus at home,  VfL Bochum has been on the verge of reserving a spot in next year’s league for the third-consecutive matchday. Two points would be enough at this point to both retain the class and improve on last season’s point total, but considering their wretched home form, Peter Neururer’s club may be of mind to go for all three in München, to finish the deal as quickly as possible.

SV Sandhausen : FC Ingolstadt

(Hinrunde result – Sandhausen won 0:2)

 

Has the steam run out for SV Sandhausen? Only the record-setting pace of FC Köln’s defense has conceded fewer goals than has Alois Schwartz’s side, but the three losses in the last four matchdays have each seen Sandhausen yield three, twice at home. Can the SVS rally for the home finale to put on display the defensive effort that has a formerly relegated side firmly entrenched in the middle of the table?

FC Ingolstadt does not score too often on the road. In fact, only their hosts for the weekend score more infrequently than do die Schanzer, who have played to scoreless draws in their last three road trips, which has helped keep Ingolstadt from securing their 2014-15 2.Bundesliga status. A scoreless draw in Sandhausen would do the trick, however, so watch this one at your own risk.

Karlsruher SC : Fortuna Düsseldorf

(Hinrunde result – Karlsruhe won 0:2)

All Fortuna Düsseldorf have done in the four matches under Oliver Reck since nominal head coach Lorenz-Günthen Köstner (man, I am NOT going to miss typing that name) has been on sick leave is batter opponents into submission, taking all twelve points while outscoring the opposition 12-2.

Karlsruhe SC have managed enough points to remain one of the last teams to be eliminated from promotion contention, though even a three-pointer in their home finale might not be enough to avoid it finally happening this Sunday. Though, being the side that put an end to Oliver’s wrecking of the competition might be a nice way to close the home slate for a side playing their first season since returning from 3.Liga. Of course, if Fürth should stumble again, beating Fortuna will take on a lot more significance.

1. FC Köln : FC St. Pauli

(Hinrunde result – Köln won 0:3)

1. FC Köln will be presented with their league trophy at Sunday’s match with FC St. Pauli, which will be unlikely to be in much of a celebratory mood, having finally crashed out of the promotion race last weekend by laying an 0:3 egg at home to Aalen.

Whether spoiling someone else’s party will be enough to lift the play of a side that struggled to put points together in crucial moments of their season, the Billy Goats are likely to be unwilling to simply allow the visitors to rain on the festivities, especially with goals of setting a league defensive record and a club record for league points remaining in play.

VfR Aalen : Union Berlin

(Hinrunde result – Aalen won 1:3)

 VfR Aalen already celebrated their having secured a third-consecutive season in the second league after ending St. Pauli’s promotion aspirations last weekend in Hamburg. Two more victories to finish the season and Aalen could also celebrate a slight improvement on their second league debut point total.

Union Berlin also played a slight spoiler role last week, snatching a point in their hosting of 1. FC Kaiserslautern, preventing their guests from re-inserting themselves into the promotion picture by climbing to within a point of third, which they’d have done with a victory over a Union side which had lost four of the prior five matches and were playing with a lame duck coach, the decision to part ways with Uwe Neuhaus having been announced the prior week.

With relatively little at risk for either side, the two clubs could ultimately provide a fairly open, entertaining match. Stephan Ruthenbeck unleashed his offense a bit last weekend, allowing Aalen to score three goals for the first time in 2014.

Matchday 32 Table

Club W D L Goals Diff. Points
1 - 1.FC Cologne 18 11 3 49:1 31 65
2 - SC Paderborn 07 16 8 8 59:47 12 56
3 - SpVgg Greuther Fürth 15 9 8 56:38 18 54
4 - 1.FC Kaiserslautern 14 9 9 49:35 14 51
5 - Karlsruher SC 12 13 7 45:31 14 49
6 - FC St. Pauli 13 8 11 42:43 -1 47
7 - Fortuna Düsseldorf 12 10 10 39:40 -1 46
8 - SV Sandhausen 12 8 12 29:31 -2 44
9 - TSV 1860 Munich 12 8 12 35:40 -5 44
10 - 1.FC Union Berlin 11 10 11 47:43 4 43
11 - VfR Aalen 10 11 11 32:37 -5 41
12 - FC Erzgebirge Aue 11 7 14 40:50 -10 40
13 - FC Ingolstadt 04 9 11 12 30:33 -3 38
14 - FSV Frankfurt 10 7 15 44:51 -7 37
15 - VfL Bochum 10 7 15 29:41 -12 37
16 - Dynamo Dresden 5 17 10 34:46 -12 32
17 - Arminia Bielefeld 8 7 17 37:56 -19 31
18 - FC Energie Cottbus 6 7 19 35:51 -16 25

Matchday 32 Results

SpVgg Greuther Fürth - 1:2 - TSV 1860 München
FC Ingolstadt 04 - 1:1 - 1.FC Köln
VfL Bochum - 1:4 - Arminia Bielefeld
Fortuna Düsseldorf - 4:0 - FC Erzgebirge Aue
FSV Frankfurt - 3:1 - FC Energie Cottbus
FC St. Pauli - 0:3 - VfR Aalen
SC Paderborn 07 - 2:0 - SV Sandhausen
Dynamo Dresden - 2:2 - Karlsruher SC
1.FC Union Berlin - 1:1 - 1.FC Kaiserslautern
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Randall Hauk is a freelance writer living in the United States while covering German football. He is currently the publisher of Planet Effzeh, an English-language site covering 1. FC Köln. He wrote about the German national team for the Telegraph as part of their World Cup Nation coverage.

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