VfB Stuttgart guaranteed their place in next season’s Bundesliga despite being one of the six sides to suffer a home defeat in the penultimate matchday of the season, with the Swabians falling to VfL Wolfsburg. Hamburg, Nürnberg and Eintracht Braunschweig were among the other clubs failing to give their fans a proper send-off in their final home matches this season, as only one of those teams will be handed the chance to retain their Bundesliga status with a position. Aaron Hunt ensured himself and Werder Bremen bid farewell to their loyal supporters in good spirit, with his double seeing off Hertha Berlin, while Borussia Dortmund came back from behind to beat ever-entertaining Hoffenheim.
Schalke collect three invaluable points at Freiburg
Besides the fight to avoid the drop, the quest for a European berth will go on until the very last day of the season. Schalke secured their place in Champions League with a win at Freiburg in the final match of last season and a year later Jens Keller’s men came out with a crucial victory in the same scenario to remain in the top three with only a match to spare. Die Königsblauen gave Bayer Leverkusen and Wolfsburg the chance to make it interesting for the race for third after their back-to-back defeats, but Kaan Ayhan’s maiden goal and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar’s deflected effort was enough to steer Schalke to a priceless victory at Freiburg, who already secured their league status a week before. A point against hapless Nürnberg in the final matchday would be enough for Schalke to book their place in Europe’s elite tournament regardless of what the other teams do.
Werkself, Wolfsburg and ‘Gladbach neck-to-neck
Trailing Schalke in the standings, Bayer Leverkusen still have a top-four finish in their own hands despite horrific results for most part of the year. Sascha Lewandowski maintained his unbeaten record since taking over from Sami Hyypiä with an emphatic win at Eintracht Frankfurt, thanks to goals from utility-men Gonzalo Castro and Emre Can. An injury time strike from Ivica Olić in Stuttgart kept Wolfsburg’s dream alive of catching Leverkusen, while Borussia Mönchengladbach recorded a comfortable home victory against Mainz, who will enter the last round of matches with only a point separating them from Augsburg for the last Europa League place. Wolfsburg will entertain ‘Gladbach in the decisive season-ending encounter, as both sides are counting on Werder Bremen to come up with an unlikely win at Bayer Leverkusen in order to finish in fourth.
Stuttgart avoid the drop
After going through difficult times and putting their 37-year Bundesliga status in jeopardy, Stuttgart finally celebrated reaching safety after all the three sides in the relegation zone were defeated in their respective matches. The Swabians also left empty handed from a hard-fought encounter against Wolfsburg, but their recent uphill form led them to steer clear of the danger zone even if they lose their final match of the season at champions Bayern Munich. Former Wolves player Christian Gentner canceled out Kevin de Bruyne’s opener before veteran Ivica Olić decided the affair in the closing moments.
Hamburg, Nürnberg and Braunschweig fancy the playoffs
The stoppage-time strike from the in-form Olić didn’t change things around in the fight to avoid the drop, though, as the bottom three clubs continued in their respective sluggish forms. Hamburg suffered another heavy defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich, with Mario Götze at the center of the proceedings, while Nürnberg could have jumped to the playoff spot with a home win against Hannover, who had nothing to play for, but Der Club once again squandered the opportunity which led to the Lower Saxony’s club second away victory in as many matches. Raúl Bobadilla’s strike in injury-time for Augsburg at Braunschweig means that the newly-promoted side’s fate will be decided in results elsewhere next weekend even if they collect three points from their trip to Hoffenheim.
Time for some emotional farewells
After rising from an unknown prospect to a world-class striker in a Borussia Dortmund shirt, Robert Lewandowski will be plying his trade for Bayern Munich next season, and the Polish international played his final home game at the Signal Iduna Park at the weekend. Lewandowski grabbed his hundredth goal for the club in the DFB-Pokal semi-final match against Wolfsburg and will wear the Dortmund shirt one more time playing against none other than his future employers in the cup final. Marc-André ter Stegen will also make a summer move (most likely to Barcelona) after rising to the top level with Borussia Mönchengladbach, and he couldn’t hold back his tears while the club bid a farewell prior to his final home match for Die Fohlen. Meanwhile, Ibrahima Traoré will instead be joining Lucien Favre’s side next season, and he made his last home appearance for Stuttgart on Saturday. The Guinean international has been among the best performers in Stuttgart’s late uphill struggle in their way to securing their Bundesliga status. Finally, coach Armin Veh experienced a proper farewell from the exuberant Eintracht Frankfurt fans, as the former Bundesliga champion endured a satisfying season with a memorable run in Europa League while still extending the Eagles stay in the league.
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