2. Bundesliga Matchday 33 in Review: For five clubs, it comes down to the final Sunday

Matchday 33 saw another club excused from the promotion fight and three more secure their safety from relegation in a wildly lopsided 2.Bundesliga slate in which 27 goals were scored in total, but by just nine clubs, with a full half of the league being blanked on the penultimate Sunday of the season. The final two promotion spots, as well as the settling of who gets automatic ascension and who will have to fight for the honor of moving up, will be decided between three clubs in three separate matches next Sunday. The clubs that will finish in the two remaining relegation spots are now assured, but those clubs finished the day level on points, setting up a head-to-head final-matchday battle for the playoff spot

The East-Westphalians creep closer to the first league

SC Paderborn traveled to Erzgebirge Aue knowing a win at the Erzgebirgsstadion would keep them in an automatic promotion spot, either securing their Bundesliga spot when augmented by a SpVgg Greuther Fürth to Energie Cottbus or setting the scene for a post-match celebration with the needed result in next weekend’s home finale.

The first-ever promotion of the club to the Bundesliga inched nearer Sunday thanks to an 0:2 result in Aue. The three points finally put the club out of the reach of 1.FC Kaiserslautern, meaning Paderborn will finish no lower than third and with a chance to play themselves into the Bundesliga.

But, for now, the automatic promotion is Paderborn’s to lose.

Alban Meha put Paderborn on the board in the 35th minute not through a free kick, rather thanks to a free change in possession when Meha lightly pressed Aue right back Fabian Müller in possession of the ball deep in Aue’s defensive end on the right flank. Müller followed a few moments of indecisiveness with a slip and fall on the turf, leaving Meha to quickly step into a kick, which he deposited inside the far post past the diving effort of Martin Männel for his twelfth goal of the season, despite Elias Kachunga seemingly standing in an offsides position between shooter and keeper.

Mario Vrancic double the lead of the guests with a nifty bit of dribbling along the edge of the penalty area to skirt a pair of Aue defenders before launching a left-footed shot past Männel. It was the fourth goal of the campaign for the Paderborn midfielder.

Mario Vrancic and Alban Meha running toward the Bundesiga.
Mario Vrancic and Alban Meha running toward the Bundesiga.

Paderborn will go for the clincher Sunday when hosting VfR Aalen in front of a crowd likely to be poised to celebrate a victory and promotion, but Andre Breitenreiter’s side will do it without the services of Kachunga, who collected his fifth yellow card of the season before leaving Sunday’s match with an injury.

Six goals keep Fürth on Paderborn’s trail and Kaiserslautern at a distance

Both Eintracht Braunschweig’s Torsten Lieberknecht and Hamburger SV’s Mirko Slomka were on hand in Cottbus to scout potential relegation-playoff opponent SpVgg Greuther Fürth. The offensive display produced by the visitors in a 0:6 romp would seem to present problems both for Lieberknecht’s side, considering they’ve not scored a goal in over a month and for Slomka’s notoriously poor defending side, which has allowed a total of twelve goals the last four matches while ostensibly fighting for their league survival. 

Ilir Azemi scored twice, giving the Fürth striker now nine goals in his last seven matches and 13 on the season. Nikola Djurdjic also had a brace for his third and fourth goals in just 14 matches this season, having missed more than half the season with a knee injury.

Though the end result was that of a blowout, the early going was not indicative of such a lopsided affair, with chances few and far between on either end. A seemingly harmless win of a long ball Niko Gießselman over Boubacar Sanogo launched Stephan Fürstner into a run covering more than half the length of the pitch, broken only by a bit of a give-and-go pair of passes with Nikola Djurdjic and ending with the Fürth defensive midfielder sprinting through several Cottbus defenders before driving the 0:1 into goal from just inside the penalty arc, beating Energie keeper Rene Renno to his left.

Stephan Fürstner virtually wills Fürth into the lead.
Stephan Fürstner virtually wills Fürth into the lead.

Azemi’s first goal of the match came late in the first half off a no-look back-heel that bounded over the outstretched leg of Renno and past defender Uwe Möhrle, whose attempt at a back-heeled clearance backfired when Azemi quickly got to the ball and blindly guided it inside the post for the 0:2.

A sixteen minute span in the second half saw Fürth pile on the remaining four goals, with Goran Sukalo’s headed score joining Azemi’s headed second goal between the bookends of Djurdjic’s pair.

Fürth will now hope Paderborn drops points next weekend, which is the only chance the Kleeblätter have of winning the direct path to the Bundesliga. Even a point next weekend at home against Sandhausen would clinch the promotion playoff chance for Fürth, though, with a three-point and six-goal edge on Kaiserslautern, even a loss could see last year’s last-place Bundesliga finisher finish third.

Dynamo Dresden and Arminia Bielefeld set stage for final day showdown

Despite visiting a 1.FC Kaiserslautern side likely in need of a victory to keep their meager promotion chances alive, Dynamo Dresden’s only hope of getting to a safety spot was dependent on their getting their first away victory since November 3rd. Despite the long road drought, Dresden could muster a bit of confidence knowing the Red Devils were their last victims before the 13-match winless streak.

Six minutes after the opening whistle, though, Dynamo central defender finished a Karim Matmour free kick into his own net, ultimately providing a deficit Dresden would never overcome on the way to a 4:0 rout.

The rest of the match can be fairly described as a one-sided affair, even though the Red Devils would not actually convert any of their many chances over the next hour into a goal in their own service, continuing a season-long theme for Kaiserslautern of missed opportunities

In the 63rd minute, the non-stop pressure from the hosts finally led to the back-breaker, when Matmour was suddenly behind the Dresden defense with the ball and Benjamin Kirsten scrambling to get into position, leaving Vincenzo Grifo little to do but reach in front of Matmour and torque his upper body in order to throw off his balance with the danger being precisely what followed, which is the player falling to the turf to earn a penalty kick as well as a sending-off for the defender. Mohamadou Idrissou converted the penalty for the 2:0.

Like the ball here for Benjamin Kirsten, safety seems to always be hard to grasp for Dynamo Dresden.

Idrissou scored his second of the match and twelfth of the season in the 84th minute, and 20-year-old Austrian Kevin Stöger belted a laser from just outside the penalty area for his first goal with for Kaiserslautern and an extra-time exclamation point on the Devils’ home finale.

The victory kept Kaiserslautern’s dimming promotion chances alive, though are now in need of a victory at Fortuna Düsseldorf, a  Fürth loss at home to SV Sandhausen, and a seven-point swing in goal differential in their favor between the two results to earn a second-consecutive berth in the promotion playoff.

Meanwhile, Arminia Bielefeld had a less-desperate opponent and were playing at home, but didn’t manage to fully seize on the Dresden loss and leap ahead of their competition for the playoff spot, playing to a scoreless draw. The earned point pulled Bielefeld level with Dresden on points, but the three-goal gap in differential means Dresden has the luxury of a draw being, essentially, a victory for them when they host Bielefeld next week to decide the relegation playoff participant in a head-to-head battle Sunday.

And now, the rest of the story. . .

  •  1. FC Köln celebrated their 2.Bundesliga championship with a 4:0 victory over St. Pauli. Anthony Ujah, Patrick Helmes, and Sascha Bigalke all scored for the Köln side looking forward to Bundesliga competition next season. Jan-Philipp Kalla contributed an own goal to the final tally, with a Marcel Risse pass deflecting off the defenders legs and past the off-balance Philipp Tschauner.
  • Too late to be of much use, the Lions of 1860 München are currently on a three-match winning streak after a 2:0 home victory over VfL Bochum. Despite the loss, Bochum finally secured their 2.Bundesliga status for next year thanks to the points dropped by Dresden and Bielefeld, taking pressure off the home finale for the league’s second-worst home side. Yuya Osako scored the first goal for the Lions and provided the assist on the extra-time clincher tallied by Benjamin Lauth, who was playing in his final home match for 1860.
  • VfR Aalen posted a second-consecutive three-goal shutout victory, with Union Berlin on the receiving end of Stephan Ruthenbeck’s newly offensive attack. Joel Pohjanpalo said goodbye to Aalen fans on his way out the door to Düsseldorf with a pair of goals in the eight and 68th minutes. Left back Daniel Buballa contributed his second of the season to close the books with his 79th minute strike. Union have just one point from their last five matches. The three points put die Schanzer over the 40-point mark and finally clinched their place in the league for next season.
  • SV Sandhausen appears to have run out of whatever was fueling their remarkable season, getting blanked in their home finale by FC Ingolstadt for their third clean-sheet loss in as many matches. Caiuby and Philipp Hofmann snagged first-half goals for the visitors,  a fair accomplishment for a side saddled with a huge early deficit by dropping eight of its first eleven matches of the season.
  • The promotion chances for Karlsruher SC were finally put to rest, but so, too, was the winning streak of Fortuna Düsseldorf under stand-in coach Oliver Reck. Rouwen Hennings twice equalized for the KSC after conceding leads to the visitors from Düsseldorf, which got their goals from Erwin Hoffer and Adam Dodzek to take a 1:2 lead into halftime before Hennings managed the equalizer from the penalty spot after Manuel Torres was fouled by Timm Golley.
Rouwen Hennings scored twice and the KSC celebrated a terrific season.

Matchday 33 Table

Club Matches W D L GF:GA Diff. Pkt.
1 - 1.FC Köln 33 19 11 3 53:18 35 68
2 - SC Paderborn 07 33 17 8 8 61:47 14 59
3 - SpVgg Greuther Fürth 33 16 9 8 62:38 24 57
4 - 1.FC Kaiserslautern 33 15 9 9 53:35 18 54
5 - Karlsruher SC 33 12 14 7 47:33 14 50
6 - TSV 1860 München 34 14 8 12 39:40 -1 50
7 - VfR Aalen 34 12 11 11 38:37 1 47
8 - Fortuna Düsseldorf 33 12 11 10 41:42 -1 47
9 - FC St. Pauli 33 13 8 12 42:47 -5 47
10 - SV Sandhausen 33 12 8 13 29:33 -4 44
11 - 1.FC Union Berlin 34 11 10 13 47:49 -2 43
12 - FC Ingolstadt 04 33 10 11 12 32:33 -1 41
13 - FC Erzgebirge Aue 33 11 7 15 40:52 -12 40
14 - FSV Frankfurt 33 10 8 15 44:51 -7 38
15 - VfL Bochum 34 10 7 17 29:45 -16 37
16 - Dynamo Dresden 33 5 17 11 34:50 -16 32
17 - Arminia Bielefeld 33 8 8 17 37:56 -19 32
18 - FC Energie Cottbus 33 6 7 20 35:57 -22 25

Matchday 33 Results

1.FC Kaiserslautern - 4:0 - Dynamo Dresden
1.FC Köln - 4:0 - FC St. Pauli
TSV 1860 München - 2:0 - VfL Bochum
Arminia Bielefeld - 0:0 - FSV Frankfurt
FC Energie Cottbus - 0:6 - SpVgg Greuther Fürth
VfR Aalen - 3:0 - 1.FC Union Berlin
Karlsruher SC - 2:2 - Fortuna Düsseldorf
SV Sandhausen - 0:2 - FC Ingolstadt 04
FC Erzgebirge Aue - 0:2 - SC Paderborn 07
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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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