First of all, Herzlichen Glückwunsch, Freiburg!
Unlike Nürnberg and Leipzig, the SCF came through when it really mattered.
After losing two games at the start of the Rückrunde nobody inside the organisation panicked, so Freiburg’s early promotion festivities are well deserved. Freiburg beat RB at home on Matchday 25 and never looked back, the SCF has dropped just two points ever since.
They will most definitely also take home the 2. Liga Championship, their fourth one after 1993, 2003 and 2008. Freiburg needs just one more point and will probably take care of it next week. Anyway, Freiburg secured one of two “Golden” direct promotion tickets, Nürnberg and RB will fight for the other.
What about Nürnberg and Leipzig?
These teams played each other on Matchday 27, Nürnberg came away with a 3:1 victory.
It looked like a tight three way battle was coming, after all the top three were separated by just four points. What happened since?
Freiburg got 13 of 15 possible points, while Nürnberg managed to gain a measly six versus Leipzig’s unimpressive eight. Here’s what it looks like after 32 of 34 games.
- Freiburg 69 points, +35 goals (already promoted)
- Leipzig 64 points, +21
- Nürnberg 59 points, +25 (Relegation vs. Frankfurt, if season ended today)
RB Leipzig left the door wide open for Nürnberg multiple times, the Bulls dropped seven points combined against Sandhausen, Kaiserslautern and Bielefeld.
On the other hand Nürnberg, who have lost three of the last four, gave RB plenty of opportunities to pull away for good. It feels like RB and the FCN like the 2.Bundesliga so much, that they don’t want to leave. They keep declining each other’s invitations for weeks now. Die Roten Bullen somehow ended up with a five point lead, even though they haven’t had a great performance in a long time.
“Normally” it would seem that Nürnberg is done, it’s very, very hard to make up five points in two games. This year though, nothing seems to go as expected when these two clubs are involved.
RB Leipzig in the Driver’s Seat
Leipzig’s situation sounds like a pretty strong position in a vacuum, but RB needs a home win this weekend badly. RB gets to host 9th place Karlsruher SC, a team with nothing left to play for.
After the KSC game Leipzig has a tough road trip ahead. They will face 17th place Duisburg, who are in a fierce battle to avoid a 3.Liga drop. If you look at how shaky Leipzig has been lately and how poor their away record is, there is a real possibility that Leipzig can still f### this up.
I bet nobody in Leipzig wants to find out how this young RB squad will react if they have to travel to Duisburg in a “must win” situation. A high stakes Relegation battle with Frankfurt, Stuttgart or Bremen seems like an even bigger nightmare for this young squad.
Anything but a win on Sunday would create a terrifying situation on the final Matchday. But maybe Nürnberg does RB another favor and the Duisburg game won’t matter at all.
What Hhappens if RB Screws This up?
It would be tough to keep all players around and the summer signings will probably be less impressive. But the club will field a strong team next year no matter what.
Let’s keep in mind, that RB has the same point total right now that reigning 2.Liga champ Ingolstadt had after 34 games last season. This “project” has been going on for ten years now, so a year more or less in tier two doesn’t really move the needle. Next year though, Rangnick must deliver or RedBull will look for someone else to get the “100 million Euro” job done.
Nürnberg has no Chance, but Needs to Take it
Even though RB has been mediocre, Nürnberg needs a miracle to finish second. Should Nürnberg fail to win both games, Leipzig goes up automatically.
On Matchday 33 Nürnberg has to play 4th place St.Pauli, not exactly an automatic win.
The final showdown for the FCN will be at 18th place Paderborn, who will fight for every inch of grass to avoid relegation. Also not a walk in the park.
And even if Nürnberg wins both games, they also need KSC and Duisburg to limit Leipzig to a single point. Nürnberg does hold the goal differential tie breaker and would go up should RB and Nürnberg finish with even point totals.
What Happens if Nürnberg Can’t Perform a Miracle?
They will enter the Relegation Playoff crapshoot and have a 72% chance to lose.
2.Bundesliga teams are just two for seven (28%) against top-tier opponents since this system has been reintroduced in 2009.
This year the potential opponents for Nürnberg look scary as hell. Bremen, Stuttgart, Darmstadt and Frankfurt are just six points behind 10th place FC Köln. So don’t be fooled by their table rank, these are quality teams with great home field advantages.
Can Nürnberg prevail in a pumped up Weserstadion? I seriously doubt it.
Should Nürnberg miss promotion, a tough rebuilding process will have to be initiated.
The FCN has assembled a pretty expensive squad (by 2.Liga standards) and needs 1.Liga income badly to keep the team together. Last year Nürnberg missed promotion, Der Club literally can’t afford a third season in division two.
On 2.Liga Matchday 33 & 34 all games will be played simultaneously at 3.30pm EST (May 8th and 15th). If you can check out the Sky Germany Simulcast, it will be epic since there is also a heated relegation battle going on. Five clubs are within three points of each other. (1860 Munich 31 pts, Fortuna Dusseldorf, FSV Frankfurt 29 pts, MSV Duisburg and SC Paderborn, 28 pts).
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