May 27, 2017

Checklist – Who is going down?

It’s crunch time in the Bundesliga. Six match days are left and a number of heavy weights are still not out of the battle against relegation: Werder Bremen were in the Champions League as recently as the 09/10 season, HSV are the only team which has been in Germany’s top flight since it came into life back in 1963, and VfB Stuttgart were German champions back in 2007. For every match day it seems more and more likely that one or two of these giants might have to take the step down into the Bundesliga 2. Given the teams’ form at the bottom, it seems likely that any amount of points between 33 and 37 might be enough to stay in the league this season.

The relegation battle is compelling. Freiburg coach Christian Streich went even as far as saying that the battle against relegation is “the new championship” and probably rightly so given the teams involved and the snooze fest which has been going on in the fight for the German title. The teams from Frankfurt in 11th to Braunschweig in 18th are still fighting for their survival. The Bundesliga Fanatic is taking a closer look at the bottom eight teams’ current forms and upcoming schedules to give you a clearer picture of who is likely to go get relegated in the end.

11th Eintracht Frankfurt (32 points, goal difference -13)

After last season’s glorious campaign, which saw The Eagles finishing in a Europa League spot, Armin Veh’s team had to face a much tougher task: competing in three competitions. Eintracht’s squad depth (or lack thereof) saw the team’s season getting off to a poor start whilst Eintracht was competing in Europe. After the team was eliminated from the competition, they have managed to play a decent Rückrunde, taking 17 points from their 11 matches (more than any other team being threatened by relegation). The Eagles run in isn’t an easy one, but it should provide them with the chance to snatch enough points to stay in the league. The home fixture against Hannover 96 might be a great opportunity to seal the deal and leave the battle against relegation behind.

Run in: 1. FSV Mainz 05 (home), FC Schalke 04 (away), Hannover 96 (home), TSG 1899 Hoffenheim (away), Bayer Leverkusen (home), FC Augsburg (away).

Likelihood of getting relegated: 5%

12th Werder Bremen (32 points, goal difference -21)

The Green and Whites have, mildly put, had a strange season. Their 54 conceded goals draw a picture of a team which doesn’t know how to defend, but this fact is countered with the club’s 9 clean sheets (3rd best in the league). So far, the key to Werder’s season has been taking the points of the teams from the lower half of the table in closely fought encounters. Moreover, the boys from the Weser have only won a game by more than a one goal margin on two occasions this season. Sunday’s 2-1 win against Hannover meant that Werder managed to widen the gap to the relegation spots to 8 points, meaning that the team doesn’t need to take more than 3-6 points from their last 6 matches. Given Werder’s run in, however, one does struggle to see them take many points from the teams they are facing. The match against Hertha BSC might be the most winnable match left in their schedule (Hertha have only taken 8 points in the Rückrunde).

Run in: FC Schalke 04b(home), 1. FSV Mainz 05 (away), TSG 1899 Hoffenheim (home), Bayern München (away), Hertha BSC (home), Bayer Leverkusen (away).

Likelihood of getting relegated: 20%

13th Hannover 96 (29 points, goal difference -15)

Tayfun Korkut had a great start to his coaching career at Hannover winning both of his first matches, against Wolfsburg and Borussia Mönchengladbach. After the initial burst of energy, Hannover have fared worse, however, taking only 5 points from the other 9 matches in the Rückrunde. The 96’ers are rock bottom in terms of form if one takes a look at the league based on those 9 encounters (only Stuttgart have taken fewer points during this period of time). But, there is a glimmer of hope! Hannover had to face the top four teams during this dark spell of time and now the Reds are only going up against oppositions from the lower half of the table. Given HSV’s poor away form and Stuttgart’s poor form in general, the team from Lower Saxony should have a few matches coming up they should be able to win or draw.

Run in: Eintracht Braunschweig (away), Hamburger SV (home), Eintracht Frankfurt (away), VfB Stuttgart (home), 1. FC Nürnberg (away), SC Freiburg (home).

Likelihood of getting relegated: 25%

14th SC Freiburg (29 points, goal difference -17)

The Breisgau Brazilians are currently in form, after having taken 10 points from their last 4 matches. This upcoming weekend clash against their local rivals from Stuttgart could see Streich’s men take a massive leap out of the relegation dog fight or being pulled back into it. Three of their last six matches this season are tough matches in which Freiburg are far from being the favourites. However, the recent displays seems to have given the team a lot of much needed confidence. Staying in the league after having lost Cedrick Makiadi, Max Kruse, Daniel Caligiuri, Jan Rosenthal and Johannes Flum might even be as big an accomplishment as finishing 5th last season.

Run in: VfB Stuttgart (away), Eintracht Braunschweig (home), Borussia Mönchengladbach (home), VfL Wolfsburg (away), Schalke 04 (home), Hannover 96 (away).

Likelihood of getting relegated: 30%

15th FC Nürnberg(26 points, goal difference – 18)

Der Club won 4 out of the Rückrunde’s first 5 matches, but their form has been going downwards ever since their 2-1 win over Eintracht Braunschweig. Last weekend’s match against SC Freiburg presented Gertjan Verbeek’s side with an opportunity to leave Freiburg and a number of other sides behind and to create a substantial gap from the bottom three. The SCF loss is even more painful if one takes a closer look at the opponents Nürnberg have to face in their last 6 encounters this season. The home match against Hannover is an absolute must win match for the team and they probably need another 4-6 points from their other five matches. Given the opposition Der Club are facing, this is a tough ask.

Run in: Borussia Mönchengladbach (home), VfL Wolfsburg (away), Bayer Leverkusen (home), 1. FSV Mainz 05 (away), Hannover 96 (home), FC Schalke 04 (away).

Likelihood of getting relegated: 40%

16th VfB Stuttgart(24 points, goal difference -15)

This weekend’s upcoming match against SC Freiburg is probably one of the biggest must win matches in VfB Stutgart’s recent history. Huub Stevens’ team have shown some encouraging signs since the Dutchman took over, but a points total of 5 from the Rückrunde tells a story of its own. The Swabians have dropped the staggering amount of 28 points from leading positions so far this season and they have conceded 17 goals after the 75th minute. Given these trends, one is hard pressed to believe that VfB Stuttgart are good enough to escape the bottom three, especially given their brutal run in.

Run in: SC Freiburg (home), Borussia Mönchengladbach (away), FC Schalke 04 (home), Hannover 96 (away), VfL Wolfsburg (home), Bayern München (away).

Likelihood of getting relegated: 55%

17th Hamburger SV (24 points, goal difference -16)

The Red Shorts run in consists of three tricky away ties and three home matches against opposition from the top five in the Bundesliga. Given Bayer Leverkusen’s and Hannover 96’s form of late, the next two matches seem to be key in securing that the HSV doesn’t go down for the first time in the Bundesliga’s 51st season. Mirko Slomka has continued his unfortunate tendency of losing away matches, he’s now lost all of his 12 away matches so far this season (3 as a Hamburg coach and 9 as a Hannover coach). Stuttgart’s poor form of late provides HSV with a life line, which could see them reach the relegation play off spot.

Run in: Bayer Leverkusen (home), Hannover 96 (away), VfL Wolfsburg (home), FC Augsburg (away), Bayern München (home), 1. FSV Mainz (away).

Likelihood of getting relegated: 55%

18th Eintracht Braunschweig (22 points, goal difference -25 )

Every Bundesliga pundit tipped the Lions to be relegation fodder this season. But Lieberknecht’s team have done surprisingly well and are now only 2 points away from the relegation playoff spot (a place which they’d probably would have said yes to if they had been offered it at the start of the season). Given this season’s run in, Braunschweig probably need results from 4 of their last 6 matches of the season. The matches against Hannover, Freiburg, Hertha and Augsburg are probably their best bets to carve out a respectable end to their first Bundesliga campaign in 28 years.

Run in: Hannover 96 (home), SC Freiburg (away), FC Bayern München (home), Hertha BSC (away), FC Augsburg (home), TSG 1899 Hoffenheim (away).

Likelihood of getting relegated: 75%

What do you think? Which three sides are going to be in the relegation spots at the end of the season?

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Niklas Wildhagen

Niklas is a 30-year-old football writer and podcaster who has been following the Bundesliga and German football since the early 90s. You can follow him on Twitter, @normusings, and listen to his opinions on @TalkingFussball and on the @AufstiegPod.

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