Bundesliga Wrap: With one week left, who’s still got something to play for?
There’s just one week remaining in the Bundesliga, so Germany was quite nice about allowing all eighteen teams to duke it out on Saturday afternoon. Let’s take a look at what’s been decided, and what remains to be played for in Round 34.
Bayern Munich won the league something like twenty weeks ago, leading some people to believe that the Bundesliga is boring, simply because no one challenged for the title. Those people hate fun, as we shall soon see, and you should feel free to tell them that. Besides, even though the men from Munich already clinched first, they’re still determined to score goals. Against Hamburg, Mario Götze put in two, Thomas Müller grabbed one and Claudio Pizarro grabbed a sensational fourth. Oh, and Jerome Boateng got a straight red card, simply because he’s tired of playing.
Borussia Dortmund had already made sure they’d finish second, but that didn’t stop them from battling it out with free-scoring Hoffenheim to a 3-2 win. Robert Lewandowski failed to score, but he still put in an impressive performance in his last home match with Dortmund before he joins Bayern next season.
Schalke beat Freiburg, who look rather tired of playing this game, rather easily, despite the hosts having a man advantage for nearly twenty minutes at the end of the match. Schalke can’t afford to rest, however - there’s still a chance that Bayer Leverkusen can overtake them on goal difference, and that would mean Schalke have to go through Champions League qualifications rather than straight to the group stages.
It’s Leverkusen that might have an easier time of it in the final round, as they’re scheduled to play Werder Breman, who’ve got nothing but pride to play for, while Schalke must face Nurnberg, who could still save themselves. Then again, Werder had nothing to play for this weekend either, and still had fun beating Hertha Berlin 2-0.
Leverkusen must also keep an eye behind them. Their easy win over Eintracht Frankfurt kept them fourth, but Wolfsburg’s hard-fought battle over Stuttgart keeps them just a point out of the Champions League places. Die Wölfe will be singing the praises of Ivica Olić, as his winner in injury time keeps their hopes of taking fourth-place alive.
But it’s Borussia Mönchengladbach up next weekend - and the Foals, too, could sneak into fourth. Their 3-1 win over Mainz gives them 55 points, and they’re even with Leverkusen on goal difference. A decisive win over Wolfsburg combined with a loss for Leverkusen, and it’s the Champions League qualifiers for Gladbach.
No matter what, though, Wolfsburg and Gladbach will be playing European football next season. But who will take the last remaining slot?
Thanks to Gladbach’s win, Mainz are no longer sure of a Europa League spot. Augsburg, who beat Braunschweig 1-0, are just a point behind. Mainz need to beat HSV next week, but that requires defeating an opponent who are fighting for their very survival. Augsburg, meanwhile, are lucky enough to face Frankfurt, who have absolutely nothing to play for.
Remember, Germany takes an odd stance on relegation: The side in 16th in the Bundesliga plays the side in 3rd in 2. Bundesliga in a two-legged playoff, with the winner earning a place in the top division for the next season.
Currently Hamburg occupy that playoff position. Nurnberg and Braunschweig are unable to reach safety, but they can still overthrow HSV to grab the playoff slot. It’s Braunschweig that are most likely to do so, as they face Hoffenheim, who have nothing to play for, in the final game. Nurnberg have a challenging trip to Schalke ahead of them, while Hamburg travel to Mainz.
The rest of the best
Losses today mean that Hoffenheim and Hertha Berlin are both unable to reach the European places - which is rather sad for Hertha, who spent much of the first half of the season hovering around fourth place. Still, finishing midtable is better than yo-yoing right back down to the second division, as they’d been doing as of late. Hoffenheim, too, will be glad that they get another year in the Bundesliga.
Stuttgart may not have won today, but because HSV failed to get past Bayern, they’re safe - a rather small ambition for a club that started the season in the Europa League. So too with Eintracht and Freiburg, both who competed in Europa this season, and who will most likely finish 13th and 14th, respectively.
Rounding out the rest of the Bundesliga are Hannover, who play a pointless match against Freiburg to finish the season, and Werder Bremen, who hope to dash Leverkusen’s dreams of the Champions League next weekend.
There’s still two matchdays left to play in Germany’s second division, with all 2. Bundesliga games set to kick off on Sunday. What we know is this: Cologne, who were relegated in 2012, will move back up to the top division. They’ll most likely be joined by Paderborn, unless they lose their remaining two matches and Greuther Fürth and Kaiserslautern both win out. The latter could also sneak into the playoff, of course, as could Karlsruhe.
East German side Cottbus is almost certain of relegation, along with fellow former Oberliga side Dynamo Dresden, who are currently facing a playoff to avoid slipping to the third tier. Bielefeld sits between, with little hope for survival.
Borussia Dortmund 3-2 Hoffenheim
Borussia Mönchengladbach 3-1 Mainz
Braunschweig 0-1 Augsburg
Eintracht Frankfurt 0-2 Bayer Leverkusen
Freiburg 0-2 Schalke
Hamburg 1-4 Bayern Munich
Nurnberg 0-2 Hannover
Stuttgart 1-2 Wolfsburg
Werder Bremen 2-0 Hertha Berlin