(For a reminder of the scenarios coming into this final weekend, check out our two part series on the final day. Part 1 covers the Bundesliga, Part Two covers the 2. Bundesliga and 3. Bundesliga)
On a Final Day full of surprises, all three divisions had their fair share of heightened drama and tension. Bayern Munich was the only team that clinched the championship going into the last weekend - with the titles still up for grabs in the 2nd and 3rd divisions of the German football pyramid.
There were plenty of surprises all over the league, so let’s look at what was in store. We start from the bottom in the 3. Liga.
Champion: Dynamo Dresden
Promotion: Dynamo Dresden, Hansa Rostock
Promotion Playoff: FC Ingolstadt 04
(Results: Wehen Wiesbaden 0-1 Dynamo Dresden / Hansa Rostock 1-1 VfB Lübeck / Ingolstadt 3-1 1860 München)
Dresden needed a minimum of a draw to clinch their second ever 3. Liga title. An early goal off a corner from striker Pascal Sohm was all that was needed to clinch the title.
For Rostock, they needed a minimum of a draw against 19th place Lübeck to gain automatic promotion. Lübeck struck first in the 21’. A great through ball found the feet of Soufian Benyamina who managed to shove off every Rostock defender he saw to dink a ball past the goalkeeper. Just on the doorstep of halftime, Lübeck committed two fouls in the 18-yard box that were worthy of penalties and the referee pointed to the spot. Rostock’s Bentley Bahn calmly placed a ball in the right of the net to make the game 1-1 - which is where the game would end.
With both 1860 München and Ingolstadt in contention for at least the promotion playoff spot, they both came into this game needing a positive result. Things went bad quickly for Die Löwen as 1860 goalkeeper Marco Hiller was sent off in the 9’ for making an incredibly reckless challenge outside of the box on a lone attacker that needs to be seen:
Backup keeper Tom Kretzschmar then proceeded to let in two goals in the first half. A goal from Dennis Erdmann brought the score to 2-1, but a stoppage time penalty secured Ingolstadt’s spot in the promotion playoff.
16. KFC Uerdingen 05
17. SV Meppen
18. FC Bayern München II
19. VfB Lübeck
20. SpVgg Unterhaching
Lübeck and Unterhaching had their fates sealed before the last weekend took place, leaving the three teams above 19th all fighting for what amounted to one safety spot.
Bayern München II needed everything to go their way against mid table Hallescher. They needed speed, accuracy, and good teamwork in a season where that seemed in short supply.
The game was over by the first minute:
In what can be accurately described as a brain fart, Bayern’s Justin Che forgot he was under pressure and opened his body for a pass back to Ron-Torben Hoffmann. Hallescher winger Braydon Manu immediately took the ball off Che’s foot and slotted a goal home. It was the only goal of the entire game. One year after winning the 3. Liga title, Bayern München II will be playing in the Regionalliga next year.
The same could be said for SV Meppen. In fairness to them, they did their part. They needed a win to stay safe and a win is what they got. Goals in the 35’ and the 52’ put them up 2-0 over MSV Duisburg. Even when Die Zebras pulled one back in the 74’ to make it 2-1, Meppen was able to close things out. Now, all they needed was for KFC Uerdingen to lose to Waldhof Mannheim.
KFC Uerdingen 05 only needed one point to stay up. They got that point in a 1-1 draw. A tight first half saw things scoreless at the end of the first 45’. In the 62’, a Mike Feigenspan goal helped secure at least one point for KFC. A Marcel Costly goal in the 85’ made it 1-1, but for the teams below, the damage was done.
Champion: VfL Bochum
Promoted: Bochum, Greuther Fürth
Promotion Playoff: Holstein Kiel
Going into the last day, 1st place Bochum was two points clear of 2nd place Kiel and three clear of 3rd place Greuther Fürth. At the end of the day, a draw against SV Sandhausen would have done the trick in helping them lift the 2. Liga title for the fourth time in club history. A 29’ goal from Bochum’s Milos Pantovic put them ahead 1-0 going into the first half. That was followed by an onslaught of goals in the latter stages of the second half. Sanhausen pulled level in the 60’, but Bochum went back ahead in the 78’. A security goal in the 87’ confirmed the title to Die Unabsteigbaren.
The promotion of Fürth means there will be more than two Bavarian teams in the Bundesliga next season. What might be the most impressive thing about the win for Die Kleeblätter is that all three of their goals in their 3-2 win came after they went down to 10 men against Fortuna Düsseldorf. After Fortuna went up 1-0 in the 26’, Fürth midfielder Anton Stach committed two yellow card fouls within five minutes of each other to go into the half down a man. This pressure emboldened Fürth as they scored three goals in the second half. A Branimir Hrgota penalty goal in the 53’ was met with a Düsseldorf goal just three minutes later. Former Bayern midfielder Julian Green helped Fürth draw even at 2-2 in the 69’ and a Dickson Abiama goal in the 83’ officially sealed the win for the Bavarian side and their 2nd appearance in the Bundesliga in history.
Holstein Kiel could automatically go up with a win against SV Darmstadt, and after going up 1-0 in the 18’ things looked set for the team’s first ever appearance in the Bundesliga. However, coming out of halftime, Darmstadt scored three goals in the 51’, the 58’ and the 75’. Fin Bartles scored for Kiel in the 87’ to make things interesting but the lack of a third goal means Kiel will have to fight for promotion.
15. SV Sandhausen
16. VfL Osnabrück
17. Eintracht Braunschweig
18. Würzburger Kickers
It was a tall task for Eintracht Braunschweig to hop all the way to safety. Any hope needed to start with a win against 5th place Hamburger SV. By halftime, HSV was up 3-0. A fourth goal in the 76’ confirmed what was known from the moment the first goal was scored in the 7th minute. Braunschweig were going down.
Osnabrück will now have two legs of a playoff against Ingolstadt to try and stay in the 2nd division. They went up on Erzgebirge Aue in the 25’, but promptly let two goals by in the 65’ and 76’. They lost the battle, but the war continues.
Sanhausen’s loss to Bochum didn’t doom them thanks to the poor results below them. They stay high and dry in the 2nd division.
Champion: Bayern Munich
UEFA Champions League spots: Bayern Munich, RB Leipzig, Borussia Dortmund, VfL Wolfsburg
Europa League spots: Eintracht Frankfurt, Bayer Leverkusen
Europa Conference League spot: 1. FC Union Berlin
The biggest fight on this day was for 7th place and the inaugural spot in the new Europa Conference League.
Four teams were in contention for the spot: Union, Borussia Mönchengladbach, VfB Stuttgart, and SC Freiburg.
Stuttgart and Freiburg both lost their games. Stuttgart couldn’t find the net in their 2-0 loss to embattled Arminia Bielefeld and Freiburg allowed Eintracht Frankfurt to score two late goals to let a 1-1 draw become a 3-1 loss.
As for Mönchengladbach, they mashed their foot on the gas early against Werder Bremen. They went up 4-0 thanks to goals from Lars Stindl (3’), Marcus Thuram (52’) Ramy Bensebaini (58’) and Florian Neuhaus (67’). Even two late Bremen goals weren’t enough to swing momentum in their favor. It seemed like BMG were going to remain in Europe.
Then, Union struck gold late. It was a tight match between Die Eisernen and RB Leipzig. RBL’s Justin Kluivert scored first in the 55’, but was answered in the 67’ by Union’s Marvin Friedrich. A draw would not be enough for Union Berlin to play in Europe. They needed to find a get a goal.
Max Kruse answered the call.
With that headed goal, Union Berlin officially booked their trip to the team’s fourth European competition in history.
15. Arminia Bielefeld
16. 1. FC Köln
17. SV Werder Bremen
18. FC Schalke 04
With Schalke relegated long before the month of May, the final three relegation spots were up for grabs.
We talked up above about Arminia Bielefeld ending Stuttgart’s hopes of European football winning 2-0. After winning the 2. Bundesliga with 65 goals scored last year, their team only managed to bag 26 goals for themselves in the top flight. They will look to improve that mark next season.
The onus of the results on Saturday fell at the feet of then 17th place Köln. Unlike Bielefeld and Bremen, who were playing teams who were fighting for Europe, they played the team directly below them, Schalke. After scoring a goal deemed offside, they entered the 80’ with a 0-0 draw. While Arminia were locking up automatic safety, Bremen were losing badly. Köln needed a goal, and a win, to earn the right to fight to stay up.
It came down to the 85’.
Defender Sebastiaan Bornauw scored the goal that Köln needed to win the game 1-0 and earn themselves the right to play Holstein Kiel in the relegation playoff.
The same could not be said for last year’s playoff participants, Werder Bremen. Their northern rivals Hamburg may have held the title for most consecutive seasons in the top flight, but Bremen held the distinction for having the most seasons overall in the top flight after Der Dino went down.
That ended this Saturday. A team that had only previously been relegated from the Bundesliga one time in team history in the 1979-80 season, was once again sent to the second division.
The eerie, stunned silence at the Weserstadion was the perfect soundtrack to what had been an exciting, and unexpected, final day of the 2020-21 Bundesliga season.