Well, it’s been a long and exciting season for German football — full of suspense drama, and title fights that went right to the end.
At least in the lower leagues that is.
With the final day of the German football calendar upon us this weekend, it’s time to catch up on the interesting story lines of promotion and relegation in both the 2. Bundesliga and the 3. Liga.
Unlike last season, where the excitement for both leagues’ pro/rel picture went down to the final day, this year Team Chaos is left with a bit of a dud. Promotion in the 3. Liga has already been settled, as has the relegation picture in the 2. Bundesliga. We’ll give some props now to the teams in the 3. Liga coming up. Congratulations to 1. FC Magdeburg for winning the title, their second in five years. Eintracht Braunschweig is also heading up after a brief season in the third tier. Meanwhile, the beautiful story of 1. FC Kaiserslautern can still be tied up nicely this season when they head off to the playoff.
There, they’ll be meeting the confirmed relegation playoff team from the second division: Dynamo Dresden. It was a tough going for former DDR-Oberliga teams in the 2. Liga. Hansa Rostock finished highest among the trio of East German teams playing second tier football this season, only managing 12th. The other two are the aforementioned Dresden and Erzgebirge Aue, who are confirmed going down after finishing 17th. Honors for finishing dead last go to FC Ingolstadt, who only managed 21 points on the season.
So, that leaves us with a look at the relegation battle in the third tier and the promotion/championship battle in the second tier.
Let’s start by looking at the lower sides first and see who is fighting to remain a professional club.
16. SC Verl 10-9-16 39 pts -10 GD
17. Viktoria 1889 Berlin 10-7-18 37 pts -17 GD
18. Würzburger Kickers 7-9-19 30 pts -18 GD
19. Havelse 5-8-22 23 pts -36 GD
20. Türkgücü München 0-0-0 0 pts 0 GD
So for starters, no you’re not reading that wrong. After declaring insolvency in late January of this year, Türkgücü’s season has been completely nullified and there will be no record of them earning points.
The only battle remaining in this league is the fight for relegation between 16th place SC Verl and 17th place Viktoria Berlin. Momentum is on Verl’s side, having won three of their last five matches — all against the teams sat 7th through 9th in the table: Saarbrücken plus the aforementioned Wiesbaden and BVB 2. Viktoria have also won three of their last five, but they’ve been inconsistent in those five. They too have wins against Saarbrücken and BVB II, but they also upset the champions Magdeburg. However, they lost back to back matches against 15th place MSV Duisburg and already relegated Würzburger Kickers.
Both teams have relatively winnable games on the cards this weekend. Viktoria just made it back into the professional ranks this year and need a win plus a miracle to stay alive. Verl have suffered a relative collapse to be in this position after finishing 7th last year and need a positive result to all but secure another season in the 3. Liga. Who stays and who goes is up to the ball.
Needed to clinch safety:
- SC Verl: win against 15th place Duisburg OR
draw Duisburg and Viktoria win by less than eight goals
- Viktoria Berlin: win against 12th place Meppen and Verl lose OR
win by eight goals against Meppen and Verl draw
- Schalke 04 19-5-9 62 pts +27 GD
- Werder Bremen 17-9-7 60 pts +20 GD
- Hamburger SV 15-12-6 57 pts +31 GD
- Darmstadt 17-6-10 57 pts +22 GD
- St. Pauli 15-9-9 54 pts +13 GD
One of the oldest and grandest names in German football is on the verge of returning to the Bundesliga after a four year hiatus. Meanwhile, the two teams above them are set to make a return after a single year in the second division.
A 2. Bundesliga season that was widely hyped up to be one of the best second division seasons of all time surely provided us with some memorable and exciting moments. So, to let the table stand like this — with the three teams expected to gain promotion at the top set to make returns — seems anti-climactic.
There were certainly challengers to these teams, but they’ve since lost steam. Prior to these last five games, Bremen led the league with Darmstadt and St. Pauli behind them. Darmstadt have lost three of their last five, but two wins — including one against St. Pauli — see them three points ahead of their Hamburg-based counterparts. The pirates of St. Pauli meanwhile have only picked up three points from their last five and a loss to Schalke at the weekend doomed them to a chance so slim we won’t even include it in our calculus. Losses for Darmstadt and HSV seem possible, but it’s the required 19-0 win over Fortuna Dusseldorf that’s the most unlikely.
Hamburger SV may as well have been dead to rites five games ago — doomed to another season in the league they managed to avoid for so many years. A 1-0 loss toward the start of April should have been the final nail in the coffin. Yet, Der Dino came roaring back to life with four consecutive wins on the bounce (all against teams in the bottom half of the table). A win against lowly Hansa Rostock should be enough for them to clinch the playoff spot they currently hold.
That leaves us with Schalke and Werder Bremen — two teams fresh off relegation last year. Die Königsblauen were the joke of the Bundesliga the previous season — a mighty club falling deep into the pits of relegation. They’ve been flirting with the top of the table all season, but now seem poised to take the 2. Liga title for the third time in club history.
As for their counterparts from Bremen, Die Grün-Weißen had an inconsistent start to their season before going on an unbeaten streak ranging from the first week of December to mid March. Having gone 2-2-1 in their last five, including a 4-1 win over Schalke, they have a test against Jahn Regensburg they need to win in order to have a chance. But danger lurks below them with their biggest rival in HSV. A loss for Werder but a win for Hamburg gives the latter second place leaving the Green-Whites fighting in the playoff. However, a win for Werder could see them lift their first 2. Liga title since the Nord and Süd second divisions were unified.
The true Team Chaos scenario involves Darmstadt. If Hamburg lose, Bremen lose, and Darmstadt wins, by goal difference, they jump from 4th to 2nd forcing Bremen to play in the playoff and dooming Hamburg to another 2. Liga season. Of the four teams fighting for survival, Darmstadt faces the toughest task against 6th place side SC Paderborn. Darmstadt won the reverse fixture 1-0, albeit with much less on the line.
Minimum needed to win title:
- Schalke: draw against 7th place Nürnberg and Werder win by less than seven goals
- Werder: win against 13th place Jahn Regensburg and Schalke lose OR
win against Jahn Regensburg by a scoreline giving them more goals than Schalke and Schalke draw
Minimum needed for automatic promotion:
- Schalke: clinched
- Werder: draw Regensburg OR
lose vs. Regensburg and Hamburg and Darmstadt lose
- Hamburg: win against 12th place Hansa Rostock and Werder lose
- Darmstadt: win against 6th place Paderborn and Bremen and Hamburg lose
Minimum needed for playoff spot:
- Werder: clinch at least playoff with any result and Hamburg loss
- Hamburg: draw Hansa and Darmstadt draw
- Darmstadt: win against Paderborn and Hamburg win and Bremen lose
Who do you think will come out alive or on top in these two races? Let us know in the comments.