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Off the Crossbar: The Bundesliga’s relegation fight is the tightest it’s been in years

Who will stay and who will go?

VfL Bochum 1848 v FC Schalke 04 - Bundesliga Photo by Joachim Bywaletz/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

How many people who watch the Bundesliga are concerned with the relegation zone? Not that many, especially if you’re a Bayern Munich fan. But if you support a team directly in the relegation fight, then you might be excited, if not a bit disconcerted, to see that this season’s relegation battle is shaping up to be one for the history books.

With 11 matchdays to go in the 2022/23 Bundesliga season. five teams are directly fighting to stay out of the bottom three spots. What makes this season intriguing is that four(!) out of those five teams are currently tied on points. Only a handful of goals separate the bottom four teams, and at the moment, it’s anyone’s game.

Hertha BSC are 14th, and arguably the ones in the safest position as of now. However, their form has not been that good. They’ve only won two out of their games so far in the new year, and are only one point ahead of the bottom heap. Heavy defeats to VfL Wolfsburg, Eintracht Frankfurt, Borussia Dortmund, and Bayer Leverkusen certainly haven’t helped matters, and right now, they look just as vulnerable as anyone else in the relegation zone.

Bayern’s most recent opponents VfB Stuttgart are narrowly behind Hertha, albeit with a better goal difference. Parting with ex-coach Pellegrino Matarazzo has not helped matters, as they failed to win all but one of their games in 2023. However, they have shown spirit in their defeats to high fliers Bayern and RB Leipzig, only losing by one goal to both teams. Will that spirit be enough to lift them out of danger? We’ll find out soon enough.

Perhaps the team with the worst form on this list is TSG Hoffenheim, whose owner Dietmar Hopp recently decided to rescind his ownership of the club to the fans. Fan-owned or not, though, Hoffenheim are enduring a dreadful season. They are the only team on this list to have not won a single game in 2023, and it will take a miracle to get them out of their current mess. Based on current form alone, Hoffenheim remain the number one candidate to get relegated.

Schalke 04 were stuck at the bottom of the pile for quite some time, yet they seem to be enjoying some sort of a resurgence. They are undefeated in their last six league games, and even won two games in a row for the first time this season. As a result, they’ve clawed their way out of last place and now sit in 17th. They are still in a precarious position, but their odds of relegation have decreased dramatically.

And who did Schalke pull down to last place? Poor VfL Bochum, who lost 2-0 to Schalke in their most recent game. Bochum have won two and lost six of their games in 2023, one of them to Bayern at the Allianz Arena. However, that still doesn’t mean that they’re going down. Remember, all four teams from Stuttgart to Bochum are tied on points, which means that any one result could send shockwaves all throughout the relegation zone. What’s more, there are still plenty of games that pit the relegation candidates against each other, so this is going to be very interesting indeed.

It remains to be seen who will go down to the 2. Bundesliga at the end of the season, and who will have to endure the nail-biting playoff against whoever finishes third in the second division. Whatever the case, though, it proves to be an extremely long three months for all of the teams involved.

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