The German league season ended today and, much like the Premier League, most things were wrapped up aside relegation, which remained wide open.
Stuttgart was the big winner, down in the drop zone and down 1-0 early before Daniel Ginczek (pictured, right) completed a comeback in the 72nd minute for a 2-1 win over Paderborn. The three points pulled Stuttgart out of the bottom three and ensured their Bundesliga status for next year.
On the other side, the loss put Paderborn on the bottom of the table, a cruel way to end the season for a club that shocked Germany just a few months ago. The club began the season four matches unbeaten, drew with both Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund in 2014, and picked up four wins by November 2, a stellar accomplishment for a club in its first-ever Bundesliga stint. But after that November 2 win over Hertha Berlin, the club picked up just three more wins all season and finished on just 32 points.
Hamburg also found themselves in danger of relegation for the second straight season, and while the job isn’t over yet, they avoided direct relegation with a 2-0 win over Schalke. It nearly sent them out of danger altogether before Stuttgart’s win put them into the playoff spot. Hamburg maintained Bundesliga standing last season via the playoff thanks to the away goal rule, but they’ll have to repeat that feat again to maintain their 51 straight years in the top flight. They will take on the third-placed finisher in the 2.Bundesliga table, either Darmstadt, Karlsruher, or Kaiserslautern in a two-leg playoff.
Freiburg were sent down thanks to a 2-0 loss to Hannover 96. The home side’s opener came just three minutes in on a header from Hiroshi Kiyotake, and the deathblow was struck cruelly on an 84th minute own goal by Pavel Krmas just six minutes from full time in the 35-year-old defender’s last game before retiring.
Coincidentally, that win for Hannover also secured their safety. Had they lost to Freiburg, they would have likely been down in place of their opponents. Hertha Berlin lost to Hoffenheim but still maintained safety by two points.