A look at European, drop candidates as Bundesliga returns from break

AP Photo/Matthias Schrader
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The Bundesliga returns this afternoon after its holiday break, so how about a little refresher course ahead of the season’s second stanza?

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Chasing Bayern Munich isn’t completely a fool’s errand, but Pep Guardiola’s club has a track record that says its eight-point lead over No. 2 Borussia Dortmund and 14-plus point lead over everyone else is going to be a complicated and unlikely trek.

Top half — To Europe!

Unlikely No. 3 Hertha Berlin has been stout at the back, with plenty of credit due to USMNT center back John Anthony Brooks and Swiss stalwart Fabian Lustenberger. There’s a quartet of traditional powers within four points of Hertha, while Mainz and Koln are closer to the UEFA Champions League (third place is an automatic qualifier to the group stage) than they are to the relegation plight.

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
Bayern Munich 17 15 1 1 46 8 38 9-0-0 6-1-1 46
Borussia Dortmund 17 12 2 3 47 23 24 7-1-0 5-1-3 38
Hertha BSC Berlin 17 10 2 5 26 18 8 6-1-1 4-1-4 32
Mönchengladbach 17 9 2 6 34 30 4 6-1-2 3-1-4 29
Bayer Leverkusen 17 8 3 6 25 20 5 4-2-2 4-1-4 27
FC Schalke 04 17 8 3 6 23 23 0 5-2-2 3-1-4 27
VfL Wolfsburg 17 7 5 5 26 21 5 6-2-1 1-3-4 26
FSV Mainz 05 17 7 3 7 23 23 0 4-1-4 3-2-3 24
1. FC Köln 17 6 6 5 18 21 -3 3-4-2 3-2-3 24

Bottom half — Avoid the drop!

The bottom two go down, and the third-last side faces a relegation playoff against 2.Bundesliga’s third-place side. Currently, new boys Ingolstadt and Darmstadt are three points clear of the playoff, but it’s still a razor-thing margin between those headed down and safety.

In terms of Americans abroad, Ingolstadt has USMNT midfielder Alfredo Morales (above), Eintracht Frankfurt has Timmy Chandler, and Werder Bremen has injured striker Aron Johnannsson.

Hamburger SV 17 6 4 7 19 23 -4 2-2-4 4-2-3 22
FC Ingolstadt 04 17 5 5 7 11 18 -7 2-2-4 3-3-3 20
FC Augsburg 17 5 4 8 21 26 -5 2-2-5 3-2-3 19
Darmstadt 17 4 6 7 17 26 -9 1-4-4 3-2-3 18
Eintracht Frankfurt 17 4 5 8 21 28 -7 2-3-3 2-2-5 17
VfB Stuttgart 17 4 3 10 22 37 -15 3-1-5 1-2-5 15
Werder Bremen 17 4 3 10 17 32 -15 1-1-6 3-2-4 15
Hannover 96 17 4 2 11 18 29 -11 2-0-6 2-2-5 14
1899 Hoffenheim 17 2 7 8 17 25 -8 1-4-3 1-3-5 13

As for 2.Bundesliga, a fun fact: three Americans would be promoted if the season ended today. Terrence Boyd has been injured, but RB Leipzig sits first while Freiburg — where Caleb Stanko and Zack Steffen reside — is in second.