Bundesliga Wrap: last round of the season shows strength of Europe-bound sides

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The Bundesliga threw out plenty of excitement in their final round of matches, but in the end, the table remained unchanged from last week to this one. Here’s a look at who’s going to Europe, who’s heading to the second division and who might still save themselves…despite the season being over.

Champions

Bayern Munich celebrated winning the Bundesliga title after narrowly defeating Stuttgart 1-0, but in fact that race was over long ago. Bayern clinched the championship on March 25, way back on Matchday 27, with a 3-1 victory over Hertha Berlin. That’s two league titles in a row for the Bavarian giants.

Heading to the Champions League

Borussia Dortmund finish out the season in second after an emphatic 4-0 victory over Hertha in Berlin. After reaching the quarter-finals of the Champions League this year, they’ll hope to progress further in the tournament once more come 2014-2015 – and actually make a decent run at the title, too.

Had Schalke not beaten Nurnberg 4-1, they could’ve lost out on third had Leverkusen scored enough goals. As it is, though, they get to skip the qualifying that probably kept them from performing well in the first half of the Bundesliga season. If they hang on to both Julian Draxler and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, they could be a force to be reckoned with.

Stuck in Champions League Qualifying

Next year, Bayer Leverkusen will have to go through the Champions League playoffs, adding extra pressure at the start of their season. Still, they’ll be happy to have made it there at all, as it was Werder Bremen that took the lead early in their final match. In the end Leverkusen won 2-1 and will now focus on strengthening their squad this summer.

Preparing for Europa League

Only Wolfsburg gets automatic entry into Europa League – and they likely won’t be all that happy about it. They defeated Gladbach 3-1 in what could’ve been a playoff for fourth, but because Leverkusen grabbed three points, the winner of that match received the consolation prize of entry into Europe’s second tournament.

Needing to Qualify for Europa League

Still, it’s worse for Borussia Mönchengladbach and Mainz. Sure, their 5th and 6th place finishes are better than 8th and 13th, respectively, but they’ll be playing a lot of games early in the season. Besides, last season’s Europa entries from Germany didn’t fare well. Eintracht Frankfurt, Freiburg and Stuttgart finished 13-16th, and all felt a bit wary about the possibility of relegation.

Relegated

Neither Braunschweig nor Nurnberg ever really looked like they might achieve safety this season, and neither showed much ambition for securing safety on the final day. Considering HSV lost, a win for either could’ve given them a chance through the playoff round, but instead both will be plying their trade in 2.Bundesliga come August.

(Read more: further details on Bundesliga relegation and the playoff for that last top-division slot)

Playoff-bound

Hamburger SV still have a chance at remaining in the Bundesliga next season, despite losing 3-2 to Mainz in one of the day’s most exciting matches. But first, they’ll need to win a two-legged playoff against the third place finisher of the second division. That will be decided tomorrow, when 2.Bundesliga plays their final round. Hamburg will be hoping for the weakest of oppositions – they’re founding members of the Bundesliga and have spent fifty consecutive seasons in the top-flight, the longest of any club.

Week 34 Results

Augsburg 2-1 Eintracht Frankfurt
Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 Werder Bremen
Bayern Munich 1-0 Stuttgart
Hannover 3-2 Freiburg
Hertha Berlin 0-4 Dortmund
Hoffenheim 3-1 Braunschweig
Mainz 3-2 Hamburg
Schalke 4-1 Nurnberg
Wolfsburg 3-1 Gladbach

Braunschweig, Nurnberg relegated; Hamburg may save themselves in playoff game

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The last week of Bundesliga action wrapped up with all nine matches kicking off at the same time on Saturday. There was plenty of excitement to be found in nearly every match, but in the end, nothing changed. The same teams remained in the same European positions…and the same teams found themselves in the relegation places.

TSV Eintracht Braunschweig
Braunschweig came up and are going right back down. The bottom Bundesliga side earned just 25 points from 34 games, putting in a measly 28 goals in the process. They hadn’t scored in their last four matches, all of which they lost. From the start, when they lost their first four in a row, it never looked as though Braunschweig would survive – and their performance on the final day, a 3-1 loss to Hoffenheim, was no exception.

Nurnberg
Nurnberg put up a fight at the death, when Josip Drmić scored in injury time. Too bad Schalke had already scored four goals and put Nurnberg’s future out of doubt. This side were incredibly good at collecting draws this season, winding up with eleven to their name, but with just five wins it didn’t help them much. Neither did their seven-game losing streak that finished off Nurnberg’s season.

Hamburger SV
HSV lucked out. Had either Braunschweig or Nurnberg put up a fight and secured a win on the final day, Hamburg would’ve been automatically relegated. Instead they’re headed to the German relegation playoff, where they’ll get a chance to save themselves. They won’t know their opponents for the two-legged playoff until tomorrow, when the final 2. Bundesliga matches are played out. It looks like it will be SpVgg Greuther Fürth, who were relegated from the Bundesliga last season, but if they beat Sandhausen and Paderborn lose to Aalen, HSV may face Paderborn instead.

Oh, and in case you’re curious, Cologne have already clinched automatic promotion and will play in the top division next season.

Check back in to Pro Soccer Talk later today for a more detailed Bundesliga report, outlining the final week’s games and showcasing the teams that will play in Europe next season.

Bundesliga Wrap: With one week left, who’s still got something to play for?

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There’s just one week remaining in the Bundesliga, so Germany was quite nice about allowing all eighteen teams to duke it out on Saturday afternoon. Let’s take a look at what’s been decided, and what remains to be played for in Round 34.

Title

Bayern Munich won the league something like twenty weeks ago, leading some people to believe that the Bundesliga is boring, simply because no one challenged for the title. Those people hate fun, as we shall soon see, and you should feel free to tell them that. Besides, even though the men from Munich already clinched first, they’re still determined to score goals. Against Hamburg, Mario Götze put in two, Thomas Müller grabbed one and Claudio Pizarro grabbed a sensational fourth. Oh, and Jerome Boateng got a straight red card, simply because he’s tired of playing.

Champions League

Borussia Dortmund had already made sure they’d finish second, but that didn’t stop them from battling it out with free-scoring Hoffenheim to a 3-2 win. Robert Lewandowski failed to score, but he still put in an impressive performance in his last home match with Dortmund before he joins Bayern next season.

Schalke beat Freiburg, who look rather tired of playing this game, rather easily, despite the hosts having a man advantage for nearly twenty minutes at the end of the match. Schalke can’t afford to rest, however – there’s still a chance that Bayer Leverkusen can overtake them on goal difference, and that would mean Schalke have to go through Champions League qualifications rather than straight to the group stages.

It’s Leverkusen that might have an easier time of it in the final round, as they’re scheduled to play Werder Breman, who’ve got nothing but pride to play for, while Schalke must face Nurnberg, who could still save themselves. Then again, Werder had nothing to play for this weekend either, and still had fun beating Hertha Berlin 2-0.

Europa League

Leverkusen must also keep an eye behind them. Their easy win over Eintracht Frankfurt kept them fourth, but Wolfsburg’s hard-fought battle over Stuttgart keeps them just a point out of the Champions League places. Die Wölfe will be singing the praises of Ivica Olić, as his winner in injury time keeps their hopes of taking fourth-place alive.

But it’s Borussia Mönchengladbach up next weekend – and the Foals, too, could sneak into fourth. Their 3-1 win over Mainz gives them 55 points, and they’re even with Leverkusen on goal difference. A decisive win over Wolfsburg combined with a loss for Leverkusen, and it’s the Champions League qualifiers for Gladbach.

No matter what, though, Wolfsburg and Gladbach will be playing European football next season. But who will take the last remaining slot?

Thanks to Gladbach’s win, Mainz are no longer sure of a Europa League spot. Augsburg, who beat Braunschweig 1-0, are just a point behind. Mainz need to beat HSV next week, but that requires defeating an opponent who are fighting for their very survival. Augsburg, meanwhile, are lucky enough to face Frankfurt, who have absolutely nothing to play for.

Relegation

Remember, Germany takes an odd stance on relegation: The side in 16th in the Bundesliga plays the side in 3rd in 2. Bundesliga in a two-legged playoff, with the winner earning a place in the top division for the next season.

Currently Hamburg occupy that playoff position. Nurnberg and Braunschweig are unable to reach safety, but they can still overthrow HSV to grab the playoff slot. It’s Braunschweig that are most likely to do so, as they face Hoffenheim, who have nothing to play for, in the final game. Nurnberg have a challenging trip to Schalke ahead of them, while Hamburg travel to Mainz.

The rest of the best

Losses today mean that Hoffenheim and Hertha Berlin are both unable to reach the European places – which is rather sad for Hertha, who spent much of the first half of the season hovering around fourth place. Still, finishing midtable is better than yo-yoing right back down to the second division, as they’d been doing as of late. Hoffenheim, too, will be glad that they get another year in the Bundesliga.

Stuttgart may not have won today, but because HSV failed to get past Bayern, they’re safe – a rather small ambition for a club that started the season in the Europa League. So too with Eintracht and Freiburg, both who competed in Europa this season, and who will most likely finish 13th and 14th, respectively.

Rounding out the rest of the Bundesliga are Hannover, who play a pointless match against Freiburg to finish the season, and Werder Bremen, who hope to dash Leverkusen’s dreams of the Champions League next weekend.

2. Bundesliga

There’s still two matchdays left to play in Germany’s second division, with all 2. Bundesliga games set to kick off on Sunday. What we know is this: Cologne, who were relegated in 2012, will move back up to the top division. They’ll most likely be joined by Paderborn, unless they lose their remaining two matches and Greuther Fürth and Kaiserslautern both win out. The latter could also sneak into the playoff, of course, as could Karlsruhe.

East German side Cottbus is almost certain of relegation, along with fellow former Oberliga side Dynamo Dresden, who are currently facing a playoff to avoid slipping to the third tier. Bielefeld sits between, with little hope for survival.

RESULTS

Borussia Dortmund 3-2 Hoffenheim

Borussia Mönchengladbach 3-1 Mainz

Braunschweig 0-1 Augsburg

Eintracht Frankfurt 0-2 Bayer Leverkusen

Freiburg 0-2 Schalke

Hamburg 1-4 Bayern Munich

Nurnberg 0-2 Hannover

Stuttgart 1-2 Wolfsburg

Werder Bremen 2-0 Hertha Berlin

Bundesliga Roundup: Have the bottom three been decided?

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With just two rounds left after this weekend, maybe it’s worth giving a quick glance to the structure of the Bundesliga. In Germany’s top division, the bottom two sides get relegated to 2. Bundesliga, while the top two sides in the second division are promoted. What’s unique is that, instead of a four-team playoff for the third promotion place, the third-placed second division side takes on the side third from bottom in the Bundesliga.

Oh, and the tiebreaker is goal difference, followed by total goals scored.

That means this weekend more or less cemented the bottom three sides. Depending on how Hamburg fare against Augsburg on Sunday, Braunschweig might be certainly relegated. They certainly can’t finish higher than the playoff slot, while Nurnberg’s only hope is scoring enough goals to overcome a very poor goal difference.

Friday Results

Hannover 0-0 Stuttgart
A rare goalless draw in the Bundesliga – and one that has little effect on the table. Stuttgart are 15th, but with a five point advantage over Hamburg, a drop looks unlikely. Hannover are nine points clear and are now set to start planning for next season…possibly by finding a way to be less boring.

Saturday Results

Hoffenheim 0-0 Eintracht Frankfurt
Not one but two goalless draws in the BuLi this weekend? It’s almost as if they no longer want to entertain us. This result is particularly surprising coming from Hoffenheim, who’ve scored 67 goals while conceding 66. It also means Hoffenheim won’t be in Europa League next season.

Wolfsburg 2-2 Freiburg
Wolfsburg threw away a great chance to take fourth, Germany’s last Champions League position. Ivan Perišić put his side up after just three minutes, but Admir Mehmedi put in the equalizer with thirty minutes left to go. That lasted less than ten minutes before Perišić got on the end of a ball from Christian Träsch to put his side ahead once more. But Freiburg’s quick counter put Marco Terrazzino past the Wolfsburg defense, securing the point for the visitors – a point that just might keep Wolfsburg out of Europe’s top tournament.

Mainz 2-0 Nurnberg
Shinji Okazaki and Christoph Moritz had the hosts up 2-0 by the halftime break, but Nurnberg just never managed to get a toe in the game. With just one shot on target, is it really surprising that they’re almost certainly going down?

Hertha Berlin 2-0 Braunschweig
Another game, another dooming to relegation. Well, technically Braunschweig can still make the playoff, but it’s highly unlikely they’ll be playing in the top division next season. As for Hertha, second half goals from John Anthony Brooks and Sami Allagui gave them the win, but their poor showing in the second half means it’s just a second straight Bundesliga season for them, without any European play.

Bayern Munich 5-2 Werder Bremen
Yet another match in which a struggling side poked the dozing giant. With an eye on Real Madrid’s visit on Tuesday, Pep Guardiola fielded a slightly weakened side. So Theodor Gebre Selassie’s goal in the 10th minute wasn’t that surprising. Franck Ribéry equalized ten minutes later, but a goal from Aaron Hunt put the visitors back in front at the break. Then Bayern hit back, with a brace from Claudio Pizarro, a fourth from Bastien Schweinsteiger and a final strike from substitute Arjen Robben.

Bayer Leverkusen 2-2 Borussia Dortmund
Why bother defending? Surely it’s not necessary when one side is pushing to keep control of second, and the other really needs all three points to maintain their fourth place position. Fortunately for Leverkusen, Wolfsburg could only manage a draw, so they keep a one point advantage in the last Champions League spot. All the goals came in the first 40 minutes, with Lars Bender starting out the scoring in the 7th minute. Oliver Kirch equalized in the 29th minute, but Gonzalo Castro’s header put the hosts ahead once more in the 35th. But a handball from Roberto Hilbert gave Marco Reus the chance to step up to the spot, and the penalty put Dormund back on level terms. 

Sunday Fixtures

Augsburg vs. Hamburg
If Hamburg don’t get a win here, they could still technically save themselves if Stuttgart lose their last two and Hamburg win out. But considering their last two games are against Bayern and Mainz, three points here might be their best chance at not going into a playoff. Augsburg, though, can still squeeze themselves into the final Europa League place – if they want it, that is.

Schalke vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach
A tasty match to send the weekend out in style (we hope, anyway). Leverkusen are a little too close to third for Schalke’s comfort, and a win here could help assure them of going straight to the Champions League group stages. Gladbach are six out of the Champions League and still hold out hope for that final spot, although last week’s loss to Freiburg may have condemned them to Europa League already.

Bundesliga Roundup: Battle for European places continues in Germany

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While Italy’s Catholicism prevents them from having Serie A matches on Easter Sunday, Germany’s Protestant roots appear to influence the decision not to hold games on Good Friday. But stay tuned – there will be Bundesliga matches played on Sunday, and they both could have a major impact on both ends of the table.

Thursday Results

Eintracht Frankfurt 2-3 Hannover
What a result for Hannover! Their second consecutive win puts them in a position where they’ll be at least six points clear of the drop zone when the weekend finishes. Leon Andreasen opened the scoring inside two minutes, but Martin Lanig struck back for Frankfurt before 15 minutes were out. Hannover’s determination showed through, with Lars Stindl and Didier Ya Konan putting the visitors up 3-1 before the half-hour mark. Alexander Meier pulled one back for Eintracht, but the hosts never managed to find an equalizer

Saturday Results

Augsburg 0-0 Hertha Berlin
What? A goalless draw in the Bundesliga? At least this draw most likely helped determine the top seven sides – although it likely won’t be until the end of the season that the exact order of slots 3-7 is established. But it looks like neither Augsburg or Hertha will be enjoying European competition next season.

Borussia Dortmund 4-2 Mainz
For the first hour, Mainz put up a good fight. Miloš Jojić scored first for the hosts, Robert Lewandowski second, but Shinji Okazaki was right there to pull Mainz even each time. But once Lukasz Piszczek scored the third for Dortmund in the 56th minute, the visitors fell apart. Niko Bungert was shown a straight red for a handball inside the area. Marco Reus duly converted the resulting penalty, and that was that. Dortmund stay second.

Braunschweig 0-2 Bayern Munich
It’s back to winning ways for Bayern, although bottom-side Braunschweig did do their best to give the title-holders a scare. But Claudio Pizarro broke free with fifteen minutes left to play, and Mario Mandžukić added a second ten minutes later. Now it’s time for Pep Guardiola’s men to focus on their midweek semi-final at Real Madrid.

Freiburg 4-2 Borussia Mönchengladbach
Well. Gladbach did a wonderful job of throwing this one away – and possibly their chance at the Champions League as well, if Leverkusen win on Sunday. The visitors took an early lead through Patrick Hermann, going into halftime up 1-0. Admir Mehmedi equalized in the 51st minute, and then Filip Daems was unable to put Gladbach in front in the 65th, with Oliver Baumann saving his penalty. Granit Xhaka saw red less than five minutes later, after which Oliver Sorg and Vladimir Darida quickly put the hosts up 3-1. Mehmedi grabbed a second with three minutes left to go, which ensured that Havard Nordtveit’s direct free kick didn’t threaten Freiburg at all.

Hamburg 1-3 Wolfsburg
It was a day of Croatian domination at the Volksparkstadion. An early goal from Ivan Perišić, followed by goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Ivica Olić, ensured a win for Wolfsburg, taking them above Leverkusen and into the last Champions League place. Ivo Iličević put one in for Hamburg, but it could only be a consolation.

Werder Bremen 3-1 Hoffenheim
Kevin Volland scored in the third minute for the visitors, but goals from Philipp Bargfrede, Santiago Garcia and Nils Petersen ensured a win for Werder Bremen. Not that it matters much – both sides are safe and neither are getting into Europe. But hey, it was still fun.

Still to come…

Nurnberg vs. Bayer Leverkusen
Big, big, big game for both sides. A win for the hosts, and they’re, well, not quite safe, but at least have a chance of remaining in the Bundesliga. A win for Leverkusen is necessary to get back into the final Champions League spot. That fourth-place finish must be seen as essential for the visitors, as for much of the season they were clear in second place.

Stuttgart vs. Schalke
And the weekend wraps up with another big one. Stuttgart need points to maintain their precarious lead over Hamburg. Schalke need points to maintain their seven-point cushion in third place, and thus don’t risk another early start in the Champions League playoff round – it’s likely one of the reasons they’ve looked so tired at times this season.