Assessing the relegation race in the Bundesliga
The Bundesliga relegation race is not as intense as the race to gain a berth in the UEFA Champions League or the UEFA Europa League. However, there are several teams that remain compromised with only eight games left in the fixture schedule.
With the league quickly approaching its stretch run, it is quite clear some teams are more complicated than others when it comes to a potential relegation. And with that in mind, we will analyse which teams are still threatened with a potential relegation to the Bundesliga 2, as well as checking which teams are likely to avoid the drop despite having a worse-than-expected type of season.
Two doomed teams
It seems FC Cologne is all but doomed to play in the Bundesliga 2 next season. They have only 17 points and even though they have improved in recent weeks, they still have three losses in their past five matches and are eight points adrift of safety. Köln only have four wins in 26 matches, and it is not a secret that the team has a complicated path – at best – to avoid relegation.
Hamburg are in a similar spot. The team has struggled massively during most of the season and the only thing that prevents them from being dead last in the standings is that their goal differential is slightly superior to Cologne’s one (-23 to -24), as well as having just one more point overall. They have 18 points, but their record is a less-than-ideal register of four wins, six draws, and 16 losses. As if that wasn’t enough, they have just one draw and four defeats in their past five games. That kind of form is not going to save them anytime soon.
Two for one playoff spot… that no one wants
The 16th-placed team in the Bundesliga does not get relegated automatically, as they go into a two-leg playoff battle with the third-placed team in the Bundesliga 2. But let’s face it – no one wants to fight for their lives in a two-legged playoff tie where anything can happen. Just ask Hamburg, as they saved themselves from relegation a few years ago thanks to a stoppage-time free kick from Marcelo Diaz.
This season, it seems either Mainz or Wolfsburg will play on that tie. If we look at the standings, we can see that both teams have 26 points although their records differ quite a bit. While Mainz have W6 D7 L13, Wolfsburg have W4 D13 L9. In fact, their recent form shows a lot of where both teams are heading. Mainz have clinched five out of their last 15 available points (W1 D2 L2), while Wolfsburg has secured just one over that same span (D1 L4).
Anything can happen in four games. But things are not looking good for a Wolfsburg team that already featured in the relegation playoff battle last season.
Two likely candidates to avoid any relegation threat
Finally, we have Freiburg and Werder Bremen. Both teams have 30 points from 26 matches but as we saw above, the recent form shows a lot of where both teams are heading now. While Bremen have secured three wins in their last five matches (with one draw and one loss), Freiburg has one win, two draws and two defeats.
Let’s be realistic, though. They have a 12-point advantage to the direct relegation spots with 24 points left to play. The worst they could do would be to end in 16th place, but that would require a massive collapse and an uptick in form of the teams below them.