And so it ends. At half-past three on Saturday afternoon another season of Bundesliga football begins its conclusion and although the top half of the table are all assured of their respective places in the Champions League next season, we have a real relegation dogfight on our hands. Six clubs could still make the drop as the season’s curtain closes. Hamburg, the only club to have featured in all 52 seasons of the Bundesliga, are in desperate need of three points. However, even victory this weekend may not be enough to save them. To add a little more drama to the final day flurry...the champions are in trouble.
Saturday 23 May, 15:30
Hannover secured their first win of the year last weekend. That’s almost five long months without the taste of victory. The three points came via a 2-1 victory away at Augsburg in an altogether violent afternoon, with no less than three red cards shown. Lars Stindl scored both goals for the Lower Saxony side. With both clubs level on 34 points a draw would see both of them avoid direct relegation, but Hannover would be sent into the playoff should Stuttgart win. Hannover have home advantage but Freiburg come into the fixture with confidence following their victory at home over champions Bayern Munich. A tough one to call, but Both Teams to Score is the shrewd bet at 5/10.
Hertha Berlin 26/10
Hoffenheim’s 2-0 loss at Leverkusen last weekend effectively ended all hopes they had of qualifying for Europe. A win here could lift them to seventh but the complex mathematics regarding other results, goal difference and Wolfsburg winning the DFB-Pokal makes their spot in Europe one for the dreamers. Hertha Berlin played out a goalless draw at home with Frankfurt that failed in delivering the mathematical safety the men from the capital were after. Sitting on 35 points, they could conceivably find themselves in the relegation playoffs if they slip up here. With Hoffenheim having little to play for, I’m backing Berlin to win or draw on the Double Chance at 15/20.
Ill-fated Paderborn found themselves rooted to the bottom of the table after an own goal deep into the ninety minutes left East Westphalian hearts broken at Schalke. They dominated much of the game against their more prestigious counterparts but are left three points adrift of automatic safety. Stuttgart have climbed off the foot of the table with some gutsy performances in recent weeks, none less than coming from a goal behind to win against Hamburg last weekend. It seems to me that Paderborn have more or less resigned themselves to their fate while Stuttgart are determined not to go down. A point won’t be enough for Stuttgart so I’m tipping the away win at 19/20.
Hamburg were beaten and leapfrogged by Stuttgart last weekend and now find themselves in dire need of three points to keep their proud Bundesliga record intact. Their opponents Schalke have been truly awful in recent weeks and were gifted three points by Paderborn in their latest showing. It means their place in the Europa League is secure for next season and perhaps under new guidance, they’ll make a move for a spot in the top four. But currently their poor form leads me to tip Hamburg to win at 27/20. They’ll have to hope other results go their way to survive though.
Bayern Munich 1/5
The German champions have lost five of their last six in all competitions, including three on the trot in the Bundesliga. Mighty Munich have gone to pieces in recent weeks, partially explained by resting players for European duty, partially explained by a plethora of injuries to key personnel and partially inexplicable. The depth that Bayern have at their disposal should challenge any first team in this league. Following their 2-1 loss away to struggling Freiburg, they face another potential banana skin in Mainz. At the end of the day neither side need the points. I expect Bayern to finally come up trumps and end the season on a more positive note in front of their home fans. Bayern on the halftime-fulltime double at 6/10 is the tip.
Eintracht Frankfurt 33/10
Bayer Leverkusen 7/10
Despite Leverkusen claiming a rudimentary 2-0 win over Hoffenheim, their fate to finish in fourth place was sealed by Gladbach’s three points. They received a standing ovation from their fervent fans but the truth is that they will be back at the BayArena for a Champions League play-off far sooner than they would have liked. Frankfurt picked up a point at Hertha Berlin in negative fashion with their top flight status secured. One feels it will likely be another case of parking the bus here. Neither side has much invested in this game which can spell danger for punters. I’d advise looking into the Under 2.5 goals market at 18/10.
Borussia Monchengladbach 11/20
Augsburg suffered an ill disciplined 2-1 loss last time out to struggling Hannover. It was a miserable day as Augsburg finished up with nine men and at risk of missing out on a place in the Europa League. They need at least a point here against high-flying Gladbach. Raffael scored a brace as the Foals booked their place in the Champions League next season. If Wolfsburg were to slip up this weekend and Gladbach were to take all three points here, they’d finish the Bundesliga in second place. There’s motivation for both sides but Gladbach haven’t lost in thirteen straight matches. Add the Foals to win or draw on the Double Chance at 1/6 to your weekend multiples.
Borussia Dortmund 1/4
Werder Bremen 82/10
Dortmund’s haphazard bid for a spot in the Europa League next season was dealt an almost fatal blow last weekend, going down 2-1 to Wolfsburg. Only three points here and an Augsburg loss will see them through in sixth although the DFB-Pokal final remains a chance to collect late season silverware. Their hopes were somewhat dented however by losing to their final opposition last weekend. Bremen still have an outside shot at Europe with victory here but their insipid loss last time out to Leverkusen won’t fill them with confidence. I like Dortmund to pick up the win here at 1/4.
Wolfsburg’s well timed 2-1 victory over Dortmund last weekend kept them firmly in the driving seat to finish second in the league. Only a point on the road at Cologne stands in Wolves’ way amid reports that Kevin de Bruyne is “unsellable”. He racked up his 21st league assist in his last outing - a new Bundesliga record - to add to his ten goals this term. Cologne guaranteed their safety the week previous to their most recent 2-0 loss to Mainz. They fought in fits and starts but a long season seems to have taken its toll on Cologne. I expect Wolfsburg to come away with the win here at 17/20.