With just three games to go, there are battles all over the Bundesliga from the top to the bottom. We break down the teams and look at who has favourable run-ins to the end of the season.
BORUSSIA DORTMUND – 72pts
Games left: Borussia Mӧnchengladbach (h), Kaiserslautern (a), Freiburg (h)
It has been an amazing week for Dortmund, not only did they win the monster of a game against Munich, but went to Gelsenkirchen and scrapped to the win in the Revierderby to practically seal the title. What it means is that even if Gladbach were to summon up their form from before Christmas and end this 25-game unbeaten run that Jurgen Klopp calls ‘crazy’ and ‘unimaginable’, the title race would still end the next week.
Dortmund are not the sort of side that would be worried by not wrapping up the title at home and even if they were, the fact that they then have Kaiserslautern means they would overcome it anyway.
BAYERN MUNICH – 64pts
Werder Bremen (a), Stuttgart (h), Kӧln (a)
The side that was sent out in the draw with Mainz at the weekend is proof that, even if they were not waving the white flag in the title race, Bundesliga action takes a back seat to the Champions League. How hard that has hit Arjen Robben, who played Robert Lewandowski onside for the goal in the Dortmund game as well as missing a penalty and an open goal, is unknown, but Mario Gomez slotted home a late winner to give Munich a 2-1 lead to take to Real Madrid for next week’s semi-final second leg.
As much as some observers would still see the result as giving the edge to Madrid, any time you can go into a second leg with one of the two Spanish behemoths needing just to avoid defeat is an advantage.
SCHALKE – 57pts
Augsburg (a), Hertha Berlin (h), Werder Bremen (a)
Third place is important, as it would mean a seeding to the group stages of the Champions League. Considering the post-Christmas dip in form, allied to the already agreed summer transfers that will see the side ripped apart, that probably means more to Gladbach than it does to Schalke, who should survive a play-off with ease. Given the proximity of the two cities though, most Schalke fans would love to get one over Gladbach.
Considering the rivals trip to Dortmund this weekend, Schalke will probably consider six points to be enough, meaning that they will look to winning one of the two away games to supplement a win over Hertha.
BORUSSIA MONCHENGLADBACH – 56pts
Borussia Dortmund (a), Augsburg (h), Mainz (a)
Considering that a year ago, we would have been doing this and trying to work out how they could possibly get enough points to achieve just a relegation play-off place, fourth place is an incredible achievement. As much as they will be chasing down Schalke for third, the more pessimistic of fans would look at the fixtures Stuttgart have, with Bayern playing weakened teams, and be worried about needing three more points to secure fourth.
If they do lose to Dortmund, Augsburg are not the easiest team to beat as they work excruciatingly hard for one another and a Stuttgart win in Munich would then mean it would be all on come the last day.
STUTTGART – 49pts
Kӧln (a), Bayern Munich (a), Wolfsburg (h)
Stuttgart fans probably have no eyes on that Champions League spot as yet. The immediate aim would be to just beat Kӧln as expected (who fails to beat them these days?) and secure Europa League football. It would be absolutely deserved for a side that has catapulted upwards in the second half of this season behind a sudden glut of goals from Martin Harnik.
If Dortmund win this weekend and then Bayern reach the Champions League final in midweek, some eyes may just turn upwards with the possibility of a weakened Bayern side, but it is doubtful that anybody at the Mercedes-Benz Arena is getting carried away just yet.
BAYER LEVERKUSEN – 45pts
Hoffenheim (a), Hannover (h), Nürnburg (a)
New interim coach, Sami Hyypia knows that his job is to make sure that the new man, whether it is himself or somebody else, has Europa League football to step into in the summer. Failure to win against Hertha last week, only scrapping a late point, means that although they have a spare place to play with, due to a Dortmund-Bayern cup final, they only have a three point buffer down to eighth.
Hyypia will probably be spotlighting a win on the final day, but for that Nürnburg game to matter they will need at least two or three points against fellow Europa League chasers, Hoffenheim and Hannover.
HANNOVER – 44pts
Freiburg (h), Bayer Leverkusen (a), Kaiserslautern (h)
Hannover may not have had the kind of campaign that they enjoyed last term when they came a whisker away from taking third and stopping Bayern qualifying for the Champions League at all.
They have been consistently around the fringes of the Europa League spots this campaign and will probably consider themselves in prime position due to a run in that includes a home banker against Kaiserslautern, a game against Freiburg who have little to play for with safety nigh-on achieved and a trip to fragile Leverkusen who will be feeling the pressure with the coaching position in flux.
WERDER BREMEN – 42pts
Bayern Munich (h), Wolfsburg (a), Schalke (h)
Falling Werder will struggle to make the Europa League now they have dropped out of the top seven. Anyone who saw the 4-1 mauling they received at the hands of Stuttgart would find that plain to see.
The other problem them seem to have is that it appears that Thomas Schaaf has a new found want to run a crèche, with the average age of the starting XI seeming to break records for youth every week with no upward turn in results.
HOFFENHEIM – 41pts
Bayer Leverkusen (h), Nürnburg (h), Hertha Berlin (a)
The sacking of Holger Stanislawski and the appointment of Markus Babbel seems to have had no marked change on Hoffenheim who just seemingly continue to bob around mid-table.
With a Nürnburg side who are already just playing out time until August and a trip to the capital to come, Babbel will still consider his side in with a shot of Europe if they were to beat Leverkusen, but they lack the spark in the side to be able to realistically unlock quality sides. What Babbel would give to have Gylfi Sigurdsson back in his side right now!
WOLFSBURG – 40pts
Mainz (a), Werder Bremen (h), Stuttgart (a)
Three games ago, Wolfsburg were nailed on to do what Stuttgart have done and make it into Europe having had four straight wins. Three losses later and their season is just about over.
The 2-1 defeat to Augsburg last week showcased the cheapness of the goals they gave away and the malaise that has hit the side in the last fortnight. However, that previous run of victories has meant there were no relegation worries that were hanging over the side this time last term.
NURNBURG – 38pts
Hamburg (h), Hoffenheim (a), Bayer Leverkusen (h)
They may not have built on a sixth place finish last season but another year without any risk of relegation worries down the final stretch will satisfy Dieter Hecking.
MAINZ – 37pts
Wolfsburg (h), Hamburg (a), Borussia Mӧnchengladbach (h)
Thomas Tuchel must feel pretty much in the same boat as Dieter Hecking about the way this season has gone. Once again Mainz have enjoyed some amazing moments like beating Bayern 3-2 at home and an incredible 3-0 away win in Bremen.
Realistically, Tuchel would never have set his stall out to expect his side to get anywhere near European qualification again. The only real downward note would be, having done so well to make the Europa League, losing on penalties to little known Romanian side, Gaz Metan Medias at the first hurdle.
FREIBURG – 36pts
Hannover (a), Kӧln (h), Borussia Dortmund (h)
What an amazing turnaround that Christian Streich has performed to fire Freiburg to safety. Bottom at the winter break, the sale of Papiss Demba Cisse to Newcastle United looked like the sort of deal to purely get a better lump sum than they could possibly command after relegation.
But the money was wisely spent on several decent, more defensively-minded players to tighten up the backline and they have since proved that they were just as able to create chances as they were with Cisse in the side and the improvements at the back have lead to an eight game unbeaten run that has them safe with time to spare.
HAMBURG – 34pts
Nürnburg (a), Mainz (h), Augsburg (a)
The early spurt of form that allowed Thorsten Fink to manoeuvre Hamburg off the bottom almost immediately after taking charge has long since gone. What Fink seems to be able to get his side to do is achieve massively vital victories just when it looks like they might be slipping back into relegation trouble again and last week’s scrappy win over Hannover was a case in point.
They will feel pretty comfortable that they will be likely to get something out of at least one of their next two games against mid-table nonentities simply because they want it more and that should see them save.
AUGSBURG – 33pts
Schalke (h), Borussia Mӧnchengladbach (a), Hamburg (h)
If you would have offered anyone connected in any way to Augsburg a four-point buffer on the play-off slot with three to play, they would not only have snapped your hand off, but they would have devoured it before you had time to say anything else.
They have achieved it by teamwork, fighting qualities and on some occasions just plain not giving up. By rights, they should be looking at these last three fixtures and knowing they are going to be going into the last day still on 33 points. This lot will not view it like that and it is that work-ethic and believe that got them a draw against Dortmund and will keep them up.
KOLN – 29pts
Stuttgart (h), Freiburg (a), Bayern Munich (h)
The club is a mess and a circus. Although 100 years after the Titanic, a sinking ship may well be a better analogy as everyone seems to be deserting it. The president has gone, the sporting director has gone, just when it would look like he would survive, even coach Solbakkaen went.
To top that all off, everyone knows that the ‘Prinz’ Lukas Podolski is off too but in line with the mess this season has been, we do not even know where yet. To echo the thoughts of Franz Beckenbauer, it is a wonder the goat has not left as well! It is doubtful Kӧln will get another point and even if by some shock Hertha lost to Kaiserslautern, I do not see them standing a chance in the play-off.
HERTHA BERLIN – 28pts
Kaiserslautern (h), Schalke (a), Hoffenheim (h)
It is safe to say that the firing of Markus Babbel due to a contract dispute was wrong and was compounded by the appointment of Michael Skibbe to leave them in this hole. That has been racked over before though.
As far as everyone in the capital is concerned, the time to adjudge those issues again is at the end of the season. Otto Rehhagel and his side will know just how monumental the Kaiserslautern game will be. Winning that, as they should, will almost certainly put them up into the play-off spot with a two point gap on Kӧln and a vastly superior goal difference.
If by some disaster they lose it, they will need to get something in Gelsenkirchen or against pumped up and aggrieved former boss, Markus Babbel to take advantage to the Kӧln circus.
KAISERSLAUTERN – 20pts
Hertha Berlin (a), Borussia Dortmund (h), Hannover (a)
I might as well just congratulate little Greuther Fürth on their much deserved promotion into the Bundesliga, bring the historic pre-Bundesliga footballing name of Fürth into the top flight as talk about the practically relegated Kaiserslautern.
Tags: Bayer Leverkusen, Borussia Dortmund, Bundesliga, Hertha Berlin, Kaiserslautern, Koln, Sami Hyypia