The battle for survival in Germany’s top flight is the most exciting ever, there is no question about that. Even SC Paderborn, who are nailed to the bottom of the table, can genuinely hope to play Bundesliga football next season, with a single game to go. Whilst the bottom two teams go down directly, 16th gets to play the third-placed team from the 2. Bundesliga across two, normally very entertaining, legs.
Matchday 34 is particularly interesting because the main competitors for survival will be playing against one another on, what promises to be, Germany’s most exciting Saturday this year. Hannover (15th) will be entertaining SC Freiburg (14th), whereas SC Paderborn (18th) will play host to VfB Stuttgart (16th). To add to this, Hamburg (17th) will be hosting Schalke 04 (5th). For Hamburg, staying in the league also means preserving the Bundesliga status that they have never lost since the divison’s launch in 1963.
With survival of tradition at stake, Hamburg and Stuttgart in particular, will be hoping to avoid the drop. Having bagged the Bundesliga title as recently as 2007, Stuttgart find themselves fighting for glory at the other end of the table eight years later. One could always ask as to what has gone wrong since the days of success or simply hope that the football gods will be kind to the club. Hamburg on the other hand, have witnessed a rather steady decline and now find themselves in a position many had predicted a long time ago. The European Cup winner of 1983 will seriously have to entertain the idea of playing second tier football for the first time in the Bundesliga era although beating Schalke does not seem to be a task as frightening as it used to be.
The 2. Bundesliga offers a similarly interesting final matchday on the following Sunday, with three clubs fighting for the last direct promotion spot, with Audi-backed Ingolstadt already a confirmed member of next season’s Bundesliga. One of Darmstadt (promoted from 3. Bundesliga last season), Karlsruhe and Kaiserslautern will qualify directly, whilst one of the same will be playing the relegation games against the 16th from the Bundesliga.
In any case, it will be THE football weekend in Bundesliga history and a lot of outcomes and fates will be determined. As crunch time looms, decide as to how you would like the two divisions to look next season.