Relegation Crunch Time
With two games remaining a total of six points is all that distinguishes the bottom five squads from one another. Three: Rostock, Duisburg, and Nürnberg technically inhabit the relegation zone with 27, 29, and 31 points respectively. Bielefeld (32 pts) and Cottbus (33) are flirting with danger, being out of immediate harm’s way BUT having two of the three worst goal differentials in the league (lowly Rostock rounds out this ignominious trio).
How will this shake out?
Hansa Rostock – Relegated. They need two wins and a lot of help. It’s not inconceivable they’ll defeat Bochum in week 34. They won 2-0 (at home) in December, but by week 34 it will already be too late. Unfortunately for Rostock they face a determined Leverkusen side hoping to steal a UEFA cup spot from Hamburg or Stuttgart.
MSV Duisburg – Relegated. It all comes down to their final game against Eintracht Frankfurt after presumably losing this week to Bayern. While they’re unlikely to get sufficient points to force their way out of the drop zone, their schedule is best suited for doing so (at least dramatically). In short, don’t be completely surprised if Duisburg should leapfrog Nürnberg and Bielefeld to safety.
1. FC Nürnberg – Relegated. It’s a shame, really. They’ve become a classic yo-yo club and seem destined to go down yet again. They have the talent to get a draw away at Hertha Berlin but that’s it. The final week sees a Schalke side visit intent on securing an automatic Champions League spot. A valiant, but ultimately futile effort. Goodbye Bayern München and 1. Bundesliga, hello TSV 1860 München and 2. Bundesliga.
Arminia Bielefeld – Safe. Had Bielefeld been forced to play Dortmund away they would end up being relegated after losing to them and Stuttgart in succession. As it stands, they manage to avoid the drop, barely, by drawing at home to Dortmund.
Energie Cottbus – Safe. Their meager points cushion is enough to see them through to another season of top flight football by default. Not a particularly inspiring example, no last gasp heroics, just the good fortune of being the best of a bad bunch.