Look out! Bochum is in real trouble. With 4 games and 12 points to play for in this campaign, they sit just 3 points ahead of Arminia Bielefeld with a dwindling +5 goal difference. Undoubtedly Marcel Koller saw tonight’s fixture at home against Hannover 96, the only side not to win on the road this season, as a win that would have almost assuredly have put them out of reach of the relegation zone. Unfortunately his team forgot to show up. His central pairing of Yahia and Maltritz was terrible, his midfield seemed uninterested and his attack lacked an industry. Hannover on the other hand, made two solid first half goals count as they relied on the brilliance of Robert Enke to keep their lead during a late surge by Bochum. Hannover won handily 2-0, on goals by Bruggink and Balitsch, and find themselves safe for the season.
With three of their four remaining games on the road, Bochum, who has won only two away all season, will be hard pressed to find any points in tough away fixtures in Berlin, Hamburg or Koln. Their only home match will be against Eintracht Frankfurt, but with four losses in a row, there is reason to worry about that match as well. So with few points to be seen in the final four games, both Arminia Bielefeld and even Borussia Monchengladbach could squeak by them.
Say Bochum only have one more point in them all season, then the two other relegation candidates mentioned above only need 4 and 5 points respectively to pass them. With both having easier run-ins, it is quite possible. Gladbach have Cottbus and Leverkusen road games, where there is a possibility of points as well as a home match on the final day against Dortmund, who may not show up if Europe isn’t a possibility. Meanwhile, Arminia have an away match as well to Leverkusen (and who can’t win at the LDU?*) as well as home ties with Hoffenheim and a now safe Hannover.
I find it hard to see where Bochum can hold off Arminia. Bochum might be faced with hoping that the great escape artists Energie Cottbus fall apart and stay one behind them. Of course Cottbus face Karlsruhe this weekend and that faint hope could soon be gone.
It’s no wonder that the Bochum faithful were so harsh on the players tonight.
* The answer: Bayer Leverkusen