Congratulations Wolfsburg, Champions of the Bundesliga!
Wolfsburg’s magical triangle all scored as the Wolves beat a deflated Werder Bremen 5-1 at home. Their home form was paramount in their unlikely title run as they took an incredible 49 points out of 51 during the campaign. It was incredibly important, as they didn’t start winning on the road until the second half of the season. Wolfsburg will also make their first appearance in the Champions League next year; however, they will not be joined by another new team: Hertha Berlin.
Only needing a win to ensure a Champions League spot, the team from the capital fell apart at Karlsruhe, 4-0. While they still have Europa League football next year, it is going to be difficult to canvas for replacements of their two forwards: Pantelic and Voronin without the benefit of Europe’s top competition. But will Lucien Favre now face the axe after taking so few points from the final four games to end their championsip aspirations and a chance at Champions League cash?
With the victory, Karlsruhe almost made a mini-miracle escape. They jumped two spots to the playoff position at the half, but Cottbus came charging back in the second half of their match with Bayer Leverkusen, scoring three goals after Arturo Vidal was sent off. Now Cottbus will face Mainz or Nuremburg for another year of top level football. Under current form, they should be favored. Arminia Bielefeld looked to have that playoff spot early, but squandered a lead at home to Hannover to end up bottom.
Gladbach ensured their survival with a draw at home against Dortmund, which ended Dortmund’s hopes of Europe as Hamburg won 3-2 late at Frankfurt. The Dinosaurs overcame the devastation of the encounters with Werder, which ended their Champions League aspirations and chances at DFB and UEFA Cup finals. A late goal by Piotr Trochowski sent Martin Jol’s men to fifth and another year of European football.
As for the match that should have meant more, the clash between Bayern and Stuttgart, a terse 2-1 victory for Bayern, was rendered inconsequential by Wolfsburg and Karlruhe’s large early leads. But Bayern do get automatic group stage Champions League next year, and that was the exact reason
they replaced Klinsmann with Heyneckes. And as for Stuttgart, despite the loss, they still made an impressive charge from mid-table under Markus Babbel to return to the Champions League next year. Not as impressive as 2007, but it still deserves huge praise.
Champions League Automatic: Wolfsburg and Bayern Munich
Champions League QUalifiation: Stuttgart
Europa League: Hertha Berlin and Hamburg
Promotion/Relegation Playoff: Energie Cottbus
Relegated: Karlsruhe and Arminia Bielefeld