Bundesliga Relegation Fight: Who will go down in the end?

When Stuttgart got relegated in the 15/16 season with Frankfurt somehow sneaking into 16th, it came as a surprise to many. Right now, with three games to go, we have a picture that looks familiar with Relegation Play-Off-Specialists Hamburg sitting in exactly that spot. Let us take a look at all of the teams involved in the relegation fight then:

17. Ingolstadt

29 Points, 33:54 Goals

Remaining Fixtures: Leverkusen (H), Freiburg (A), Schalke (H)

Just a few weeks ago it looked like there was no way Ingolstadt wouldn’t follow Darmstadt into the 2. Bundesliga. However, three wins in one week saw them claw back some of that deficit between them and the rest of the league. However, since then they won just one point, and with the gap to that 14th-16th widening, it looks unlikely that they will make it because the “Schanzer” would probably need seven points from their remaining fixtures. Stranger things have happened but it doesn’t look good for them.

The story of the season for Ingolstadt has been a mix of misfortune and a lack of quality. They were on the end of a lot of poor refereeing decisions and their finishing has let them down on numerous occasions this season. In that regard, they are comparable to Stuttgart, but the Bundesliga quality – especially in forward areas – just isn’t there.

16. Hamburg

33 Points 30:59 Goals

Remaining Fixtures: Mainz (H), Schalke (A), Wolfsburg (H)

There is a joke making the rounds in Germany about Hamburg pulling off the Triple – the Triple being their third win in the dreaded Relegation Play-Off. Looking just at the last few weeks it looks like they may fancy their luck again. After some good form – especially at home – it seemed like Hamburg might be able to avoid the annual late drama. However, three defeats on the bounce – including a heavy 4-0 at Augsburg – has seen them plunge back to 16th again.

From what I have seen from Hamburg, they are very good at destroying the game with very compact pressing that forces long balls, which might see them at an advantage at Schalke and at home against Wolfsburg. However, should they lose against Mainz, the Play-Offs seem likely.

15. Wolfsburg

33 Points, 30:49 Goals

Remaining Fixtures: Frankfurt (A), Gladbach (H), Hamburg (A)

When you are talking about big disappointments, Wolfsburg deserve a mention. When they finished 8th in 15/16 it was already a big disappointment but this season has been even worse. They have changed managers twice this season (and probably made a very big mistake when they promoted Ismael from Caretaker to Permanent Manager). Current Manager Jonker started quite well but they only managed to pick up four points from the last six games.

Wolfsburg have a really good squad that should never be in the position they are in but there doesn’t really seem to be a tactical plan. I wouldn’t blame Jonker for that because he has only come in recently and did not have a chance to prepare his players but I do blame Ismael and especially Hecking. Considering that they have to face two teams who can still qualify for Europe in their next two games so it might go down to the game against Hamburg. Just like Stuttgart last season the quality of the team suggests that they should stay up but Wolfsburg are in a lot of trouble.

14. Mainz

33 Points, 40:51 Goals

Remaining Fixtures: Hamburg (A), Frankfurt (H), Köln (A)

Out of the three teams with 33 points, Mainz have the best goal difference. Mainz are having a really weird season. After finishing 6th and qualifying for Europe they played a decent first half of the season with 21 points from 17 games and it all looked like a typical Mainz season in midtable. However, since the winter break, they only managed to pick up 12 points. Recently they played well in a 1-0 win against Hertha and defended well when they won a point in München.

This weekend they have the chance to make up for all of this and all but confirm safety with a win in Hamburg. They do have the quality and they do have a very good manager with Martin Schmidt, but after they sold Malli (just for the two extra million they got then compared to what they would get in the summer) there has been a distinct lack of creativity. Creativity is something that Hamburg can suppress very well, so that is probably just a boring 0:0.

13. Augsburg

35 Points, 33:49 Goals

Remaining Fixtures: Gladbach (A), Dortmund (H), Hoffenheim (A)

Out of the clubs down there, Augsburg have the hardest run-in. If they are to pick up any points, it is probably going to be either at Gladbach or away at Hoffenheim but only if Hoffenheim have sealed a 3rd place finish by then. They might not have to win, but with all of the other clubs below them playing each other, it is advised. Augsburg have also had a weird managerial change this season. They initially signed Schuster, who miraculously kept Darmstadt up with what was basic defensive football to then realise that he doesn’t suit the club’s philosophy – something you should probably think about before signing a manager who is known for a certain style.

12. Leverkusen

36 Points, 44:50 Goals

Remaining Fixtures: Ingolstadt (A), Köln (H), Hertha (A)

Well, Leverkusen are a team no one would have expected to be in the relegation picture with just three games to go but they are, having only won one game under the spell of their new manager Tayfun Korkut. This is something that might have happened under Roger Schmidt as well because teams were a) copying what Schmidt did and b) came up with good ways to play against a Schmidt-team. They lack any sort of balance in midfield and that was very apparent when they got smashed 4-1 by Schalke last Friday. However, they play Ingolstadt next and three points there would mean safety. While they are a mess in terms of tactics, the “Werkself” still got some very good results and I’d be very surprised to not see that quality shine through against Ingolstadt.

Final Prediction:

12. Leverkusen
13. Mainz
14. Wolfsburg
15. Augsburg
16. Hamburg
17. Ingolstadt

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