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PREVIEW: Bundesliga relegation...
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PREVIEW: Bundesliga relegation battle

Off The Ball
Off The Ball

17:34 29 May 2020

Bayern’s victory over Borussia Dortmund all but sealed their eighth league title in a row. With a seven-point advantage and only six matchdays left in the Bundesliga, it is extremely unlikely that the Bavarians are going to be caught.

While the destination of the title seems to be decided, the relegation places are still up in the air.

Stuck on 19 points, and rooted to the bottom of the table, Paderborn seem certain to be facing the drop. Having played a game less and with only three more points on the board, Werder Bremen are certainly not secure.

Nor are Fortuna Düsseldorf, although their excellent win over Schalke last time out has brought them within touching distance of exiting the bottom three.

The margin for error is so tight that even Hertha BSC, who are in brilliant form since the Bundesliga’s restart, are not completely safe with only eight points separating them in 10th place, from Düsseldorf.

So with that in mind, Off The Ball looks at the potential relegation battle six-pointers between now and the end of the season, to see where the fight may be won or lost for those teams hovering at the foot of the table.

Schalke 04 vs. Werder Bremen, 30/05/2020 

Werder Bremen’s first game following the resumption of play saw them hammered 4-1 by a Kai Havertz-inspired Bayer Leverkusen. It was an extension of a run which saw them fail to win in seven games, going back to the middle of January.

In short, it looked extremely ominous for Bremen, and while they are still in a precarious position, a win away to Freiburg and an unlikely draw with Borussia Mönchengladbach has left them with the faint hope of retaining their Bundesliga status.

They are struggling for goals, however, and rectifying this will be one of the biggest challenges for Florian Kohfeldt’s side in the run-in.

Bremen currently trail Fortuna Düsseldorf by five points, having played a game less and a win this weekend over struggling Schalke would certainly ramp up the pressure on those hovering above Die Grün- Weißen.

 Werder Bremen vs. Eintracht Frankfurt, 03/06/2020

Eintracht Frankfurt’s European run was one of the feel-good moments of last season's campaign. The Eagles made it to the semi-finals of the Europa League, narrowly crashing out to eventual winners Chelsea, on penalties, and were lauded for the raucous away support they took with them across the continent.

Their European run arguably hindered them domestically where they finished seventh last season. This year it has gotten a whole lot worse, having lost star performers in Luka Jovic to Real Madrid and Ante Rebic AC Milan on loan, respectively.

In recent weeks their reliance on Filip Kostić, to provide the spark has not helped, and the poor performances since the restart have left them hovering dangerously above Mainz in 14th place.

Having come from behind to rescue a point against Freiburg, Frankfurt has to start putting points on the board, and a win against fellow strugglers Werder Bremen would put some distance between themselves and the bottom two, and ensure their safety.

Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Mainz, 06/06/2020 

It doesn’t get any easier for Frankfurt.

After their trip to Bremen, they host Mainz at the Commerzbank Arena. At the time of writing, a single point separates the pair, although Frankfurt have a game in hand. In recent weeks, Mainz have battled to two away draws either side of a 5-0 mauling at the hands of RB Leipzig, against FC Köln and Union Berlin.

Energy is the key for Mainz, and they arguably could have had six points from these two games, finishing each strongly. This battling attitude will give Mainz hope in the run-in and depending on results elsewhere, their trip to Frankfurt could prove pivotal when all is said and done.

 FC Augsburg vs. FC Köln, 07/06/2020

Augsburg head coach Heiko Herrlich will have been extremely disappointed that the Bavarians failed to create more against the bottom of the league Paderborn on Wednesday. The draw will have felt more like two points dropped than one gained considering the game was played at the Augsburg Arena and they have only won three games away from home all season.

Their poor record on the road means they need to pick up as many points at home as possible during the run-in. Thankfully for Augsburg, they have three concurrent home fixtures beginning with their clash with Köln in the second week of June.

Currently, they are lagging behind Köln by three points, which undoubtedly makes this clash a six-pointer.

The previous encounter between both sides saw them come out honours even with one goal apiece, while both teams had players sent off, so this should be an extremely competitive game considering the stakes involved.

Union Berlin vs. Paderborn, 16/06/2020

Like Augsburg, Union Berlin’s success this season has largely been a result of their strong form at home.

Of the 14 games they have played at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei they have been victorious six times, while away from Berlin they have only won three times.

The cult following around Union meant that their early season success was a cause for celebration, however, their current form is worrying. They have not picked up a win since February’s victory over Eintracht, meaning they too are involved in the fight for survival.

The results in their remaining home games against Schalke, Paderborn and Fortuna Düsseldorf, all in June will likely decide whether they remain in the Bundesliga, and a win against the bottom side is a must if they are to do so.

Fortuna Düsseldorf vs. Augsburg, 20/06/2020

While Fortuna Düsseldorf are currently in the relegation play-off position, and therefore would still have the opportunity to fight for their top-flight status where they remain in 16th when the season finishes, their current form would suggest they can escape this situation.

Düsseldorf are unbeaten in their past six games, stretching back to late February, although four of these games ended in a draw. The come-from-behind win at home to Schalke, that saw them score two goals in the space of five minutes will have Fortuna Düsseldorf believing that they can take control of their fate in the coming weeks.

Every game between now and the end of the season is of extreme importance, however, their meeting with Augsburg takes on extra significance as they still have to play Bayern, Dortmund and Leipzig between now and then.

Werder Bremen vs. FC Köln, 27/06/2020 

FC Köln have the easiest or the most difficult run depending on who you ask. The remaining games on their fixture list will see them avoid both Bayern and Dortmund, although they do have a tough home game against RB Leipzig next Monday, and a difficult trip to Champions League-chasing Leverkusen in June.

Other than these tough assignments they play host to Union Berlin and Eintracht Frankfurt and face difficult trips to Augsburg and finally to Bremen on the final day. In other words, Köln, who currently sit on 34 points, may well be home and dry by the time their game with Werder Bremen comes around, or they could be involved in a relegation dogfight.

They will need to pick up points in their home games to avoid the latter scenario and the fact they are scheduled to play several sides who are fighting tooth and nail to stay up might prove problematic.

Köln managed to narrowly beat Bremen by a single goal in the reverse fixture back in December, and they will hope they have secured the points necessary to remain in the Bundesliga by the time June 27th arrives.

If not, this could prove to be a pivotal game on the final day of the season that would be sure to generate plenty of excitement.

Written by Ruairi Carberry.

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Augsburg Bundesliga David Wagner Eintracht Frankfurt FC Koln Mainz Schalke Union Berlin Werder Bremen

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