Uberprufung der Bundesliga: Hamburg’s relegation confirmed, Wolfsburg in play-off, BVB and Hoffenheim (just) make it
The final day of any domestic season always has unresolved issues to be decided and the 2017/18 Bundesliga was no different. Although Bayern Munich had already wrapped up their twenty-eighth Bundesliga title and Schalke had secured the runners-up spot, third and fourth place were still to be decided. Borussia Dortmund and Hoffenheim were incumbent in those positions going into the weekend, but Leverkusen and Leipzig had their eyes on those places. While Dortmund needed a point to finish in the top four Hoffenheim needed a win to avoid being overtaken by Leverkusen, who faced Hannover at home, or Red Bull Leipzig, who travelled to Hertha Berlin.
At the other end of the table lay the more intense story of the weekend. Hamburg and Wolfsburg sat in seventeenth and sixteenth place respectively but were still able to swap positions depending on their results here. Hamburg needed to beat Gladbach at home and hope Cologne could be Wolfsburg at the Volkswagon Arena in order to move into the relegation play-off place. Anything less would have relegated HSV and see Wolfsburg play Holsten Kiel for the right to a Bundesliga place next season. Get it? Good, then let’s go…
Bayer Leverkusen 3-2 Hannover 96
Heiko Herrlich and his boys have had a testing time over the past few weeks which has seen them slip out of the top four. Their goalless draw in Bremen last week meant they had to beat Hannover today, 3-1 victors over Hertha Berlin last week, and hope other results went their way for them to leapfrog Hoffenheim or Borussia Dortmund. Lucas Alario put the home side after just three minutes before doubling that lead on eighteen minutes. Julian Brandt made it 3-0 on fifty-five minutes which meant Leverkusen just needed one more goal to overtake Dortmund and move into the top four. However, stoppage time goals from Niklas Fullkrug and Martin Harnik weren’t enough to claim any points for Hannover but were enough to prevent the home side from going into next season’s Champions League.
Bayern Munich 1-4 VfB Stuttgart
The champions are practically playing for pride now, as if they need any more, and convincingly beat relegated Cologne last week. Stuttgart have had an impressive end to the season since Tayfun Corkut took charge which continued with a 2-0 win over Hoffenheim last weekend. Daniel Ginzcek gave the away side the lead after just five minutes though it predictably didn’t last and Corentin Tolisso equalised for Bayern on twenty-one minutes. However, Stuttgart would surprisingly retake the lead on forty-two minutes through Anastasios Donis. Ginczek would score again on fifty-two minutes before Chadrac Akolo made it 4-1 on fifty-five minutes, meaning Jupp Heynckes’ send-off would not be a happy one.
Hamburg 2-1 Borussia Monchengladbach
Hamburg’s 3-0 defeat in Frankfurt last Saturday dealt a huge blow to their revived bid for survival under Christian Titz. Gladbach have also had a resurgence towards the back end of the season which nearly saw them qualify for the Europa League, although that bid had long gone when they turned over Freiburg 3-1 last week. Things started well for Hamburg when Aaron Hunt gave the lead from the penalty spot on eleven minutes. They got that sinking feeling on twenty-eight minutes when Josip Drmic levelled the scores. However, Lewis Holtby’s goal put them back ahead on sixty-three minutes and meant they were still in with a shout of survival. Bobby Wood’s sending off on seventy-one minutes had no bearing on the game or the situation. Hamburg went on to win but would still be relegated for the first time in the history thanks to events in Wolfsburg.
Hertha Berlin 2-6 Red Bull Leipzig
Hertha guaranteed their survival a long time ago so it was a good job that was the case when they were beaten 3-1 by Hannover last time out. Red Bull Leipzig are another who have let a Champions League place slide out of their grasp, though it is still attainable thanks to a 4-1 win over Wolfsburg last Saturday. A goal on two minutes from Dayot Upamecano signalled Ralph Hassenhutl’s side’s intent on achieving that aim but they were pegged back just two minutes later by Veded Ibisevic. Ademola Lookman scored his fifth, and final, goal for Leipzig on eight minutes to reclaim the lead for his side and cap and stunning opening to this game. Jean-Kevin Augustin made it 3-1 on twenty-two minutes. It took Timo Werner until after half-time to make it 4-1, scoring on forty-nine minutes. Augustin completed his brace to make it five on fifty-four minutes and Salomon Kalou pulled another back for the home side ten minutes later, to give the scoreline a modicum of respectability for Pal Dardai and his boys. That would ultimately be taken away by Bruma on eighty-two minutes, however. It wasn’t enough to see Leipzig snatch a top-four place but it made for an entertaining afternoon for all who watched this game nonetheless.
Hoffenheim 3-1 Borussia Dortmund
Hoffenheim’s defeat at the hands of Stuttgart last week denied them the chance to seal Champions League qualification as did Dortmund’s 2-1 home loss at the hands of Mainz, although BVB only needed a point to secure their place in next season’s competition. A slow Dortmund side fell behind on twenty-eight minutes when Andrej Kramaric punished an awful error from Roman Burki. Marco Reus would pull BVB level on fifty-eight minutes but they would be on parity for long, as lovely interplay from the home side was fabulously finished off by a beautiful dink by Adam Szalai. Pavel Kaderabek scored on seventy-three minutes to complete the scoring and secure Hoffenheim’s place in next season’s Champions League. Peter Stoeger confirmed his departure from BVB following this game while Julian Nagelsmann’s name persists to be linked the now-vacant Arsenal job.
Mainz 1-2 Werder Bremen
Mainz were able to claim their place in next season’s Bundesliga with an unlikely 2-1 win in Dortmund last week. Florian Kohfeldt has managed to guide his Bremen side from the brink of disaster to comfortable safety and their goalless draw with Leverkusen last week was rendered nothing more than an end of season friendly for the home side. Jean-Philippe Gbamin gave Sandro Schwarz’s boys the lead on twelve minutes with his first goal for the club. However, Florian Kainz would restore parity on twenty-three minutes. This game would have a winner though and it would be Theodor Gebre Selassie on seventy-nine minutes who get it for Bremen, completing an impressive turnaround for the away side.
Freiburg 2-0 Augsburg
Freiburg’s safety was sealed before last week’s 3-1 defeat by Gladbach. Augsburg were tipped to go down at the beginning of the season but have been relatively impressive, although they were beaten 2-1 at home by Schalke. Augsburg would falter once again here though and it began on forty-nine minutes when Niclas Hofler put Freiburg ahead. Tim Kleindienst would score his second in as many games on sixty-five minutes to ultimately win the game for Christian Streich’s team.
Schalke 1-0 Eintracht Frankfurt
A combination of Schalke’s 2-1 win in Augsburg and Dortmund’s defeat to Mainz meant Domenico Tedesco’s side would definitely finish runners-up this season, while Frankfurt’s 3-0 home win over Mainz – Niko Kovac’s last home game before moving to Bayern this summer – may have come too late for them to claim a place in next season’s Europa League. Frankfurt wouldn’t have a win to take into the DFB Pokal final next week though, as a single goal from Guido Burgstaller on twenty-six minutes was enough to win this game for the visitors.
Wolfsburg 4-1 Cologne
Wolfsburg’s defeat in Leipzig last week meant they had to beat Cologne, on the end of a 3-1 defeat to Bayern in their last Bundesliga game for at least a season, to stay up. Joshua Guillavogui scored inside the first minute to put Bruno Labbadia’s team ahead. Jonas Hector would equalise on thirty-two minutes to put Wolfsburg in a perilous position. Goings on in Hamburg meant they needed another goal without reply – they got it on fifty-four minutes thanks to the returning Divock Origi. Robin Knoche practically ensured Wolfsburg would fight another day on seventy-one minutes before Josip Brekalo added gloss to the scoreline in stoppage time. Wolfsburg haven’t been relegated but they aren’t out of the woods yet. They now face a play-off with 2.Bundesliga side Holsten Kiel.