After a long season, the top two tiers of German football have wrapped up. I reviewed the Bundesliga season in an earlier post, which can be found here, and now all that remains is a two legged playoff tie on July 2 and July 6. There was some final day drama, which includes former Bundesliga giants SV Hamburg getting blown out by SV Sandhausen, 5-1, meaning that Hamburg will be in the Bundesliga 2 for at least one more season. Thanks to that result, FC Heidenheim have a chance to reach the Bundesliga for the first time in the club’s one hundred and seventy-four year history, but they will need to beat Werder Bremen in the playoffs.
Relegated Teams: Fortuna Dusseldorf and FC Paderborn
In some ways, the Bundesliga will look a lot next season like it did three seasons ago, which was the last time that either Paderborn and Dusseldorf were not in the Bundesliga.
But, the Bundesliga will also look far different in a couple of ways: namely, younger and more foreign. For example, Dusseldorf has the third highest average player age at 27.0 years old, and Paderborn has the third fewest foreigners in the squad, with eleven. Compare this to the current average age of 24.6 years old of players for newly promoted Stuttgart, who also have fourteen foreign players on the team.
Promoted Teams: Arminia Bielefeld and VfB Stuttgart
Stuttgart are right back where they belong in the Bundesliga, following a campaign in which they finished in second place with fifty-eight points. They were relegated last season after losing the playoff to Union Berlin, who arrived in the Bundesliga for the first time in the club’s history, exactly what Heidenheim hope to achieve. However, Stuttgart will be without Mario Gomez, who turns thirty-five in July and has announced his retirement. Gomez ended his illustrious career that spanned over Germany, Turkey and Italy in the same place where it started, in Stuttgart.
Meanwhile, Arminia Bielefeld are back in the Bundesliga for the first time since 2009. During that time they dropped as low as the third tier, but thanks to twenty-one goals from striker Fabian Klos they earned promotion. They hope to have a successful first season back, like FC Köln who were able to finish in a comfortable fourteenth place after returning to the Bundesliga this season.
Bundesliga Playoff: Werder Bremen versus FC Heidenheim
As previously mentioned, the Bundesliga playoff is a two-legged tie that features the third-worst Bundesliga team playing the third-best Bundesliga 2 team. The first leg is on July 2 in Bremen, and the second leg is in Heidenheim’s Voith-Arena on July 6.
Heidenheim are only the joint-fifth highest goal-scorers in the Bundesliga 2 but have conceded the second-fewest goals, conceding only thirty-six in thirty-four games. Goalkeeper Kevin Müller has been a huge part of that, keeping fifteen shut-outs.
It took Werder Bremen a final matchday miracle to advance to the Bundesliga playoff, as Werder Bremen beat Köln 6-1 and watched Fortuna Dusseldorf fall to Union Berlin. Werder conceded the second-most Bundesliga goals with sixty-nine, and scored the fourth fewest with forty-two. However, the team has very talented attackers in Milot Rashica, Josh Sargent and the ageless Claudio Pizarro, so they definitely can’t be counted out.
Either way, whether Werder Bremen or FC Heidenheim get promoted, the Bundesliga will continue to be thrilling. If you have any questions for me, a recommendation for an article, or wish to discuss any of the teams or players, please leave a comment. I hope you enjoyed, and as always, keep watching soccer!