As we reach the business end of the Bundesliga season, the league’s relegation battle is taking shape. The fight to survive involves five teams, all facing different challenges along the way. Nürnberg and Hannover face an uphill battle, as both teams need a miracle to remain in the Bundesliga. With the two automatic relegation places soon to be decided, the race to avoid the relegation playoff now begins. Stuttgart, Augsburg and unlikely relegation candidate Schalke will all compete to avoid the playoff in the coming weeks.
Nürnberg and Hannover Both Doomed as Stuttgart’s Fight Continues
Nürnberg and Hannover have struggled since matchday one. Now sitting rock bottom of the Bundesliga table, Nürnberg looks uncompetitive and lost on the pitch. On a weekly basis, the team has failed to adapt since being promoted. Lacking genuine quality, the team fired manager Michael Köllner shortly after the winter break. This move made little difference, as the team has remained bottom of the table. Winless since September, the club has won just two games this season. Failing to win an away game all season, Nürnberg looks doomed. Needing a miracle, Nürnberg is 10 points behind fellow strugglers Schalke.
Just above the desperate Nürnberg is Hannover. In the relegation zone since matchday nine, Hannover is also preparing for life in 2. Bundesliga. Set to go down alongside Nürnberg, the team has amounted just 14 points all season. Failing to win an away game this season, the team has conceded 61 goals in just 26 games. Nine points away from safety, Hannover also fired their manager. Moving on from André Breitenreiter, the team looked to Thomas Doll to change the team’s fate. Just like Nürnberg, Hannover saw no change, as a team which has been plagued by injuries prepares for life in 2. Bundesliga.
Stuttgart’s Fight Continues
Spending just two weeks outside the relegation zone all season, Stuttgart’s fight continues. Residing in the relegation playoff place, the team is only three points away from safety. Losing two games in their last five, the team remains competitive, with survival on the horizon. Picking up five wins out of 26 games, the team’s goal difference could cost them. Rivals Schalke and Augsburg have been much better defensively, with Stuttgart conceding an unimpressive 56 goals this campaign. Schalke on the other hand, have given up just 44 and Augsburg 47. This could be the difference come seasons end.
Unlike Nürnberg and Hannover, Stuttgart made their managerial change earlier than expected. Firing Tayfun Korkut in October, the club brought in Markus Weinzierl, a move which has seen the team make progress. Since taking over, Stuttgart has climbed the table. Rock bottom after Korkut’s final game in charge, Weinzierl has carried the team to 16th place. Now in contention to avoid relegation, the clubs decision to move on from Korkut was clearly a good one.
Time to Panic in Gelsenkirchen?
A surprising candidate for relegation, last seasons runners-up Schalke are in trouble. Only three points ahead of Stuttgart, the team could slip into the relegation playoff. In an unlikely situation, Schalke has struggled since the start of the season. Alongside Bayer Leverkusen, Schalke’s season started poorly. Expecting things to sort themselves out, Schalke and the team’s fans are still waiting. As Leverkusen climbed the table, Schalke remained in the bottom half, before slipping into an unlikely relegation battle. A squad plagued by injuries, the team also saw inconsistency from some of it’s biggest names.
Eventually, enough was enough, as the team fired manager Domenico Tedesco. Bringing back former manager Huub Stevens, the club will now focus on the job at hand. This team has to wake up and start winning as soon as possible. Otherwise, a poor start could turn into a shock relegation. It’s definitely time to panic in Gelsenkirchen, as this team has shown no signs of improving, as teams around them begin to pick up points.
Nürnberg and Hannover are doomed, but the battle to survive is only just getting started for likes of Stuttgart, Schalke and Augsburg.
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