Title bagged, now tightest defence ever?
23 year-old Schmelzer has played minute in a defence that has conceded just 19 goals
Borussia Dortmund deservedly wrapped up their fourth Bundesliga title and seventh German Championship last Saturday with a 2-0 over Nürnberg. Having conceded a paltry 19 times all season, Dortmund are still on course to beat Bayern Munich’s 06-07 season record of 22. With 14 clean sheets and only one side (Bayer Leverkusen in week 1) managing to put two past BVB’s youthful back four, it is more than likely the Bavarians’ record will go.
The Champions League
Despite their 2-0 loss at local rivals Köln, Bayer Leverkusen (2nd, 64 pts) bagged a place in next year’s Champions
Thomas Müller scored twice as Bayern demolished weary looking Schalke
League as Hannover 96 (4th, 57 pts) slipped up at home to ‘Gladbach. This week, die Werkself can make sure they don’t have to go through the qualifiers with a home win against Hamburg.
Bayern Munich (59 pts) took advantage of 96’s disastrous slip to reclaim 3rd with a comprehensive 4-1 win at home to Schalke. With two games to play, it’ll be a real shock should Bayern not be playing in Europe’s premier club competition next season. They travel to St. Pauli this Saturday knowing a win coupled with any Hannover slip-up at Stuttgart would see them home.
Final two fixtures:
- Bayern Munich – St Pauli (A), Stuttgart (H) – 3rd, 59 pts, +33
- Hannover 96 – Stuttgart (A), Nürnberg (H) – 4th, 57 pts, +3
The Europa League
It’s all gone wrong for Nürnberg (6th, 47 pts) these past two weeks. A win against Mainz in week 31 would’ve put them in the driving seat for 5th. As it happened, Mainz 05 (5th, 52 pts) came away with a well-earned point, then demolished local rivals Eintracht Frankfurt last week whilst Dieter Hecking’s side were being steamrollered by Deutscher Meister Dortmund.
Mainz need just two points from their last two games to ensure they’ll be playing European football in their new Coface Arena next season:
- Mainz 05 – Schalke (A), St Pauli (H) – 5th, 52 pts, +10
- Nürnberg – Hoffenheim (H), Hannover 96 (A) – 6th, 47 pts, +5
The Relegation Battle
Mathematically, 10 teams in the Bundesliga can still go down. It’d be a miracle if any of Hoffenheim, Schalke or Kaiserslautern dropped but they still all need a point for the DFL to note their names next to ‘Bundesliga 2011/2.’
- Hoffenheim – Nürnberg (A), Wolfsburg (H) – 9th, 40 pts, +1
- Schalke – Mainz 05 (H), Köln (A) – 10th, 40 pts, -3
- Kaiserslautern – Wolfsburg (A), Werder Bremen (H) – 11th, 40 pts, -5
Only three teams have picked up more points than Stuttgart (12th, 39 pts) since the turn, and all three occupy the Champions League spots with two to play. At Christmas, with only 12 pts, the Swabians looked relegation certs. Travelling to fortress Köln in week 30, they sat just two points above 17th. Three wins on the spin later and Bruno Labbadia’s side are effectively, because of their positive goal difference, just a point away from survival. With their form, they are more likely to affect the Champions League places than the relegation battle with games against Hannover and Bayern to come.
- Stuttgart – Hannover (H), Bayern Munich (A) – 12th, 39 pts, +1
Following Stuttgart come two teams on 38 pts – Werder Bremen (13th) and Köln (14th) – who both saw a reversal in form last weekend. After an eight game unbeaten run (including four 1-1 draws and three 3-1 away wins), Thomas Schaaf’s side were beaten 1-0 and dragged somewhat back into the scrap by a resurgent Wolfsburg side. On the other hand, Köln, now under the leadership of Volker Finke, won the Rhein derby to end a miserable run of heavy defeats. This week both can end all relegation fears with a win. Bremen host champions Dortmund whilst Köln face a key match at Frankfurt that they daren’t lose. Losses could see them both sweating on the last day, should Wolfsburg also get a result.
- Werder Bremen – Dortmund (H), Kaiserslautern (A) – 13th, 38 pts, -15
Still sweating - both Werder Bremen and Wolfsburg need points
- Köln – Eintracht Frankfurt (A), Schalke (H) – 14th, 38 pts, – 18
As mentioned, Wolfsburg (15th, 35 pts) have been resurgent in recent weeks. Their win at Bremen last week was straight on the back of a 4-1 win at home to Köln. A win this weekend could see them safe should Frankfurt slip up. Felix Magath’s side have a relatively favourable run in, facing two sides almost certainly safe.
- Wolfsburg – Kaiserslautern (H), Hoffenheim (A) – 15th, 35 pts, -6
Eintracht Frankfurt (16th, 34 pts) have been the worst Bundesliga side this calendar year – collecting a measly 8 points in 15 games. They have only scored SIX goals in 2011. If it wasn’t for their best first half performance since three points for a win began, they’d be long gone. Their free-falling spring term finally saw them drop into the bottom three after last weekend’s derby loss at Mainz. Christoph Daum needs to use every last one of his motivational clichés for the Eagles’ last two fixtures else they could be back in the second tier after six top flight seasons.
- Eintracht Frankfurt – Köln (H), Dortmund (A) – 16th, 34 pts, -14
Despite three wins and two, maybe harsh, definitely late, defeats to Europe-chasing sides in their last 5, Borussia M’gladbach (17th, 32 pts) are still on the verge of relegation this weekend. A defeat to Freiburg on Saturday, together with positive results for Eintracht and Wolfsburg would see them down. A win would set up a tense last day with up to five sides involved.
- ‘Gladbach – Freiburg (H), Hamburg (A) – 17th, 32 pts, -19
With Pauli’s run in, not too many would back them finishing above their now customary top flight spot, 18th, having finished there in ’97 and 2002. Not since 1996 have they finished above 18th – avoiding the drop in 15th. St. Pauli (18th, 29 pts) have the unenviable task of beating Bayern Munich to keep their ever-slimming chances of avoiding the drop alive. Even then they are reliant on Frankfurt losing at home to Köln.
- St. Pauli – Bayern Munich (H), Mainz (A) – 18th, 29 pts, -25