Bundesliga relegation: who′s going down? | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 05.05.2017
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Bundesliga

Bundesliga relegation: who's going down?

With three games left, a third of the league's teams are looking nervously at the drop zone. From big guns Leverkusen and Wolfsburg to perennial strugglers Hamburg it's all up for grabs.

While Darmstadt's three wins on the bounce have given them the vaguest glimmer of survival hope, their fate is out of their own hands, particularly with a trip to champions Bayern Munich coming up on Saturday. Assuming the Lillies are gone, one relegation place and one playoff spot remain. Seven points seperate the six teams above Darmstadt. Here's how we think it'll play out.

Bayer Leverkusen (Currently 12th)

Bayer Leverkusen's decline from Champions League last 16 to relegation contenders has been dramatic and they are definitely fighting for survival with three games to go. Tayfun Korkut's side felt the wrath of home supporters last week, as the Werkself went down 4-1 to Schalke, their second defeat on the spin.

Leverkusen, potentially minus Julian Brandt, head to relegation rivals Ingolstadt on Saturday and face one of the hardest schedules of those in trouble. Their season concludes with the derby visit of Cologne, and then a trip to Hertha Berlin who are focused on European qualification. With one win in their previous 10 games, things are precarious. "We are fighting for our existence," said Rüdi Völler.

Despite that, even a single point could well be enough to keep their head above water.

Prediction: 14th, safe

FC Augsburg (13th)

Fußball Bundesliga Hamburger SV - FC Augsburg (Imago)

Augsburg's recent form has given them hope

Augsburg clinched a massive win on Sunday, beating Hamburg 4-0 in utterly comprehensive fashion. Manuel Baum's team are hit-and-miss, but there is a strong culture around the club and they have experience in relegation situations. To put it simply, the Bavarians know what is at stake, and how to combat the pressures of a drop-zone battle.

But Baum and his players have not been handed a friendly run in. Augsburg head to Borussia Mönchengladbach this weekend before meeting Borussia Dortmund (home) and Hoffenheim on the road. If Augsburg, in the Bundesliga since 2011, can take anything from those games, Baum's side will probably have done enough to be safe from relegation.

Prediction: 12th, safe

Mainz (14th)

Fußball 1. Bundesliga FC Bayern München v Mainz Daniel Brosinski feiert Treffer zur 1:2 Führung (Reuters/M. Rehle)

Mainz have fallen down the table in the second half of the season

Mainz and their head coach Martin Schmidt have certainly rallied in recent weeks. One of three sides on 33 points, the Carnival Club have that added grit which comes in handy at this stage. Their major problem has been the loss of key attacking-midfielder Yunus Malli in January, the club hasn't come close to replacing his goals on a consistent basis.

Sunday's crunch game in Hamburg will give a much clearer indication of Mainz' future. A win would provide Schmidt's side with some much-needed impetus following one win in nine Bundesliga games. But even if they fail to pick up three points at the weekend, the side from the Hesse are in decent shape with a derby at home to Frankfurt and a home game against Cologne to come.

Prediction: 16th, relegation play off

Wolfsburg (15th)

Fußball Bundesliga Bayer Leverkusen - VfL Wolfsburg (picture-alliance/AA/I. Fassbender)

Wolfsburg have severly under-performed this term

It's hard to see where Wolfsburg's inspiration comes from in the final weeks of a season when their Bundesliga status has been as tenuous as the club's over-arching strategy. Andries Jonker is the Wolves third permanent boss this term but his highly-talented squad has performed significantly worse than was expected in pre-season. Wolfsburg are one of the teams on 33 points and know they will need to take something in the run in to secure safety.

Jonker's men travel to face Frankfurt on Saturday, with the Eagles coming off the back of reaching the German Cup. "Both teams are going to give everything to win," said Jonker. The Wolves will entertain Gladbach on Matchday 33 before heading to Hamburg on May 20 in a game which could become a straight shootout.

Prediction: 17th, down

Hamburg (16th)

Fußball Bundesliga Hamburger SV - FC Augsburg (Imago)

Hamburg's unbroken Bundesliga run could be about to end

Of all the teams in relegation trouble, Hamburg have the most to lose. The northern Germans are proud that they are the only team never to have been relegated from the Bundesliga. An exit from Germany's top flight would be devastating for the club, which had seemed on the up under Markus Gisdol.

Gisdol recently took his players to a training camp, just days after suspending three Hamburg players. So far, his big decisions have been correct, but the former Hoffenheim coach is now under the microscope. "We want to move together and revive the spirit which made us been so strong. The wish also came from the team," said Gisdol. 

Currently occupying 16th, which would mean a third playoff in four seasons, Hamburg have two home games against fellow strugglers. The bad side? They recently lost to Darmstadt and Augsburg. 

Prediction: 13th, safe

Ingolstadt (17th)

Fußball bundesliga FC Ingolstadt 04 vs Werder Bremen 22 04 2017 Audi Sportpark Ingolstadt GER 1 FBL F (Imago/Nordphoto/Straubmeier)

Ingolstadt have given themselves a chance with some strong recent performances

Four points adrift, Ingolstadt face a great escape on their hands to avoid the drop. Maik Walpurgis' team won't give up hope just yet and have done their best to keep in touch with the teams hanging on the edges of the drop zone.

Ingolstadt's performances have arguably deserved more, but they've drawn with Dortmund at home and beat RB Leipzig in December. Struggling Leverkusen might just be the perfect opposition for the Bavarians who will be compact and hard to beat. To avoid automatic relegation, Ingolstadt will likely need to win at least two of their three final games.

Prediction: 15th, safe

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