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Culture

Bundesliga Season Wraps Up

Germany's top soccer division the Bundesliga finished up its 41st season this weekend. There was plenty of action even though Werder Bremen already clinched the championship weeks ago.

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Leverkusen players celebrate winning a Champions League wildcard spot.

Bremen may have secured its first Bundesliga title in 11 years earlier this month, but there was still tension at both ends of the table as the season ended on Saturday. As teams at the bottom of the league fought against relegation to the second division, other squads were hunting lucrative Champions League and UEFA Cup spots.

The biggest upset came as Bayer Leverkusen downed VfB Stuttgart 2-0 to move up to third overall and secure a Champions League wild card spot. The loss bumped Stuttgart to fourth place, which left the team with a UEFA Cup slot. VfL Bochum will join Stuttgart in the UEFA Cup after beating Hannover 96 3-1.

Fußball Bundesliga 2004 FC Bayern München - SC Freiburg Sebastian Deisler Soumalia Coulibaly

Bayern Munich beat SC Freiburg 2-0 to retain second place after Werder Bremen, guaranteeing the Bavarians a chance to compete in the Champions League next year.

Hitzfeld sacked

The win was a bittersweet send-off for coach Ottmar Hitzfeld, who was sacked after Bayern failed to capture a title this season. "They were touching moments that go straight to the heart," said Hitzfeld about his six years in Munich.

Hitzfeld's replacement, Felix Magath from VfB Stuttgart, said on Sunday he was confident he could return Bayern to winning form. "I'm convinced that the quality of the current team is so great that this side can win the German title and the Champions League," Magath said on DSF television.

At the other end of the table, troubled yet tradition-rich club 1. FC Kaiserslautern managed to stay in Bundesliga with a late season push. Eintracht Frankfurt, 1. FC Köln and 1860 München were all relegated to the second division. Taking their places next year will be 1. FC Nüremberg, Arminia Bielefeld and FSV Mainz 05.

Though few fans could argue with the fact that German soccer has struggled internationally in recent years, this Bundesliga season had plenty of highlights. A record 11.5 million visitors visited matches this year and with 909 goals they witnessed the most scoring since the 1996-97 season. Werder Bremen's Brazilian striker Ailton was the league's leading scorer with 28 goals.

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