The champions have been crowned, but the 2. Bundesliga remains an exciting league to watch.
Over the course of 90 minutes on Sunday, goals will be celebrated with a special fervour. Beer will undoubtedly be chucked in the air. Shirts will be torn off, in the stands and on the pitch. And inevitably, the tears will fall down the faces of many.
The final weekend of the season is here. One automatic promotion spot and a relegation play-off place up for grabs, with three to four teams in contention.
What’s been a particularly crazy campaign is about to reach a dramatic conclusion.
What’s At Stake This Weekend?
As it stands, Werder Bremen can clinch instant promotion back to the Bundesliga if they get at least a draw with Jahn Regensburg at home.
If they lose however, it opens the door up for Hamburg SV. With a superior goal difference, a win at Hansa Rostock will put them through.
Nevertheless, they need a good result to maintain their third-place finish to make the relegation play-off with the 16th-placed Bundesliga side.
However, their place remains under threat from Darmstadt 98. Level on points, they need to better Hamburg’s result in their game against SC Paderborn.
St Pauli remain with a chance to finish third mathematically, but it would take a miracle for this to happen, due to their inferior goal difference.
Werder Bremen Are the Favourites for Promotion
Three points clear of the chasing pack, Bremen are within touching distance of making a return to the top-flight.
Their season got off to a rough start, finding themselves in ninth place after 14 games. It didn’t help that head coach Markus Anfang found himself embroiled in a scandal, after it was discovered that he had faked his vaccination certificate.
A few weeks later, they hired Ole Werner, who had made his name coaching Holstein Kiel before resigning in September.
He has made a huge impact since taking over. Other than Schalke’s current caretaker head coach Mike Büskens, no head coach has obtained more points per game than the 34-year-old.
With just two defeats in his 18 games in charge, Werner has installed a winning mentality at the club. Unlocking the goals has been key, with the side averaging 2.33 goals a match.
Strikers Niclas Füllkrug and Marvin Ducksch have scored 14 goals each since his arrival, taking advantage of a more attacking approach.
Facing a Jahn Regensburg side who have only won twice in 2022, they’ll be confident of getting coming away with points to secure an instant return to the Bundesliga.
The Battle for Third Between Hamburg and Darmstadt
Assuming Bremen get promoted on Sunday, then all eyes will turn to the race for third place between Hamburg and Darmstadt.
While Hamburg have scored freely under Tim Walter, it’s their defence that stands out, conceding the lowest tally in the league of 33 goals.
His tactical approach is fascinating too as he encourages his centre-backs to push into midfield, giving more on-ball responsibility to the goalkeeper to build moves from the back.
Unlike the other contenders, they’ve been more consistent in the league over the season, steadily picking up points.
With Hansa Rostock without a win in their last five games, they’ll be confident of their chances, although they are prone to the odd away defeat, which was evident at the likes of Holstein Kiel and Nürnburg.
As for Darmstadt, a strong display in the Hinrunde (first half of the season) has propelled them towards contention for promotion.
They rely on their dynamic duo of Phillip Tietz and Luca Pfeiffer for goals, with both having 15 to their name so far.
In his first season, head coach Torsten Lieberknecht has made his team exciting to watch, with the club scoring 38 more goals than their tally last season.
But a tough home game against Paderborn awaits, who have only lost twice on the road and have conceded the third-least number of goals.
What This Means for the Bundesliga
Should Bremen get promoted, it will likely bring more eyeballs to the league next season. Having regularly challenged for Europe in the mid-2000s and won the league four times, they are a huge club in Germany and Werner will be a welcome addition to the roster of astute coaches in the top-flight.
Similarly, Hamburg’s status as one of the country’s most supported teams will spark huge celebrations for a potential return. They have endured four seasons in the second division after being relegated for the first time in their history back in 2018.
Though a smaller club, Darmstadt have had an impressive rise through the German football pyramid over the last decade. Twelve years ago, they were in the fourth tier, before getting a taste of top-flight football in 2015. They would love to return to the Bundesliga if results go their way.
Of course, one of Hamburg or Darmstadt will still need to beat the 16th placed Bundesliga side over two legs to make their dream a reality. Currently, it’s between Hertha Berlin and VFB Stuttgart, both being two hugely supported clubs determined not to go down.
With so much at stake, an intense finale awaits on Sunday afternoon.