Last Saturday, English fourth division (League Two), last day of play. Exeter City and Forest Green Rovers have been confirmed as promoters. Northampton Town, level on points with Bristol Rovers, have the best chance of third place with a goal difference that is five goals better. Northampton win 3-1 at AFC Barrow – and still don’t get promoted. Because madness becomes reality in Bristol: 7-0 against bottom team Scunthorpe United, five goals from the 53rd minute. A look at England shows once again that anything is possible in football, even more so on the last day of the game. In Germany, almost all leagues in the top four divisions end this weekend. We tell you where it is particularly worth looking.
high voltage? Once upon a time. In 1999, for example, they are still looking for a relegated team, and five teams have to tremble. The rest is legend: 1. FC Nürnberg, who went into the season finale in twelfth place with a three-point lead and a better goal difference than Eintracht Frankfurt (16th), got the hang of it. Radio reporter Günther Koch calls out shortly before the end: “Hello, this is Nuremberg, we’ll get back to you from the abyss.” Or two years later: Schalke champion celebrations – but the game from the competitor from Munich is still running in Hamburg. Free kick Patrik Andersson, goal for Bayern, shock for Schalke.
Such things rarely happen, of course. But this time it’s actually pretty thin on what the league has to offer in terms of excitement on the final day of play. Or does anyone seriously believe that the penultimate Arminia Bielefeld (home game against Leipzig) will catch up three points and seven goals on VfB Stuttgart (against 1. FC Köln)?
There hasn’t been a third direct relegation for a long time. So the only question is: who has to be relegated, Stuttgart or Hertha? The Berliners get it in the event of a defeat at Borussia Dortmund – and VfB wins. In terms of tension, Berlin is even privileged, because there is also a lot at stake for the other team from the city: Union (54 points/47:42 goals) moves into the Europa League with a win against Bochum. Possibly with a draw or a defeat, that depends on the result of Cologne (52/51:47).
The fourth starting place for the Champions League is still a little open. Here Leipzig reaches a draw in Bielefeld thanks to the significantly better goal difference compared to Freiburg (35 to 13). If Leipzig loses, Freiburg would jump to fourth place with three points at Bayer Leverkusen.
Recently, five teams fought for promotion. Schalke 04 made it last Saturday by beating St. Pauli 3-2, which means they are practically out of the race. Three teams remain for a promotion place and the relegation rank. Bremen has the best chances: a point against Regensburg is enough for Werder. HSV (at Hansa Rostock) and Darmstadt 98 (against Paderborn) are three points behind Bremen. When it comes to goal difference, Darmstadt is clearly at a disadvantage (22 to 31). The whole thing has a high thrill factor. Because the second division has consistently delivered surprising results this season. And because they have always had exciting stories in store in the recent past: In 2021, for example, Holstein Kiel slipped from second to third place on the 34th matchday after a home defeat against Darmstadt (2-3 after a 1-0 lead). In 2020, Heidenheim will be relegated despite a 3-0 loss in Bielefeld, because HSV will lose 5-1 at home to Sandhausen. In 2019 Paderborn rose 1: 3 in Dresden because Union did not win in Bochum.
And then there are the dramas about Mainz 05 that happened a long time ago, both times with Jürgen Klopp as coach. In 2002 Mainz was second before the final game, then lost 3-1 at Union and had to give way to Bochum and Bielefeld, even a draw would have been enough. A year later, Mainz’s game in Braunschweig is over (4-1 for FSV), Eintracht Frankfurt’s game against Reutlingen is not. Eintracht made it 5:3 in the 90th minute before Alexander Schur added the 6:3 in the 93rd minute. Rise in Frankfurt, tears again in Mainz, a goal makes the difference.
Some celebrated the last match day in the third division without intervening themselves: Braunschweig rose as the second team after 1. FC Magdeburg because 1. FC Kaiserslautern lost at Viktoria Köln on Sunday. It didn’t matter that Braunschweig had also remained pointless in Meppen the day before. Kaiserslautern – which presented Dirk Schuster as the successor to coach Marco Antwerpen during the week – meets Dresden in the relegation.
Viktoria 89 was completely free of play last weekend due to Türkgücü Munich’s withdrawal – and experienced the exact opposite of Braunschweig. The day of the match could not have gone worse: All four competitors in the fight for relegation won, SC Verl, MSV Duisburg, Köln and Hallesche FC. The latter three are saved, Verl moved past Viktoria to the first non-relegation zone.
The Berliners not only have to win against Meppen on Saturday (1.30 p.m., Jahnsportpark, live on Magentasport), but also hope for a defeat by Verl against Duisburg. Just for the sake of completeness: if Verl draws, Viktoria would be over with a win by eight goals. That would even top Bristol Rovers.
A look at the west squadron: Two of the seven former Bundesliga clubs represented there are in a close race for promotion. On the one hand there is Prussia Münster, runners-up in 1951 with the so-called “100,000 mark storm” (Felix “Fiffi” Gerritzen, Jupp Lammers, Alfred “Adi” Preißler, Siegfried Rachuba and Rudi Schulz). SC Preussen 06 was also a founding member of the Bundesliga. And on the other hand Rot-Weiss Essen, cup winners in 1953 and German champions in 1955. Münster was in the third division from 2011 to 2020, RWE was last relegated from the second division in 2007, missed the leap into the newly founded third division in 2008 and has not made it to this day.
Since December last year, the leaders have always been Münster – with former Hertha captain Peter Niemeyer as sporting director – or Essen. In February, the direct duel on Essen’s Hafenstrasse was broken off when the score was 1-1 because of a firecracker thrown into the area of the guest’s substitutes and later counted for Münster. The Prussians have been at the top of the table for the last few weeks but managed to draw 0-0 in Wiedenbrück on Friday. A day later, RWE won 3-0 in Rödinghausen and is now ahead. Level on points with Munster, but two goals better. Essen will play against Ahlen and Münster against Cologne II on Saturday from 2 p.m.
This also applies to the south-west and the Bavarian regional league. In the southwest, SV Elversberg is as good as through before the last game. However, there was a lot of excitement after the 1-1 draw at FSV Frankfurt, which almost certainly held the class. In the last twelve minutes, Elversberg had only held the ball and not attacked Frankfurt. In Bavaria, SpVgg Bayreuth clearly has the best cards two games before the end of the season.
The discussion about the questionable rule that not all champions are promoted is long. This time it will be the top of the table from the north-east and the north (champion will very likely be VfB Oldenburg), who play against each other in the relegation. In the NOFV area, BFC Dynamo has a big cushion on Carl Zeiss Jena (three points, 13 goals) before the game at VSG Altglienicke (Sunday 1 p.m., Jahnsportpark), which travels to Union Fürstenwalde.
There is great uncertainty among the relegation candidates in the north-east. At least three teams have to go down. Maybe even five, depending on Viktoria 89 (relegation or not?) and the BFC (promotion or not?). Fürstenwalde, third from last, is currently on a definitely relegation zone, Rathenow and Eilenburg are on maybe relegation zones. Halberstadt is definitely in there as 15th in the 20s league.