The final matchday of the 2019-20 2. Bundesliga season decided the promotion and relegation fights. Of the 9 matches on Sunday afternoon, not all would have an effect on promotion or relegation, so before we get into the results at either end of the table, let’s take a look at the two matches that had nothing riding on them except pride.
Erzgebirge Aue 2 – Jahn Regensburg 1
Erzgebirge doubled their away win total on the league season by snatching a late victory over Regensburg at the Arena Regensburg.
The hosts grabbed the lead in just the 2nd minute. Andreas Albers headed Sebastian Stolze’s cross from the right onto the post, but the ball ricocheted directly to a trailing Charalambos Makridis who dusted off the chance and put Regensburg ahead. Regensburg’s Benedikt Gimber and Erzgebirge’s John-Patrick Strauß traded chances over the following 10 minutes.
Erzgebirge keeper Robert Jendrusch denied Albers in the 32nd minute and then teammate Sören Gonther put a header on target at the other end, but Regensburg keeper Alexander Weidinger stopped his attempt. Weidinger could do nothing to stop Pascal Testroet’s header from close range just before halftime however and the match went into the break tied at 1.
Other than an early Albers header just after the restart, neither side threatened all that much over the course of the second half. It wasn’t until the 87th minute that Erzgebirge substitute Philipp Zulechner ultimately bagged the winner by beating Weidinger into the top right corner. Albers nearly responded immediately after, but Jendrusch made a diving stop to preserve the lead and the visitors held on to the final whistle.
Erzgebirge finish the season in 7th, their highest finish in nearly a decade, and they will be the only East German side in the second division next season.
Regensburg meanwhile finish 12th, a disappointment after consecutive top half of the table finishes in their previous two seasons.
Hannover 2 – Bochum 0
A Marvin Ducksch brace saw hosts Hannover leapfrog Bochum into 6th in the table at the HDI-Arena.
Alavés loanee John Guidetti thought he’d given Die Roten a 6th minute lead with a header after a free kick melee, but VAR disallowed his strike for an offside in the build-up. Hannover dominated the opening 20 minutes, but Bochum gradually worked their way into the match. Danilo Soares put a free kick just wide of the far post in the 20th minute and Arsenal loanee Jordi Osei-Tutu nearly scored in the 37th, only to be denied by keeper Martin Hansen at the last moment.
Hansen’s heroics allowed Ducksch to give Hannover the lead just before halftime. The striker’s free kick curled over the Bochum wall and nestled into the top corner. Bochum searched for an equalizer in the second half and Hansen had to stop Osei-Tutu again in the 62nd minute to maintain his side’s lead. Thomas Eisfeld came agonizingly close for Bochum eight minutes later, but his right-footed effort caromed off the woodwork.
Ducksch put the match to bed in the 86th minute, shortly after Hansen denied Osei-Tutu for the third time in the match. It was a perfectly executed fast break counter, with Timo Hübers putting it on a plate for Ducksch to nab a brace and a win for his side.
Hannover end up 6th after a terrible start to the season. They’ll be looking to carry the momentum they built up in the Rückrunde into next season.
Bochum likewise rebounded from a difficult Hinrunde to finish 8th after a strong run after the league restart.
Dynamo Dresden 2 – Osnabrück 2
Dresden needed a win and a lot of help to just get to the relegation playoff, but they got neither by blowing a two goal lead in the second half against Osnabrück at the Rudolf-Harbig-Stadion.
Freiburg loanee Marco Terrazzino gave the hosts the lead in the 23rd minute with a header from a Godsway Donyoh cross. Dresden keeper Tim Boss saved from Osnabrück’s David Blacha in the 35th minute in what would turn out to be the visitors’ lone shot on target in the opening 45 minutes.
Things picked up in the second half, with Etienne Amenyido going close for Lila-Weiß and Josef Hušbauer doing the same at the other end moments later. Dresden doubled their advantage in the 59th minute when Patrick Schmidt bashed into the bottom left corner after a fast break.
Dresden couldn’t hang on however, as Osnabrück struck twice in 5 minutes late in the half. Substitute Anas Ouahim got the first on 76 minutes and Bremen loanee Niklas Schmidt scored via a free kick in the 81st minute to tie the match. No one could find a winner in the remaining 10 minutes and a draw was the result.
Osnabrück finish 13th in their first season in the 2. Bundesliga since 2010-11. There were some nervy moments throughout the season, but Lila-Weiß did enough to earn another season in the second division.
Dresden unfortunately finish bottom of the table and are relegated to the 3. Liga after a 4 season spell in the 2. Bundesliga. The East Germans just couldn’t dig themselves out of the hole they put themselves in back in the Hinrunde and the rushed fixture list to end the season didn’t help them.
The club are exploring potential legal action against the DfL for the scheduling crunch, but it’s doubtful anything will come of it.
Wiesbaden 5 – St Pauli 3
Have you ever heard the term fun-bad?
Well, that’s how the match between Wiesbaden and St Pauli at the BRITA-Arena could be described. An entertaining, high-scoring affair played out between two mediocre sides.
There was very little in terms of quality defense played in the 90 minutes. Wiesbaden took an early 2-0 lead with goals from Stefan Aigner and Phillip Tietz in the 11th and 12th minutes. Kiezkicker fought back to level terms by the 32nd minute with goals from Leo Skiri Østigård and Henk Veerman, but Aigner put Wiesbaden back in front for good in the 38th minute.
Tietz scored twice more in the second half, completing his hat trick in the 66th minute from the penalty spot. Veerman pulled one back for St Pauli in the 73rd minute, but that ultimately rounded up the scoring.
Wiesbaden got the win they needed, but they didn’t get the help from the sides in front of them, and end up 17th. They fall right back down to the 3. Liga after winning promotion in the playoff last season.
St Pauli finish 14th and aside from sweeping both legs of the Hamburg Derby for the first time in their history, the season was disappointing for Kiezkicker. The club and manager Jos Luhukay agreed to part ways the day after the season ended, so St Pauli will be on the lookout for a new manager for 2020-21.
Karlsruher 2 – Greuther Fürth 1
Karlsruher needed a win at the Sportpark Ronhof Thomas Sommer against Fürth to have a chance at earning another season in the 2. Bundesliga. They got it in come-from-behind fashion.
Kleeblätter took the lead in the 2nd minute with their first attack of the match. Maximilian Sauer crossed from the right and Daniel Keita-Ruel scored with a header that left KSC keeper Benjamin Uphoff with no chance. Karlsruher’s leading scorer Philipp Hofmann almost levelled immediately after, but Fürth keeper Sascha Burchert denied him.
KSC youngster Dominik Kother tied the match in the 21st minute with a right-footed effort into the top left corner. It was Kother’s first senior goal for his club. Both sides traded opportunities for the remainder of the opening 45, but it stayed 1-1 at the half. Uphoff then had to be at his best to stop two Keita-Ruel efforts on the other side of the break.
Shortly after Uphoff’s second save, Fürth’s Sebastian Ernst fouled KSC’s Marvin Wanitzek in the opposite box and conceded a penalty. Hofmann stepped up to the spot and drilled the kick into the bottom left corner to give the visitors the lead. Fürth didn’t go quietly however and pushed hard for an equalizer over the remaining 30 minutes. Maximilian Wittek went the closest, but Uphoff stood tall and kept him out. It was nervy down to the final whistle, but Karlsruher held on and took the win and the 3 points.
Fürth finish the season 9th, a second consecutive improvement of their league position from the previous season.
Karlsruher meanwhile did what they needed to do. Now they needed help elsewhere…
Holstein Kiel 1 – Nürnberg 1
To guarantee safety, Nürnberg needed a win Holstein-Stadion against Kiel. But despite leading for the majority of the match, they came up short of the 3 points.
Patrick Erras headed in from Johannes Geis’ 3rd minute free kick to give Der Club the lead. However, that was to prove to be their only shot on target in the match. Lion Lauberbach and Emmanuel Iyoha meanwhile put shots on target for Kiel in the opening half hour, but neither could beat keeper Christian Mathenia.
Nürnberg spent quite a lot of time in Kiel’s half throughout the match, but the final ball was lacking after the opener. Nikola Dovedan and Robin Hack both shot wide around the 40 minute mark and Geis came agonizingly close to doubling their lead in the 45th minute, but his right-footed screamer banged off the crossbar.
Although they were dominant at times, Nürnberg’s profligacy in front of goal allowed Die Störche to hang tight and they finally broke through in the 67th minute. Johannes van den Bergh found enough space on the left to get a cross in and Lauberbach outjumped everyone to head in from the center of the box.
Karlsruher had taken the lead over Fürth by this point, so Nürnberg knew they needed to find another goal before the final whistle. But despite creating chances in the final 20 minutes, the goal they needed eluded them. Kiel in fact, almost won the match outright in stoppage time. Mathenia had to save from Iyoha after the Düsseldorf had been played through on goal and substitute Salim Khelifi nearly won it for the hosts at the death, but was denied by the post.
It finished tied and coupled with Karlsruher’s win against Fürth, it meant that Nürnberg and KSC finished the season level on points with 37 each. Karlsruher however, had the advantage when it came to goal difference (-11 vs -13) and as a result, KSC finished 15th in the table, guaranteeing themselves another season in the 2. Bundesliga.
Nürnberg meanwhile will take part in the relegation playoff against either the 3rd or 4th placed 3. Liga side (Bayern Munich II is currently leading the 3. Liga as of Matchday 36, but reserve sides cannot be promoted beyond the 3. Liga). For a team that was playing in the Bundesliga last season, this season has been a colossal disappointment. Manager Jens Keller was sacked the day after the draw against Kiel. Former manager Michael Wiesinger takes over on an interim basis for the relegation playoff.
Kiel meanwhile, also had a disappointing season, finishing 11th. After finishing 3rd in 2017-18 and 6th last season, a bottom half finish in 2019-20 leaves Die Störche with some work to do in the offseason.
Darmstadt 3 – Stuttgart 1
Ten man Darmstadt capped off a fantastic second half of the season by beating Stuttgart at the Mercedes-Benz Arena.
Stuttgart had clinched a top 3 finish with their destruction of Nürnberg in Matchday 33 and unless an unbelievable chain of results occurred on the final matchday, they were going to finish 2nd and earn promotion to the Bundesliga. As a result, they could afford take it easy in their final match, but they may have taken it too easy.
The opening half hour was very lackadaisical, with neither side recording a shot on target. Mario Gómez, in what would ultimately prove to be his final professional match, went closest for Stuttgart and Serdar Dursun did the same for Darmstadt, but it wasn’t until the 32nd minute that either side recorded a shot on target. Coincidentally, it resulted in the opening goal. Fabian Schnellhardt lofted a free kick into the Stuttgart area, keeper Gregor Kobel collided with one of his defenders and misplayed the ball, and Dursun reacted fastest with an overhead kick that bounced in off the post. The spectacular finish was Dursun’s 16th goal of the season.
Stuttgart fought back and were able to equalize 10 minutes later. Silas Wamangituka got in a good position at the end of a fast break and he picked out Gómez with a low cross, allowing the ex-Germany international to slide home for 1-1. Philipp Klement nearly gave them the lead just after the break from a free-kick, but his well struck effort sailed just over. Almost immediately after, Darmstadt went back in front when Matthias Bader went on a splendid run through the Stuttgart defense and beat Kobel with a low drive into the corner.
Things got hectic around the 65th minute. Darmstadt’s Victor Pálsson was cautioned by referee Bibiana Steinhaus for a late challenge on Stuttgart’s Mateo Klimowicz. Two minutes later, Pálsson picked up second yellow card for a handball, although replay indicated the ball might’ve hit his chest more than it did his arm. Nevertheless, Pálsson was off and Darmstadt were down to 10 men. Manager Dimitrios Grammozis, in his last match in charge of Darmstadt, was cautioned as well following his subsequent protest.
Despite the man advantage, Stuttgart didn’t do much to threaten the visitors over the remaining moments, and Darmstadt ended up sealing the result on the counter in the 88th minute, when Tobias Kempe scored from Marvin Mehlem’s cutback.
The disappointing result ended up not mattering for Stuttgart. The unbelievable chain of results didn’t occur and they secured 2nd in the table and promotion back to the Bundesliga. Mario Gómez exits having achieved his goal of getting Stuttgart back to the top flight after a year’s absence.
Darmstadt meanwhile rebounded from a bad Hinrunde to finish a fine 5th, their highest finish in the second division since their relegation in 2017. With former Kiel and Köln manager Markus Anfang already set to take over in the summer, Darmstadt could be well positioned to make a run at promotion in 2020-21.
Arminia Bielefeld 3 – Heidenheim 0
Heidenheim had their fate in their hands against Bielefeld at the Schüco Arena. They needed to equal or better Hamburg’s result against Sandhausen in order to finish 3rd. But they put in an abysmal performance against the champions.
Bielefeld manager Uwe Neuhaus indicated earlier in the week that his side would be looking to win their final match of the season, despite having nothing to play for. As such, he named a strong side to face Heidenheim, with Fabian Klos and Andreas Voglsammer both featuring.
Meanwhile, Heidenheim manager Frank Schmidt told SKY before the match that one of his assistants would be “glued to his mobile the whole game, so they can react to the Hamburg situation as needed.” For a side with their fate in their own hands, this was a curious decision. If Heidenheim won, it wouldn’t matter what Hamburg did. This reactive, rather than proactive, attitude toward the match showed itself on the pitch.
Bielefeld were on the front foot early with Voglsammer causing all kinds of problems for the Heidenheim defense. Keeper Kevin Müller managed to keep him at bay in the 13th minute, but the visitors were undone on the subsequent corner. Bielefeld center-back Brian Behrendt flicked the ball across goal, and it hit either Tim Kleindienst on the back or Klos on the shoulder, and went over the line. The goal stood despite the grayness of the handball rule (I don’t understand the interpretation of it either BVB fans) and although it was originally scored as a Kleindienst own goal, it was later updated to give Klos his league leading 21st of the season.
The hosts doubled their advantage four minutes later when Voglsammer was allowed space in the penalty area to pull the ball down and then turn and fire it into the far corner. Voglsammer nearly got a second in the 33rd minute, but Müller managed to make the save this time. Heidenheim tried to get back into the match before halftime, but they only managed to trouble keeper Stefan Ortega once, when Patrick Mainka headed straight into the keeper’s arms off a set piece in the 43rd minute.
Jonathan Clauss capped off a fine Rückrunde by grabbing Bielefeld’s third in the 54th minute. Manuel Prietl and Klos did good work in the buildup and Clauss put his shortly perfectly beyond Müller’s reach into the far corner. Substitute Cebio Soukou came within inches of making it 4-0 in the 78th minute, but his shot hit the post.
Heidenheim ultimately couldn’t do anything against the champions. For a team looking to get into the promotion playoff, they came into the match with the wrong attitude and it reflected in their poor performance on the pitch.
Bielefeld meanwhile looked every bit the league champions they are. It was a comprehensive victory at both ends of the pitch and they end a wonderful season on a high.
Sandhausen 5 – Hamburg 1
Alright Hamburg supporters, you can take your leave and not have to subject yourselves to this. I really don’t want to s*** all over HSV, but after what happened at the Volksparkstadion against Sandhausen, they didn’t leave me with much choice.
Despite the crushing defeat to Heidenheim in Matchday 33, Hamburg had an excellent chance to move up to 3rd and get into the promotion playoff against Nordderby rivals Bremen. All they needed to do was get a better result against Sandhausen than Heidenheim did against Bielefeld.
Well…turns out that was easier said than done for HSV.
Leverkusen loanee Joel Pohjanpalo blasted an early chance over the bar and the opening 10 minutes or so were fairly uneven. But then in the 13th minute, Sandhausen, who had lost to bottom of the table Dresden a week earlier, shocked everyone and took the lead. Leart Paqarada crossed from the left and Kevin Behrens’ shot was deflected past keeper Julian Pollersbeck by Hamburg center-back Rick von Drongelen for an own goal.
Behrens then compounded HSV’s problems by doubling Sandhausen’s lead in the 21st minute. Julius Biada played in an excellent through ball that split the Hamburg defense and Behrens latched onto it before calmly slotting past Pollersbeck. Dieter Hecking then had to sub off two of his defenders in a 10 minute span when first Jan Gyamerah injured his groin and then van Drongelen tore a ligament in his left knee.
Sandhausen should’ve made it 3-0 before halftime, but Behrens somehow couldn’t find the target after Hamburg’s Aaron Hunt all but passed him the ball in a very dangerous position. Martin Harnik then had a chance to bring HSV back into the match, but he could only hit the ball straight at keeper Martin Fraisl.
Hamburg finally got back into the match in the 60th minute when Sandhausen’s Tim Kister fouled Hunt in the penalty area. The captain took the spot kick himself and hammered it into the top corner, reducing the deficit to 1. But despite the lifeline, Hamburg ultimately did very little offensively in the following 20 minutes. This eventually allowed Sandhausen the opportunity to restore the two goal lead when substitute Philip Türpitz was played through on goal and HSV’s Josha Vagnoman brought him down in the box for a penalty. Behrens shot straight down the middle past a diving Pollersbeck to make it 3-1.
What followed was 10 minutes of agony for the hosts. The players all seemed to have given up after it went to 3-1 because Sandhausen put two more past them before the final whistle. Sandhausen’s Mario Engels got the 4th in the 89th minute after Denis Linsmayer played him through behind the Hamburg defense.
And then in a final act of humiliation, Sandhausen’s fifth was scored by ex-Hamburg man, Dennis Diekmeier. Diekmeier, who set the record of most appearances in the top 2 flights of German football without scoring (262 matches) before finally nabbing a goal in matchday 28 against Wiesbaden, spent 8 seasons with Hamburg, his boyhood club, before moving to Sandhausen in 2019. The defender scored his second career goal in the third minute of second half stoppage time with a rifled right-footed shot into the top left corner off a corner kick.
The big win puts Sandhausen 10th in the table, equaling their best ever finish in the 2. Bundesliga.
Heidenheim, despite their abysmal performance against Bielefeld, back their way into a 3rd place finish and will face off with Bremen in the promotion playoff starting on Thursday.
But the big story of the day what how utterly rubbish Hamburg were. For a club that is one of the biggest in all of German football, with one of the best squads in the 2. Bundesliga, a second consecutive 4th place finish is nothing short of a disaster.
Whatever remained of Dieter Hecking’s reputation as a manager may have evaporated as a result of this embarrassing defeat and the club’s inconsistency not only in the final matchdays, but for long stretches of the whole season. Other than Pohjanpalo, who will likely return to Leverkusen in the summer, there really wasn’t anyone in the Hamburg squad that was playing well at the end of the season. His late season benching of keeper Daniel Heuer Fernandes in favor of Pollersbeck didn’t work either.
Hecking was criticized throughout the season for not sticking with a consistent XI, but given how poorly some of the players were performing, it was understandable to a degree. However, when the entire squad fails to perform match after match, a good deal of the blame must surely fall at the feet of the manager.
Hamburg won only two of their nine matches after the restart and both were one goal wins against the relegation sides. They had to settle for draws against Fürth, Kiel, and Osnabrück despite holding early leads, and they suffered stoppage times losses against Stuttgart and Heidenheim after leading both of those matches as well.
Hamburg’s management will have to do some soul searching this summer because they’re now consigned to a third consecutive season in the second division. As this author put it last July:
If [Hecking] can’t get Hamburger back to the Bundesliga, they might need to brace themselves for an extended stay in the second division.
1. Bielefeld – 68 points (champions, promoted)
2. Stuttgart – 58 points (promoted)
3. Heidenheim – 55 points (promotion playoff)
4. Hamburg – 54 points
5. Darmstadt – 52 points
6. Hannover – 48 points
7. Erzgebirge – 47 points
8. Bochum – 46 points
9. Fürth – 44 points
10. Sandhausen – 43 points (-2 GD)
11. Kiel – 43 points (-3 GD)
12. Regensburg – 43 points (-6 GD)
13. Osnabrück – 40 points
14. St Pauli – 39 points
15. Karlsruher – 37 points (-11 GD)
16. Nürnberg – 37 points (-13 GD) (relegation playoff)
17. Wiesbaden – 34 points (relegated)
18. Dresden – 32 points (relegated)
1. Fabian Klos (Bielefeld) – 21 goals
2. Manuel Schäffler (Wiesbaden) – 19 goals
3. Philipp Hofmann (Karlsruher) – 17 goals
4. Serdar Dursun (Darmstadt) – 16 goals
5. Marvin Ducksch (Hannover) – 15 goals
T6. Kevin Behrens (Sandhausen) – 14 goals
T6. Nicolás González (Stuttgart) – 14 goals
T6. Tim Kleindienst (Heidenheim) – 14 goals
T9. Marcos Álvarez (Osnabrück) – 13 goals
T9. Silvère Ganvoula M’boussy (Bochum) – 13 goals