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Looking Around the League: Borussia Dortmund clinch UCL With a Game to Spare

Borussia Dortmund managed to qualify for the Champions League, avoiding a post cup victory let down against relegation safe Mainz.

1. FSV Mainz 05 v Borussia Dortmund - Bundesliga Photo by Sascha Steinbach - Pool/Getty Images

Borussia Dortmund went into the weekend knowing that a victory ensured qualification into next season's Champions League. It was a rare victory by neighbors Schalke that did BVB a huge favor: defeating Eintracht Frankfurt 4-3 on Saturday, giving Dortmund a chance to clinch a spot in the top four with a win. However, after the DFB-Pokal victory midweek, Dortmund were ripe for a let down against relegation safe Mainz. Thankfully, Edin Terzic was able to motivate the squad to go again and Dortmund put in a strong performance away to Mainz, beating the Carnevale club 3-1. Goals from Raphael Guerreiro, Marco Reus, and Julian Brandt ensured victory, before a silly handball by Thorgan Hazard gave Robin Quaison a consolation penalty in stoppage time.

Here are the results from the weekend:

Borussia Monchengladbach 1-2 Stuttgart

Bayer Leverkusen 1-1 Union Berlin

Freiburg 2-2 Bayern Munich

Hertha Berlin 0-0 Köln

Schalke 4-3 Eintracht Frankfurt

Augsburg 2-0 Werder Bremen

Bielefeld 1-1 Hoffenheim

Mainz 1-3 Borussia Dortmund

Leipzig 2-2 Wolfsburg

Here is a look at the table after matchday 33:

The Battle for Champions League

With Eintracht Frankfurt surprisingly losing to relegated Schalke, Borussia Dortmund were gifted the opportunity to clinch UCL qualification early, and they took it. Frankfurt are now locked into fifth place no matter what happens on the final matchday, but are guaranteed to be in the Europa League group stage. Bayern, Leipzig, and Wolfsburg will be joining Dortmund in the UCL next season, after Wolfsburg earned qualification following their 2-2 draw with Leipzig. That draw coupled with Dortmund’s victory means Wolfsburg fell below Dortmund to fourth place, on goal difference. It will be interesting to see what the team selection will be on the final day given its been a long season with a summer tournament about to kickoff. Will third place be a priority for either team?

The Quest for 40

Champions Bayern Munich were held to a draw by Freiburg, but Robert Lewandowski was able to match Gerd Müller’s mark of 40 goals for the season. Lewandowski showed some class by calling attention to the former Bayern striker with a special t-shirt under his kit. The Polish hitman has one more chance to break the Bundesliga single season scoring record when Bayern take on Augsburg in the derby on matchday 34.

Leipzig had a pretty bad week, and I love it

Losing to Dortmund twice in a week including a cup final was bad, but Leipzig managed to follow that up with a terrible first half performance against Wolfsburg as well. A first half brace by former Dortmund player Max Philipp gave Wolfsburg the perfect start in a game they dominated from the kickoff. However, Leipzig fought back as Justin Kluivert pulled a goal back shortly into the second period, while Marcel Sabitzer dispatched a late penalty to earn the draw. Leipzig have locked up second place for the season but with Julian Nagelsmann and Dayot Upamecano already having one foot out the door towards Bavaria, Leipzig look a shell of themselves. After two tough losses to Dortmund in five days, Die Roten Bullen were second best to everything in the first half against Die Wolfe. Losing their coach, star player, and having just missed out their first major trophy, Leipzig will enter the summer with a lot of questions that need answered.

Concerns for Marco Rose and Borussia Mönchengladbach

It looked like the future BVB boss had Die Fohlen flying again, but a 6-0 drubbing by Bayern was followed up with a 2-1 loss to Stuttgart in which Rose’s men had the lead before falling at home. With Edin Terzic getting Dortmund into the UCL and winning the DFB-Pokal this week, questions will continue to be raised over whether or not the Rose appointment was made too early.

Europa League and Conference League’s battling it out

Apparently, UEFA have the new Conference League starting this coming season (ugh). Teams that fall out of Europa League qualifying will be dropped into it, but I believe commentators today were talking about 8th place in Germany would be a conference team. I honestly don’t know if anyone cares, or if anyone at UEFA fully understands how this works but currently there are 4 teams looking at getting into Europe making up Germany’s midtable mush. Union Berlin are currently 7th on 47 points and hoping to make Europa League qualifying, while Borussia Mönchengladbach, Stuttgart, and Freiburg are chasing and could all switch places depending on the final match day. While none of these teams play each other next weekend, it could be a crazy end to the season to see who qualifies for UEFA’s second and third tier competitions.

Relegation Battles

Ah, the best for last. Nothing beats teams scraping and clawing to stay in a league. Even though these matches may lack quality, they make up for it with amazing intensity. While we know Schalke are currently condemned to the bottom of the table, Köln sit on 30 points after a goalless draw with Hertha Berlin. Köln will be hosting Schalke this next weekend at the RheinEnergieStadion, with survival and 3 points paramount for The Billy Goats in hopes they can stay up. Werder Bremen fired Coach Florian Kohfeldt after Bremen’s 2-0 away defeat to Augsburg, hopefully his sacking will be a spark for the squad, but it’s doubtful. Sitting 16th and in the relegation playoff spot, a date with an out of form Gladbach is on the horizon for them. Bremen will be hoping to stay at least above Köln but a win could see them pass Arminia Bielefeld and assured safety if results elsewhere go their way. Bielefeld sit 15th, just one point above the playoff spot after their 1-1 draw with Hoffenheim. Sitting two points above the automatic relegation place and one point above the playoff, Bielefeld control their own destiny on the final matchday as they take on Stuttgart. If Bielefeld can equal or better the result of their competitors then they will be back in the Bundesliga next season. There is still a lot at stake next weekend, so make sure you are tuned in to next weeks action to see how it finishes.