That’s pretty much the best way to describe the situation at both ends of the 2. Bundesliga table as we head into the final Matchday of the season on Sunday, May 23.
We learned quite a bit from Matchday 33, but at the same time, we ultimately learned very little about either the promotion or relegation situations.
That’s because we still don’t know who will be promoted to the Bundesliga for the 2021-22 season. We also still don’t know who will follow Würzburger down to the 3. Liga next season.
So let’s take a look at how we got here.
Matchday 33 Results
Going into Matchday 33, Bochum and Kiel sat first and second in the table. Both had officially clinched a top 3 finish prior to kickoff and a win for either would guarantee them promotion to the Bundesliga.
Well, neither of them won their respective fixtures.
Kiel took a 1-0 lead into halftime away to Karlsruher thanks to a Janni-Luca Serra goal in the 41st minute. But KSC scored three unanswered goals in the second half. 21-year old Malik Batmaz scored his first for his club in the 52nd minute and striker Philipp Hofmann added a brace over the following 25 minutes.
Die Störche did manage to pull one back from the penalty spot in the last 10 minutes through Alexander Mühling, but they ultimately came up short and went down to defeat. To rub salt in the wound, this was Karlsruher’s first win in the league since February.
Bochum didn’t fare much better than Kiel, but they at least managed to secure a point against Nürnberg. They trailed for much of the match after Nürnberg center-back Georg Margreitter put his side ahead in the 38th minute.
Thankfully for the league leaders, Robert Žulj equalized on 75 minutes. Thus, despite being outplayed by the Franconians on the day, Bochum made it out with a draw and extended their lead over Kiel to two points.
As disappointing as these two results were, they paled in comparison to what fourth-placed Hamburg put in against relegation candidates Osnabrück.
Needing a win to have any realistic chance at getting into the promotion playoff spot, HSV went behind twice to the 17th placed team in the league in the opening hour. They managed to claw their way back level both times, but when substitute Marc Heider put Lila-Weiß back in front for the third time on 84 minutes, it was too much for HSV to overcome.
Thus, Hamburg will spend a fourth straight season in the 2. Bundesliga in 2021-22.
Okay, so who in the top 5 did what they needed to do in Matchday 33?
Fifth-placed Düsseldorf did.
Düsseldorf came into Matchday 33 needing to win against Erzgebirge to have any chance at the promotion playoff. And they did it in dominating fashion, shutting out the East Germans 3-0, leapfrogging Hamburg in the table in the process.
Unfortunately for Düsseldorf, the other team in the top 5 that won was the side that Düsseldorf ultimately needed to lose.
That was third-placed Fürth.
Kleeblätter made it difficult on themselves by going behind to Paderborn after just 21 minutes thanks to an own goal. But Fürth equalized just 7 minutes later through Håvard Nielsen and ultimately outran the hosts in the second half to win 4-2. This win ended up eliminating both Hamburg and Düsseldorf from the promotion fight.
Meanwhile, at the bottom of the table, things were just as chaotic.
We’ve already seen that 17th placed Osnabrück won. So did 15th placed Sandhausen, who blanked 14th placed Regensburg 2-0 and moved to just a point behind their opponents in the table.
16th placed Braunschweig lost however, 2-1 to already relegated Würzburger.
Needless to say, there was chaos at both ends of the table in Matchday 33.
Alright, so where does this leave us going into Matchday 34?
At the top of the table, we know who the top 3 is going to be, but we don’t know which way they will finish. Here is how the top 3 stack up going into Matchday 34:
1. Bochum – 64 points (+25 GD, 63 GF)
2. Kiel – 62 points (+23 GD, 55 GF)
3. Fürth – 61 points (+24 GD, 66 GF)
With the goal differences being so close, any of these side could ultimately win the league. Likewise, any of these 3 sides could end up finishing 3rd and having to face the 16th place Bundesliga side in the promotion playoff at the end of May.
All 3 will have their Matchday 34 fixtures at home. Bochum host relegation candidate Sandhausen, Kiel host high-scoring Darmstadt, and Fürth host now 4th placed Düsseldorf.
Bochum and Kiel are in pretty much the exact same situation as they were going into Matchday 33. Win and you’re promoted. A draw will also be enough for Bochum to clinch, but not enough for Kiel.
Fürth need to win and hope one of the two above them drop points, which would give them the advantage based on goal difference: they would just need Kiel to draw, whereas they would need Bochum to lose. If there’s a tie on goal difference, Fürth would still likely have the advantage given that they’ve scored more goals than either Bochum or Kiel on the season.
Conversely, here’s how 14th through 17th appear heading into Matchday 34:
14. Regensburg – 35 points (-16 GD, 34 GF)
15. Sandhausen – 34 points (-17 GD, 40 GF)
16. Osnabrück – 33 points (-22 GD, 34 GF)
17. Braunschweig – 31 points (-25 GD, 30 GF)
The author made a mistake in the Matchday 33 preview when he stated that Regensburg were safe. They can still finish 16th and have to play in the relegation playoff against the 3rd placed 3. Liga side (either Hansa Rostock, Ingolstadt, or 1860 Munich).
Braunschweig travel to Hamburg for Matchday 34; they need to win to have any chance of getting into the playoff.
Regensburg host St Pauli, Osnabrück travel to Erzgebirge, and as mentioned previously, Sandhausen visit Bochum. Any kind of result for any of these three will do much to help them dodge automatic relegation, but a win would be immense at this stage in terms of avoiding the playoff ties.
The final 2. Bundesliga Matchday of the season kicks off at 9:30 am EST on Sunday, May 23.