Last week I opened the Bundesliga roundup by talking about the importance that a single win can have at the bottom of the league table. I was highlighting how it is losses that can make or break a team’s season at the top of the table, because everyone is winning when they’re in and around the race for the title and dropping any points can be incredibly costly, but at the bottom of the table the opposite is true, and a single win can change the trajectory of a team’s season dramatically.
Over the weekend, VfL Bochum went about proving my point, by beating FC Köln and rocketing up to 14th place in the Bundesliga, having been sat in bottom at the beginning of the weekend.
It’s a huge result for me, first and foremost, because it helps demonstrate how incredibly clever and correct I am, but let's not forget what a massive win this is for Bochum too. It seems like a few of these teams in the dogfight aren’t ready to pack it all up and prepare for life in the second tier just yet.
Here’s how Matchday 24 played out in the Bundesliga:
FC Köln 0-2 VfL Bochum
Bayern Munich 5-3 Augsburg
Hertha Berlin 1-1 Mainz
RB Leipzig 3-0 Borussia Monchengladbach
Eintracht Frankfurt 1-1 VfB Stuttgart
Schalke 2-2 Borussia Dortmund
Freiburg 2-1 Hoffenheim
Werder Bremen 2-3 Bayer Leverkusen
Wolfsburg 1-1 Union Berlin
Another Nail in the Hoffenheim Coffin
While Bochum (and Schalke) had an excellent weekend, picking up vital points in their effort to extend their stay in the Bundesliga, Hoffenheim had yet another terrible weekend. It has now been seven terrible weekends on the trot for Der Blau, and after a relatively normal start to the season, they have now gone 14 league games without a win (only picking up two draws in that time too). What compounded things for Hoffenheim is the fact that every other team around them picked up points.
Against Freiburg, they conceded an early Maximilian Eggestein goal, after some questionable goalkeeping by Oliver Baumann, but they didn’t crumble, and found their equalizer early in the second half through Angelo Stiller. Hoffenheim were pretty good value for the draw, but Ritsu Doan popped up late with a lovely finish to snuff out the comeback. Hoffenheim even had a chance to get a late, late equalizer, but Fisnik Asllani was unable to convert the cross that came his way.
While all the other teams in and around the relegation zone have been struggling, they are picking up points here and there. In their last five games, Schalke have picked up nine points, Hertha Berlin have picked up seven, Stuttgart have picked up four, and Bochum have picked up three. Hoffenheim have picked up zero points. Everyone else looks like they might have a fighting chance. Hoffenheim are only two points off safety, but they look doomed.
Interestingly, FiveThirtyEight still sees Schalke as most likely to be relegated from the Bundesliga, with a 54% probability of going down, but Hoffenheim are now second favourites on 46%, ahead of Hertha Berlin and Bochum on 44% and Stuttgart with a 22% probability of dropping out of the league.
I’m not one for wishing relegation on teams (it’s particularly bad karma when two of your own teams are in the thick of relegation battles), but if I had to pick two of the five relegation candidates in the Bundesliga, it would have to be Hertha Berlin and Hoffenheim. Who would you prefer to see relegated this season?