Dortmund are champions, the other two Champions League spots have been given away, and Mainz and Hannover are already qualified for the Europa League. The three horse race between Eintracht Frankfurt, Borussia Mönchengladbach and Wolfsburg to avoid relegation is the most exciting battleground on the last match day of this Bundesliga season. Here are some pointers.
All three clubs are going on the road for their most important game of the season. Eintracht Frankfurt have probably the toughest task ahead, playing the already crowned champions Borussia Dortmund on the day they’ll receive the world’s ugliest salad bowl(the Bundesliga champion’s trophy) in front of their own fans. Even if Dortmund have the championship already sealed, signed and delivered, it seems unlikely that the black and yellows will take their foot of the gas paddle.
The failure of the “concept coach”
After a tremendous Hinrunde, Eintracht had gathered 26 points, and was far away from the dreary every day business of the relegation dog fight. Their Greek star striker Fanni Gekas had put them into contention of a Europa League spot, and the local media hailed Skibbe’s efficient and defensive minded way of playing football. However, with injuries on several key players the eagles had to face a tough start to the second leg of the Bundesliga season. Nothing seemed to go the eagles way, and with only 8 gathered points after the winter break, the firing of Michael Skibbe and the hiring of Christoph Daum, the Eintracht now faces and uphill battle.
Eintracht have failed to win under Daum, and Daum’s sometimes whacky coaching style hasn’t had the effect Eintracht boss Bruchagen had hoped for. All the dancing and trust exercises and Daum’s focus on player psychology has had no results whatsoever.
It is a fairly bad kept secret that Bruchagen hired Daum after the board pressured him to sack Skibbe. Bruchagen put his foot down when the board suggested hiring Daum a number of years ago according to “Der Spiegel”. Furthermore, it has been rumored that Bruchagen will be replaced with RB Leipzig boss Dietmar Beiersdorfer if Eintracht get relegated.
Add to that the unfortunate timing that was chosen to reveal Patrick Ochs’s departure for Wolfsburg, and Christoph Daum’s paranoia the last few days, telling off journalists, sensing a media conspiracy against him and the Eintracht. During this entire mess, Daum managed to make a complete 180, saying that he might coach the Eintracht even if they get relegated. One has to be an overly optimistic Eintracht fan to think that this club in turmoil will actually manage to pull of a victory against Dortmund, and manage to stay up in the league.
The wounded boxer fights back
Håvard Nordtveit revealed in today’s Bild that he and the rest of the squad are listening to the Rocky classic “Eye of the tiger” before entering the pitch. “It gives us the aggression we need before entering the pitch”, the Norwegian says. Gladbach have won 4 of their last 5 matches, and are now up against an uninspired Hamburg site that has nothing to play for. With the whole team intact, and with the chance of finishing an Houdiniesque escape, the entire team will most likely be focused on the day. If I was a betting man, I would have no problem with putting a big bet down on Gladbach winning away against Hamburg. The question is: Will it be enough to avoid the relegation play-off spot?
Fear factor: Volkswagen edition
“If we get relegated, the players that got us there, can get us out of the 2. Bundesliga as well.”, Felix Magath remarked today. With Volkswagen money(yes, the producers of the mass killer, “The Beetle”) backing Magath all the way, one would be naive to dismiss Magath’s latest statement as empty threats! Furthermore, Magath stated earlier this week that “nothing seems to work on the training pitch”, and: “Only a handful of players are left from the 2009 squad that won the championship are still there. Having such a high player turnover isn’t healthy, and has destroyed the foundation of what was there.” (Sound familiar, Schalke fans?)
With Magath dropping several bombshells in the media, and with a group of players that at this point must be afraid of having to travel to Paderborn next season, predicting the outcome of this saturday’s match against Hoffenheim is difficult. Wolfsburg have their existence to play for, and Hoffenheim have nothing to play for, but with a team that is afraid of making mistakes, and a coach that hasn’t inspired confidence building, this match is difficult to predict.
What do you think? Will Gladbach avoid the relegation play off? Has Frankfurt any chance of spoiling Dortmund’s championship celebration? Has Felix Magath shot himself in the foot? Leave a comment below.