With seven matches to go till the top of the Bundesliga season, the relegation race remains to be not giving German soccer followers any solutions on who will keep away from the drop. With Schalke 04 vs. Hertha Berlin on Friday (2:30 p.m. ET, stream dwell on ESPN+) having a big affect on who will fall to the second division, the state of affairs of the underside three groups could grow to be clearer or extra muddled with the six backside sides solely being eight factors aside.
Simply earlier than the season restarted, I used information to attempt to predict what would occur within the second half, however information solely goes thus far and is all the time changings. The image has modified since then. So what’s totally different and who does the info counsel is prone to stay in Germany’s high flight in 2023-24?
In January, it regarded as if Augsburg and VfL Bochum would combat it out to find out who would mechanically be relegated and who would contest the relegation playoff. Augsburg’s points on the time had been primarily attacking associated, however due to their high quality and depth — particularly in duels and excessive pressures — they regarded extra prone to be within the playoff and even protected from the drop totally.
Quick-forward three months and never rather a lot has modified, aside from their standing within the desk, however Augsburg are vulnerable to working out of power and it is telling that their actions within the remaining third and touches within the field have fallen into the underside three within the league, whereas all their different metrics are nonetheless within the backside half. Towards the groups round them, they might in all probability be robust sufficient to win, however out of the underside six, they’ve essentially the most tough fixture checklist remaining with their opponents incomes a median of 1.58 factors per sport. As a lot as they might beat RB Leipzig of their subsequent match and show information mistaken, they’re simply as prone to lose floor to these round them and will make a shock return to the hazard zone, particularly if TSG Hoffenheim and VfB Stuttgart can proceed their high-quality type.
14. TSG Hoffenheim | 28 factors
Hoffenheim weren’t even actually within the body for relegation three months in the past, however after the resumption of play following the World Cup break, their winless run reached 15 video games. Head coach Andre Breitenreiter was sacked throughout this spell, and new supervisor Pellegrino Matarazzo lastly ended it in opposition to Hertha — his sixth match in cost. Throughout this run, they had been the worst group in possessions ending in targets, sequences ending in pictures, 14th in duels and tackling success price and seventeenth in pictures on purpose. Nonetheless, they’ve received their previous three matches and now aren’t that distant from security.
In these three wins, they’ve utterly turned their type round, main the league in possessions ending in targets and massive probabilities created throughout this stretch, and improved to a midtable customary of tackling and duels success price. Whereas these video games have been in opposition to the likes of Hertha and Schalke 04, they solely must beat the groups round them to remain up. Whereas their remaining opponents have a median factors per sport of 1.52, they do embody Stuttgart and FC Cologne, which must be sufficient to remain up.
15. Bochum | 26 factors
Bochum’s points with pictures on purpose, possessions ending in targets and likelihood creation have improved for the reason that winter break, with these metrics now being ranked that of a midtable group. They’re additionally one of many strongest groups on set-piece anticipated targets. Additionally they are rating increased in statistics usually aligned with depth together with duels and excessive pressures.
Primarily based on that alone, you’d assume that they might keep in a protected place for the remainder of the season, nevertheless their fixture checklist thus far has been kinder to them than their relegation rivals. That can change very quickly with their remaining opponents having a median of 1.57 factors per sport, with that quantity going to 1.85 of their subsequent 4: at Union Berlin, vs. VfL Wolfsburg, vs. Borussia Dortmund and at Borussia Monchengladbach. Whereas Bochum have laid a great basis for staying up, the power of the groups which may push them down the order cannot be ignored, and subsequently their probabilities of security can be considerably affected if Stuttgart or Schalke can overtake them or if Hoffenheim or Augsburg drop beneath them.
16. Stuttgart | 23 factors
In January, information did not precisely replicate Stuttgart’s future as they’d simply employed Bruno Labbadia as supervisor, and thus we would want extra video games to see if they might demonstrably enhance. Sadly, for our functions, he was fired earlier this month, changed by ex-Hoffenheim coach Sebastian Hoeneß, leaving us in the identical predicament of not figuring out how or whether or not they’ll enhance.
Stuttgart have seen a basic enchancment for the reason that winter break and at the moment are sixth in actions within the remaining third, seventh in large probabilities created and fifth in sequences ending in pictures. These statistics had been positively on show as they beat Bochum 3-1 to leap over each Schalke and Hertha into the relegation playoff. Their remaining opponents common 1.23 factors per sport, so in addition they have a better run-in than others, and so they even have the standard in gamers like Borna Sosa, Konstantinos Mavropanos and Silas Katompa Mvumpa. They need to, based mostly on this and information, keep up.
17. Hertha Berlin | 22 factors
Hertha are a aspect deserving of their standing of second backside of the desk — and certain worse. Regardless of the standard possessed by the likes of Suat Serdar, Marco Richter and Dodi Lukebakio, Hertha have not been capable of do a lot, and even much less so for the reason that restart.
Three months in the past, I predicted they might not be relegated as their defence was secure, however their duels and interception statistics have dropped with none significant enchancment in assault. Moreover, they’re the worst group within the Bundesliga getting the ball into the ultimate third and rank second final in actions into the opposing third, so it could not come as a shock that they’re struggling for targets.
This might change with a consequence in opposition to Schalke on Friday, however there’s a difficulty with this: Hertha can be at Schalke, and their away type has been pitiful with just one win from 13 matches (2D-10L). Whereas Schalke are additionally the worst group at dwelling, their type is best than their upcoming opponents’.
One factor which may swing a result’s the Berlin aspect’s knack for scoring non-penalty set-piece targets with 15 of their 31 targets coming from corners and free kicks. It is also value noting that Hertha’s run is the simplest of all the opposite relegation candidates with their opponents averaging 1.21 factors per sport.
Other than that, the long run is fairly bleak.
18. Schalke | 21 factors
Though they’re nonetheless sitting final of the league, Schalke have positively given themselves extra hope for the reason that World Cup break with 12 factors in 12 video games and now solely 5 from security.
Whereas they had been within the backside three for practically each metric out there in January, they’re now seventh in sequences ending in pictures, eleventh in actions within the opponents’ field and out of the underside for actions within the remaining third. These display that they’re getting the ball additional ahead than earlier than, giving them a higher likelihood of survival beneath Thomas Reis. Nonetheless, they’re nonetheless not creating large probabilities and subsequently aren’t scoring sufficient. Whereas this in all probability would have been sufficient to outlive had they performed this manner from the beginning of the season, it will not be sufficient now, particularly as they face SC Freiburg, Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig of their run-in, which incorporates opponents averaging 1.56 factors per sport.
Statistically, Schalke aren’t the worst group within the league anymore. With a match in opposition to horrendous Hertha at dwelling, that will simply put them in a stronger place to start their climb out of the basement of the Bundesliga.