The Race For Relegation Heats Up In The Bundesliga

LEVERKUSEN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 05: Marcell Jansen (2f.L) of Hamburg celebrates scoring the second goal during the Bundesliga match between Bayer 04 Leverkusen and Hamburger SV at BayArena on November 5, 2011 in Leverkusen, Germany. (Photo by Friedemann Vogel/Bongarts/Getty Images)

A number of teams are locked in a battle for survival in the German top-flight and Ross Dunbar puts his neck on the line to predict who will go down at the end of the season.

The Bundesliga has served up some stunning battles at the top and bottom of the table in recent years and we could be set for another pulsating second half of the campaign.

Last season, Borussia Dortmund cruised to the championship but the battle for the third Champions League spot between Hannover and FC Bayern was just as intriguing. At the bottom of the table, Gladbach somehow managed to pull off ‘The Great Escape' on the final day of the season and subsequently defeated Bochum in the play-offs.

And this year, we could be set for a very similar battle across the table with interesting battles across the top division.

FC Bayern are two points clear with a game in hand against FC Augsburg which should increase the gap to five points by Sunday evening. But just behind the Bavarians, is a host of clubs on 24 points and then Schalke, Stuttgart and Leverkusen outside the top-five who have their eyes on a Champions League spot this season.

However, it is the competition at the bottom of the Bundesliga which could be the most enthralling aspect of this season.

Just five points separates seven clubs at the foot of the table and giants such as Hamburg SV find themselves embroiled in a tasty relegation battle.

So who will be in the drop zone at the end of the campaign?

FC Augsburg:

On the foot of the table is Jos Luhukay's Augsburg who achieved promotion to the Bundesliga last season. But the ‘newbies' are one of the favourites to head straight back in to the second division with a gap already beginning to open.

Augsburg are four points away from safety and have won just one match this season from 11 games.

Prediction: Relegation

SC Freiburg:

Freiburg are locked on ten points after beating Nurnberg at the weekend and were widely tipped to be locked in a relegation battle before the season started.

Marcus Sorg's men are more than capable of picking up victories this season with a very good goalscoring threat in Papiss Demba Cisse. The Senegalese striker, who has scored eight in 12 this campaign, could be the difference for Freiburg in staying in the Bundesliga.

Prediction: Survival

Hamburg SV:

Rothosen have shown some steady improvements under Thorsten Fink after an abysmal start which cost Michael Oenning his job in September. Hamburg lost five from their six games under Oenning before Rodolfo Cardoso led the side to their first win at Stuttgart.

Fink has implemented a new 4-4-2 system which offers plenty of attacking threat and three draws from three matches is a very respectable start to his reign in Hamburg.

Prediction: Survival

FC Nürnberg:

It has been a strange season for Dieter Hecking's side who are a place above the relegation zone in the table.

Der Club have a proud history in German football but have struggled this season after a decent start to the campaign. Nürnberg haven't won in seven matches since they beat FC Cologne in September and their match with Hamburg in three weeks time could be so important in their survival chase.

Prediction: Relegation play-off

FSV Mainz:

Thomas Tuchel has been under huge criticism in recent weeks after Mainz ended their horrible run in the Bundesliga without a victory by beating Stuttgart on Friday.

Mainz went nine games without picking up three points and there were calls for Tuchel to be replaced before they become stuck in the relegation battle.

However, despite the win on Friday, Mainz still lack the same quality as other teams at the bottom of the table have five tough games coming before the winter break against the likes of Cologne, FC Bayern, Hamburg and Gladbach.

Prediction: Relegation

On the fringes of the relegation dogfight, both Wolfsburg and Kaiserslutern will need to pick up form quickly to prevent another club being involved in the battle for survival.

However, it would require a major capitulation for Wolfsburg, Kaiserslutern or Cologne to find themselves in the relegation zone come the end of the season.

And with a relegation play-off in May, the bottom of the table could shadow what happens at the top of the Bundesliga in terms of excitement and drama.

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