Bundesliga 2013-2014, Season Preview: Relegation candidates

Ronny Hartmann

Eintracht Braunschweig, Hoffenheim, Augsburg, and Hertha Berlin should cherish this Bundesliga season, because they could see relegation at the end of it.

Eintracht Braunschweig

Braunschweig claimed second in the 2.Bundesliga last season by a full nine points over third place Kaiserslautern. This will be Braunschweig's first in the top flight since the 1984-1985 season when they were a regular presence in the Bundesliga.

They've been active in the transfer window to date. Marco Caligiuri, Simeon Jackson, and Omar Elabdellaoui have been added to the squad to help bolster the squad. Manager Torsten Lieberknecht will be hoping that Jackson and Caligiuri can bring the experience that they've received in recent seasons in the top flight.

Braunschweig, like Greuther Fürth last season, are quite frankly just over-matched in the Bundesliga. Enjoy your season in the top flight, Die Löwen, you won't be here next season.

Augsburg

Augsburg put together a remarkable spring season to keep their place in the Bundesliga for another season. They made a risky move keeping Markus Weinzierl when all hope looked lost. Weinzierl returned their faith by saving the club from relegation.

Augsburg's season will likely depend on how well Sascha Mölders plays this season. He was out with an injury for most of Augsburg's poor player last season, and their turnaround coincided with his return to play. Raphael Holzhauser and Halil Altintop have been brought in to help solidify the club's midfield. A player to keep an eye on this year will be Panagiotis Vlachodimos who is on loan from Olympiacos. If he can help alleviate some of the scoring duties from Mölders, Augsburg may just be on to something.

Augsburg will be within viewing distance of the relegation zone all season long. The only thing that matters is that they can avoid the two direct relegation places.

Werder Bremen

Die Werderaner struggled throughout last season and narrowly avoided the Relegation Playoff by only three points at the end of the campaign. Thomas Schaaf left the club by mutual consent after 14 years in charge, and Robin Dutt was named as his replacement. While Dutt may be a talented manager in his own right, Werder has not spent money well over the last several years and have a weak squad again this year.

There is some good news for Werder heading into the season. They turned Nils Petersen's loan from Bayern Munich a permanent transfer. However, there is some awful news. They sold Sokratis Papastathopoulos, their best defender last year, to Borussia Dortmund and were unable to extend the loan of Kevin De Bruyne, their most creative player, from Chelsea.

The were bounced from the DFB Pokal this past weekend at the hands of Saarbrücken, so things are already not starting out well for Dutt. Avoiding relegation again this season will be difficult for Werder, and it will be surprising if Dutt survives the season.

Hertha Berlin

Jos Luhukay took over Hertha in the summer of 2012 after departing Augsburg and brought them up to the Bundesliga after only his first season in charge. Hertha spent only one season in the second division after being relegated at the end of the 2011-2012 season.

Hertha have brought in Johannes van den Bergh, Hajime Hosogai, Alexander Baumjohann, and Sebastian Langkamp to build onto their 2.Bundesliga championship winning squad. None of these players are real difference makers and will struggle to definitely break into the Hertha starting eleven.

Of the two promoted teams, Hertha has the best shot at avoiding relegation this season. They have the potential to figure it out and survive, but it's going to be a tough battle in the nation's capital.

Hoffenheim

Hoffenheim appointed Markus Gisdol as manager toward the end of last season, and he figured out a way to keep them in the Bundesliga for another season after what looked like a sure relegation. Unfortunately for Gisdol, he still has Tim Wiese on the roster.

There's been a lot of transfer involving Hoffenheim this summer, but it's tough to say that any of it has been very productive. Danny Williams, Joselu, Igor De Camargo, Takashi Usami, and Heurelho Gomes are out. There really hasn't been anyone that screams quality brought into the club. Anthony Modeste and Tarik Elyounoussi have joined the club this summer. Both have the potential to be good players but are they good enough to be different makers.

Being able to stay out of the relegation fight this year will be tough for Hoffenheim. It's going to be another long season in Sinsheim.

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