There was to be no great escape for Hamburg on Saturday afternoon, with relegation to the second tier confirmed on the final day of the Bundesliga season.
Christian Titz’s side had given themselves every chance of pulling off an unlikely escape, something that had become a speciality of their in recent years, but winning four of their last eight games was not enough to beat the drop.
Hamburg defeated Borussia Monchengladbach in front of a packed Volksparkstadion – but with Walfsburg defeating already-relegated Koln 2-1, it was enough to keep the 1983 European Cup winners in the division – and, for the first time n their history, they will be playing 2.Bundesliga football next season.
Wolfsburg, for all off their celebrations, still have work to do to keep themselves in the division. Their 16th-placed finish in the league puts them into the two-legged relegation playoff against Holsten Kiel, the first leg of which takes place next Thursday.
That’s it. Hamburg are relegated from the #Bundesliga for the first time.
Thanks for a wonderful 54 years ? pic.twitter.com/ENSvo2emy3
— Bundesliga English (@Bundesliga_EN) May 12, 2018
At the top, aside from champions Bayern Munich suffering a surprise 4-1 hammering at home to VfB Stuttgart in Jupp Heynckes’ final game in charge, there was still the small matter of the top four places to sort out. Schalke had already wrapped up second place, but it was between Dortmund, Leverkusen and Hoffenheim for the remaining two spots.
In a dramatic afternoon in which all three looked in danger at one point, it was to be Hoffenheim and Dortmund that seized the day. The former defeated the latter 3-1, while Leverkusen defeated Hannover 3-2, in a series of results that saw all three sides finish on 55 points.
In the end, it was so tight that goal difference was needed to decide the places, with Hoffenheim in third with a goal difference of +18, Dortmund in fourth with +17, and Leverkusen in fifth with +14.
With the league season now wrapped up for the summer, German attention can now fully focus on defending the World Cup in Russia next month.
Bundesliga Champions: Bayern Munich
Champions League: Schalke 04, Hoffenheim, Borussia Dortmund
Europa League: Bayer Leverkusen, RB Leipzig
Relegation Playoff: Wolfsburg
Relegated: Hamburg, Koln