It is not just the Bundesliga where the excitement is rising as we enter the final stretch of the season. Bundesliga 2 also has a tense promotion race on its hands and a fight to avoid relegation to the 3. Liga in full swing.
With just four matchdays left this season (plus assorted games in hand) the top of the table sees Arminia Bielefeld in pole position to be crowned champions with a field of four teams behind them jostling for the other promotion sports (one automatic and one via the play-off).
This weekend die Arminen were held 1-1 at home by 1.FC Nürnberg. The point maintains their five-point lead at the top of the table, and they have a game in hand over second-place Stuttgart. Uwe Neuhaus’ side opened the scoring in the first half with Fabian Klos bagging his 18th goal of the season. Der Club earned a well-deserved point with midfielder Patrick Erras equalising before the break. It could turn out to be an important point for the Bavarians as it moved them one point further ahead of Karlsruhe, who currently occupy the relegation play-off berth.
Bielefeld’s draw (their fourth in five matches) gave the pursuing pack the chance to close the gap on the leaders, but none of them could use the opportunity. VfB Stuttgart in second were held goalless at home by VfL Osnabrück. It is the second time this season that the promoted side have upset the Swabians having won the reverse fixture at their Bremer Brücke stadium back in November.
Hamburger SV play on Monday night and a win against fellow Northerners Holstein Kiel would take above Stuttgart on goal difference. Heidenheim’s ambitions to at least finish in the top three and earn the play-off spot were dealt a big blow on Sunday with their 2-1 away defeat at Hannover. First half goals from Marvin Duksch and Edgar Prib were enough to take all three points for the Niedersachsen side with Stefan Schimmer’s second half goal proving merely a consolation.
Another side whose weekend didn’t go according to plan was SV Darmstadt, who hopes of keeping tabs on the play-off place were dashed by Jahn Regensburg. Despite playing with an extra man for almost 30 minutes (following Erik Wekesser’s sending off), die Lilien were beaten 3-0. Tobias Kempe missed a penalty and the defeat sees Dimitrios Grammozis’ side now six points behind HSV in third and the Hanseaten have that game in hand. It was a good win for Regensburg, who have put some more distance between themselves and the likes of Osnabrück, St. Pauli and Nürnberg.
There was a huge match at the foot of the table with bottom side Dynamo Dresden travelling to face 17th place Wehen Wiesbaden. It was the visitors who triumphed in a thrilling encounter at the Brita Arena. Dominik Franke’s own goal gave Dresden a 9th minute lead only for two goals within the space of a minute from Daniel-Kofi Kyereh (24) and Moritz Kuhn (25) to hand the advantage to the hosts. Patrick Schmidt’s header just before half time levelled things and the Dynamo striker was to have quite the second 45 minutes.
He provided the assist for Simon Makienok’s 89th minute winner before getting sent-off for his second bookable offence in the 94th minute. Dynamo remain bottom, but are now just a point behind Wiesbaden, three behind Karlsruhe and six behind Nürnberg with two games in hand over those teams. There is at least a glimmer of hope for SGD. The first of those catch-up games is at home to Greuther Fürth on Tuesday.
Having beaten Darmstadt in their first game back after the restart, Karlsruher SC’s form has dipped with three draws and then a defeat this weekend at Erzgebirge Aue. KSC currently occupy the relegation play-off place and face a tough away fixture next weekend at Stuttgart and also face Bielefeld in their last four matches.
Matchday 31 kicks-off next week with Dynamo Dresden hosting Hamburg on Friday on the same night as leaders Bielefeld face SV Sandhausen. There is a potentially huge Frankenderby on Saturday as Nürnberg play host to fierce rivals Greuther Fürth. There is also the Baden-Schwaben-Derby as Karlsruher SC entertain promotion-chasing Stuttgart at the Wildparkstadion.