The battle for survival in Germanya s top flight has never been tougher than now, with merely 8 points separating European qualification from relegation. With the likes of former champions Dortmund, Hamburg and Stuttgart among the bottom-dwellers, every team is capable enough to pull the other down in attempt to secure their future in the Bundesliga.
Here is an analysis of each of the bottom-half teamsa biggest weakness, and whether or not they can hold on to a spot next season:
SC Paderborn a Lack of true quality
Newcomers Paderborna s fairytale stay in the Bundesliga could come to an end, after recent results suggest that the first-timers may not have what it takes to survive. Hard work and industry can only take you so far. According to transfermarkt.de, the entire Paderborn squad has a cumulative market worth of 28 million Euros. While this may not reflect the nature of the team, it does give a decent picture of whether or not a team has what it takes. The emergence of players like Elias Kachunga and Uwe Hunemeier may have amazed us, but lack of proven players and squad depth could be fatal in the last stages of the season
Verdict: It was fun while it lasted, but prepare for division two again.
Borussia Dortmund and VfB Stuttgart a Wastefulness in front of goal
A side unfortunate to be included as a bottom-half team, Jurgen Kloppa s Dortmund have struggled since the departure of Robert Lewandowski. Replacements Ciro Immobile and Adrian Ramos are a different breed of striker, and dona t seem to offer the quality of the Pole. Way too often we see BVB dominate opposition in terms of chance creation, but are ultimately undone by the inability to finish scoring chances. In fact, Dortmund boast of having the most shots per game (17 on average) compared to any other Bundesliga team. The over reliance on Marco Reus and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for goals could prove dangerous, but the sheer quality of the team will ensure that Dortmund easily avoid the bottom spots, and could perhaps even make the push for Europe!
2007 champions Stuttgart are looking more and more awful as the season progresses. Untimely injuries and managerial changes are just few of the various factors responsible for their decline. Vedad Ibisevic and Martin Harnik are established goalscorers, but have been very wasteful this season. Coupled with minimal midfield authority, Stuttgart cannot control games which is why they are rock bottom. Had they taken their chances, things would have been different.
Verdict: Forget relegation, BVB could even finish in the top 7. However, it doesna t look too promising for Stuttgart.
FC Koln and Hamburger SV a Lack of goals
Promoted Koln interestingly have the fourth best defence, but the second worst attack in the league (second to Hamburg) which speaks volumes about the sidesa unwillingness to attack. Favouring a cautious approach has served them well so far, and with no superstar in the team, it looks unnecessary to change this winning formula.
Hamburg have one of the worst attacks across the major European leagues, and despite proven Bundesliga goalscorers in the form of Nicolai Muller and Pierre-Michel Lasogga, the northern side just cannot seem to find the back of the net. However, after the addition of veteran poacher Ivica Olic from Wolfsburg and creator Marcelo Diaz from Basel, Hamburg look to have found their shooting boots once again.
Verdict: Hamburga s winter acquisitions could pull them through, as could Kolna s resolute defence.
Mainz 05 a No plan B
After a spectacular start to the season, Mainz have dropped alarmingly since and are now 14th. Regulars Jonas Hoffmann and Julian Baumgartlinger were vital in the success of the club initially, but injuries to them meant that Mainz went on a downward spiral. Inadequate replacements in the squad meant that manager Hjulmand had to improvise, which ultimately cost him his job. The return of crucial players will improve the chances of the club remaining in the top flight.
Verdict: Pull yourselves together, Mainz! The second division is not for you.
SC Freiburg a Inability to finish off games
Having played in the Europa League last season, Freiburg would be disappointed with themselves with a poor season so far. The biggest problem for the team is the inability to hold on to a lead. Had all of Freiburga s matches ended after 85 minutes, they would have had 11 more points to their tally, which could have been decisive in retaining a place in the Bundesliga. These lost points were a result of a lack of composure in the dying minutes of a game, which could spell danger for the Black Forest side.
Verdict: Should hold onto a Bundesliga spot, but just barely.
Hertha BSC a Issues in defense
Finding it impossible to retain possession and composure after taking the lead, Hertha Berlin are at their most vulnerable after scoring. A little bit of pressure is all it takes to crumble the defence. With no midfield anchor and enforcer as well, the Hertha defence is often overworked, the consequences of which are easily seen in games such as the Freiburg and Werder games this month. Stars like Salomon Kalou and Valentin Stocker may chip in with goals at the other end, but it does not cover up for the big hole at the back.
Verdict: Fix midfield and defence quickly, or else Bye, bye Berlin!