The Hard Tackle takes a look at the potential relegation candidates in the new edition of the Bundesliga, which is set to get underway on Friday.
With less than a week remaining till the 2019-20 season of the Bundesliga gets underway, we, at The Hard Tackle, will be covering a series of topics in our extensive preview of the German top division. We have already covered the leading contenders to finish in the top four. And, in this edition, we will be discussing the potential relegation candidates in this new season.
Union Berlin, SC Paderborn & 1.FC Koln: The newbies
At the start of any season, it is usually the newly promoted outfits that get nominated among clubs that could be relegated. And this season, at least two of these three clubs are in contention to face the drop come the end of the campaign.
Paderborn, in particular, are coming into this campaign boasting the least expensive squad, as per Transfermarkt. They have also spent the least amount of money so far – an astonishingly low figure of just €100,000, which was invested on Rifet Kapic. Aside from the Bosnian, all of Paderborn’s new signings have been free transfers, including former Borussia Dortmund youngster Luca Killian.
Paderborn’s top scorer last season, Philipp Klement, as well as Bernard Tekpetey, have both left the club, further reducing their chances of prolonging their stay in the Bundesliga. A lot will depend on the performances of Sven Michel, who is currently the main number nine.
But, one thing is for sure – the club from the Nordrhein-Westfalen will have to play their hearts out if they are to retain their top-flight status come the end of the season.
As for Union Berlin, they have a considerably stronger squad than Paderborn. But, will it be enough for secure survival? Fortunately for the Eiserne, they haven’t yet lost any significant players in the market. On the contrary, they have made some exciting investments including ex-Dortmund star Neven Subotic and former Mainz hitman Anthony Ujah.
Christian Gentner and Manuel Schmiedebach have also been brought in to provide experience in midfield. But, considering the fact that both of these players were part of the relegated Stuttgart and Hannover sides last term, it remains to be seen whether or not they will achieve anything better this campaign. Either way, it will surely be a new-look Union side and it won’t be surprising to see them actually staying up this season.
And finally, let us discuss 1.FC Koln. The Effzeh are one of the most famous Bundesliga clubs in the history of German football and their return to the top flight will only be a boon for the league. They are also stronger than ever, having enjoyed a productive 2018-19 campaign, where they won the 2.Liga.
Achim Beierlorzer has made some high profile signings as well, including Sebastiaan Bornauw and Ellyes Skhiri. But most importantly, it is their current crop of players that are expected to make a mark, including Simon Terodde, who notched up 33 goals last season. The 31-year-old will have a point to prove after failing miserably during his last spell in the Bundesliga.
Aside from him, Koln have Dominik Drexler and Jhon Cordoba, who has significant Bundesliga experience. The midfield too, has been reinforced and the defence also looks quite solid. And under the leadership of a certain Jonas Hector, it will be a surprise to see Effzeh going down this season.
FC Augsburg, FSV Mainz 05 & Fortuna Dusseldorf: The next wave
With the three newly promoted teams already discussed, we will now shift our focus to the existing batch of Bundesliga clubs that could face the drop this season.
FC Augsburg, for one, are a strong candidate, having finished just ahead Stuttgart in 15th last term. Die Fuggerstadter have already lost two key defenders in Kevin Danso and Martin Hinteregger, which forced them to invest on Reece Oxford this summer.
Head coach Martin Schmidt will be hoping that his team will not be dealt with an injury crisis once again this season. The squad has already been depleted due to the injury of Jeffrey Gouweleeuw, Philipp Max, Iago and Alfred Finnbogason among many others. And, the Bavarians are destined to get relegated should these injury problems persist throughout the course of the campaign.
Fortuna Dusseldorf, meanwhile, did a fantastic job to finish tenth in the Bundesliga last term. But, things may not be as smooth a sailing this time around, having already lost Benito Raman and Marvin Ducksch, while Dodi Lukebakio has left the club following the end of his loan spell.
This could pose significant attacking problems and coach Freidheim Funkel has done very little to address these issues, with F95 spending only €4 million on the market. Therefore, Flingeraner fans shouldn’t have high hopes this season.
As for Mainz, they have a pretty well-constructed team. But, the loss of Jean-Philippe Gbamin to Everton could create a massive void in midfield, though the 05-ers had already brought in West Ham United outcast Edimilson Fernandes earlier this summer.
They do, however, have quite an exciting attacking lineup, boasting the likes of Jean-Philippe Mateta, Karim Onisiwo and Jean-Paul Boetius. The Carnival club also brought in Liverpool youngster Taiwo Awoniyi on loan.
Hence, it is increasingly unlikely Mainz could be facing the wrath of relegation this season. But, they could turn out to be among the clubs who could be included in the scrap for survival come the final phase of the campaign. A lot will depend on how the team gels without Gbamin rocking the midfield.
SC Freiburg: The perennial contenders
Ever since their promotion back to the Bundesliga four years ago, SC Freiburg have been nominated as the relegation candidates each season. They had a pretty stable 201-/19 campaign as far as escaping relegation is concerned.
The club from the rainforest boast the services of one of the league’s most exciting attackers in Luca Waldschmidt. In addition, they have the experienced Nils Petersen as well as Lucas Holer, who has a knack for scoring important goals.
In defence, Philipe Lienhart has improved a lot while they also have Dominique Heintz and Robin Koch – making them a strong defensive unit. However, a lack of reliable options in midfield could become a key problem and it would perhaps be wiser for Christian Streich to sign one more central midfielder this summer.
Freiburg have a fairly strong squad, but their unpredictability makes them one of the candidates to potentially get relegated come the end of the season.