The relegation battle is huge, and is likely to go down to the wire. The clubs listed below are the ones that are fighting for survival. From what I’ve gathered, most clubs figure on cutting budget at least 50% if they go down. And unlike the Premier League, there aren’t those lucrative “parachute payments” from the massive TV contracts around to help out. Most players have clauses that renew their contracts for the 2.Liga, but the better ones can almost always force a transfer, and usually the club can’t afford to turn down an offer.
13th Hertha BSC Berlin 34 pts
Berlin is probably safe, although sucking could perhaps drop them into the drop playoff. However they have a home match against Frankfurt, which is basically just dicking around, and that is likely full points. So their prospects are good and they should be around next season.
14th Hamburger SV 31 pts
Relegation would be a disaster. HSV is of course the only “eternal Bundesligist”, having been every season since founding in 1963. But the financial and sporting perspectives would be dire as well in the case of a drop. Star players would likely all be gone, as the salary budget would drop about 50%, sponsors have “outs”, and some of their talented non-stars might be able to force moves. As it is, a house cleaning is likely with some of the high-priced underperformers (70% of the squad). However, Bruno Labbadia might just be lucky with his timing as new coach, and the schedule is quite favorable. Two matches against fellow strugglers, and a home match against a less than impressive Schalke give them decent prospects of staying up.
15th SC Paderborn 07 (N) 31 pts
Paderborn would actually whether a relegation fairly well. Their salary budget was only around 14 million euros, which is half of even somebody like Freiburg, who are the next lowest. Management has already stated that even in the event of relegation, they wouldn’t go back to the previous 2.Liga budget of 8 million, so they could be competitive. They many problem is that the best players that have proven Bundesliga quality, such as midfielder Moritz Stoppelkamp, would probably receive offers. A difficult next two matches, and then perhaps a “final” at home to Stuttgart is also a tough end run.
16th SC Freiburg 30 pts
Freiburg has been here before. Although their player budget would drop from 28 million to around 14, that would still be decent in the 2.Liga. But some of their best players would likely be offered 1st division transfers. Nevertheless, they are prepared for a bounceback if needed. Their run in is fairly difiicult, since they likely lose their only home tie against Bayern, and the two away matches are at fellow strugglers who will also be desperate for points.
17th Hannover 96 30 pts
Relegation would be a disaster for Hannover. They expected to challenge for Europe and and are on the verge a collapse. The club is not prepared for budget slashing in the 2.Liga, and would lose all their best players in the event of a drop.
18th VfB Stuttgart 27 pts
Oddly enough, Stuttgart might be able to survive a drop. The club has been planning, and although the salary budget would get slashed and star players like Harnik are likely gone, sponsors have apparently decided to stay, and the club financially would be OK for at least one 2.Liga year (the expectation is for average attendance to be around 30,000+, which seems reasonable.) And they may need it, as they have ground to catch up. They have to win both their home matches and set themselves up for a final in Paderborn. They have the talent to do it, but seem to do something stupid that costs points, so it seems likely they will be going down and test their theory of 2.Liga recovery…
If I had to pick, I would say that Paderborn, Freiburg and Stuttgart go down, although any one of those could qualify for the playoff spot.