From the jaws of relegation to a place among Europe’s elite, that is one of the most frequent stories which makes the Bundesliga such an attractive league.
With further surprise packages expected to shine in 2013/14, bundesliga.com asked who that could be. Readers of our website were somewhat undecided about who it may be, if not convinced that the hunt for places in Europe will once again be wide open, and SV Werder Bremen (16 percent of the votes) or Mainz (13) could well be smiling come May.
Had the question been asked twelve months ago as to who would be representing the Bundesliga in Europe in 2013/14, the names of Freiburg and Frankfurt would probably not have appeared near the top of that list. Yet they upset the odds to clinch fifth and sixth respectively, leaving the likes of Hamburger SV, Mönchengladbach and Hannover in their wake.
Tradition of surprises
It was not the first time a surprise package qualified for Europe, and it probably won’t be the last either. In 2010/11, Hannover rose from the brink of relegation to finish fourth, and they were joined in the UEFA Europa League by Thomas Tuchel’s Mainz, who left 1. FC Nuremberg eleven points in their wake. One year later, it was Gadbach’s turn to go from a relegation play-off to a place in the UEFA Champions League play-offs.
This season, it could be the turn of Bremen or Mainz, while league newcomers and Bundesliga 2 champions Hertha BSC Berlin (eleven percent) are also quite fancied to repeat their exploits of 2009 when, under the guidance of current Gladbach boss Lucien Favre, they narrowly missed out on a place in the Champions League, settling instead for the Europa League only 18 months after fighting for their lives.
History on Hoffenheim's side
Hoffenheim were in a similar position last season, which is why eight percent fancy them to be the dark horses of the 2013/14 campaign. Markus Gisdol’s side were written off as relegated before a dramatic conclusion last season, and a relegation play-off victory over 1. FC Kaiserslautern gave them a second chance which they will be bidding to take.