Arminia Bielefeld were already promoted to the Bundesliga as champions before the final day of the Bundesliga 2 season but there was still all to play for as Stuttgart, Heidenheim and Hamburg all looked to join them in the German top-flight next season.
bundesliga.com trains the lens on the teams hoping to punch their ticket to the big time...
Position: 1st (promoted)
Points: 68 (+35)
Bielefeld have been promoted to the top flight for the first time since 2008/09, and were confirmed as Bundesliga 2 champions by beating Darmstadt on Matchday 32. Uwe Neuhaus' men have been in pole position since Matchday 15 at the end of November, losing just once since then. In fact, Bielefeld have only tasted defeat twice all term, which is testament to a resilient defence that has conceded a league-low 30 goals in 2019/20.
Star man: Fabian Klos
With a league-high 21 goals and another 10 assists to his name so far, Klos has directly contributed to nearly a half of all Arminia's goals (65) this season. Very much the team's talisman, the 32-year-old is captain and designated penalty taker, having converted all four spot-kicks he has taken in 2019/20. Bielefeld may not have been in sparkling form after the restart but Klos – who didn't go more than two consecutive games without scoring this term – continued to shine, posting four goals in the last six outings, including the opener in the 3-0 win over Heidenheim on the final day.
Position: 2nd (automatic promotion)
Points: 58 (+21)
Relegated at the end of last season after losing to Union Berlin in the play-offs, Stuttgart have secured an immediate return to the top flight. They have not been out of the top three since Matchday 3 and have a spine of experienced Bundesliga players in their squad, including former Bayern Munich duo Mario Gomez and Holger Badstuber, as well as Gonzalo Castro (Borussia Dortmund, Bayer Leverkusen) and Daniel Didavi (Wolfsburg). American head coach Pellegrino Matarazzo has done well since taking charge at the start of 2020, winning eight, drawing four and losing four in the league. Defeat to Darmstadt on the final day was frustrating but Stuttgart go up with three points to spare.
Key man: Nicolas Gonzalez
Despite their place in the standings Stuttgart have often struggled for goals this season, either failing to score or netting just once in 17 of their 34 competitive games over the course of 2019/20. When they did found the net, however, Nicolas Gonzalez was invariably involved. The 22-year-old Argentinian forward edged above Gomez in the pecking order under Matarazzo and ends the season with a team-best 14 goals, including eight strikes in nine outings since the league restart.
Position: 3rd (promotion play-off)
Points: 55 (+9)
Heidenheim are the only side on this list never to have played in the Bundesliga – but as Union Berlin showed this time last year, there is a first time for everything. And thanks to Hamburg's slip-up on the final day, they have secured a spot in the promotion play-off, where they will meet Werder Bremen for the chance to embark on an historic first term in the top-flight. Frank Schmidt’s side often followed the ‘if-you-don't-concede-you-don't-lose’ school of thought, often waiting to hit teams on the counter and the league’s second best defence (36 conceded) is what put them in contention for promotion. Heidenheim are excellent at home and are unbeaten in their last 12 outings at the Voith-Arena, winning nine. Their latest victory on home soil is what lifted them above Hamburg as a dramatic 95th minute winner completed a 2-1 come-from-behind victory for Heidenheim over their nearest rivals.
Key man: Kevin Müller
Goalkeeper Kevin Müller has been a big part of Heidenheim’s defensive success this term. The 29-year-old is Manuel Neuer-esque in his approach, reading the game well and frequently getting involved in his team’s build-up play. He is handy in the more traditional aspects of a shot-stopper’s duties too though, and has kept more clean sheets (15) than any other custodian in Bundesliga 2 in 2019/20. It came as little surprise that he signed a five-year contract extension in June to keep him at the club until 2025.
Points: 54 (+20)
Previously nicknamed the 'Dinosaur' for being the only team to have been in the Bundesliga every season since its inception in 1963, Hamburg were relegated for the first time at the end of 2017/18. They narrowly missed out on the promotion play-off spot by a single point last season, and they've repeated the same this time around. In Dieter Hecking they have a vastly experienced head coach, having previously managed Borussia Mönchengladbach and Wolfsburg among others in the top flight, while their squad is also filled with players with Bundesliga know-how, including Martin Harnik, Aaron Hunt and Kyriakos Papadopoulos. But they made hard work of things, with just two wins in nine after the restart, and their defeat to Heidenheim on Matchday 33 - where they led 1-0 until the 80th minute - ultimately cost them. With Heidenheim seen off by Bielefeld, HSV could still have fixed a date with Werder if they managed to pick up a draw on the last day of the season but they were handsomely dismissed 5-1 at home to Sandhausen.
Key man: Sonny Kittel
A left-sided attacking midfielder, Kittel enjoyed his best-ever season since making his professional debut in 2010/11 for Eintracht Frankfurt. The 27-year-old usually formed part of a three-pronged frontline, with Harnik on the right and former Bayer Leverkusen forward Joel Pohjanpalo as the tip of the spear. Described as “the man for decisive moments” by Hecking, Kittel scored 11 goals and set up another seven this season and was the player HSV looked to when in need of creativity.