The 2018/19 Bundesliga season is at its halfway stage with 17 of the 34 matches played, but what are the magic numbers going into the second half of the campaign? What might leaders Borussia Dortmund need to end Bayern Munich’s six-year stint as champions? What’s the number for a ticket to Europe? And how many points are needed to avoid the dreaded drop?
bundesliga.com has gone through the record books so you don’t have to…
It’s currently Dortmund in pole position to be 2019 German champions going into the new year with a six-point cushion over Bayern in second. A further 46 points in the second half of the season would mean that no matter what the men from Munich do, the Meisterschale will be heading to the Signal Iduna Park in May. That total of 88 points wouldn’t be a record though, which is the 91 points recorded by Jupp Heynckes’ Bayern side in their treble-winning season of 2012/13.
The magic number in terms of the title race, however, is 79. Every team in Bundesliga history to reach this total have been crowned champions. BVB themselves hold the record for points achieved without winning the title, which was 78 in 2015/16.
Eintracht Braunschweig hold the record for the lowest title-winning total in 1966/67 (60, using the three-points-for-a-win system), while the fewest needed in the last 10 years was 69 by Wolfsburg in 2008/09, although the average in that time is 81.
The top four in the Bundesliga will qualify automatically for the group stage of the UEFA Champions League. Over the last decade, any team to achieve at least 64 points has secured qualification, although the average in that period stands at 56. That will probably be the number scrawled on the board at UCL hopefuls Borussia Mönchengladbach, RB Leipzig, Wolfsburg and Eintracht Frankfurt. Although with fourth-placed Leipzig already on 31 points at the halfway stage this term, it’s likely that closer to 60 may be necessary.
However, Hoffenheim and Dortmund finished third and fourth respectively last season to qualify with 55 points apiece. Hertha Berlin were unfortunate in 2008/09 to miss out with 63 points when only three Champions League positions were assigned to the Bundesliga.
Watch: Hoffenheim beat Dortmund on the final day but both qualified for the Champions League
In the Bundesliga, fifth place guarantees a place in the UEFA Europa League group stage. Sixth place means the second round of qualifying, unless the winner of the DFB Cup has already qualified for Europe. In that case, sixth place goes into the group stage and seventh place the second qualifying round.
Last season Bayer Leverkusen finished on the same total as Hoffenheim and Dortmund but went into the Europa League on goal difference. Their 55 points was above average for qualification in the last 10 years, which stands at 50. BVB managed to qualify in seventh with 46 points in 2014/15, but to be absolutely certain, no side with 60 points has ever missed out on at least a qualification berth.
When you’re down at the bottom of the table you constantly hear talk of the ’40-point mark’ – that magic number that means you’re safe from the drop and will live to fight another season in the Bundesliga. Does that figure in fact hold true though? Well, yes it does but in reality the league’s magic safety marker is 39.
No team to reach that threshold has ever fallen through the trapdoor, with Karlsruher SC the unlucky losers in 1997/98 when they went down on 38. On the other hand, the lowest total ever achieved without suffering relegation was 27 by Hamburg in 2013/14 when they survived via the play-off.
In the last 10 years, 35 points have actually been enough to finish outside the bottom two although Gladbach in 2011, HSV in 2015, Frankfurt in 2016 and Wolfsburg in 2017 all had to contest the relegation play-off with that total. The average for absolute safety and 15th place in the last decade is 34 points, while it’s 32 for 16th and the play-off. Those marks may look a long way off for the bottom two at the midway point with Nuremberg and Hannover both languishing on 11 points.