Cologne - With eight games of the Bundesliga season remaining, attention is slowly but surely beginning to turn to what rewards lie in store for the teams pushing for places in Europe next season.
Projected final standings
bundesliga.com has taken a closer look at what half of the Bundesliga will be battling for down the season's final straight, and what history tells us about this intriguing race...
Should the clubs continue to pick up points with the same average they have all season so far, then FC Bayern München would wrap up the title comfortably with 84 points while their Bavarian neighbours FC Augsburg would secure a first ever berth in the UEFA Europa League with 50 points. This is reflected in the table below, where the sides' performances in the season so far (points per game) have been extrapolated to produce a prospective end-of-season top six:
How many points are required to win the Bundesliga?
Much can still change in this purely hypothetical table, however. TSG 1899 Hoffenheim are hot on FC Augsburg's heels and a slight improvement from them and a dip in form for the Bavarians would see them secure a maiden ticket for the carousel of continental football.
In the history of the Bundesliga, 21 teams have managed to win eight games in a row (four of them in the final eight games of the season) and should that happen again, even 14th-placed Hannover 96 cannot be truly ruled out of the running. Theoretically, they can still make 51 points, which would be one more than the current projection for Augsburg.
How many points are required for the UEFA Champions League?
Indeed, since 1995/96, nine Bundesliga champions have accumulated even fewer points to lift the coveted silver salad bowl. In 2000/01, Bayern were champions with just 63 points, also winning the UEFA Champions League that year. In 2002/03, runners-up VfB Stuttgart had just 59 points, meaning just 60 would have sufficed to lift the title, even though Bayern racked up 75 that year.
But with VfL Wolfsburg racing away with second spot in the table, 74 may not actually be good enough to ensure the title remains in Bavaria this term. And even if Pep Guardiola's men become the fifth team to win the final eight games of the season, they will not be able to match the 91 or 90 points they picked up in the past two seasons respectively - instead they would reach 'only' 88.
How many points are required for the UEFA Europa League?
Since the introduction of the three-point rule, 62 points have always been enough to finish inside the top four. Bayer 04 Leverkusen in fourth would therefore need to pick up 17 points from their last eight games (five wins and two draws) to make that mark, Borussia Mönchengladbach need five wins and Wolfsburg could get away with just two wins and two draws. Fifth-placed FC Schalke 04, meanwhile, will have their work cut out indeed to secure the seven wins and one draw they need to reach the 62-point mark.
FC Schalke 04 still need six wins to reach the magic 57-point mark, so there is still a long way for Roberto Di Matteo's men to go before being confident of their place in the Europa League, not to mention the Champions League. Augsburg's destiny is likely to go down to the wire too, with the Fuggerstädter needing six wins and a draw to reach the 57-point threshold.
However, 2012 champions Borussia Dortmund still theoretically have a chance of attaining 57 points if they can win all eight wins of their remaining games. And of course it should be remembered that a lesser total than 57 may still suffice.
Finally, there is the DFB Cup to be considered. Winning the competition guarantees a Europa League spot anyway, meaning that if the team that triumphs in Berlin also finishes in the top six in the league, then seventh place would also be enough for Europe, lowering the bar further still. Heading into the campaign's home straight, there really is still everything to play for heading towards the Bundesliga's 2014/15 finish line.